We have recently had our lead architects do a fairly in depth review of SharePoint 2013, and based on that review, we are pleased to outline what we see as some of the key features of SharePoint 2013 and our take on those features. This will be a multi-part series. I’m looking forward to any comments or suggestions.
Microsoft SharePoint has come a long way since its introduction in 2001. In typical Microsoft fashion, the product has slowly gained capabilities and its functionality has matured over time.
In 2007, Microsoft introduced additional SharePoint capabilities such as item-level permissioning and improved search, and made it more of an enterprise tool to function both as a portal and a document management system. Then in 2010 Microsoft introduced records management functions and deeper integration with the desktop, sandbox solutions (for developers), and concepts such as community templates. As a result, SharePoint is now recognized as a true player in the portal world, achieving leader and visionary status in Gartner’s 2012 Magic Quadrant for Horizontal Portals.
Microsoft has now introduced SharePoint 2013. This most recent release features more powerful social collaboration features, such as an “App Store” model, a new approach to branding the user interface, and a number of other features that blend and blur the lines between the desktop and the portal.
Microsoft has also made a big push for use of SharePoint in the cloud, as part of the Office 365 environment and integration with Microsoft Azure for advanced hosted solutions.
This Paragon Solutions position paper will highlight some of the newer features included in Microsoft SharePoint 2013, as well as a high-level overview of the pros and cons of these features.
New Features in SharePoint 2013
While there are many new and exciting features in SharePoint 2013, the basic architectural footprint has not changed dramatically. These new features have been widely publicized in publications such as CIO Magazine2, Information Week3, and by Microsoft4.
This paper will not attempt to summarize those articles, but rather serve as a compilation of comments and observations gathered from Paragon team members and affiliates.
Paragon Solutions has significant experience using the features of SharePoint 2010, as well as with the integration of products, such as NewsGator, with SharePoint. Microsoft has made great strides in this area. However, we have found that while people tend to like shiny, new things, they sometimes struggle to identify the usefulness in them. Some of the more valued features that SharePoint 2013 supports include microblogs, hashtag features, and a more advanced newsfeed feature to tracks tags and the activities of people you are following. SharePoint 2013 does well in its capability that allows people to follow documents, tags and even sites in SharePoint.
SharePoint 2013 includes community sites, and a “reputation management” feature that we actually find somewhat troubling based on earlier social experiments in portals regarding self-proclamation of expertise in topic areas. We have seen social features, such as colleague tracking and newsfeeds, used effectively when there is an effort to encourage participation and alter behaviors of users rather than simply providing a template and hoping they use it effectively.
Finally, Microsoft envisions Yammer being used to capture meetings, meeting minutes and agendas (sounds like it will replace the deprecated meeting template that was popular in SharePoint 2010), however it is not yet fully integrated in SharePoint 2013. There are also plans to have a cloud version of Yammer for private groups. It will be interesting to see how this integration is applied to prevent people from being confused between existing SharePoint 2013 news feeds, microblogs and Yammer.
Our Take: When businesses truly want to adopt social features in the workplace, Microsoft has made a strong case for using SharePoint beyond Jive, IBM Connections or similar products. It is feature rich, and there is some control over features offered. However, if an organization adopts SharePoint 2013, they really adopt these features and it will be hard to not include them as part of what is offered to business teams. Consequently, organizations will need to be prepared with policies for the use of social tools, best practice tips, training, and communication. Additionally, care should be taken by international organizations to ensure that European privacy guidelines are understood and respected.
Stay tuned as we release more of the whitepaper and SharePoint 2013's newest features right here on our blog for your reading pleasure. But, why wait? You can download the whitepaper in its entirety now.
Let us know your comments, questions and conerns as you read through the document.