2015 Year in Review and 2016 Predictions

A brief summary of the monthly CollabTalk show on ITUnity

Christian Buckley

by Christian Buckley on 12/18/2015

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collaboration, CollabTalk, Microsoft, Office 365, SharePoint, Social, Yammer

CollabTalk on ITUnity

This month we had our 12th webisode of the show here on IT Unity, hosted by myself (@buckleyplanet) and fellow MVPs Benjamin Niaulin (@bniaulin), Naomi Moneypenny (@nmoneypenny), and Marc Anderson (@sympmarc). Mirroring the pattern we've followed with the #CollabTalk tweetjam for the past 3 years, we decided to focus this webisode on our favorite news and updates in the SharePoint and Office 365 space from this past year, followed by our predictions for the coming year.

You can find the show in its entirety out on YouTube here:

Directly following the show, I received a couple DMs from folks interested in getting the slides from this month's webisode, so I uploaded them to SlideShare here:

As always, this recap is from my individual perspective. I'll let my co-hosts add their thoughts within their own blog posts, but there was definitely some overlap in our opinions on what happened this past year, and what we expect to see in the coming year. As Microsoft CVP Jeff Teper mentioned in his keynote of the European SharePoint Conference in Stockholm last month (Nov 2015), next year is gearing up to be the biggest in SharePoint's history, and the CollabTalk team are genuinely excited about what we've seen so far, and the roadmap that has been shared.

Top 10 Favorite "Moments" in 2015

While I'm not going to repeat everything I said during the show (you can watch it yourself), I did want to provide a brief snapshot of my thoughts on eac

h, with relevant links. Here are the news items that stood out to me this past year, in no particular order:

  1. Teper returning to SharePoint, also picking up OneDrive for Business.
    My personal feeling is that some of the messaging -- and momentum -- around SharePoint kind of got away from Microsoft, and Jeff was brought back to put things back on track. I'm not knocking the work of Julia White or Jared Spataro, as this had more to do with Microsoft's own internal adjustments to life in the cloud, but I think bringing Jeff back is a really good thing.
  2. Clarifying message that SharePoint on prem is not going away anytime soon.
    Of course, there were many of us who have been saying all along that the platform is not going anywhere. Just about every time Bill Baer (@williambaer), SharePoint Technical Product Manager, took the stage he tried to reinforce this idea, but it's still nice to hear from Teper, White, and even Satya Nadella confirming that SharePoint is getting some additional love.  
  3. Office 365 Planner.
    One of the more exciting "experiences" to be released from the product team, and just now beginnign to trickle out into first release tenants on Office 365, Planner is a NextGen Portal that leverages all of the latest bells and whistles across the platform stack. Read more here.
  4. PowerApps.
    While not a SharePoint thing, PowerApps is one of those technologies that cuts across the stack, and appeals to devs, IT Pros, and power users alike because it puts the ability of creating automated business solutions into the hands of the masses. Introduced by CVP Bill Staples, read more here.
  5. Office Graph general availability.
    We've been hearing about and talking about Office Graph for some time now, but with its general availability we can finally get our collective hands on the office graph and start leveraging the power of machine learning to get deeper insights into our collaboration activities. Of course, there are a few folks like MVP Waldek Mastykarz who have been experimenting with solutions on the Office Graph for months now (definitely check out his blog). 
  6. GigJam.
    Another announcement that is not about SharePoint, per se, but could have huge impact is GigJam. Introduced to the world by Julia White during the Worldwide Partner Conference keynote, GigJam is a technology out of Microsoft R&D that provides containers for common business analytics and productivity activities, incorporating video conferencing, touch controls, and voice commands (via Cortana) to provide a dynamic and interactive collaboration experience for teams. I like to compare it to NASA and the space program: it may not immediately impact your day to day collaboration, but by pursuing this technology, it is going to change the way we think about our business solutions.
  7. Azure Active Directory, and the maturing of Azure, in general.
    One of the core components of Microsoft's cloud strategy, this is a key piece of your cloud infrastructure and enables much of Microsoft's roadmap.
  8. Delve and Cortana Analytics roadmaps.
    One of the most exciting previews of the Ignite conference in Chicago earlier this year was Delve and Cortana analytics, showcasing Microsoft's efforts to slice and dice the data behind our collaboration signals. There is still not much that is visible to the public, but this will be a hot topic in 2016, for sure.
  9. O365 Groups.
    Of course, this was the big sleeper of Ignite, and the impacts are still reverberating across the community. The messaging is still being clarified, as Microsoft needs to work out some of its positioning of Groups against SharePoint and Yammer, but clearly this approach to team collaboration is a game-changer for the company. 
  10. Nadella sticking to his strategy of platforms and productivity.
    In his first keynote as the newly minted Microsoft CEO, Nadella announced the company's new focus on platforms and productivity. It took a few months for that messaging to sink in, but it became the mantra throughout 2015, and remains message by which all other plans and announcements are based upon. I think its a rock solid message.

Predictions for 2016

Again, not wanting to duplicate what was discussed in the video, I'll just focus here on a couple of the more meaningful, in my mind, predictions for the coming year:

  • More pressure to upgrade. We're seeing this with FastTrack expansion from file shares and for email, but I think there will be a more concerted effort to move people from old versions (2001, 2007) to Office 365 through incentives and services. Having said that, I agree with Naomi's assessment that 2010 will become the XP of SharePoint, and will stick around for a long, long time.
  • Social "tools" will fade into the background as marketing messaging will focus more on the business productivity / business value stories rather than the technology. In no way am I minimizing the importance and value of social technology -- its more about the technology becoming ubiquitous within our organizations, allowing us to focus less on the tech and more on what we are doing with the tech to drive value.
  • Business apps will be the big story of the year. With Microsoft focusing so much on cross-OS support, the battle of the OS is largely going away, allowing us to focus instead on getting our work done. I think Microsoft has learned a lot about mistakes with SPDesigner and InfoPath, and believe PowerApps and expansion of solutions across competitor platforms will get tighter.
  • SharePoint will become largely an on-prem brand, with NextGen portals and out-of-the-box experiences taking over the mind share for Office 365. This is not to say that SharePoint will be removed from Office 365. On the contrary, it will become more business-critical to the online experience -- but it will become more or less a piece of the cloud infrastructure rather than a destination, as with on prem.
  • 2016 will be the year of analytics, with more and more built on top of Microsoft's machine learning and AI capabilities.

These are not all of my thoughts about what will happen in the coming year, but its a start -- so please keep watching the CollabTalk show for more insights!

Up Next with CollabTalk

The next webisode of the CollabTalk show will be on Wednesday, January 13th at 10am PST. You can register at ITUnity.com/CollabTalk 

For the 3rd year in a row, we are also wrapping up our tweetjam efforts with a focus on 2016 predictions. If you've never participated in one of the #CollabTalk tweetjams, they tend to happen a  week or so after the online show, and offer an opportunity for anyone to jump in and participate. You can follow along on Twitter by following the #CollabTalk hashtag, or you can go to our site at Twubs.com/collabtalk

As with all of our tweetjams, we'll have a huge panel of MVPs, MCMs, and community experts -- but anyone can participate. We'll kick things off at 9am PST on December 30th. See you online!

Topic: SharePoint and Office 365

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