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Four Anticipated Features in SharePoint 2016

Author: Owens Gollamandala | | April 5, 2016

Like most of you, we’ve been keeping a close watch on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2016 and taking note of the new features and functionality promised in this refresh of the web application framework. Here are a few of the features we’ve identified that you may look forward to.

OneDrive Improvements

Enterprise mobile users are eager to see precisely what improvements are made in how SharePoint 2016 works with OneDrive, the cloud storage and file hosting service included in Office 365 that is also available as a mobile client app for iOS and Android.

Within OneDrive for Business there are now new controls for users located at the top of the personal document folders. These are designed, says Microsoft, to “make common tasks in OneDrive for Business more accessible.” There is, for example, a new Recycle Bin provided in OneDrive. The Site Folders enables users to work with their files and navigate the contents of their libraries.

Barry Jinks, president, chief executive officer, and founder of Colligo, a SharePoint tools vendor, told TechRepublic that he expects to see more progress on OneDrive, such as syncing that enables offline information access.

Benjamin Niaulin, a Microsoft MVP writing on Sharegate, says this and other improvements in SharePoint 2016 are designed to help teams work together better.

OneDrive for Business has had a rough start, unfortunately, due to previous sync issues. There’s no denying that. There’s also been a lot of confusion on when to use what…with Groups for Office 365, Team Sites and OneDrive for Business in the mix.…With SharePoint 2016 it’s clear that OneDrive for Business and Team Collaboration with Groups or Team Sites are going to be a lot closer as well.

Hybrid SharePoint

In fact, Hybrid OneDrive for Business, initially introduced in SharePoint Server 2013 with Service Pack 1 (SP1), enables several new hybrid features for users.

As Redmond Magazine noted in a November 2015 article:

The fate of the SharePoint Server product has seemed kind of murky over the past year. Lately, though, Microsoft’s messaging has centered on it being committed to supporting a more hybrid SharePoint.

This focus has been made clear from the array of features related to hybrid sharing. Hybrid sites features “allows [sic] your users to have an integrated experience while using SharePoint Server and SharePoint Online sites,” states Microsoft. Users will have a single profile in Office 365 that will give them access to all of their files from any device through Hybrid OneDrive for Business. They will also be able to sync and share files.

Users will also find a new search capability called cloud hybrid search. Once you have indexed all content, including on-premises content, to your search index in Office 365, you will be able to configure the crawler in SharePoint Server 2016 Beta 2 to crawl the same content sources and use the same search connectors in Office SharePoint Server 2007, SharePoint Server 2010, and SharePoint Server 2013. Thus, an end user who is searching in Office 365 will retrieve results from both on-premises and Office 365 content.

Improved Analytics in SharePoint 2016

Enterprise users are anticipating varied improvements to how SharePoint looks at various data. Some of these new analytics features will be accessible by end users.

Delve Analytics is a new feature based on the organizational analytics software Microsoft acquired with the purchase of VoloMetrix in September. Delve Analytics will reportedly display cumulative data on topics such as “employee time spent reading e-mails or attending meetings. It also shows when you are starting to lose touch with company contacts.”

Microsoft MVP Naomi Moneypenny says the cumulative data is accessible by managers while individual users can see only their own individual work activity data.

Other reporting analytics improvements should provide administrators with a better understanding as to how mobile users are using information residing on their SharePoint sites. This information can serve as a foundation for improvements for the user experience. The data can also be used for improving security and data governance

Tighter Integration between Office 2016 and SharePoint 2016

SharePoint is now more integrated across the suite of Microsoft Office products. This includes, notes PC World, the Microsoft applications Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook as well as OneNote, Access, and Publisher.

Kurt Mackie, writing for Redmond Magazine explained :

Microsoft is using learnings from its massively scaled Office 365 cloud services to improve SharePoint Online first, as well as its forthcoming SharePoint Server 2016 product. Specifically, Microsoft is integrating new Office 365 services, such as Delve, Clutter and Groups, into both the SharePoint Online service, as well as SharePoint Server 2016. The integration effort is closing the gap between the on-promises and online products, providing for a more consistent code base.

This is designed to improve user productivity. Users are, for example, able to work on the same document simultaneously with their colleagues in Office 2016. This is available in Word and PowerPoint documents saved on SharePoint or OneDrive. Users can work on these documents without overwriting each other’s changes. Microsoft’s “real-time typing”— a “feature in which you can see your colleagues working on the same document”—is only available in Word for now.

Microsoft is eliminating the confusion between Office 365 Groups and Team Sites by referring to its enhancements as a “modernized Team Sites.”

There are related improvement announcements from individual Microsoft applications. At the Connect 2015 event, for example, the OneNote team announced the release of new APIs allowing it to connect with Office 365. This extends the prior OneNote consumer APIs and allow OneNote to connect with Office 365, including OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint, or Office 365.

Earlier this year, Microsoft executives said SharePoint and OneDrive are used by more than 75,000 customers, with more than 160 million users. The company is reportedly experiencing a 200 percent monthly growth in active SharePoint and OneDrive users.

SharePoint Server 2016 is currently in the Beta 2 development stage. Microsoft has stated it intends its general availability release to be made in the second quarter of 2016.

Sharegate’s Niaulin concluded:

If you were evaluating a migration to SharePoint 2013 or SharePoint 2016, I’d tell you to definitely jump to SharePoint 2016 without any hesitation.

For a fuller look at all the new and improved features available in SharePoint Server 2016 Preview, also known as Beta 2, please access the frequently updated list from Microsoft.

If your organization intends to migrate to SharePoint 2016, you may wonder how it may affect your operations. We have help resources for SharePoint on our blog, which is frequently updated, as well as in several white papers.

To learn more about our remote database services and how our experts can help with your SharePoint operations, please contact Datavail to discuss a custom solution designed for your enterprise.

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