Not So Bold Predictions for Office 365 in 2019

As we start a new year it’s always good to reflect on what we’ve accomplished but the real fun is in trying to figure out where we are going😉.  Disclaimer: I am in no way, shape or form privy to the inner workings of the various product teams at Microsoft and the views expressed within this post are my own.  With that out of the way, here are my not so bold predictions for Office 365 in 2019.

Organizations Fully Adopt Modern SharePoint

Hub sites were released to general availability in April/May of 2018 and that made it much easier to roll out a fully modernized SharePoint intranet solution however a significant number of organizations were leery of using such a new feature.  Every new environment we rolled out after April 2018 was done with Modern SharePoint and takes advantage of the Hub site feature, but we anticipate those that are “stuck” on Classic SharePoint to start the process of transitioning to Modern SharePoint this year.

There are still a few things that folks love Classic SharePoint for such as tightly coupled sub site structure, list view totals etc. but the benefits of moving to Modern SharePoint heavily outweigh the drawbacks for everyone involved. Heck, SharePoint 2019 on-premises is even setup for a Modern-First experience aka get onboard the train before you get left behind.

It’s “Make or Break” Time for the Power Suite

When Flow and PowerApps were first rolled out a couple years ago Microsoft attempted to temper our expectations a bit but most of us knew they were the SharePoint Designer Workflow and InfoPath replacements.  Power BI certainly feels like a more modern, user-friendly of SSRS aka Tableau by Microsoft. Don’t worry, SSRS in SQL 2019 is still a thing it just doesn’t have any new features😉. We’ve done quite a few implementations with the various “Power Suite” apps but Power BI’s additional licensing costs for most Office 365 plans has been a big blocker and now we know Flow and PowerApps licensing models are going to fall into that category as well for specific scenarios.

It’s not all “doom and gloom” though. These products have fully matured since their initial release but there is always room for improvement (I’m looking at you PowerApps). These are great tools that allow power users and developers to create solutions that solve business problems.  So, we will continue to monitor the licensing situation and hope that some of the holes in functionality with these apps get plugged in 2019.

The Teams Push Continues

To say Microsoft has been pushing Teams is probably the greatest understatement I will ever make.  Teams makes a lot of sense and while I’m not a huge fan of how they rolled it out with limited administrative and governance controls in place it’s hard to argue with its success. As the teams at Microsoft continue to work together to roll out additional functionality you can bet the farm continued Teams growth and adoption will still be a main objective.

We have been able to add PowerApps, Web sites etc. to Teams as Tabs and are now getting the ability to add SharePoint Framework solutions as Tabs as well. If I’m being honest I was a bit hesitant to use Teams initially but once I got used to things it became a go-to tool.  A couple of the concerns I have with ongoing Teams usage are not necessarily related to Teams functional rather personal time management:

  1. Keeping up with the number of Teams I’m a member
  2. Avoiding the pitfalls of context switching while balancing responsiveness

Ultimately, we don’t want MS Teams to turn into Outlook😊

Stream Gets More Publicity

At the beginning of 2018 there was a ton of confusion around Stream and Office 365 Video. Frankly, the confusion was warranted as there wasn’t a lot of push to get folks into Stream nor a clear migration path. Video based training and documentation are becoming not only more prevalent but preferred in many organizations and Stream is essentially “YouTube for your Organization”.

There are strong tie ins between Stream and Azure with features such as speech to text, auto-generated closed captions and facial detection that Microsoft will surely want to publicize more in 2019 as they start to push more Azure Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence solutions.  This isn’t to say that Microsoft put Stream on a back burner in 2018 but I’m betting we are going to see a lot more Stream related marketing/sales materials as well as conference talks in 2019.

As noted at the onset of this post none of these are bold predictions by any means but as always, I’m curious to see how things play out for Office 365 throughout the year.  Last but certainly not least, happy new year and have a great 2019!

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