It's been an interesting year for SharePoint. We've started to see steady adoption of SharePoint 2013, as well as continued usage of SharePoint 2010 and some older versions. And Microsoft’s shift to focus on the cloud and Office 365 left many guessing about the future of the on premises version of SharePoint.
Whatever comes in 2014, I don’t believe SharePoint is going anywhere. But I do think we’ll see more changes.
Here are some things I believe we’ll see take place in the coming new year.
1. Rise of SkyDrive Pro as Enterprise Variant of Dropbox, Google Drive
SkyDrive Pro is Microsoft’s response to document sharing tools such as Dropbox and Google Drive. It has put a lot of emphasis on using SkyDrive Pro with SharePoint and Office 365 to easily share documents and take them offline.
Right now there is a big drive by Dropbox to get into the enterprise, claiming that 4 million businesses use it in some way. But as Ben Keeps at Forbes points out, most of that comes in the form of “shadow IT,” which means it’s not a sanctioned service by IT. It also has a lot of work to do in the areas of governance, auditing, security and more.
Google Drive is a little further along that Dropbox, but we see the real opportunity in SkyDrive Pro. With Microsoft’s commitment to the cloud, SkyDrive Pro is going to get a lot of attention and we know how Microsoft likes to take on Google.
2. Continued Growth in O365 and Other Hosted Solutions for Exchange, SharePoint, Office, Lync, etc.
This is a continuation of the Microsoft cloud theme that is getting so much attention. While I don’t believe on premises SharePoint is going anywhere soon (as Gartner seems to predict), I do believe Microsoft will be devoting more of its time building up its hosted solutions.
If you follow the news regularly, then you’ve seen the constant stream of news from Microsoft on new services in the cloud: Visual Studio, Dynamic AX ERP, as well as continual regular updates to Office 365 itself.
Consider that Office 365 is available in 123 markets and 40 different languages. Microsoft also reduced its pricing to make it more attractive to a larger set of organizations, both small- to medium-businesses and enterprise. At Microsoft’s recent shareholder meeting in November, CEO Steve Ballmer talked about the company’s momentum in services likes Office 365 and its drive to deliver first-class enterprise services. According to its first quarter revenue numbers (which ended October 2013), commercial cloud revenue grew 103 percent.
3. The Office Platform will be Decoupled from Windows
Offered in iOS and Android variants
Although not directly related to SharePoint, I think this one is worth mentioning. For Microsoft’s productivity software -- Office -- to truly maintain its market lead, it’s going to have to offer a strong iOS and Android product. Smartphone and tablets usage is increasing in the enterprise. Bring your own device is here and many organizations will adopt a model that allows an employee to use his/her own device. Which simply means Microsoft no longer controls the software used in the organization.
This pushes Microsoft to offer Office on a number of different devices and formats. It may take it some time, but I think it will get there.
4. Decustomization of SharePoint
Emphasis on reduced branding and customization of SharePoint from Microsoft will result in more customers using SharePoint out of the box
We’ve heard Microsoft strongly suggest not to customize SharePoint, that branding doesn’t improve user experience or make processes better. That migration to new versions is easier without a lot of customization. The new SharePoint 2013 app model is also a strong pointer from Microsoft to keep SharePoint as out of the box as possible and focus on using Apps for additional customizations.
I think this is a good thing. Many of the challenges we see with migration projects are the result of branding and customizations -- some of which may not have been necessary. Part of the reason SharePoint has been customized in the past is that developers are learning to use the platform and trying new things. The new App model reduces much of this, putting the testing and learning outside of SharePoint directly.
5. Performance Optimization for SharePoint
Make it run faster and more reliably
Performance optimization is always a goal of IT when implementing SharePoint, but SharePoint 2013 has come with its challenges (as have older versions). I’ve seen issues with Search Server, central processing units and RAM spikes, among other issues.
Microsoft has made some improvements with Office 365 and SharePoint 2013 that have helped with performance this year including:
- The introduction of shredded storage for better utilization of disk space
- Moving workflows off the SharePoint platform
- Making Office 365 true multi-tenancy
I expect that in 2014, Microsoft will continue to make iterative updates to improve performance in areas such as mobile, integration, the app store, etc.
6. New SharePoint Features will Address Snowden, NSA Scenarios
Information Rights Management, Encryption, etc.
It’s about knowing your content. With SharePoint implementations in the mess they are today, the truth is a lot of organizations don’t really know what content they have. They don’t where it is, who is using it or even if they should be.
I predict new SharePoint features in 2014 focused on reducing the leakage of confidential information through better encryption, rights management functionality and other out of the box features so organizations don’t find themselves in their own Snowden situation.
These are my predictions for SharePoint and Office 365 in 2014. Do you agree? Is there something important I haven’t mentioned?
Editor's Note: Read more of Steven's SharePoint musings in SharePoint Content Migrations and The Sins of Your Past