During “The Future of SharePoint” event Microsoft held earlier this month, Corporate Vice President for OneDrive and SharePoint, Jeff Teper unveiled a very exciting concept — an “intranet in your pocket” — with the announcement of a SharePoint mobile app. 

Why did this announcement excite the SharePoint community so much?

To understand what the announcement means, you need an understanding of how intranet solutions — and SharePoint — have evolved.

Desktop-Bound in a Mobile World

Businesses have reaped the benefits of SharePoint deployments for many years, but the emphasis has always been on desktop users, rather than mobile. 

At a time when employees increasingly expect mobile capabilities from their work applications and more IT departments are embracing mobility apps for all lines of business — not just fields services and sales teams — being bound to a desktop no longer cuts it. So while Microsoft has made incremental improvements to the SharePoint mobile experience in previous iterations, it still left a lot of room for improvement. 

The SharePoint Mobile App

Microsoft's announcement of the SharePoint mobile application at the Future of SharePoint event was a step in the right direction. This is a first for SharePoint, which previously offered access via a mobile browser, but not a mobile app. The app is available for both online and on-premises deployments.

The SharePoint mobile app offers users full access to SharePoint team sites. They can use the app to check the progress of their group projects, look up people on the company intranet and communicate with their co-workers. It also includes an Office 365 Groups integration, and is available on Windows, iOS and Android.

Mobile App or Not to Mobile App

Putting the intranet capabilities of SharePoint “in our pockets” is exciting, but businesses still need to take a proactive approach to adoption and implementation. The recently announced changes will come in waves, each of which will require oversight and management. So if your business uses SharePoint, you will need to plan for each rollout independently in order to avoid being caught by surprise. This should include alerting your users to upcoming changes and providing training to help them stay up to date.

And it should go without saying, but just because an app is available doesn't mean it's right for your business. Determine whether or not the SharePoint app will meet your business needs. Compare the features to the features your users need while on the go. The speed and ease that the app promises makes it sound like a good fit for many businesses, but check before you leap.

A few other newly announced features could have big implications for businesses. Microsoft PowerApps will allow you to easily create and share business apps with your teams. Microsoft Flow automates workflows between Microsoft services and apps, improving efficiency and productivity within your organization. A public preview of PowerApps is already available for those who can’t wait for the full launch later this year.

SharePoint's Future Looks Bright

This is an exciting time for the SharePoint world. Whereas not too long ago SharePoint seemed to be on the brink of obsolescence, Microsoft has brought it back by reinvigorating the mobile user experience.

We've also seen a flurry of turnkey intranet solutions over the last few years, that offer the rapid deployment, simplicity and high-quality user experience which businesses crave. With these latest SharePoint announcements, Microsoft is sending a clear message about its commitment to providing an excellent out-of-the-box intranet solution for its business customers, including those for whom mobile accessibility is a priority.

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Title image by Bruno Gomiero