Office365 may not be what you think

I was at SharePoint Connect in Amsterdam recently. It was great to meet some of my “fellow-nerds” again and I attended a number of great sessions by people whose blogs I have been following for some time. I noticed that the word “SharePoint” was used less frequently than the word “Office365”. As I sat there, I become more and more aware that my assumptions about Office365 were no longer valid.
Office 365 = NOT online (Office + SharePoint).

When I started using Office365 in 2011 (mainly to make screenshots for my blog) it was pretty much SharePoint online and the standard online Office tools. I think Lync was part of the game as well, and that made perfect sense to me.
But now, Office365 feels as if many things have been added, the mix has been shaken up, and reorganized into something new. Yammer has pervaded into everything (good!) and it is starting to look and feel like an integrated set of business tools for the regular knowledge worker. May I use the word Digital Workplace? 🙂

My Office365 apps  -an integrated toolset
My Office365 apps -an integrated toolset. Please note I have a “Small Business” subscription so I do not have all functionality.

I am so curious to see how this will evolve!
There are also a few things that bother me.

Small things
FreakOut-SeriouslyNot that “View all site content’  is now at the bottom of the menu instead of at the top and being called “Site Contents”. Or that the Recycle Bin button is now on the top right. Those are merely annoying because I have to retrain my end users, just after telling most of them that their content lives in “View all site content” top left.
Not the fact that Lists and Libraries are now called Apps. It still makes me laugh every time I have to tell that to people!
Not the fact that the space-eating tiles are now sorted alphabetically without grouping, which makes it hard to find the “app”  that you are looking for if you have many, like me. It amuses me that I have always thought that grouping “apps” by Libraries, Picture Libraries and Lists was silly, but now that my wish has been granted I do not like it either. 🙂

Bigger things
What bugs me is the fact that many things that cause issues will be harder to support now, because they are out of my control.
The creation of Groups from Outlook for instance. I know already that Groups will be created easily and abandoned as quickly. Whether that is because of the current lack of functionality in document management, or because projects will be completed and forgotten, I do not know yet. But I expect tons of potentially damaging content (should have been deleted but is not), will be lingering out there beyond the company’s control because it is in someone’s personal space.
I also expect issues with Sharing, because people are encouraged to share documents individually, by having that Share link in a very prominent place. It is even more prominent than editing properties or seeing version history.

The Share button is very prominent
Sharing an individual document with individuals is very (too) easy. The Share button is more prominent than e.g. View or Edit Properties, which are hidden behind the …
The first “Edit” link means editing the document in Word, Excel etc.

I expect issues that I will not be able to solve at my own pace because I can not look into people’s Inbox and OneDrive, and I will have to guide people via Lync to check what the issue is. It will mean less email and more personal contact, which is nice. But “personal attention” is not always in accordance with current customer service theory 🙂

What really bugs me is that Microsoft has decided to launch unfinished products, and that you only have a few weeks to postpone any launch.  I am not sure if we can be ready on time with governance, maintenance, knowledge and training if something really new or controversial is introduced.

What really really bugs me is that functionality may be changing very quickly, which may mean that investments you have made in training or solutions can be wasted if that functionality is retired. Or, worse, that my end users will not be able to keep up with the changes. They are experts in their own field and their digital workplace should support them, not challenge them every time with new functionality.

Personally I am very excited to work with this changed and changing environment. But please be aware that Office365 is no longer “an office suite” and “an intranet” that both happen to be hosted in the cloud. The offer has transformed into something new and you will really have to rethink everything: ownership, administration, governance, end user support, design, etc.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at

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