When the next version of SharePoint is released, it will face stiff competition for users--both new users and existing users.
As part of an ongoing series of stories looking at what IT professionals want from SharePoint 2016, we asked Peter Heydon, a SharePoint pre-sales specialist for a national solutions provider in Australia: What does Microsoft have to include in SharePoint 2016 to keep the platform viable, enticing existing users to upgrade and new users to jump on?
Heydon, whose role is to talk to enterprise customers about building solutions leveraging SharePoint, said there are three things Microsoft must do to keep the platform viable:
1. Provide mobile device usage and access to information from anywhere. "It is possible, and many customers (on-premises) want it, but there is a level of infrastructure required. There are also large security concerns and risks about letting people into their network. That is why Office 365 is attractive--because by its very nature it is available anywhere," said Heydon.
2. Create "business apps" in the way Access has been used (and continues to be used) to store, manage and report on data. "InfoPath made some of that possible, but until Microsoft solves what it is doing in this space, the company creates confusion," he said. "The void is being filled by Microsoft's partners or, worse, by solutions outside of the SharePoint ecosystem."
3. Reduce the friction for upgrades. "A large proportion of my customers with on-premises deployments will skip a major version due to the change it requires for their end users and the effort required to undertake this as an IT project," he noted.
For new users, Heydon added, the problem these days is competition from niche players that provide point solutions--most of them in the cloud. This closely relates to the second point above, he said: "For instance, the classic SharePoint workload--an intranet--can be developed in any number of ways, without the involvement of the IT team. This holds true for other workloads, including managing documents, social platforms and business intelligence."
And while data sovereignty issues may have been a barrier to the use of Office 365/SharePoint Online in Australia, things are beginning to change, said Heydon: "In Australia, until recently, Office 365 was hosted offshore, and this posed a barrier for new customers with concerns around data sovereignty," he said. "Now that Office 365 is in Australia, and with the OPEX model it allows, I believe this will be enticing for new users to the platform."
What do you want--or need--to see in SharePoint 2016? Let us know in the comments section or by emailing me at [email protected].