Takeaways from the SharePoint Conference and Virtual Summit


Microsoft SharePoint was created more than 20 years ago, and yet the technology and the community surrounding it continues to grow. At the SharePoint Conference 2019, held last week in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand, Microsoft Corporate VP and the founding father of SharePoint, Jeff Teper, once again returned to the main stage to share the latest stats and many new announcements about SharePoint's enduring success. The SharePoint Conference included once again the broadcast of the SharePoint Virtual Summit, which was made available to viewers around the world.

Teper used his keynote address to focus on the theme of the Intelligent Workplace and three core pillars: Teamwork and Business Process, Employee Engagement and Communications, and Search and Content Intelligence. Throughout the keynote and the rest of the event, the announcements made were aligned within each of these pillars, and captured within 10 separate Microsoft 365 Blog posts that provided additional details (you can find them at the bottom of Teper's blog post here).

Extranet User Manager president and Microsoft MVP Peter Carson (@carsonpeter) connected with fellow MVP and founder of CollabTalk, Christian Buckley (@buckleyplanet) to discuss some of his key takeaways from the event, which you can watch here.

SharePoint Stats

SharePoint continues to be the leading intranet and content collaboration platform due to its broad adoption and powerful capabilities. Even so, some of the data points shared as part of the keynote received strong applause from the audience. Some of the statistics shared by Teper included:

  • 180 million users of Office 365 commercial
  • 60% growth in active users on SharePoint in the last year
  • 373% more SharePoint Framework (SPFx) in the last year
  • SharePoint Online is now in 28 regions, across 53 datacenters, and across more than 180,000 servers

Teamwork and Business Process

Within the first pillar, Microsoft announced a number of incremental improvements, such as the expanded use of metadata for files in Microsoft Teams, new classification labels, additional list and library support, and new encryption and protection options.

One of the biggest crowd-pleasers was the announcement of support for URL changes and automatic redirects, allowing administrators to redesign and reuse existing SharePoint team sites without having to manually make these changes.

Architecturally, Teper introduced a new protocol and next generation storage framework to improve file sharing and co-authoring performance, incremental open for large files (he used the example of opening the first few PowerPoint slides to allow a user to begin reading while the rest of the slides are still downloading), and differential save (saving the changes made to a file rather than re-saving the entire file) across all file types. Much of this performance improvement is due to the announced Fluid Framework, which touts zero-latency co-authoring. These improvements will improve download speed by 10x, performance by 3x, and indexing by an impressive 30x (see Microsoft announcement on "turbo charging" performance here).

There were also several important announcements specifically around external sharing. One of the key announcements was the introduction of File Requests, allowing users to not only share content in SharePoint, but to request files from individuals by providing a repository and notifications, with comments and @@mentions, and link open receipts. As mentioned by Peter in the summary video, we'll further expand upon this topic in the coming weeks.

Employee Engagement and Communications

The big announcement for the second pillar was the launch of SharePoint Home Sites, a personalized destination for end users that includes individual news and content, engaging conversations and video, with intelligent search and rich navigation that is accessible and available across all devices. Some of the incremental announcements include personalized web parts, the release of a much-requested megamenu, and the ability to embed polls and quizzes into video using Microsoft Forms.

Alongside the Home Sites announcement is the expansion of Microsoft Stream video capabilities across SharePoint, Teams, and Yammer. According to Gartner, by the end of 2020 more than 80% of intranet content will be video -- and Microsoft has been working diligently to respond to this growing trend with a fully integrated Stream platform, launching Stream Live Events earlier this year.

Search and Content Intelligence

The major announcement within this pillar was the general availability of the new Microsoft Search, bringing the same experience available today in Office.com and Bing to Microsoft 365, with support for Windows 10 coming later this year. This new search experience will allow users to search from the command box atop each Microsoft Office app, and across the other Microsoft 365 workloads.

Additionally, administrators can search within the Admin Center, including bookmarks, locations, and Q&A. Search and Compliance capabilities include expanded support for the Microsoft Graph API, allowing admins to find conversations within Teams and Yammer, as well as SharePoint and OneDrive. It also includes search across videos stored in SharePoint, OneDrive, and Stream.

Coming Up Next

This is a short summary of the announcements made last week, many of which we'll be expanding upon in the coming weeks. Additionally, Microsoft has introduced a new monthly update to help organizations keep up with announcements, guidance, and tips across Microsoft 365’s communication and collaboration experiences.

Of course, be sure to watch Peter's interview above for more detail, and continue to watch this space for our perspective on many of these announcements.

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