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The end of May saw this year’s SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas. Microsoft used this platform to make some big announcements about the SharePoint and Office 365 roadmaps. This update covers a couple of the immediate changes; we’ll share more as more details are made available over the coming months.
Here’s what to expect in the near future:
Thanks to CompanyNet team members Maria Botha-Lopez, Stuart McLaughlin and James Mackerness for their contributions to this round-up.
If you would like to find out more about these changes, or would be interested in help getting more out of Office 365, get in touch with the CompanyNet team – we’d love to hear from you.
We often get asked by Comms teams whether they can receive notifications when someone leaves a comment on a page or news article they’ve authored. Finally, Microsoft have revealed that this functionality is on its way.
When it launches, this functionality will send the author an email notification when a comment is made. It will batch up multiple comments into a single email if a lot of comments are submitted within a short period of time. And it will also report on like counts.
There’s also unsubscribe functionality, so you can opt out to these notifications by page. It’s not completely clear yet, but it looks like this will be a granular opt-out (so, for example, you could stop notifications about likes while still receiving notifications for comments).
It gives your comms team what they’ve been asking for – notifications of replies to your news articles and other pages
Rollout should be completed ‘by mid-June’, so keep your eyes peeled.
Watch out for the release of this functionality, and then notify comms when you’re sure it’s working.
Microsoft have introduced Home Sites, a new ‘landing page’ feature to create more engaging SharePoint site homepages.
Home Sites combine news, events, conversations, video and other bits of content that quickly paint a picture of what’s happening across your organisation. They can be set as the overall homepage of your corporate intranet. They are responsive, meaning they will automatically look great on mobile devices as well as desktop PCs.
Microsoft says you’ll be able to link directly to Home Sites from the Office 365 navigation bar and from a button in the SharePoint mobile app. Apart from this, it’s not yet clear how they are that different from existing Communication Sites.
Home Sites, and landing pages in general, provide a point of focus for your SharePoint-based intranet. They act as an at-a-glance gateway to information that is useful or interesting to your staff.
Users of our Kira intranet platform will spot that this provides similar functionality to Kira’s homepage. Kira’s homepage remains a more advanced version of what Microsoft have introduced here, but Kira users will be able to take advantage of the new Home Sites functionality if needed.
Home Sites are due to be rolled out in autumn 2019.
While Home Sites can be designed by your communications staff, they can only be enabled by a SharePoint administrator using a PowerShell command. Make sure your administrators are aware of this new feature.
If you would like more information about using Home Sites (and whether you could benefit from using them), drop us a line.
In keeping with CompanyNet’s goal of complete alignment with Office 365, users of the latest version of our Kira platform will be able to use Home Sites immediately, and enhance them further with our more advanced components. We would recommend speaking to CompanyNet first if you are in this position, to determine whether Home Sites are right for your organisation.
Microsoft are pushing out a number of improvements to search functionality across the whole suite – and they’re big enough that they’re referring to it as the ‘rollout of Microsoft Search’.
Search is powered by the Bing search engine and the AI capabilities of the Microsoft Graph, so it will get more intelligent and context-sensitive based on where you’re searching and things like your previous activity and your frequent collaborators.
Rolling out now – so you may have already seen it – the search bar is now appearing on the app header bar for most of the apps in the Microsoft suite, such as SharePoint and OneDrive. This makes it clearer and easier to access, and helps users realise that the searches they’re performing will be context sensitive to the app they’re using.
The new search bar will also start appearing in the desktop Office 365 suite, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint. This deeper integration means you can easily share a document with a specific person, as well as finding common commands and related documents.
Searching in SharePoint, such as from your Kira intranet if you have one, will surface intranet documents, personal documents, and even people, with the ability to search through your colleagues’ skills, interests and projects.
Microsoft are also rolling out this functionality into the Windows desktop search and Bing search itself, plus supporting the back end with a new Microsoft Search admin center highlighting valuable insight such as top queries and ‘keywords’, which appear to work like synonyms from older versions of SharePoint search.
It gives all users a more powerful and smarter search, accessible almost everywhere and working in a consistent way. The admin center will give you more information and better control to help tweak your organisation’s search results.
The Office 365 and desktop office apps should have the new search bar rolling out now (though it appears that it’s not quite everywhere for everyone yet), with the rest simply ‘soon’, though we don’t expect this to be long at all.
Not for the search bar rollout, but you may want to make sure your people profiles are well populated with useful information, and you may wish to inform your intranet or comms teams to familiarise themselves with the admin centre once it hits your tenant.
You will soon be able to make an Announcement post in Teams to make it stand out from all the other posts in a channel. In an expanded view of your message, you’ll be able to select “Announcement” as a post type.
You can add a headline to your message, add one of the preselected backgrounds or upload your own custom photo, and add a subheading if relevant.
This feature allows users to make their announcements stand out from other conversations, specially in a busy channel. However, this feature should not be overused, and used only when necessary and appropriate so as not to dilute their importance or clutter up the channel.
The feature will gradually be rolling out to all customers in early June, to be completed by the end of June.
You might want to update any existing training to show users how to post an announcement in Teams, or create your own Announcement in a Teams channel when the feature is available with instructions and a caution against its overuse.
Per-team analytics and cross-team analytics will let your staff monitor the overall use and adoption of the teams they belong to.
Cross-team analytics will be accessible via the “Manage teams” icon below the list of joined teams. It will allow users to see broad-level data for all of the teams they are a member and owner of in single a list view. Users will be able to see trend lines for team activity, plus counts for active users and messages.
Per-team analytics will be accessible from the “Manage team” option of the “…” menu next to a specific team name. This will let users view data on a more granular level. They will have access to timed-based charts for message and active user counts, plus deeper breakdowns of user types and activity trends.
The team analytics will allow users, team owners, and managers to assess and monitor the use and adoption of the teams they belong to, without the need of admin rights.
The feature will gradually be rolling out starting in early June and expect to be completed by the end of July.
You might want to inform your helpdesk and staff using Microsoft Teams of this feature, as well as updating any training to show users how find this information for the Teams they are members of.
Organisations who use Yammer should be aware that rich text formatting is being rolled out by Microsoft. Once available, it will let users format text, create lists and include links in messages posted to the platform.
Composing messages with rich text formatting is only available on the web client and Yammer desktop; mobile Yammer apps will be able to display messages but not edit or create them.
The Yammer webpart for SharePoint and Teams won’t support rich text formatting initially but this will be rolled out later in 2019.
This is an enhancement to the Yammer functionality and allows richer message to be composed within the platform.
The global rollout commenced mid-March and is expected continue throughout 2019.
Administrators should make themselves aware of the change and issue guidance to the user community accordingly. There is no ability to control when the feature appears.
The OneDrive mobile app for iOS and Android has been around for a while now. It has recently had some new features added which we think are worth highlighting.
The core functionality of the OneDrive mobile app is to enable access to all your OneDrive files and SharePoint libraries for reading and uploading items. It also supports multiple accounts so both personal and organisational OneDrive can be accessed.
Microsoft Graph powers the OneDrive app so that searching and discovering files is straightforward and consistent with the search on the main Office 365 platform.
Machine learning allows Graph to intelligently extract data such as text from scanned images such as business cards or receipts which makes it much quicker to access content.
The excellent scanning capabilities of Office Lens have now been added to the OneDrive app, so it’s simple to capture info from whiteboards or handwritten notes and scan receipts business cards using the camera from your mobile device. The image can then be seamlessly transferred to OneDrive or SharePoint which makes it a great time saver for essential processes such as expense receipt capture.
OneDrive app supports different capture modes so that the image is optimised before storage and post-processing is minimised to save time.
It enables necessary processes such as expense receipt capture to be streamlined using tools which are familiar.
The OneDrive app encrypts all data on the device and in transit, so security is not compromised.
In addition, using the OneDrive admin center, quotas and policies can be applied to control user and device access in the same way as other organisational assets.
The OneDrive mobile app is a great productivity solution to exploit the organisations’ Office 365 capabilities and recent functional improvements have made it more useful than ever.
It is beneficial for users to understand the available features and for Office 365 Administrators to have awareness of the OneDrive admin settings to verify that the configuration is appropriate for their organisation.
These features already exist within Office 365 and the OneDrive mobile app can be downloaded for free.
Administrators should review the Office 365 tenant settings and make sure that they are appropriate for the organisation. If appropriate, users should be aware of the OneDrive mobile app and the capabilities it provides.
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