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The Future of Office 365/SharePoint Part 1: Nick Brattoli

Welcome to the future! The future of SharePoint & Office 365 that is.

We recently sat down with expert panelists Nick Brattoli, Heather Newman and Andrew Connell for a webinar we hosted about the future of SharePoint and Office 365 (You can find that webinar here).
Their answers were so good we had to share them again! Here is what Nick had to say about the future of SharePoint/Office 365 from an IT Pro/User adoption perspective.
Look out for blog posts featuring Andrew and Heather’s insight coming soon.

Let’s start off with a fun question to break the ice. If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

I would like to say I’m like Batman with all the Jiu Jitsu and martial arts that I do. But I’m neither rich nor an orphan so I would probably be more like a a low level villain. My power would be something lame like setting everyone’s clock back five minutes or something.

What’s your angle when you’re approaching SharePoint? What do you bring to the discussion?

I’ve been in the SharePoint world for a while and I’m more on the IT Pro and user adoption side of things. I used to be in healthcare doing client facing SharePoint websites. But lately, things are moving more to the cloud. There is not as much infrastructure necessarily to deal with anymore, so I’ve moved into the consulting and strategy side of things. I spend less time hands on. It’s more about teaching organizations how to actually use the product. I now run my own company called Byrdttoli Enterprise Consulting. I’m the community manager over at Collab365, which is a site full of SharePoint people, videos and blogs. We also do a biweekly live show as well.

If you could take your mind forward 10 years, how do you imagine SharePoint/Office 365 could work? What’s the ultimate goal here? What’s the future?

Ten years is pretty far in advance, especially with technology. But I would like to see it all go into the cloud. Microsoft has already said multiple times that they are focusing on the cloud first. A lot of organizations don’t want to go all into the cloud for whatever reasons. And that’s fine, but the cloud still gets all the new stuff first.So, I see more of a hybrid model starting to take precedence.
There was a recent survey done by Microsoft and a bunch of other organizations that shows that within the next five years or so, it’s looking that everyone is going to hybrid. I would like to see it all go into the cloud because I used to be an IT Pro. I mean I still am, but I like not having to set up servers, and I like not having to figure out why servers explode a couple times a day. With SharePoint online, you can just fire up a site and you’re ready to go.

Do you have any recommendations on the best way to structure governance around SharePoint/ Office 365 in a large, global organization? How large of a role should IT have? What role should communications play?

Governance is always a very big problem for companies to solve especially now that you have more ad-hoc collaboration options like Teams or Office 365 Groups. They let people make their own stuff to work with, which can be of course, a nightmare for some organizations. So it really depends on how the different departments inside your company work. You don’t necessarily want to silo anybody. You definitely need to check your corporate policies. If there aren’t any policies, you need to go to all the departments to see how they work and find the best way to help them do their job since there are three or four ways to do everything.

With all the additional collaboration tools Office 365 is providing such as Groups, Teams, etc, do you see one unified product on the road map for Microsoft?

We’ve been speaking with the developers working on Teams and I spoke to Mark Kashman not too long ago about the exact same thing. A lot of these products are made by all different teams, not the Teams program but teams inside Microsoft. For example the Teams program is made by the Skype for business team in Microsoft. Office 365 groups was originally made by the Exchange team for SharePoint. None of them are centralized, they’re all separate. Of course they all kind of run on SharePoint so if you create a team in the Teams App you get a SharePoint site that runs kind of in the background that you don’t necessarily know about.
So they all still kind of work together but as for centralizing them, you know it all depends on what works best for your organization. They’re trying to do something with search to make search more personalized so you’re just getting things that are relevant to you specifically across all the apps. But I don’t exactly think that is going to fill the gap and it’s going to come down to you working out how to do it yourself.

With all the frustrations and the pain points of SharePoint/Office 365, I guess the question would be why use it?

I’ve seen it be really helpful for a lot of different organizations of a lot of different sizes. I do mostly stuff in the small/medium area but every now and then I will go and work with a very, very large enterprise company. And I do see it helping a lot, just for sharing documents and helping people collaborate better. I also have seen a lot of problems where they have SharePoint and they don’t know how to use it so the users are still just doing everything by email. That all comes back to your strategy and governance and whether or not you can make it work for you.
Personally I am a one person company but all of my clients are outside. So I basically keep all of my stuff on OneDrive rather than SharePoint. But when I’m working with others and inside their organizations, they have bigger departments and need to keep track of more documents and email is just not the best way to do it. You just have a lot more power. Even if you’re a smaller/medium business you can afford everything at a reasonable price.

How do you think Microsoft services will impact SharePoint and do you see SharePoint being used more as a true application platform?

I’m going to say no. It seems to me that it’s going away from that to where it’s actually meant for you to use other technology. Instead of saying you can build something in SharePoint and then spending entirely too many hours building, you can probably build it much faster with something else.

How do you see Artificial Intelligence being integrated into SharePoint to improve the user experience?

This is so fun. So I don’t know how many of you went to Ignite last year. But they’re putting a lot of their eggs in the AI basket at Microsoft. Most of it is going to the Azure side of things I think. A lot of this is over my head because it involves development. I do think we are going to see more of it playing a part even if it’s just by way of bots because I know bots are getting kind of big. I definitely see it playing a big part moving forward. Exactly how that’s going to happen I don’t know. It might be in how content is delivered to people. It might be again in the form of bots. But I definitely think it’s going to play a part in future collaboration.

Is there a cheat sheet or a website where you can begin training if you are new to Office 365 and SharePoint and need some basics. Which is the best way to learn and to catch up?

I’m the community manager for Collab365.Community which is a site full of articles and videos around Office 365, SharePoint and Azure. It’s not training courses per say. But if you want to learn about a bunch of content or watch hours and hours of videos about SharePoint/Office 365, it’s a pretty good way to do it.


A Snippet from Nick Brattoli + more


Future of sharepoint & Office 365- Full webinar here

Nick Brattoli is a consultant and the Community Manager at Collab365. He also runs his own company called Byrdttoli Enterprise Consulting, which provides tech solutions and insightful business intelligence to startups and small businesses. Nick hosts a regular podcast on all things SharePoint and works on projects involving SharePoint and Office 365 as well as SSO using Azure AD and ADFS. When he isn’t immersed in the world of SharePoint/Office 365 you can find Nick doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Follow Nick on Twitter or connect with him on Linkedin.

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