In 2015 it was said that SharePoint is back and stronger than ever. In fact, it’s amazing how SharePoint has found its way back to winning ways and is now the core tool for Collaboration and Intranet as part of Microsoft 365 and Office 365. Microsoft has renewed the complete UI in recent years, and with SharePoint Modern, it offers a modern cloud-first, mobile-first user interface. SharePoint Communication Sites provides a powerful tool that allows the creation of modern, user-centric intranets.
Today, developing an information architecture is one thing; compliance with these rules is even more difficult. Either you entrust only a small, well-trained team with the task. Mostly this is neither useful nor possible. In practice, the maintenance of intranet content is distributed among many different people who keep the information relevant to their area up to date. In order to comply with the information architecture, either one of the above-mentioned Intranet-in-a-box products must be used, or a separate solution must be programmed. But this also requires a competent team, with experience, continuity and constant training.
SharePoint Online – As a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) Offering
At a certain complexity, investments must be made in DevOps. Stage environment for development, integration and testing are necessary. Deployment and test processes have to be automated. Office 365 and SharePoint Online is a software-as-a-service offering that is constantly changing. New functions are added continuously or existing features are changed and improved. While this is fundamentally positive, extensive enhancements require constant mindfulness and preparedness. You always have to be prepared to respond to changes made by Microsoft and adapt your own solution as needed.
In today’s “war for talents”, it is a major challenge to build up and above all to retain the know-how for the implementation and further development of an intranet within the company. Most customers therefore rely on implementation partners, be it Microsoft directly or a certified Microsoft partner such as isolutions AG. These implementation partners have the experience of previous projects and invest a lot of money and time in further education. The solution is to use Software-As-A-Service (SaaS) or Intranet-As-A-Service (IaaS). SharePoint Online fulfil the requirements for both. Especially, those who shy away from the effort and risks of a large-scale project can choose SharePoint online. With a minimum onboarding effort, an intranet-as-a-service provides the full functionality of an intranet. The provider takes care of the operation and the further development of the solution. Above all, the SharePoint solutions can be customized, and offer complete freedom.
SharePoint as a SaaS solution is very easy to use flexible, cost-effective and scalable. Hence, it’s no wonder that the SharePoint market is flourishing. According to a recent report produced by BetterCloud, almost 73% of all the organizations in the world say that nearly all of their business tools will be SaaS by the end of 2020. If that would be the case, the trends of SaaS platforms and especially of SharePoint have to be closely watched, in order to stay competitive and responsive.
SharePoint SaaS in 2019
Being in the business of SharePoint Consulting Services and implementation for over ten years, we have witnessed that the popularity of SharePoint Online (SaaS) has increased dramatically, as compared to its On-Premise deployment. In our projects, we always try hard to keep track and apply all the latest SharePoint Online trends. It helps our clients and us stay competitive with the market and other SaaS vendors respectively. For your convenience, here we have listed down 5 key trends of SharePoint as a Service (SPaaS), to help you keep up with the SharePoint 2019 features and services.
The approach of ‘Mobile First’ will keep on prevailing when it comes to implementing the SharePoint solutions like LMS, DMS and Intranet in 2019, and so the mobile version has become a must-have, integrated feature. Consequently, this approach helps reducing the costs of desktop and mobile implementation for SharePoint solutions individually.
The trends of Microsoft SharePoint Online started to focus on improvisations and modernization in 2018, e.g. new feel and look, new lists, pages and libraries etc. and they continue in 2019 too. In SharePoint 2019, new web parts are formed to improve the overall employee experience. For instance, web parts like ‘My Recent Documents’ and ‘My Frequent Sites’ allow to personalize individual employee experience and to simply the access to the recurrent and relevant information, while increasing overall employee performance and productivity.
SharePoint Service 2019 strongly focuses on SharePoint SaaS branding. Distinctive branding of intranet or cloud corporate portal facilitates promoting a company’s products, values and brand reputation, which eventually makes the company attract the users and outshine the competition. SharePoint Online has a very rich set of tools that makes the solutions appealing to partners, vendors and customers. The extensive customization capabilities of the platform allow tools’ navigation, color scheme customization, tailoring a logo and several other design elements that contributes to a brand image. Furthermore, in the branded SharePoint solutions, the platform will not be recognizable, and this is what most requested by the customer.
4. Artificial Intelligence
The contribution of machine learning and AI technology inn SPaaS tends to increase significantly this year. The SharePoint platform is already widely using the AI elements such as key phrases, cognitive text analysis for sentiments, moderation, translation, image recognition and auto-tagging etc. To enhance customer service and collaboration, bots will also be used actively in SharePoint Online portals and intranets. AI provides improved regulatory and search compliance, that are the key features for SharePoint solutions for regulated industries and big enterprises. For instance, AI can automatically eliminate and detect security threats within SharePoint by automatically imposing restriction, ensuring that the users view, share and use files in compliance with the external and internal regulations.
A general trend of SaaS is the integration of tools as closely together as possible while also being most relevant to the SharePoint. Reinforcing integration throughout the digital workplace help increasing the overall employee and organizational productivity. For instance, SharePoint’s integration with the Microsoft Team is a very common and it offers employees with exceptional collaboration space along with a client chat. Additionally, SharePoint integrates with various other third-party and Microsoft systems and tools such as BI, LMS, ERP and CRM etc. This level of integration helps eliminating the silos approach from the companies. Hence, companies that migrate to SharePoint Online don’t have to worry that the tools they were familiarize won’t work if they introduce SharePoint into the existing infrastructure and digital environment of the company.
What Your Business Needs to Have SharePoint as a SaaS Offering?
SharePoint Online (SaaS) model for the business world today means significant efficiencies and cost savings. But before that came into question as a viable option, many developments were needed:
Better Access to High-Speed Internet Connections. The high-speed Internet provided sufficient standard speed for the use of any SaaS applications. As more and more users have broadband connections, more and more users can access services virtually anywhere.
Standardization of Digital Technologies. Standard protocols make sharing, integration, and scaling of cloud-based programs and services easier and provide better user experiences across devices.
Increasing Popularity & Use of Web-Like Surfaces. More and more users welcome web-like work environments, as they are familiar with their functionality and operation and appreciate the uncomplicated operation.
Fast & Widespread Acceptance of Mobile Devices. Greater acceptance of mobile device helps in greater acceptance of a collaborative platform like SharePoint.
Increase in Teleworking. When people need to be networked everywhere, not just in the office, a SaaS solution like SharePoint Online is ideal.
This is how SharePoint as A Service Offering is Deployed
As with other cloud services, organizations typically pay a monthly or yearly fee for SaaS applications as well. SharePoint providers typically bill applications based on usage parameters, such as the number of people using the applications or the number of transactions. Users access the applications via a browser. The majority of SharePoint Online offerings are based on a multitenant architecture, where a single version of an application is used for all customers of the service provider. Companies using SPaaS applications can change the configuration settings and customize the software to their specific needs within certain parameters. However, the features cannot be adjusted to the extent that is often possible with locally installed enterprise software.
How Companies Save Money by Using SharePoint as A Service
An advantage of using SharePoint as a service is that companies do not need to install and run their applications on their own systems. This reduces hardware purchase and maintenance costs, software licenses and support costs. Setup costs for a SharePoint Online on are also generally low. In some cases, using SPaaS may also reduce long-term software costs, although this depends on the price model for each SaaS offering and the usage patterns of the business. In fact, SaaS can sometimes cost more than traditional software licenses. This should be carefully reviewed by IT organizations. With cloud services, organizations can be more agile; they can subscribe to SharePoint offerings as needed instead of buying licenses and installing the software on internal machines. In the case of applications that require new hardware purchases, the savings can be substantial.