It's been almost a year now since Microsoft launched SharePoint 2016 and the new features surely have not disappointed. If you're still hemming and hawing about upgrading to SharePoint 2016, here are the features that users and technology implementers are talking about.
Hybrid for the Win
A Gartner study reports that by the end of 2017, nearly 50% of organizations will have hybrid-cloud deployments. While most organizations aren’t solely on the cloud, they are choosing hybrid scenarios as a first step to leveraging cloud technology where it makes “dollars and sense” for their business.
When Microsoft first started pushing cloud environments, it was all about migrating your business to the cloud. With Hybrid functionality, the story is now about leveraging the cloud where it makes most sense for your business. The key functionality you want to be well-versed in is Hybrid Search and different Hybrid scenarios/workloads for your intranet. SharePoint MVP, Michal Pisarek provides a good breakdown in the video below.
Mobile Push for Anytime, Anywhere Collaboration
The second biggest feature push in SharePoint 2016 has been for mobility and anytime, anywhere access to your organization's SharePoint Intranet. The push for this feature has not only been for seamless viewing of all document types from your mobile devices, but also real-time collaboration, editing and publishing. With no dedicated mobile app in previous SharePoint versions, Microsoft's investment in a responsive and seamless mobile experiences is huge.
To date, Microsoft has launched native apps for iOS, Android and Windows operating devices. Adding to the mobile experience, they have also launched a News Rollup for iOS (Android and Windows coming soon). The News Rollup for iOS uses the intelligence of Microsoft Graph to curate news and updates from your SharePoint Intranet that are uniquely relevant to you.
If you're not yet privy to the power of Delve and the Office Graph available in Office 365, be prepared to experience this in on premise SharePoint 2016. With the use of Office Graph, SharePoint homepages now serve up content and activity that is most relevant to the end-user. With respect to Delve, using the App Launcher in SharePoint 2016 you can access the application seamlessly. Similarly, in Hybrid scenarios of SharePoint 2016, Delve offers a neat new experience wherein you can view documents colleagues are working by hovering over contact cards in Team Sites when you are in your Office 365 environment.
Another great use case for Delve’s machine learning mechanism is pushing your On-Premise content to Delve via SharePoint search and then having the Office Graph present content to your users. This helps in discoverability of content and provides a unified experience to your users for their content regardless if its online or on-premise.
New Team Site and Groups Experience
Microsoft has made a huge investment in Office 365 Groups and this application’s integration with SharePoint Team Sites. This has confused many as they don’t understand the delineation between Team Sites and Groups—when to use one over the other. Essentially, there is no need to compare as an Office 365 Group is simply the membership management of users in Active Directory Groups. What this means is that when an Office 365 Group is created, it syncs with Exchange, SharePoint, Teams and Planner to provision it for the group you’re wanting to create.
For example, if you were to create an Office 365 Group called, “Solution Delivery,” a SharePoint Team Site would automatically be created to store files and collaborate in addition to various other capabilities.
New User Experience and Interface
One of the biggest changes in SharePoint is the new and very visual interface. As I’m sure you are aware, SharePoint has traditionally been static and list-based. In SharePoint 2016, UX is now tile-based with clear headings and images. Similar to the Google Docs experience, you can drag and drop files into different folders and reorganize file structures all in one screen.
OneDrive the Place for Creation and Collaboration
The document sharing interface in SharePoint 2016 has taken on usability and UX much like OneDrive with easy ways to share and link to different document types. With that being said, there is still a huge push for OneDrive to be the place to create, collaborate and modify work-in-progress documents. Because of this, Microsoft has made it seamless to transfer documents between SharePoint and OneDrive. This way, once the document is finalized, it can move over to a SharePoint environment for official publication to the organization. This is especially noteworthy for Hybrid environments where documents can be worked on in the cloud, and then seamlessly moved over to your on-premise SharePoint 2016 environment.
Feature Pack 1 for SharePoint 2016 Server
This feature pack is the most recent addition to SharePoint 2016 in Microsoft’s commitment for continuous innovation based on customer feedback. These features are intended to build on support for hybrid scenarios and include:
- Record keeping of admin actions for common SharePoint administrative actions to help with troubleshooting
- MinRole enhancements for small-medium sized environments to simplify the deployment experience
- Improved modern experience for OneDrive (discussed above)
- Custom tiles in the SharePoint app launcher for quick and easy access to SP and O365 workloads
- OneDrive API for SharePoint on-premise to build robust file management and workflow apps for your line of business
- SharePoint Hybrid auditing across site collections on-premise and in Office 365 to help administrators manage their SP infrastructure
- Hybrid taxonomy so you can enable a single source for creating and managing Terms, Term Sets and Groups between Office 365 and SP 2016
If it is not apparent, many of most loved features in SharePoint 2016 support SharePoint Hybrid scenarios as more organizations make the cloud work for them. If you want to educate yourself further, watch this video on the Business Case for SharePoint Hybrid.