When SharePoint debuted in 2001, companies saw it as an alternative to self-created intranet sites capable of sharing documents with fellow employees. As Microsoft moved to make all their services available online, SharePoint took its prominent place as part of their Office 365 suite. However, its still viewed as a tool for users to store and share files, while changes in the way companies employ workers dictate a change in how they collaborate. With recent updates in Office 365, SharePoint is becoming a more and more a stronghold for collaboration and communication in modern institutions.
2016 changes in SharePoint
In August 2016, Microsoft rolled out changes that made SharePoint less of a storage and sharing receptacle and more of a team building site. Transparent collaboration is at the heart of the updates making it easier for colleagues to work together.
With the 2016 updates, SharePoint users gained team site pages creation abilities. These new pages allow Office 365 groups to have a central intranet location to work together. New team sites automatically obtain shared:
- OneNote notebook
New web page parts make it easy for team leaders to create dynamic pages for all group members. On the dedicated team page, administrators can add documents, images, videos, and Yammer feeds. Activity sections of the site contain recent actions on the page, within any lists, or any files that are part of the team site.
Also, members can add quick links to their pages. These quick links appear at the top of the page and can link to URLs from anywhere on the web, other pages or applications, or files.
Because of the new updates, Microsoft determined users need more SharePoint storage for all their team sites. To accommodate, all Office 365 users saw an increase in limits from 1 TB to 25 TB.
These updates rolled out to all users in August 2016. Overall, the updates have allowed greater communication between teams as they work on new projects. As great as the teammate features are, they still missed out on having an exceptional communication tool. That is what Microsoft addressed with their 2017 updates.
2017 Critical Updates for SharePoint
While SharePoint Online 2016 updates focus on team site initiation, updates in summer of 2017 focus on making communication between team members easier.
New to SharePoint Online is communication sites. Much like team sites, these new pages allow all team members to share recurring updates beyond the use of email. As with the team pages, members can embed documents or videos. Members also can load GIFs on the new communication site if needed.
When creating a communication site, administrators have a choice of three initial site designs:
- Blank—a blank canvas to allow administrators to create their page using web parts.
- Topic—useful to share many pieces of information including events and news.
- Showcase—beneficial to feature photos or images for new products or services.
All communication sites have full-width layout and essential title regions. All title areas come with custom header images.
Additionally, members find real time information from across Office 365. Included in this real-time stream is:
- Power BI reports
- Yammer discussions
- Microsoft Stream videos
- Other SharePoint sites
One of the most significant changes is the ability to communicate through SharePoint mobile app. Users can engage with Yammer and read pages on the site. Additionally, users can create news articles to update other members of the team.
With each news page on SharePoint’s communication update, members can comment on the article using Yammer. The comments can be either targeted or for group discussion.
Team members abilities include emailing news articles to other users. Unlike past sharing features, the new share does not just send a link to the SharePoint site. Instead, it generates an informative preview so the recipient can determine if the article is something to read in its entirety.
Especially with the new features Microsoft is adding to SharePoint Online; it is important to have files stored here protected with a backup service. While Microsoft Exchange does have recovery options, they are not substantial enough to be considered valid backup services.
As Microsoft prepares to roll out their Office 2019 in mid-2018, there is speculation over what changes are to be included in SharePoint 2019. While there are no firm details on the layout and design of the new interface, Microsoft announced that the SharePoint hub sites are set to roll out beginning 2018. The new hub sites make it easier for customers to use SharePoint to create company specific intranet, giving the team sites and intranet a unified feel. The hub-sites do have mobile devices at heart, making accessing intranet on the go seamless.
Wishing to backup, IT managers can utilize CloudAlly to perform automated daily backups of SharePoint site collections, including those created via Groups or Teams. Data can be restored non-destructively to a sub-site, directly in place, or exported for download or to external storage such as AWS S3, MS Azure, or Box.com. You can sign-up for a 15-day free trial at https://app.cloudally.com/