The more you can align your tools and applications with the way people work, the greater the level of adoption and, ultimately, the biggest impact you will have to productivity. From the opposite perspective: the more you require people to adhere to additional steps to complete common business activities (to jump between applications to complete a task, to click more to find their data, or to require them to login multiple times), the less likely they will adopt — much less embrace — your tools and applications.
For many years now, customers have recognized that SharePoint has a user experience (UX) problem. It’s amazing to think that we are closing in on two decades with the platform. Historically, SharePoint has been known as a “Swiss army knife” product that can be modified and customized to meet the needs of any business, providing content and document management, team collaboration, and business process management capabilities. In many ways, it has also provided a development framework for organizations looking to unify disparate line of business (LOB) applications, building a centralized portal into all of the tools and systems their end users require to get their work accomplished. When you consider everything SharePoint can provide, it’s not surprising that UX has fallen behind — it’s a lot to manage.
When Satya Nadella took over as CEO of Microsoft and announced the company’s renewed focus on “platforms and productivity,” it sparked a directional change for SharePoint in many ways. While much of the innovation happening with SharePoint 2016 could be viewed as “cleaning up” decisions made in earlier versions, and deeper support for hybrid scenarios, one of the more exciting areas of improvement has been a tighter integration with Microsoft Office.
Microsoft has made it clear that most SharePoint innovations happen in the cloud first, and then, where it makes sense for on-premises scenarios, to expand the capability of the on-prem version. In addition to a change in the way the company builds and deploys software, Microsoft now also takes into consideration how a proposed feature will impact personal and team productivity. This is a massive cultural change, and is having a direct impact on the innovations we’re seeing within Office 365, the Office suite of tools (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.), and certainly within SharePoint.
End users aren’t just looking for new features — they want to understand where the features fit within common, end-to-end scenarios, and they want to see clear productivity gains.
A great example of where a tighter integration of every day tools can help with adoption and engagement within SharePoint is the Microsoft Office suite. Rather than maintain a separate messaging system, or a standalone method for assigning tasks, why not leverage the existing capability within Office? If I am working within SharePoint and want to create an event or meeting from within a team site or community, why do I need to create a calendar item within a SharePoint calendar, which is completely outside of my messaging platform (Outlook), and then have to go into the ribbon to link the SharePoint calendar with my own? With a tighter integration, SharePoint should understand who I am based on my profile and Active Directory integration, allowing me to create that same event — and have it automatically appear within my Outlook calendar (maybe as a different color).
Things are moving in this direction — not just with SharePoint, but across all of Microsoft applications. For example, some of my favorite integrations were the inclusion of Skype for Business and OneNote to Outlook meeting invites, allowing you to very easily make any meeting invite an online meeting invite, as well as include a centralized location for all participants to share notes. Or the way that OneDrive for Business is now a default storage destination for Windows, and every applications running on Windows. The stronger the points of integration with the tools people use the most — like Microsoft Office — the more “sticky” SharePoint becomes.
The Beezy teams understands the need to look at every new features through the productivity lens, helping to connect-the-dots between the many Microsoft tools and capabilities. Beezy was built on SharePoint, for SharePoint with the goal of delivering a superior user experience — and to improve personal and team productivity. If you have not yet seen Beezy in action, schedule your demo today.