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SharePoint 2013 mobility boosts the bottom line, expert says

Microsoft was late to the party on enabling SharePoint for mobile. But SharePoint 2013 sports features that could boost worker productivity.

BOSTON -- Mobility and other converging trends are throwing the content delivery industry for a loop.

Joel Oleson, a managing director at Salient6, a SharePoint consultancy in Bellevue, Wash., noted that trends like mobility and cloud computing are engulfing traditional content delivery strategies. "The social wave, the mobile wave, the cloud, big data -- these things are just hammering our industry," he observed during Monday's keynote at SPTechCon 2013.

The social wave, the mobile wave, the cloud, big data -- these things are just hammering our industry.

Joel Oleson,
managing director, Salient6

Oleson highlighted SharePoint for mobile -- Microsoft's first meaningful attempt to build mobility into the content management and collaboration platform. Mobile features had been virtually nonexistent until the release of SharePoint 2013. Oleson also explained how the mobility enhancements can have a major impact on a business' bottom line. According to Oleson, the improvements are all about worker productivity.

"You're a sales guy and you're meeting with clients, running around with your tablet. But you need to get access to information," Oleson said, adding that better access "can mean a huge difference in your productivity." Companies recognize the need as well. Yet, according to Oleson, 92% do not have a mobile access strategy for SharePoint.

"A strategy is a must," emphasized Jonathan Hassell, president of 82 Ventures in North Carolina and a Microsoft technology expert. "People went into SharePoint without much of a plan. Only recently has governance come into the picture. Envision usage scenarios [and] create a plan for delivering on those scenarios."

SharePoint 2013 for mobile functionality

For quite some time, mobility and SharePoint didn't go together. Previous iterations of SharePoint were dismal on the mobile front, according to Oleson. "It was better to give [users] the desktop experience than trying to give them a mobile experience," he explained.

But SharePoint's most recent release is about creating access to meaningful information. During the keynote, Oleson walked attendees through three key improvements to SharePoint 2013's mobility capabilities:

  • SharePoint newsfeeds. In a mobile environment, users can not only follow people and feeds, but also documents, which enables them to get read access to those documents on their phone. It also enables them to access documents more easily without having to meander through the SharePoint interface.
  • Office 365 and SharePoint mobile. Users can also open documents, enabling limited editing functionality, such as deletions, formatting and so on.
  • Skydrive Pro. If users open a document there, they can take the document offline on a device.

These feature improvements are important because they help protect corporate data from the risks associated with users going rogue and using non-sanctioned apps to get tasks done.

"This mobile revolution will happen, and it is happening," Oleson said. "And what people use instead of that great interface that could have been designed, or is being designed, they end up using [a] Dropbox-style solution. Wouldn't it be better if users had an enterprise-supported solution [for devices] that is encrypted?"

SharePoint may still face user adoption obstacles, but Oleson's tour through some of its features signal a new era for SharePoint's mobility and usability story.

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