In 2016, May 4 was all about SharePoint. In another “May moment” this year (May 16), Microsoft unveiled the latest innovations for SharePoint and OneDrive during the SharePoint Virtual Summit. If you missed the event, you still can watch the entire program online.
There were lots of exciting announcements, and it’s worth watching the entire two-hour event, but it included several compelling announcements related to technology capabilities that can help organizations realize their knowledge management goals.
In most organizations, finding people with the right expertise to staff a project or help solve a problem is a critical business need. The SharePoint profile provides a place to describe expertise—but searching and discovering people based on their expertise has been a bit of a disconnected experience.
The introduction of the “people card” last year brought the profile to document libraries to provide context about the people contributing documents. When the people card is surfaced in more contexts than just the profile page, it provides a reminder about the importance of keeping your profile information up to date. You still need business processes and a culture that recognizes and values the importance of up-to-date profiles, but exposing the profiles in multiple locations brings awareness to everyone when profile information is not current.
An exciting feature in this week’s announcement is that now the people card will come to search results. This will allow you to learn more about the people discovered in search—without leaving search results. Identifying people who can provide knowledge and expertise can not only create lasting connections, but it can also contribute to your personal success. By keeping your profile up to date in Office 365 and leveraging search to connect with others in the organization, you can truly leverage the wisdom of your crowd and bring your entire organization with you when you need it the most.
Communities of Practice
Communities of Practice have long been a staple of knowledge management initiatives. Communities are groups of people who share a passion or interest for something they do and learn how to do it better by connecting with others who share the same passion or interest. Communities of Practice are typically cross-functional and, unlike a team, are not typically charged with creating project deliverables. That said, communities may create or curate best practices for their discipline.
Yammer has always been a great tool for communities, but I never liked the idea that the documents stored in Yammer were disconnected from SharePoint and the enterprise document management and control that SharePoint offers. In March, Microsoft began the roll out of Yammer integration with Office 365 Groups. This integration gives Yammer groups a SharePoint document library for their documents, combining SharePoint superior capabilities for managing documents with Yammer’s capabilities for conversation.
This week’s announcement introduced a beautiful new kind of organization-facing site—the modern Communication site. This new site template was designed to complement your existing publishing infrastructure and is initially designed to create visually engaging sites to support internal initiatives or campaigns, reports, product launches or topics—which is where Communities of Practice comes in. Imagine being able to give your Community a visually engaging, mobile-friendly “front door” that allows you to present your area of focus to the entire organization and embed a Yammer web part to encourage engagement and conversation.
In many ways, storytelling is at the heart of any knowledge management initiative. Creating opportunities to share stories in conversations is part of the lifeblood of online communities. Modern communication sites provide beautiful web pages that can be used to extend or supplement conversations and tell Community stories in visually compelling ways. In a future post, I’ll share some of the best tips I’ve collected for writing stories for the web because just being able to add beautiful images to pages does not necessarily make the content on the page easier to consume!
Knowledge management and beyond
There was so much more in the May 16 announcement than what I’ve highlighted here. Below are links you can use to get to the details of all the great things that were previewed. And, in a total shameless plug, be sure to watch the video from Shire below. I’m proud to be part of the governance and information architecture team on the Shire intranet project. It was a real treat to be part of a viewing party with the Shire team this week, watching the people in the video take pictures and video of themselves in the video. Very meta but very fun!
- Jeff Teper’s blog post highlighting how far SharePoint has come and the headline announcements
- SharePoint Team announcement linking to all of the detailed Tech Community blog posts and Mechanics videos
- Yammer Team’s blog post describing announcements made in conjunction with the SharePoint Summit
- Microsoft Tech Community Blog Posts:
- An overview of SharePoint communication sites
- Zero code business process apps in SharePoint with PowerApps and Microsoft Flow
- OneDrive for Business updates: simplified sharing and files on demand
- SharePoint Server 2016 updates and advances in cloud coexistence
- Updates to Yammer: Integrating conversations into your SharePoint experiences
- Updates to the SharePoint Framework with SharePoint Framework extensions
- New admin controls for SharePoint and OneDrive for Business
- New personalized, focused experiences across your SharePoint team sites