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SharePoint 2013 features: New Year's resolutions

SharePoint 2013 features like BI and social computing can provide competitive advantage. Our expert resolves to exploit them in 2014.

It's the time of year to start thinking about resolutions: We'll lose those extra pounds, get to the gym, take up that new hobby. And as I sit at my desk, I'm thinking along those same lines, regarding a client's new SharePoint 2013 implementation.

Scott Robinson

It started out as a simple enterprise content management migration, and over the months we've been talking about other SharePoint out-of-the-box features. So, it got me thinking: What are my SharePoint New Year's resolutions for my client?

Resolution one: We will exploit enterprise social computing in SharePoint to improve collaboration and gather more input on decisions throughout the company.

SharePoint 2013 features for social computing will be a huge plus in the coming year. The My Sites shared document library enables users to share documents across functional boundaries (a meaningful step toward merging enterprise silos), and Community Sites enable discussion and the sharing of content throughout the organization, even across multiple farms. But the best part of social computing with SharePoint is that it mimics Facebook and other social media platforms so users can jump right in.

Resolution two: We will build business intelligence (BI) and analytics capabilities for strategic advantage.

Analytics and the BI that underlies it are no longer optional; they're a strategic imperative. Yes, there are plenty of third-party software systems and consultants out there that my client could pay for. But why not build those strengths in-house?

Analytics and the business intelligence that underlies it are no longer optional; they're a strategic imperative.

The tools are built into SharePoint and are ready to use. Business intelligence reporting, including user-enabled key performance indicator (KPI) and dashboard deployment, enhanced analytical tools, and newly optimized resource deployment put even big data problems under the user's direct control with minimal IT intervention. There's a learning curve, of course, but over the long run, my client has greater strategic advantage with these new tools in hand.

Resolution three: We will make use of the cloud to improve customer relations and empower people in the field.

SharePoint in the cloud sounds sexy. With features like auto-saving of all Office docs to a user's personal library, it's a major step forward in personal content organization. But the benefits that strengthen the business in the coming year are first, SharePoint Online's capacity to rapidly enable an efficient and scalable public portal for customers at a fraction of the on-premises cost, and second,  the ability to offer the enterprise workforce in the field easy access to content without the security hassles of a virtual private network.

With all New Year's resolutions, there are always some don'ts, so consider these:

Resolution four: We will ensure that our enterprise search function works as we need it to. Over the past six years, SharePoint enterprise search has evolved, and while it's functionally on target in the 2013 release, it's still glitch-ridden. In the coming year, the big issue to address: anonymous access issues as they affect customers.

Resolution five: We will use caution in deploying BI functionality in mobile devices.

For more on SharePoint

SharePoint features that are ready to use

SharePoint licensing gets easier -- sort of

Migrating to SharePoint 2013

Microsoft made BI increasingly user-friendly, it's true; and the bundling of PerformancePoint (its suite of BI visualization tools) into the 2010 release was a giant step forward. But the entire point of merging the products is to deliver analytics in finished form to decision makers and stakeholders in the clearest and most convenient way.

Dashboards and KPIs abound in the modern enterprise in order to accelerate and improve decision making. The problem here? PerformancePoint's features do not translate well to SharePoint mobile deployment -- and mobile deployment is as important in the enterprise today as everything else I've mentioned. If I can't deliver BI content as efficiently and clearly to mobile devices as I can to desktops and laptops on-premises, I'm defeating the purpose. So, I'll need to make an extra effort because out-of-the-box functionality won't get us there.

So, get ready to use SharePoint 2013 features in 2014 to your full enterprise advantage -- and consider whether you, as the SharePoint guru, should made similar resolutions at your company.


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