Office 365 Updates to Be Excited for in 2017

Each passing year offers up an opportunity to tally how far Office 365 has come as a platform, and look forward to the next year to see how it may continue to improve. For reference, here are a just few features that were released in 2016:

  • New updated admin center and homepage
  • Usage reporting for SharePoint, OneDrive and Exchange
  • Kanban style project management with Planner
  • New site-building options and mobile apps for SharePoint
  • Compliance Center for Office 365

And as can be revealed by Microsoft’s roadmap for Office 365, there is plenty more in store for 2017. In this post, we’ll be covering just a few of the biggest changes users and admins can look forward to in the new year.

Skype for Business

While 2016 saw the release of Skype for Business on Mac, all users can expect quite a few changes to come to the platform early in 2017. Most notable will be the addition of call waiting and auto-attendant features which we detailed in an earlier blog post.

With the addition of these features, Skype for Business is likely to become a more viable option for larger companies with multiple departments.

Furthering the capabilities of Skype for Business will be the inclusion of real-time transcription features for meetings. With advanced text-to-speech technologies embedded into the service, organizers will be able to offer greater accessibility to their attendees during meetings. For those who cannot make it to a meeting, on the other hand, organizers can provide full transcripts after meetings to keep everyone filled

From a marketing perspective, transcripts of a webinar will make it easier for content to be recycled into various useful media, such as infographics or blogs.

Advanced Data Governance

This year we can also expect to see Microsoft leverage its Delve Analytics platform further, bringing new machine learning capabilities into its compliance services. To make the jobs of administrators easier, the Office 365 will soon be able to self-identify important content that must be saved and secured, while deleting redundant and obsolete data automatically.

Unified Data Loss Prevention Services

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) services for email have been an important tool for businesses to control what data is permitted to leave their organization since its release in 2013. With this tool, administrators could create policies that flag emails containing social security or credit card numbers. And last year, Microsoft rolled out the same features for OneDrive and SharePoint, allowing admins to prevent specific documents from being shared containing similar data.

However, this resulted in two disparate parts within Office 365 that carried out the same purpose, complicating the compliance efforts of some administrators. This year, the DLP functions of Office 365 will be consolidated into a single portal for applying global policies that enforce data control. Though small, this change will simplify the jobs of administrators and make it easier to maintain compliance.

SharePoint Frameworks

In 2017 Microsoft will also be making an effort to improve the way SharePoint sites can be built and managed to allow businesses to do more on the platform more easily. The current tool for designing sites, SharePoint Designer, was last updated in 2013 and is primarily focused towards server-side development. As such, the program has not been an adequate tool for keeping pace with the rapid pace of SharePoint Online’s development.

The new tool, however, will allow developers to implement more diverse JavaScript frameworks to increase the capability of what sites can do and make them more mobile ready. Furthermore, developers will have access to prebuilt libraries of Javascript within the tool, allowing the process of customizing SharePoint to be more accessible to those less versed in the platform.

And so…

This coming year has great potential to improve Office 365’s ability to make the jobs of administrators and compliance officers easier, while bringing in new capability for the platform as a whole to do more for its users. These above features, however, are just what has been announced already. There are still a number of important Microsoft showcases coming up, such as Microsoft Inspire and Microsoft Ignite. Knowing them, they’re sure to have a few tricks up their sleeves.

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