2018 SharePoint Conference: Key announcements for information architects

Microsoft announced new experiences to showcase custom metadata in Teams and on pages.

2018 SharePoint Conference: Key announcements for information architects
Mark Rackley

Last week brought the return of a dedicated event for SharePoint and the rest of the Office 365 family (Teams, OneDrive, and Yammer) — the SharePoint Conference — and some long-awaited capabilities for modern sites in Office 365.

I was especially excited about all the love for metadata — bringing visibility of document metadata to Microsoft Teams (finally) — and my absolute favorite announcement: the ability to add metadata to pages in “edit” mode!

Though most of my time is spent on cloud-based solutions these days, SharePoint on prem got a lot of love, too, with the announcement that some of the best features on the cloud are coming to SharePoint 2019, including Communications Sites, Team News, and modern Team Sites to include Lists and Libraries. Read more in Bill Baer’s blog post.

Plus, some important updates for organization news will delight a lot of my clients in corporate communications. If you are at all hesitant about creating your next generation on SharePoint/Office 365, the intranet announcements this week should remove most barriers.

Metadata visibility in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams provides a great experience for team work, and each Microsoft Team includes a SharePoint team site. I am often asked if the team site you get with Microsoft Teams is the same as a SharePoint team site. The answer is YES! When you create a Team, your members are added to an Office 365 Group. Every Office 365 Group comes with a team site — the exact same type of team site you get when you create a team site from SharePoint. The only difference is that if you create your Group from the Teams interface, you also get the experiences provided by Microsoft Teams, including chat and connectors.

One reason why many people are confused about Teams vs. team sites is that the view of documents from the Teams interface today is different from the view of the same document library in SharePoint. The announcement last week is that the view of a document library that you see in SharePoint will now be available in the Files tab in Teams — complete with all the custom metadata that you have defined for your documents in SharePoint. So, go ahead and add metadata to the default “Shared Documents” library in SharePoint — your team members will be able to see and interact with the metadata from Teams.

metadata in teams Microsoft

Microsoft Teams gets the full power of SharePoint document libraries, including metadata, pinned items, Flow, and more.

Metadata on Pages — and page targeting

“On page” metadata. While it is possible to add metadata to pages in Office 365 today, adding metadata requires a multi-step process that involves creating the page, going to the Site Pages library, finding the page you want, then editing the properties of the document to add metadata that can then be used to filter content in the Highlighted Content web part and page library views — but not much else.

Last week’s long-awaited announcement introduces a much easier way to update page metadata — on the page while the page is in “edit” mode. And, with a new web part, you can display page metadata to users to showcase how pages are classified.

page metadata Microsoft

On-page metadata makes it easier to add metadata to pages that can be used to create new experiences using targeting and highlighted content to filter pages based on attributes.

One of the top requests I get from Site Owners is the ability to organize news posts based on metadata. It’s easy to use Highlighted Content to filter news pages based on metadata (learn more in an earlier blog post) — but the ability to more easily add metadata to pages makes this approach much more realistic and eliminates the need to use naming conventions to group pages.

Target content based on audiences. One of the features I really missed from “classic” SharePoint has been the ability to target content to different users based on membership in a group. For example, almost every HR organization has a secure “manager’s portal” for people with supervisory responsibility. In “classic” SharePoint, we used target audiences to surface the Manager’s Portal link (or web part) to only managers. In another example, we could target News to users in a particular department or geography — essentially helping to focus user attention on the most relevant content.

Until now, this capability has been missing from “modern” SharePoint. Last week’s announcement brings back audience targeting — a capability I cannot wait to start using.

target content to audiences Microsoft

Targeting content to audiences provides the ability to bring the most relevant and personal content to users — and significantly reduce information overload.

Organization news to delight corporate communications

Another great barrier-smashing announcement is the ability to identify sites that include “authoritative” news and, using the “hub layout” for News, the ability to “pin” important news articles to remain “on top.” The inability to designate authoritative news and “pin” those articles in the news experiences has been a big barrier to adoption for many of my clients. The ability to focus attention on authoritative news is a great feature that will open up opportunities for many organizations.

The time to bring your intranet to Office 365 and “modern” SharePoint is now!

There were a lot more great intranet announcements last week — summarized in the official SharePoint blog post by Mark Kashman: What’s new for your intranet in Office 365. Most of the capabilities announced this past week are expected to roll out over the next few months. I will have some re-work to do on a few active intranets, but I’m happy to make these changes to make better experiences for content authors and readers.

Finally, if you haven’t had a chance to experience “enterprise reality TV,” check out Swoop: the intranet makeover show (also known as “how I spent the week after Thanksgiving”). Working with fellow MVPs Laura Rogers and Benjamin Niaulin (and some help behind the scenes from Microsoft’s Bob German), I had the opportunity to “swoop” in to Funko to see how we could make over their intranet in three short days using Office 365 and a few early capabilities like hub sites and site designs.

We didn’t really make over the entire intranet, but we were able to identify opportunities to demonstrate the value of Office 365 for collaboration and communication and create a framework for Funko to extend after we left.

I now have some great ideas about what I want to update at Funko given what was announced last week. But that’s the thing about intranets — if you are doing them right, you’re never done!

First look: Office 2019’s likeliest new features
  
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