Next Gen Portals in Office 365

As the Office 365 platform continues to improve and add new features to existing Office 365 offerings, Microsoft is also making a big push to provide Next Gen Portals for customer productivity.

At Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft showcased some of these new Next Gen Portals, and from my perspective, I can certainly see these easy to use portals finding a place in many organizations.  Let’s take a look at a couple of them:

Office 365 Video

With Office 365 Video, Microsoft has provided Enterprises a Portal to provide users on-demand video content, that easy is to find, and easy to consume on any device.  Essentially, it’s YouTube for the Enterprise.  Users can upload, share, tag, and search for Videos, and Admins can be delegated to create and Manage Channels to help users find the content they are interested in. And as it is hosted by Azure Media Services, it takes any encoding/playback work off of the organizations infrastructure and network.   From a security perspective, Microsoft provides full end-to-end encryption as well, to ensure even confidential company information can be safely secured on the service.

Video has always been challenging from a SharePoint perspective, and especially from an infrastructure perspective, as resource consumption has always been a concern for any On-Prem SharePoint deployment.  With Office 365 Video, Microsoft has taken a lot of that concern away from the Enterprise. (Except Networking, you’d better bulk up that Internet Pipe J )

Delve “People Experiences”

One of the most common challenges inside of SharePoint, from SP 2007 all the way to SP2013, was the overall Profile experience that was built inside of SharePoint.  With the Next Gen Profile experience, Microsoft has chosen to leverage Delve to help provide this experience inside of Office 365.  Microsoft chose to leverage Delve, which is powered by Office Graph.  This allows you to find and connect with users based on content, and find content based on people.  For Example, if I create documentation on SharePoint, users in my organization who need help with SharePoint can now easily find me, and know I’m a SharePoint expert based on content I’ve created.  As someone who has worked in a ridiculously large organization, this is a huge plus when you need to find the right person.  With the regular user profile service in SharePoint, it often is unused, never updated, and can quickly become stale. By tying this experiences to content creation, and leveraging Office graph, the profile becomes much more dynamic, and useful to other users in the organization.

“InfoPedia” (Knowledge Management)

Currently in Design, Code Name “InfoPedia” is really focused on Knowledge Management in an Enterprise.  This is certainly a struggle that most organizations have, and over the years, SharePoint has been a main focus for helping to mitigate this overall issue.  One of the building blocks of this new area are Boards.  Currently available in Delve, these Boards are based on specific tags that a user can specify and organize content they are interested in, and display this information in one pane of glass.  As all of this information is coming from Office graph, it includes content from across all of the areas of Office 365 (SharePoint, OneDrive, PowerBI, etc.)

Microsites are another Aspect of this new experience.  To help empower end users to create content, and share that content in a much easier way, users can create Microsites.  These are usually one to two pages on specific content, which really allow users to create and manage their own content without the need to have IT to create a site in SharePoint.  These microsites are quick, and easy to create, and also are fully responsive so users can create and view it on any device.  Every Content creator I have ever known will love this new feature.  With the meteoric rise in Mobility, responsive content will become more and more important.  Unfortunately today, SharePoint can be extremely difficult around mobility.  This feature bridges that gap.

InfoPedia itself, is still in the very early stages, but Microsoft’s vision for InfoPedia is really a Dynamic Single Pane of Glass that provides personalized content recommendations.  Based on the first glimpse, it could really become the replacement from a regular “Home” page we normally see inside of SharePoint.


*An Important aspect to note for a lot of these new Next Gen Portals, is with the next version of SharePoint, even On-Prem farms and users will be able to leverage this functionality through the Hybrid subscriptions Microsoft will offer.

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