Highlights of the Office 365 Roadmap: May 2016
Microsoft continues to evolve its Office 365 platform with remarkable speed and transparency. One of my favorite aspects of the platform is that they listen to customer feedback and provide an honest look of what’s changed, what’s planned, and what’s cancelled.
They divide updates into categories of “Launched”, “Rolling Out” (to early release members), “In Development”, “Cancelled” and “Previously Released”. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights in May 2016.
1. Office 365 Updates Recently Launched
The following updates have launched in the past month.
- Delve Analytics - Available for E5 customers (and E1 or E3 as an add-on), Delve Analytics provides rich personalized analytics. Highlights include time spent in email, percentage of emails read, and focus hours (uninterrupted time between meetings). This pulls information from multiple sources and is surfaced through Delve.
- eDiscovery Case Management, Hold, and Permissions - The Protection Center is vastly improved, allowing for fine-grained permissions and self-service for legal holds and eDiscovery. eDiscovery has also recently been expanded to include Exchange Public Folders.
- Office 365 Groups Privacy and Multi-Domain Support - Groups (one of my Office 365 features) can now be switched between public and private access. Groups can now also be provisioned in different email domains, allowing more flexibility and better governance.
- One-Click Email Archiving - Users can now archive historical messages with one ribbon click through Outlook on both Windows and Mac.
- **Updated People Profile Experience</strong> - The dashboard for viewing an employee’s profile has vastly improved. Contact information, organizational hierarchy, and shared documents are now easier to access.
2. Office 365 Updates Rolling Out
The following updates are available for early release organizations and will soon be generally available.
- Content Search Export - This is an incredible feature in the Security and Compliance toolset. With it, you can identify high-risk content in your email and SharePoint Online sites. Searches can be set up for eDiscovery terms, PII such as credit card numbers, or social security numbers. The export feature allows up to 100 GB to be exported at a time as archives or mail PSTs.
- Multi-Factor Authentication - Improvements are coming to how users are enrolled in Azure AD multi-factor authentication (MFA).
- New Homepage for Office 365 Users - The welcome page looks great now. It surfaces the most recently accessed and relevant content from all of your Office 365 toolsets and it is responsive to work well on every device.
- Office 365 Group Usage Guidelines - Administrators are now able to provide a message directing users how Office 365 groups should be governed. In the past, many users have been confused when to use Team Sites vs. Groups vs. OneDrive vs. email.
- Updated Protection Center - The Protection Center has been updated to consolidate Data Loss Prevention (DLP), Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), and Device Management features.
- **Work Management and Planner - The new Planner module allows teams to centrally collaborate and report on projects and programs. Announced last September, the Planner is now rolling out and providing improved toolsets over what was offered with SharePoint’s work management tools.
3. Office 365 Updates In Development
The following updates are announced, with no release date.
- New Usage Reports - Office 365 is finally getting much-needed improvements to usage analytics for SharePoint sites, OneDrive, Yammer and Exchange mailboxes. We’ll better be able to see usage patterns.
- New Yammer Onboarding Experience - Enrolling users will become faster and more intuitive.
- Office 365 Connectors - Perhaps the most powerful aspect of Office 365 is its graph API. Microsoft has made it easy to connect and learn from data from within the Office 365 platform. The upcoming connectors will also make it easy to integrate with third-party providers like GitHub, Bing, and Twitter. Developers can build their own hooks, which I expect will be a primary way Office 365 is customized.
- Office 365 Group Improvements - Groups are evolving quickly and you’ll notice multiple improvements to the governance and user experience for using Groups.
- SharePoint Online: Client-Side Web Parts - Client-side development is already the dominant approach to customize the SharePoint UI. Microsoft is making it easier to develop, deploy, and manage client-side web parts.
4. Office 365 Updates Cancelled
Good news. While Microsoft announced three small feature cancellations (having to do with Yammer and Office 365 Education), no major updates were cancelled.
Check back in the coming months for more Office 365 Roadmap Highlights.