Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ten Productivity Reasons to Move to Microsoft SharePoint 2013

One huge risk in any technology roll out is training and adoption of the new version, which is often the biggest sticking point of moving off of technology with which users are comfortable. There are still plenty of people on Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, even though the support window is coming to a close.

The key to success with any technology upgrade is proving that return on investment from a productivity perspective. My Top Ten Productivity Reasons to Move to Microsoft SharePoint 2013 are:

1. Document Management

Uploading documents in previous versions of SharePoint have always meant a lot of awkward clicking and a huge change from using the file share where I just drag and drop off my local machine. Sure, there was “Open in Windows Explorer” but it was slow and unstable. The new drag-and-drop functionality of SharePoint document libraries, is amazing.

The other option of getting documents into SharePoint 2010 quickly was utilizing SharePoint Workspace, but that often was unpredictable and had document library scalability limitations. In SharePoint 2013, SkyDrive Pro is a new attempt at taking your content offline and replace SharePoint Workspace. The experience of taking your documents offline has also been improved by simply clicking the sync button. This is much more of the “drop box” experience that I hear is massively being adopted for its ease of use in businesses.

2. Sharing

Some of the major reasons SharePoint doesn’t get adopted as a document management system is the ease of simply sharing files via e-mail attachments or through Sky Drive or Dropbox. SharePoint 2013 introduces a new concept of “Share” that really takes the effort out of security management for business users by simply nominating the user or group and what permissions with two clicks. In itself, it also introduces some concerns around the security mess you could be left with so usage policies need to be thought about.

3. User Interface

When you first see SharePoint 2013, you realize it is a significant change over what is now in SharePoint 2010. The main changes are the “less is more” theories being applied in cleaning up the interface. Getting rid of some of the SharePoint-nuances like “Site Actions” and replacing with settings cog icon, having the getting started “Modern UI” tiles being front and center – but more importantly removable – getting rid of the useless photo that survived both SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010 in team site template! It feels like a more polished, ”user first” user interface.

4. Social

Facebook and Twitter are the kings of social and have been around for a long time, and with the release of SharePoint 2013 some of the user experiences have been introduced. For me, the biggest additions are the “@” symbol to lookup people to reference in social activity updates, the new communities with badges to gamify collaboration, and the ability to follow not only people but also documents, sites and tags. SharePoint 2010 was really missing the last piece to truly encourage users to adopt social and invest the time in social tagging.

5. Search

I, like many SharePoint users, spend a lot of time trying to find documents. I don’t have the capacity to think how every person in the business files documents away. No matter how good the information architecture is, stuff doesn’t always get put in the correct spot. Search enables me to discover information quickly, and SharePoint 2013 enables me to find things much more quickly with quick document previews in the web browser, much better search refiners on the left-hand side, and subtle improvements like “view library” and “send”.

6. Managed Metadata

When I reflect back on SharePoint 2010, the major addition was certainly the Managed Metadata service to allow me to tag content with a taxonomy or folksonomy of terms. This is a huge area for helping to improve discovery of content by searching and refining by terms. Although the user interface hasn’t changed since SharePoint 2010, there are a number of improvements – such as being able to follow terms from a social perspective. The other addition is the ability to have properties associated with terms, which has been introduced to have navigation driven by term sets. One great shame here is that this cannot be used to solve the cross-site collection navigation issue.

7. Site Policies

Site Policies were also available in SharePoint 2010 by accessing via the Central Admin user interface. The site policies allowed you to send email notifications to business users if their sites were not accessed for a set period of time. This really helps with business users who are accountable for sites and need to clean them up over time. This was really a “nag” email, and there was no real visibility of which sites were out of policy. In SharePoint 2013, the site policies now trigger workflows that you can build and have various configurations for handling inactive sites.

8. Web Content Management

Running internet facing sites on SharePoint has been around since MOSS 2007, but didn’t really mature in SharePoint 2010. With that said, it is clear that there is a great focus on this for SharePoint 2013. From a business productivity perspective, this not only benefits internet facing site authors, but also internal sites that want these advanced publishing features. Improvements in embedding video directly into pages, much shorter URLs, and the ability to have better multi-lingual and multi-device support means that your Intranet, Extranet will work much better!

9. Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence continues to evolve in SharePoint 2013 with improvements across the board in Excel client, Excel services, PerformancePoint services and Visio services. The in-memory capabilities of Excel client now allow business users to pull data from various sources and build amazing sheets in minutes.

10. Apps and the Marketplace

The new app model takes the risk out of customizations from an upgrade perspective and allows for much more flexibility than the sandboxed solution model. Out of the gate, there is not much there – but you can be sure that the marketplace will grow exponentially to benefit users.


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