SharePoint Team Sites are dead, there you have it! The era when SharePoint Team Sites was the king of SharePoint and web based collaboration are over. SharePoint Team Sites are dead, I said it again. Ok, you might think this is a link bait, a scam or something else - it's not. This is how I foresee the future of online collaboration in SharePoint Online/Office 365.
Team Sites are based on a decade old construct in SharePoint. They allow a great flexibility and extensibility for the end users, but…
…it requires a lot of training
…it drives a lot of support
…it drives a lot of consultancy hours (yes, I am/was one of those)
…historically upgrades are extremely expensive
…[fill in your own here]
…do the end-users really need that much power?
So, what's a better option then? I'd say Office 365 Groups! Office 365 Groups has a lot of the features that we lack in Team Sites and it offers the simplicity that end-users requires from Team Sites in 95% (just made that figure up, but you get the point) of the cases.
Office 365 Groups combines the best of the Office 365 services in one single place, and Office 365 Groups have done something the SharePoint team haven't ever achieved doing with Team Sites - integrate with the Outlook client. Office 365 Groups is a mash-up of:
- An Exchange Online Inbox - that is you can send e-mail to the group. This is a killer feature in online collaboration. Yes, SharePoint 2013 had the Team Site Mailbox but we all know that feature didn't scale and to be frankly it sucked.
- A SharePoint Online Document Library - all we need to share documents, what better tool for that than a SharePoint document library. Offline sync, version history, web-based editing with Office Online, sharing, recycle bin etc etc. Using SharePoint for what SharePoint originally was designed for…
- An Exchange Online Calendar - a real calendar (compared to the one in SharePoint)
- A OneNote Online Notebook - OneNote, nuff said
- Conversations - yea, conversations and discussions and likes and what not (not based on Yammer, thank you very much).
As you can see Office 365 Groups uses the best tools available in the Office 365 service for a specific purpose. It all integrates and works extremely well in the web based user interface and you can offline sync the documents and work with it in the Outlook 2016 client.
Office 365 Groups also aligns very well with the NextGen Portals, Microsofts attempt to build killer solutions in Office 365. One of those NextGen Portals are Delve which helps you discover new and relevant information. Shortly Delve will start to recommend Office 365 Groups for you (announced at Ignite 2015) and Office 365 and the Office Graph will also be extended with really interesting collaboration analytics between groups (another awesome Ignite demo). We also will see a Office 365 Groups App for mobile devices (see public roadmap), Office 365 Groups will be integrated to CRM Online and more…
The extensibility story for Office 365 Groups has just started. Unfortunately we are not allowed to modify content types and such in the document library (see wish list below). But Office 365 Groups has made it into the new Microsoft Graph/Unified Office 365 APIs and Azure AD Apps.
For management of Office 365 Groups the story did not start well last fall, but we're continuously seeing new improvements. Such as the new naming policies for groups etc. I like it!
Yes, there are exceptions and some rough edges here and there (see my wish list below) - but overall this is something your organization should adapt as soon as possible. It will take you one step closer the digital (modern) workplace and into the future of online collaboration!
Office 365 Groups wish list
Here are a couple of things that I think should be top priority for the product team. If and when these "issues" are solved I think we have a pretty robust and future-proof solution.
- Supported management of the Document Library, so that you can for instance modify/add the content type and/or templates. We really need this for enterprise content management.
- Some extensibility hooks for customizations
- Better management of the Groups e-mail address
- A task list
- Integration with Azure AD Dynamic groups
- Notifications/events when groups are created or group creation approval
- Better discoverability, a better "Groups Portal"
- An Everyone group - so that we get an All company feed and once and for all can shut Yammer down
Both Build and Ignite has passed and we finally have the first update on the Office Roadmap in a month. It's quite a few new interesting things in the pipe this time and but no new Yammer features :)
Since the 15th of April the following items has changed on the Office Roadmap.
- Change copy/paste behavior in the Outlook Web App: brand new updates directly to production. Changing how mixed content (images and text) are pasted in OWA.
- DLP in Office 365 to protect Externally classified content: from rolling out
- Edit Office 365 profile details page update: now fully launched
- Enhanced NDRs: from In Development
- Increase Message Size limit to 150 MB: from In Development
- Lync Web App support for Mac and Windows Chrome users: from Rolling Out
- MDM for OneDrive for Business: From Rolling Out
- Office 2013 client update to support passive authentication using SAML: from Rolling Out
- Office 365 Groups : Dynamics CRM integration: A brand new feature to Office 365 Groups! And it's a good one. This new feature in CRM allows you to create Office 365 Groups to collaborate with team members that don't have access to CRM. Read more here.
- Office 365 Groups: adding Like to Conversations: from In Development
- Partner Admin Center New Customer List Filters: from Rolling Out
- Recommend OneDrive for Business for Large Attachments: from In Development
- First Release Select people: directly to production. One of the best new enhancements, announced at Ignite, that allows you to have First Release per user instead of per tenant.
- Office 365 Groups : files improvements: new on the roadmap. Necessary improvements to Office 365 Groups, now if only content types were available in groups…
- Office 365 Notification Pane: did they do this properly this time?
- Office 365 Video Update: HTML5… we listened to your feedback…
- SharePoint Online storage usage model: from in development, allows you to have "Auto" quotas
- SharePoint Online uses Exchange Web Services to send mail: new kid on the block, will improve how the shared items e-mails are sent and perhaps not being classified as spam
- SharePoint Online will start to transition to using TLS to send email securely in our datacenters: perhaps not the most exciting new feature, but a good one. Also a feature that will be available on-premises in SharePoint 2016
- Skype for Business Online: from in development - just ye ole re-branding of Lync.
- Save to OneDrive for Business: from in development. Save to OD4B directly from OWA (Outlook Web App, not Office Web Apps). (Updated since the original post)
- Custom Tiles: a new and highly requested feature. Once this one is rolling out you will be able to add links to the App Launcher
- Exchange Online Advanced Threat Protection: Something new that will make all your Exchange admins excited. Read more.
- Inline Service Health for Support Request Creation: new feature that supposedly should help you not submitting requests to Microsoft.
- Office 365 Groups: mobile app: The roadmap doesn't have much to say on this feature, but I guess the title says it all. Oh, did I hear someone say that Team Sites are dead?
Update since the original post: "We'll be delivering a mobile app that surfaces Outlook Group conversations and files across iOS, Android and Windows Phone by the end of 2015. "
- Organization support card: new feature that allows you to add you own contact support details in the help pane of Office 365
- Proactive notification of Outlook version: admins will now know if you are lazy and don't update Outlook…
Moved off to the list into Previously released
- Clutter control and admin capabilities
- Compliance Center for Office 365
- DKIM Outbound for Exchange Online Protection
- Exchange Transport Rule: Recipient Notification Action
- Improved Yammer thread visuals with Card View for iOS/Android
- Lync Online Active User Activities Report
- MAPI over HTTP for Outlook 2013 and Exchange Online
- New preview features for Power BI
- Office 365 Admin App Update
- Office 365 Groups Notebook
- OneDrive for Business Sync for Mac
- Outlook Web App options update
- Removing Deleted Items Retention Period
- RMS support for document libraries
- Sign-In Page Branding and Self Service Password Reset
- Skype for Business desktop application update
- Touch Design Enhancements for SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business
- Yammer groups prioritization
- Yammer support for Android Wear devices