Microsoft 2016 Ignite - Incredible Changes Coming Your Way

Microsoft’s largest conference for customers and technology providers has just concluded at the end of September 2016. Microsoft is continuing to make large innovative strides across multiple fronts. Cloud computing, security and personal productivity were key focus areas this year. See below for Microosft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, message about innovation.

 

 


Increase SharePoint User Adoption

Getting onboard

 
My professional experience with SharePoint has been somewhat brief, but working for one of the top SharePoint firms in the nation has required me to get up to speed fairly quickly. For most of you reading this, chances are you’re already a SharePoint advocate. The features integrated throughout SharePoint are great. From document libraries, wikis, versioning, alerts, team sites, search, and the million other things SharePoint can do it’s easy for myself to see the benefits. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks like myself and sees SharePoint as an additional IT initiative that will only make their work day harder.

I’ve found that explaining the value of SharePoint to clients can feel a little like speaking a foreign language. The more I talk, the less they understand, and the less they understand, the more likely they are to reject it. All is not lost though, actually quite the contrary. For those that are onboard with implementing SharePoint and even those that are still skeptical, below is a few simple steps that can have a real impact on seeing the benefits of SharePoint and gaining user adoption.

Make it cool to use SharePoint
I know it sounds cliché, but I often hear about companies that are bewildered by their low SharePoint user adoption numbers. They set up their environment and had everyone come to some training sessions, but no one seems to be using it. The biggest problem here? SharePoint isn’t Facebook. It’s a great tool for managing and organizing company files, but people aren’t going to leap at the opportunity to use it. It’s not “cool.” In order to get people onboard you’ll need a well-structured plan to target the great social aspects of SharePoint and how it will make their day to day tasks that much simpler and enjoyable. You know your company and you know how your colleagues work. Get creative and build a plan that will inspire them to adopt.

Put yourself in the users shoes
I know SharePoint is awesome, but how bout your end users? Your colleagues are just trying to get their day to day job done, answer emails, find relevant information and avoid boring meetings. Put yourself in your users shoes and determine how they will interact with the site. What does Scott in Marketing need that SharePoint can provide? What are his pain points? People just want things to happen easily and if they can see how SharePoint will help them do that, they will jump at the chance to adopt it.

Starts from the top
If you want success with your SharePoint adoption, you need strong leadership. If your CEO and senior management doesn’t use it then why are the rest of your users going to? The leaders of your company need to be seen to be onboard with SharePoint and utilizing the same benefits that it’s adding to the rest of the company. If they are correctly using it and reaping the benefits then you can darn well expect the rest of the company to follow suit.

User focused training
We’ve all been a part of a company training session and upon leaving it said “well that’s two hours of my life that I’ll never get back”. Don’t get me wrong, SharePoint training sessions can be extremely valuable to your users. However, these sessions need to be targeted towards specific departments. In order for these training sessions to be effective and above all, useful, you need to show your users how the platform can be used in their day to day work. Give them specific examples so they can see just how beneficial utilizing SharePoint is to making their job easier.

In-house marketing
Getting marketing onboard with your SharePoint implementation can go a long way in upping your numbers. Get people in the company excited about SharePoint. Put up a few posters around the office, send out emails with daily tips and cool features, and hold Q&A sessions. Build some excitement around SharePoint and convey the message that SharePoint will make things easier, faster and better in their day to day work life.

Measure engagement
SharePoint offers a range of tools for measuring how engaged your users are. Keep an eye on these figures and work out where there are problems. Target departments with low engagement and listen to colleagues and implement a plan to encourage adoption.


Take the Work Out of Working Together

The all new Office 

Microsoft Office 365 can help you achieve real gains in innovation by strengthening the connections that your employees have with one another, with partners, and with your customers. Employees can seamlessly connect to information and move between all types of communications, from virtually anywhere, on all your favorite devices. This flexibility is absolutely critical to enable collaboration in context as your employees work together to achieve more.

40% or more of the U.S. workforce is expected to be made up of contingent or independent workers by 2020.

With the recent release of Office 2016, there are a host of great new features that allows you to produce professional documents fast with intelligent suggestions, information, and insights at just the right time. Office 2016 is truly built for teamwork and reduces the friction in co-creation, making it easier to share documents, work together, and use coauthoring, IM, voice and video to get things done. Below I will touch on some of the improvements of Office 2016.

Engage
Access your documents and work whenever and wherever with full fidelity viewing and editing from your PC or Mac to your Windows, Apple, and Android phones and tablets. Engage with your colleagues in all facets of the business, including trusted partners, in a highly collaborative open-discussion forum to identify new ideas.

Deploy 
Work in collaborative workspaces with virtual teams and research partners to reduce ramp-up costa, co-create proposals, and fast-track innovation, while protecting company IP. Collaborate like never before in Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Real-time typing in Word lets you see others’ edits as they happen.

Conduct 
Work like you’re all in one room, even when you’re not. Use Skype for Business for HD video conferencing, coauthoring, desktop sharing, presentations, and IM to run your meetings from anywhere. Make your virtual meetings effective, while reducing travel costs.

Enable   
Share business insights to improve decision-making and produce better products and services. Enable seamless project collaboration to optimize project portfolios and manage costs against the budget.

Office 365 is the best-in-class solution delivered to you on a single cloud-based platform. It enables you to accelerate new capabilities to users, while reducing time spent on admin and upgrades. Giving you consistent, familiar, and intuitive tools to reduce training costs and minimize disruption.  This helps you keep your data and devices safe with enterprise-grade security and IT controls. Widen your ideation pipeline and accelerate time to market by delivering higher quality products and new customer experiences with Office 365.


Helping Project Teams Work Efficiently

It is critical for project teams to have a professional solution in order to work efficiently. Companies are continuously changing their work process policies, in turn adopting more team-oriented approaches. Below we will discuss the extensive amount of collaborative tools that SharePoint has to offer.

Information

  • Announcements – The Team Site comes with a built-in Announcements list, designed as a tool for keeping the entire team informed about the latest project status or changes.
  • Document Libraries – These are collections of files that team members share in order to ensure comprehensive information about a project’s objectives and activities. Usually, document libraries contain procedures, manuals or instructions.

Project management

  • Tasks – This is a feature dedicated to team managers that enables them to allocate tasks and track activity status. For each task, managers can assign it to one or more team members, select its priority, and enter the percentage of the task completed.
  • Project Tasks – A project task is a simple project management feature that uses a timeline and Gantt bars to represent the tasks in a project.

Time management

  • Calendars – A SharePoint calendar allows teams to share information about dates, events and schedules. Also, it offers users the possibility to create and integrate Meeting Workspace sites that contain tools for managing objectives, meeting agendas, guest lists, and meeting documents.

Knowledge sharing

  • Discussion boards – With this feature, team members can share information and centralize feedback about specific processes or activities.
  • Slide libraries – They help team members to share, store, and manage Microsoft Office PowerPoint slides.
  • Wiki page libraries – These libraries are designed for employees to capture and share ideas by creating simple pages and linking them together. A wiki page is useful for gathering and sharing ideas quickly.

Issues Management

  • The Issue tracking feature enables team members to track issues with a project or item. SharePoint will also send notification to users according to each issue priority.

Team feedback

  • Surveys – This SharePoint feature allows managers to ask and gather feedback from team members about issues, processes and many other topics. Users can collect the results by using several different types of questions, such as multiple choice, fill-in fields, ratings and even anonymous responses.

Your Intranet in Your Pocket

Untether with the SharePoint Mobile App

It’s time to untether with the SharePoint mobile app, which enables you to stay connected to important content, sites, portals and people from your intranet while you’re on the go.

Get the full power of SharePoint on your phone. This new app, too, is infused with intelligence from the Office Graph to help you navigate more quickly to content and people that matter to you the most.

The Sites tab takes you to your Sites, Recent sites and Followed sites, where you can keep up with site activity, navigate using quick launch or see recent files.
The Links tab takes you to sites and portals programmed for everyone in the company.
The People tab gives you access to the people you work with and visibility into what they are working on.
Search is available throughout with clean results filtered by sites, files and people.

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The SharePoint mobile app is available on Windows, iOS and Android.

Users can also have multiple accounts online and on-premises, and can easily switch between them. The SharePoint mobile app for iOS is now available, followed by versions for Windows and Android in the second half of 2016. And a planned, future update to the app will bring company news and announcements to your device.


The Blending of Experiences with Office 365

In many of the conversations that I have with customers to date, I’m often asked how SharePoint is going to evolve in regards to Office 365 and Microsoft Azure. As we move into 2016 and get closer to the next on-premises server release, I wanted to talk about how the cloud enables us to bring not only SharePoint, but all of the Office technologies together.

SharePoint began as a document management collaboration solution, primarily focused on team sites. As the product has evolved over the years there have been new experiences added such as client portals, business intelligence (BI), a powerful intelligent search platform powered by FAST Search, and much more.  SharePoint in the cloud with Office 365 and Azure allows you to take advantage of all the new Office technologies such as Office Delve and Office 365 Video alongside email with Outlook, instant messaging with Skype for Business and the traditional SharePoint workloads, while maintaining core IT and Dev capabilities for management and extensibility across all these experiences.

These new experiences are built around collaboration – bringing teams together, mobility – being truly productive using any device, intelligence – contextual, relevant and personalized information, and integration – the blending of experiences across Office 365 and blurring the lines across traditional product silos.

To illustrate this, let’s take a look at some of the innovations within Office 365:

Search – Going beyond traditional enterprise search, Office Delve is a new way to discover relevant information and connections from data across Office 365, as well as provide predictive search capabilities. Delve personalizes content based on insights delivered from the Office Graph, helping people connect with the right information at the right time.

Files – In addition to the general purpose document libraries in SharePoint, OneDrive provides users with one place to easily store, sync and share personal files across devices—with security, reliability and manageability squarely in place for IT. OneDrive ultimately removes the need for personal file servers and local hard drives while enabling easier sharing and collaboration across the organization.

Team Sites – Within Office 365, we have the opportunity to expand the concept of team sites. In doing so, we can bring together team content traditionally kept in SharePoint, along with the broader set of information across Office 365 including email, instant messaging, tasks, contacts, personal files, social feeds and more. This integrated team experience across Office 365 offers simplified permissions for the user and complete management, governance and extensibility models, making it a win for IT and for users.

BI – With Power BI Microsoft took forward the vision of creating a “ready to go” solution that users and IT can get up and running in minutes. Built on top of Office 365, Power BI provides an integrated analytical platform in the cloud that connects to your important information from where it lives via the Excel interface users know.

Social – Social is evolving from a standalone newsfeed to immersive experiences across Office 365. As part of Office 365, Yammer makes it easy for users to participate in the conversations that matter most, quickly go over ideas within a team and scale impact across the company. To help users work in new, more dynamic ways, Microsoft has integrated the Yammer experience alongside Office documents and videos, as well as common line of business applications such as Dynamics CRM and Salesforce.com, and offer mobile access across platforms.

I understand the cloud doesn’t happen all at once, but I’ve seen a growing demand for SharePoint Online and Office 365 from our customer base. I also recognize that our customers have a range of requirements that make maintaining existing SharePoint Server deployments the right decision for some. Office 365 and SharePoint Online allow for flexible pricing options that give you predictability and flexibility for all or part of your organization. Microsoft’s vision for Office 365 and SharePoint Online is complete business productivity and you can begin to see the benefits of this vision almost immediately after your Office 365 implementation.