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Users prefer Office 365 suite collaboration features over SharePoint

Users don't want to jump through hoops, and they want applications to work on mobile devices. Those needs may kill traditional SharePoint and send users to the Office 365 suite.

Users want an easier experience than some heavyweight content tools like SharePoint have traditionally provided. Add in users' preferences for mobile devices and ease of use in applications, and we may be hearing the death knell for SharePoint. The stalwart SharePoint is increasingly being overtaken by new functionality in the Microsoft Office 365 suite.

Office 365 Features

Peter O'Kelly, an independent collaboration and data consultant for O'Kelly Associates, notes that while Office 365 services are up 70% in revenue for Microsoft software, SharePoint usage is fading in importance. The shift can be attributed to Office 365's collaboration features and the suite's ability to serve up content more efficiently than SharePoint, which can require numerous clicks.

The new Office 365 suite offers the Office 2016 versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, as well as Outlook. Two new Office 365 collaboration features include hosted services, which offer access to cloud-hosted versions of Office's server platforms on a software as a service basis, and rolling updates for the platform, which will be released once per quarter. These new Office 365 business services boast an ease of use that traditional SharePoint lacks, O'Kelly says.

OneDrive for Business

Another feature that is shifting users away from SharePoint and toward Office365 is OneDrive for Business. With OneDrive for Business, users can more easily manage and share documents from anywhere and on any device. It also makes collaboration with co-workers in real time more seamless, while keeping files safe with built-in security features.

"Users don't need to toggle between apps nearly as often as they used to," O'Kelly explains.

The number of contexts in which a user is thinking about and working in traditional SharePoint is being reduced.
Peter O'KellyO'Kelly Associates

"With OneDrive for Business, you have this single source of truth; I don't send file attachments anymore, I send you a link, and if I give you edit privileges, you and I can work collaboratively on the same thing. That took a lot of work on MSFT's [Microsoft's] part to make that work seamlessly.

"The number of contexts in which a user is thinking about and working in traditional SharePoint is being reduced," he continues. "If you want to work with a spreadsheet, you no longer have to go to a site that launches Excel, and you're three or four steps into [the process] before you remember what you were trying to do. SharePoint is still in the picture, but the SharePoint-related services have been pressed into the platform, and they're not something users have to jump through hoops [to use] anymore."

Office 365 subscription plans

Office 365 also has flexible subscription plans that can help meet users' particular needs. The subscription plans include Office 365 Home, Office 365 Personal, Office 365 University and Office 365 for Mac. Each of these plans gives the user the ability to install the Office 2016 version of the Microsoft software applications.


An extra selling point for the Office 365 suite is its growing security compliance. In recent years, Microsoft has met several compliance requirements in order to ensure security within the Office 365 suite.

It is compliant with the International Organization for Standardization/International Electrotechnical Commission 27001 security standards, the European Union's Data Protection Directive and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It is also in compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act, which allows Office 365 to be used by U.S. government agencies.


Mobility is also critical to the rise of the Office 365 suite and the relative decline of traditional SharePoint.

"Designers have had to put a lot of thought into how they're going to compress a user experience to be effective on a four-inch tablet," O'Kelly says.

Recent data supports the importance of mobile and its increasing maturity as an enterprise disruptor of sorts. According to "2015 Trends to Watch: Enterprise Mobility," a recent report from Ovum, mobility is becoming standard fare in enterprises, and the dividing line will no longer be whether a company supports bring your own device initiatives. Rather, it will be whether it has a managed approach to this reality.

For more, check out the podcast above, and also visit the original report on these content and collaboration trends. To hear more from O'Kelly, access Part 1 of this podcast, in which he discusses how the ECM market is changing.

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