Last week Microsoft introduced some exciting new additions to SharePoint and Microsoft 2019, at the SharePoint user conference held in Las Vegas. These will be rolled out later this year.
Here is a recap of some of the features that were unveiled at this event:
SharePoint Spaces – mixed reality experiences for everyone
Microsoft is investing heavily in mixed reality technology. This is apparent from their announcement of Microsoft Remote Assist and Microsoft Layout earlier this month, which both use the HoloLens technology (Microsoft’s virtual reality headset) to solve problems and create new designs and layouts.
At the SharePoint conference 2018, Microsoft flaunted its new SharePoint spaces capability. Spaces create a 3D, 360-degree environment in which companies can interact with products, employees, and data in a more immersive way.
Spaces don’t require a VR headset and are quite simple to set up. You can pick from a variety of templates to get started and choose from components like surroundings, sounds, textures, and lighting. Next, you bring in data which could be documents, images, or videos. These are rendered in the 3D environment and provide point and click capability to interact with the objects, visualize them from every angle, and manipulate data in real-time.
SharePoint Spaces are “empowering people to interact with objects that might be too numerous, too large, or too dynamic to experience in the real world or in a two-dimensional environment”.
Microsoft sees SharePoint spaces transforming three major parts of a business, to begin with:
New employees can learn about a company in a 360-degree orientation in which they can take a virtual tour of the building or campus, learn the organization’s hierarchy with an interactive organization chart, and discover rich information about colleagues and products.
Mixed reality brings learning to life by engaging your senses and sparking curiosity by making it possible to dive deeper into subjects of your interest. It makes it possible to learn not just by reading or watching, but by actually experiencing the lesson, like going through the steps of a manufacturing process or performing a surgery.
3. Product development
You can create spaces for your team where they can explore a product prototype in 3D, make changes to it and attach annotations.
Improvements to SharePoint 2019
Microsoft has given SharePoint 2019 a facelift by bringing “the most compelling communications and collaborative experiences to customers of SharePoint 2019“.
SharePoint 2019 has a new modern design that is consistent across devices – phones, tablets, and desktops, and includes features that until now were offered only to Microsoft 365 (now renamed Microsoft 365) Online users. This includes Communications Sites, Team News, and modern Team Sites with the inclusion of Lists and Libraries.
In consideration of the many companies who are reluctant to move to the cloud, Microsoft has improved hybrid support by including support for the use of process automation and forms technologies such as Microsoft PowerApps and Flow to connect with on-premises data with 2019.
SharePoint brings AI to content collaboration
SharePoint has introduced AI in content discovery such that when you store your files, images, or other data in Microsoft 365, it processes it and intelligently builds connection maps depending on what you work on, how you work, and the people you work with. This helps it surface the most relevant and personalized information when you conduct a search.
1. SharePoint mobile app
There is a new “Find” button on the app which is a great way to find content, people, and answers to your questions when you are on the go. You will see recommended sites, documents, news, and people curated for you depending on your recent work, communications, and your role in the organization. You may even find answers without looking for them.
2. Microsoft 365 home page
As soon as you log in to your account, the Recommended section shows you documents that most likely need your attention and the Discover section shows you file your colleagues are working on, that you may want to look at.
3. Enhanced image capabilities
The OneDrive mobile app gives you a “Scan” button to quickly capture receipts, documents, business cards, and images. And with more and more content becoming image-based, AI has the ability to recognize objects and places where the photos were taken. It can also extract text in images making it as easy to search for them as documents. For example, you can search for all business cards with the word “consulting” in them.
Other announcements at the SharePoint Conference 2018
There were a few announcements about innovations that help people do their work more easily with sharing and collaboration, keep users engaged and informed with rich web parts that enhance corporate communications, support compliance, including GDPR, and help organizations transition from on-premise to hybrid or on cloud solutions easily by automating migration using PowerShell support.
You can read more about these announcements in the official SharePoint blog post by Mark Kashman: What’s new for your intranet in Microsoft 365.