Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Top 10 Things Intervate is Excited About, About SharePoint 2013 - Part 2

(This article will take 15 minutes to read) 
If you you have stumbled across this Part 2 of “The Top 10 Things Intervate is Excited About, About SharePoint 2013” then Part 1 can be found here: Part 1

If however you have just arrived from Part 1, please do enjoy Part 2.

Number 6 – Mobile, mobile, mobile. Ubiquitous mobile

Mobile has been cited as one of the big bets for the last two plus years and the statistics in South Africa show that mobile smart device ownership is rapidly growing, spurring the Bring-Your-Own-Device phenomenon, as well as sharply increasing the numbers of people using their mobile to access the Internet. Mobile usage has become ubiquitous ranging from the board executives to the shop floor. SharePoint 2013 delivers significantly enhanced mobile functionality. 

SharePoint 2013 Mobile

First in the new capabilities is the SharePoint 2013 Newsfeed app. This is one of the new features that has finally brought SharePoint 2013 to the realms of being truly social. This new app allows users to post to all newsfeeds, follow people, mention, share documents and follow hashtags. The app can be installed on Windows Phone, Windows 8 and iOS for iPad and iPhone. For those companies that embraced MySites in SharePoint 2010, these new social features are going to accelerate user adoption and usage and enable you to reach new levels of social engagement and collaboration.

Next is an optimised mobile browser experience via what’s called the “Contemporary View”. This feature also enables mobile users to natively start working with SharePoint without the need for a third party app, which let’s face it, is not the ideal solution. Contemporary View delivers a simple HTML5 user interface especially designed for mobile users. 

SharePoint 2013 Classic, Contemporary & Full Screen
Thirdly, a greatly enhanced Office Web Apps user experience including touch support for tablets. In SharePoint 2010 the use of Office Web Apps on a mobile device was not very effective. In SharePoint 2013 this has been enhanced significantly to deliver a specific user interface for mobile devices ensuring that users can easily work with and create Office documents on the go.

The last one I want to mention is Push Notifications. Push notifications are a given with most mobile apps that we have on our Windows Phone, iPhone, Android device or tablet. Microsoft now brings this feature to SharePoint 2013 to send device updates as a tile or toast notification. At the moment this only works with Windows Phone, but I see no reason why this won’t be expanded to include all mobile devices in due course.

Number 7 – Best in class – FAST Search

SharePoint 2013 delivers a single search engine which combines the best features of SharePoint 2010 search, FAST search and technologies and ideas from the BING search engine. It’s a standard part of SharePoint 2013 providing an extremely powerful enterprise search engine ‘out-of-the-box’.

The new features and benefits of search and therefore the appeal can be split between two groups, the techies and the general user community. The new improved features include native and faster PDF indexing, federated location search, mailbox search and an improved scalability.

The user interface has been improved significantly to deliver a clean and crisp interface that has a richer experience. Results are delivered through Ajax eliminating page refreshes when additional information is requested. Refiners have also been improved with a new visual refiner displaying information in graphs and also a count returning an absolute number of matches in an index. The new preview pane has to be one of the best features designed for the user community and will undoubtedly speed up the process of search for specific documents.

Result Types is a new feature that allows the application of a template to a given result. This can enable different representation of returned information dependent on a customised set of result type rules – this really provides a detailed level of control over results improving the search experience. A simple example of this is the use of different templates for results that are text or image based.

The advanced query syntax facilitates a new level of search that could assist large enterprises with significant repositories of information under their care. For example: A query for documents containing ‘Life Insurance’ and authored by people with ‘John’ in their name would be written: “ALL(Life Insurance) (DetectedLanguage="en") (IsDocument="True") Author:John”. 

SharePoint 2013 Search
Number 8 – The shift to the app model

Like the apps that you install from the app stores on your mobile device, the SharePoint app store allows you to download standalone apps that can be easily installed, managed and removed from your SharePoint solution. This will have the effect of reducing the load on the IT operations and will empower the users to innovate around their collaboration and enterprise social needs.

Number 9 – Shredded storage

Shredded storage is a feature that sounds really technical and could inadvertently be disregarded by many readers. It is however one of the most beneficial improvements potentially dramatically reducing operating and maintenance costs of a SharePoint environment.

Shredded storage will remove file duplicates (from multiple versions in a document library, for example) and reduce the amount of content sent across the wire. That’s it. For the techies that means that delta’s are only being stored and passed, which is going to reduce WAN traffic. For the business manager this is going to positively impact your budgets in terms of data transfer costs, time and effort. And as a user, well you will have one of the most immediately noticeable benefits – your experience should improve in terms of speed and responsiveness; more so if you are accessing your SharePoint document library over a slow WAN link.

Number 10 – The “upgrade” from SharePoint 2010

Microsoft have removed the dread from the upgrade process and provided a way to show administrators and users alike what their site could work and look like in SharePoint 2013.

However, the term upgrade is a bit of a misnomer as there is no in-place upgrade as there was with SharePoint 2010. The database-attach method is now the only supported way to upgrade databases to a new environment which will reside on SharePoint 2013.

The site collection health check will allow you to see what code and templates need attention in advance of the upgrade allowing you to plan for the upgrade without too many surprises.

There is however an ‘upgrade evaluation’ which allows a site collection administrator to request a preview of their site collection in SharePoint 2013 – this is called an ‘upgrade evaluation site collection’. The ‘upgrade evaluation site collection’ creates a separate copy of your site collection in SharePoint 2013 – therefore any changes you make to it, or conversely any issues you encounter, will not affect the original site collection sitting safely on SharePoint 2010. The upgrade evaluation site collection is set to automatically expire after 30 days which makes it an excellent method of trialling the SharePoint 2013 functionality and features with your solution before making a final commitment.

Once you have upgraded you will be presented with the new SharePoint 2013 user interface which follows the Microsoft ‘modern’ (formerly known as ‘metro’) design. Modern design uses tiles and typography to deliver its interface which includes plenty of white space and a responsive design that is gaining popularity in the world of web. 

So there you have the top 10 things that Intervate are excited about, about SharePoint 2013. Please feel free to contact me or any of my colleagues with further questions or if you want to discuss the ‘upgrade’ to SharePoint 2013 or any other enterprise information management (EIM) enquiry.

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