My predictions for SharePoint, Office 365 and related technologies during 2014

Author: Tobias Zimmergren | | | @zimmergren


With a new year comes new technology, new business models and new adventures. Like previous years, I’ll post some predictions for what I believe are things that’ll happen during 2014, or at least will start to happen.

My previous predictions and year-in-review posts:

I usually write my predictions before the year begins but hands down, I’m too busy helping my clients. That is a convenient problem of course. With that said, let’s quickly move onto the predictions for 2014.

Prediction for 2014

Here goes. My predictions for the year to come.

We will see more "cloud readiness"

In my "Year in review" for 2011, I wrote:

[blockquote]One thing that clearly sticks out in the year that passed is the preparation work being made for migrations to future versions of SharePoint and migrations into the cloud (Office 365 with SharePoint Online).[/blockquote]

Looking back at 2012 and 2013 it truly was a year of "cloud preparations" or "cloud readiness". Some of my clients have moved to the cloud entirely, some are deployed with hybrid solutions and a majority are still lingering on-premises. However one thing that ties them all together is that they are all focused on aligning with the capabilities in the cloud. This means that the solutions being developed and the information structure are being done in such ways that they could potentially be migrated to the cloud one day or align well with hybrid approaches.

I believe that 2014 will be a year where a wider range of organizations realize the value of going into the cloud, or the value of having their on-premises environment aligned with the capabilities in the cloud. Cloud doesn’t mean everything, but aligning your on-premises work with what happens in Office 365 is a very good idea.

Of course in the end it all comes down to aligning your organization with the business, despite what technology hosts your data.

Hybrid solutions with Office 365

I believe that 2014 will be a year where organizations embrace the fact that some things are easier to put in the cloud. Some things obviously needs to stay in-house, but that doesn’t mean that everything has to.

My prediction in this space is that we will see more and more medium-sized businesses and even some enterprise-class businesses move to the cloud in hybrid models. Sensitive data stays in-house and services are offered from the cloud.

Growth of the SharePoint and Office App Marketplace

Before anyone would be willing to give a more precise indication on this topic, we’d want Microsoft to disclose more information about what the stats are for the Marketplace today. While pushing the marketing buttons really hard, it is probably safe to say that the Marketplace never got the traction they expected.

I do believe that in 2014 we’ll see some additions to the Marketplace both in terms of the underlying frameworks and app-publishing models but also in that more players will get onto the wagon and start publishing apps. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see in what direction it grows.

Some more attention for SkyDrive Pro

Microsoft is competing with a lot of other vendors such as Dropbox and Google Drive when it comes to consumer data storage in the cloud. But we are also seeing more competitors going after the enterprise customers which means Microsoft will have to accelerate their business for SkyDrive Pro, which targets the enterprise customers for storing data. (See Microsoft’s site for a comparison between SkyDrive (consumer) and SkyDrive Pro (enterprise), or watch this youtube video).

Since Microsoft is pushing all-in on the cloud and their Office 365 services, I’m pretty confident that we’ll see some new features to the SkyDrive Pro offerings (and hopefully the normal SkyDrive too actually) during the year that comes.

Go social by integrating Yammer

Since Microsoft’s acquisition of Yammer, there’s been a ton of rumors about the future of social in SharePoint. My take is that Yammer will be more tighter integrated with SharePoint Online (Office 365) but we may have to wait longer for additional on-premises functionality.

My prediction for 2014 in this area is some key investments to enhance the offerings for the cloud first, and then potentially additional features and integration points for on-premises deployments wouldn’t be unthinkable.

There is currently a published white paper on TechNet for "Integrating Yammer with on-premises SharePoint 2013 environments". In honest words, I’d say that this comes close to the worst white paper I have ever read on TechNet. It even has a step-by-step instructions for how to change files in the SharePoint Root folder (15-hive) which is utterly forbidden, as any seasoned SharePoint expert well knows. It is safe to say that most on-premises environments I have come across aren’t integrating Yammer in an efficient way today.

Microsoft, please bring forth the awesomeness – and a clear roadmap for the foreseeable future.

Customization madness has to stop

Microsoft is pretty clear on this point. Don’t customize.

I will have to align with those words, and given the impression I have from fellow business partners and community followers I would assume that 2014 will be a year where a lot of organizations revise their customizations.

Just think about it for a second; Have you ever had problems upgrading just because of some nonsense customizations? Thought so. I know I have.

My prediction here is that people will start to realize the importance of a clean environment when the updates start to roll out more often. While aligning our on-premises deployments with the offering in the cloud, this is an extremely important consideration. This doesn’t mean that your SharePoint environment will look like any other SharePoint environment – you can still modify some look and feel, but the awareness of staying on the right side of the "recommended practices" is increasing.

Stop solving problems you don’t have (over-engineering)

Some folks call it over-engineering, some folks call it over-architecting and some folks just say "Don’t solve problems you don’t have".

With the guidelines to stay as close to the cloud-offering as possible, it is also important to accept the fact that you no longer should solve problems you don’t have. What I mean is that oftentimes organizations have some awesome members of their team, and some of these awesome members may be gurus with the code and infrastructure – but if you don’t actually have a business case, don’t implement a solution for it. If 10 out of 10 000 users want a specific solution, I wouldn’t call it a business case. Spending hours, days or even weeks or months (been there, seen that) on developing a custom solution that wasn’t requested by the organization but rather a few single individuals will cost you more than it will benefit you. Especially if the developers of these solutions likes to over-architect their their solutions with unnecessary complexity.

Keep it simple and revise the requirements before you decide to implement a solution. Revise the solution proposal before you decide to have it developed.

My predictions for 2014 is that more teams and more organizations are getting the hang of how it works, and are more prone on making efficient decisions that are aligned with their business and their technical implementation.

We well see more subscription-based solutions and services

Overall, I think we will see more subscription-based services and products offered by not only Microsoft but partners and ISV’s as well.

In the enterprise I believe we’ll see some changes for vendors and services – option to subscribe instead of paying license fees up front is getting more common. Cheap per-user licenses which you don’t have to keep paying for if you cancel the service, that’s a winning deal and I believe the enterprise is no different than the consumer-market on this point – who wouldn’t want to lower up-front costs and pay for the usage instead?


Honestly I’ve got tons of more things I’d like to discuss for the future, but I think I’ve covered what I believe are the most interesting things to keep in mind and watch out for in 2014.


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About Tobias Zimmergren

Hi, I'm Tobias. I plan, architect and develop software and distributed cloud services. Nice to meet you!