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Five ways SharePoint plays a key role as a digital workspace tool

New working structures, rules and geographies have made SharePoint a more and more important platform, as it enables workers to get it done anytime, anywhere, on any device.

The increase of SaaS-based applications and online services provided through web and mobile apps has given rise...

to a new digital workspace in which employees have most of the tools they need on demand from anywhere. To help centralize the access to these tools, many organizations use SharePoint, as it offers an opportunity to not only host the shortcuts to these different services, but also offers additional capabilities.

Among most IT leaders in the enterprise space, the term modern workspace or digital workspace refers to the new push to deliver more modernized apps to users and to increase the use of online services and technologies that can provide improved efficiencies, convenience and productivity to employees.

To help employees along this journey, many IT leaders turn to SharePoint as the go-to platform to help deliver content and to offer a gateway to all the other relevant apps and services as needed. SharePoint administrators are now expected to help mold SharePoint to support this new digital workspace.

SharePoint is an intranet site where enterprise users can collaborate and interact with their digital assets. Having such a platform where users can access their modern apps and content has quickly turned SharePoint into a critical line-of-business platform.

Here are a few reasons why SharePoint has been the go-to when it comes to supporting a digital workspace strategy:

1. SharePoint intranet offers a centralized point of entry to the modern workspace

The biggest need for enterprise end users right now is centralized access to line-of-business applications and other online services in one platform.

Users are finding themselves working with more applications than ever before. As a result, SharePoint has become more popular due to its ability to deliver different application shortcuts, enabling users to log in to the platform and access different apps and services from there. This mainly applies to web-based applications, which can include Microsoft's own Office 365 services.

SharePoint can also organize various apps based on their role or department. For example, in an HR portal, employees can access all the links to an employee benefits app.

2. SharePoint connectivity with Office 365 services offers seamless integration

The seemingly continuous migration to Office 365 has made SharePoint even more attractive to potential users. SharePoint Online integrates with OneDrive for Business, Office Groups, Power BI, PowerApps and Flow to deliver a single enterprise content management solution from which users can access content in other Office 365 services.

Because all the different components available within Office 365 deliver business intelligence, automation and collaboration, accessing them through SharePoint makes the platform an ideal tool to support a digital workspace initiative.

3. The new apps model of Office 365 makes SharePoint even more appealing

Apps are the hot new thing in Office 365. In SharePoint, business apps can be quickly designed and implemented using PowerApps for every development and deployment. These apps can be used not only in the browser through SharePoint, but they can also be accessed through the native mobile PowerApps.

Companies use these apps for everything from collecting and capturing images while surveying different sites to capturing expenses for employees.

4. End-user engagement through branded identity and a centralized app model

Companies are recognizing that the number of apps employees are using is reaching an overwhelming level. To help address that, IT is turning to SharePoint to help categorize apps and centralize access to the different business tools their end users need.

This has the added benefit that SharePoint can be implemented to match a company's corporate brand identity and can deliver additional training content for the different apps

5. Apps in SharePoint help jump start the digital workspace strategy

Microsoft and several of its independent software vendor partners in the SharePoint space have been able to successfully package meaningful SharePoint products into templates that can be quickly deployed and adopted. Apps designed for employee self-service portals that contain ready to go forms, SharePoint libraries for policies and other HR-related documents, as well as a handful of other products, such as IT portals and sales and marketing apps, are also being packaged to enable organizations to deploy them quickly with little effort.

Vendors like 365Appz and SP Marketplace are two examples of companies that have successfully adopted SharePoint templates.

In the move toward supporting a modern and digital workspace, SharePoint administrators are recognizing the opportunity SharePoint offers to help employees become more productive in an environment filled with web-based apps.

However, there are still risks associated with SharePoint implementation lags in business alignment and proper governance. SharePoint administrators must be diligent in their SharePoint roll out and change management to ensure the success of the digital workspace initiative.

This was last published in March 2018

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How have you used SharePoint to increase the efficiency of your digital workspace?
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In a modern library I love that documents can inherit tags when dragging and dropping them into relevant categories (when using Group By feature). This really simplifies the process for business uses who have traditionally scoffed at the extra efforts
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