What I find interesting in SharePoint 2013

On my visit to London last week, I was able to spend some time with the Microsoft Information Worker field team. One of the things presented was my take on the forthcoming SharePoint 2013 release. In a previous post, I shared my thoughts on some of the themes that I saw within this release — and I talked about those themes with the Microsoft team at length, but I also shared a quick snapshot of the standout features that, for me, make this release compelling.

Forgive me if I hold back on some of my images and thoughts here, since I’m gearing up for a major roadshow to various user groups and Microsoft teams across the middle east and Europe next month, and I don’t want to share everything before I even get started. But the following list should provide you with a good picture of what I’ll be talking about and demonstrating from the road.

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Within this release, there are some fairly dramatic shifts — part of Microsoft’s evolving release planning, and due to trends in the industry that are driving customer expectations, such as the consumerization of IT, the ability to access and consume data anytime, anywhere, and on any device, and in the increased use of the cloud. You can see much of these influences in the SharePoint 2013 Preview and much of Microsoft’s content surrounding the impending release, including a focus on web content management, on extending the social experiences — including richer Office app integrations, more integrated search, and the evolution of their "online first" model in which we will very soon see parity between on prem and online versions, and not too far away, online out-pacing on prem in available features. When Microsoft says that this is a landmark year, they aren’t just spinning the marketing wheels. These are some pretty big changes.

Within the SharePoint 2013 preview, there are broad and granular features that stand out in my mind:

  • Web Content Management (WCM)
    There is so much wrapped up underneath this one banner, but the main idea is to allow for cross-site publishing, variations and content translation, image renditions, video and embedding, and everything else you require to publish across your intranet, extranet, and internet sites. While 2010 focused on ECM features, feedback from customers across the board nailed Microsoft for poor WCM capabilities. 2013 answers those requests.
  • Design Manager
    I love the ability to better manage the SharePoint branding experience from within the platform, allowing administrators and designers to manage their various master pages, images, and sites. This will come in handy when designing a SharePoint site for viewing by browser, tablet and mobile device — the Design Manager will help you to build the framework for each, allowing you to then manage the content in one place, but consume across each device type. Cool stuff.
  • Integrated FAST Search
    I heard these complaints back in 2006 and 2007 — why should I pay for good search when it should be part of the standard license? Well, FAST is no more, and the search tools are better integrated and available through your existing CAL, with some new query and navigation capabilities available out of the box.
  • Social Communities
    We all knew this was coming. It was blatantly missing from 2010, and several partners created their own versions of communities (such as NewsGator and Neudesic). Now it comes out of the box, giving teams the ability to develop community sites with shared calendars, tasks, noteboards, and so forth — all integrated with the corporate platform.image
  • Yammer Integrations
    While we do not yet have visibility into what is coming from Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Yammer, there is a lot of speculation. I have my theories, and its all good news for the social experiences inside of SharePoint. One guess (I don’t have an insiders view here — this is purely my speculation) is an expansion of what is available today for 2010, in which you can push content from SharePoint 2010 to an existing Yammer community site, by allowing two-way content sharing between the platforms. I expect more on this at the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas this November, and am eagerly awaiting the news.
  • Office Integrations
    This is a great usability story. When I first saw screens of 2013 back in March (at the MVP Summit), the first thing I noticed was the smooth integration with Office, and the simple, drag-and-drop movement from desktop to SharePoint. Love it. A reduction in the need to pop open a context menu to edit a list or table — just click and edit.
  • Workflow Advances
    This one also comes with a little controversy around the future of SharePoint Designer — which I won’t get into (I’ve gotten into trouble in the past about comments I’ve made about SPD, so I’ll refrain from comments here). But what you need to know is that Microsoft has invested in the expansion of native workflow capabilities in 2013. If you saw the Forrester report on 2010 adoption, you know that workflow is the #1 productivity feature used in SharePoint. A recent AIIM survey showed that 97% of respondents using SharePoint were actively or passively using workflow. That’s huge. Now you can do more, out of the box.
  • SkyDrive Pro
    SkyDrive is not new — its been around since 2007. In the 2013 platform, it displaces Workspace (which was Office Groove) and provides a method for online/offline content synchronization. And as with the other Office integrations, provides drag and drop — which you can do with a folder, with no browser open. With SkyDrive and SharePoint, you can centralize your task management, and work synchronously with others to edit a single document.
  • The App Model
    Here more than elsewhere is Microsoft addressing the move toward the cloud, offering a new way to build out tools and access data, allowing end users to use the platform the way they want to use it. Organizations can build out an array of apps, offer them to users through a private (or public) marketplace, and allow them to consume data how they want.image
  • Shredded Storage
    And finally, the concept behind shredded storage is to reduce the amount of content sent across the wire by making changes within the database equal to the size of the change, rather than the size of the file. For example, if I have a word doc and edit a single word, the size of the version would only be the text that was changed — not the entire document. There are a number of different storage optimization solutions out there, from WAN optimization to remote blob storage, but shredded storage is a fairly innovative solution to a large problem for many organization contemplating moving all of their content into SharePoint.

This is not a comprehensive list, by any means, but are the features that stood out to me upon first look at the preview version. Of course, I’m also leaving out here a key component of what I presented at Microsoft — the business value of SP2013, and the value prop for moving to the new version, even if an organization has only recently moved to 2010. I do believe there are compelling reasons to move. And therein lies the value in coming to see me present live 🙂

I’ll be posting dates and locations for my travels as I get closer to my travel dates, and will be blogging from the road at each stop, sharing anecdotes from each tour stop and pictures of those whom I come in contact with. I start in Tampa, Florida (#SPSTampa) and head to the middle east, and end my trip by going from London to Minneapolis (#SPSTC). I’m looking forward to this trip, and hope to see many of you out there.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Servers and Services MVP, the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and CMO of revealit.io, a blockchain-based video technology company.