In my previous articles in this series, we discussed some of the fears and anxiety out there over the future of SharePoint and some of the hurdles of going to SharePoint Online / Office 365. We have established that this two billion dollar juggernaut SharePoint might be fading as a brand, but its deep entrenchment and expanding functionality ensures that SharePoint has the staying power of a bad reality star. Let’s end this series by answering one final question.
Should my Company use SharePoint Online / Office 365?
Before I answer this question. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons you may want to consider going to Office 365 whether you currently have SharePoint On-Premises or not currently using SharePoint at all. Also keep in mind here that for practical purposes I’m not suggesting most people consider SharePoint Online only. For the price and features it just usually makes more sense to get Office 365 which includes SharePoint Online.
All the “stuff” you get
People like stuff. When I come home from a conference, do you know what my kids’ first reaction is? “We love you dad!” “We missed you dad!”? Nope… it’s “What did you get me!”. They love all the stuff I bring home from conferences. The bouncy balls, the key chains, the doo dads and gadgets. People like stuff. I like stuff, and you get a LOT of stuff with Office 365 that make it worth the expense even without SharePoint.
Just look at all the stuff you get with Office 365: SharePoint, Lync, Exchange Online, Yammer, Office, OneDrive, and more. My current organization is undergoing a transition to Office 365 as we speak and it’s going to end up saving several hundred dollars a month!
Connecting with external people
Is it just me or is this feature not advertised as much as it should be? Remember the hassles, headaches, and licensing costs of adding external users to your On-Premises SharePoint environment? It could be an absolute nightmare! Well, with Office 365 you can add any user with a Live ID to both SharePoint and Yammer. How cool is that? How many doors does that open up? If you have customers who need access, it’s a game changer! This feature alone should have Small and Medium businesses clamoring to use Office 365.
Let me state that again, you can allow external users access to your SharePoint Sites and take full advantage of SharePoint Security without having to pay for additional licenses or do any complicated configuration (in fact, it’s a simple check box).
I know!! Right??
Growing Number of Features
Microsoft is actively expanding the features of Office 365. Some of these features like Power BI and Yammer are only available in Office 365. The new products Oslo (now called Delve) and Office Apps open up new worlds to your organization and the REST and Client Side Object Model libraries are expanding allowing you to create powerful applications for your organization.
Microsoft IS listening. In fact they created a community forum called UserVoice for the sole purpose of listening to what we have to say so they can actually do something about it. This may be the first time I remember Microsoft saying “Yes, we hear you and actually want your feedback”. Check out Jeremy Thake’s post on the subject: BE HEARD! SHAREPOINT & OFFICE DEVELOPMENT MODEL FEEDBACK VIA USERVOICE
Will they actually listen?? With the amount of discussions… cough... arguments… I’ve had with Jeremy, I can tell you they are. There is reason to be hopeful.
Well?? Should my company go to Office 365?
In my personal opinion, if you are a small to medium business you should absolutely jump on the Office 365 bandwagon. The features you get for the price is just pretty astounding, and you DO get a lot of benefit from SharePoint out of the box. All of the features coupled with data security, cost savings, and removal of hardware needs really make it enticing to organizations of any size.
The development hurdles should not necessarily be an excuse not make the leap. Also, you no longer need an expensive or over-burdened administrator to keep your SharePoint farms up and running which again may more than pay for the expense. If you are an enterprise customer with an On-Premises deployment of SharePoint and frustrated with the current state? Be patient. Microsoft is listening, and believe me they don’t want to lose your business. Things are getting better.
When I first started writing this series it was more to speak to the naysayers and give another opinion about the future of SharePoint. After doing the research, arguing with Jeremy some more, and taking a look the bigger picture I do have to admit I’m more optimistic than I was before and even energized to learn more and get my hands dirty.
SharePoint… errrr… Office 365 is the future. It’s a bright future. Resistance is futile. As the great Arnold Schwarzenegger said “Take my hand!!!” We’ll figure this out together.