The Future of SharePoint is Here – Is It Intelligent?

The Microsoft Ignite conference was a whirlwind – vastly broad in the range of content, and full of news.  One of my favorite areas is the Mobile and Intelligent Intranet introduced as a theme in the Future of SharePoint.   At Ignite, Mark Kashman and Adam Harmetz had a great session titled Discover what’s new and what’s coming to the SharePoint Mobile and Intelligent Intranet.  You can view it on the Microsoft Technical Community site here.

Here’s the picture used in this session. There were also nine other “foundational” sessions covering the various aspects of this – for every label on this picture, there was a session. SharePoint Mobile and Intelligent Intranet


This is a LOT to absorb, but the jist is that SharePoint Online is adding new elements continuously, with more and more capabilities to cover what you need for an Intranet. Is SharePoint to the point that you can have a great Intranet OOB? No. But the effort it takes to field an effective intranet in Office 365 is rapidly shrinking.

As I expected, Microsoft announced a bunch of new features around the mobile and intelligent intranet at Ignite. The new developments that struck me the most were:

  • The new modern Team site (introduced at the beginning of September) is rolling out and improving as it goes.  You can now create a modern team site and an associated Office 365 group from the SharePoint home, which is convenient and quick.
  • News – one of the key features of any intranet – is now OOB.  There is a Team news feature in the new team sites, as well as a news roll-up tab in the iOS mobile app.
  • There are new people experiences that show up all over the place: team sites, document libraries and lists, and OneDrive for Business.

Mobile: the Intranet in Your Pocket

In this context, Mobile means the SharePoint mobile app.  I’ve been using this since the day it was released for iOS back on June 21.  Microsoft was really late to the game with mobile, but the result is pretty good.  It’s a native app, which I notice mostly by the fact that it’s fast, matches Apple’s UX paradigm, and I can shake my phone to enter feedback.  My personal criteria is whether I can get work done using one thumb and one eyeball….and the SharePoint app does the trick.

At Ignite, the Android and Windows mobile apps were announced along with a number of new features as I mentioned above.  The preview versions are available immediately.

I couldn’t resist, and downloaded the Android app during the session. I carry an iPhone 6, an Android-based Galaxy Tablet, and a Dell touch laptop running Windows 10. All three of them are now running SharePoint! Just to prove it, to the right is a picture from my seat at Ignite:

mobile devices

New Video on the Intelligent Intranet – 25 Expert Takes

While it’s clear what “mobile” means, the “intelligent” part of the mobile and intelligent intranet is a bit fuzzier.   Microsoft is trying to associate this with the Office Graph and showed some semi-smart capabilities, but I’m not sure I’d yet call it “intelligent” – just less dumb.

I’ve been fascinated by learning what different people mean when they talk about the Intelligent Intranet. In a previous blog we outlined the Intelligent Intranet and some background resources around it.  We also published a podcast and a video capturing how several of my favorite Microsofties and MVPs think about the Intelligent Intranet.

We received a lot of positive feedback on the video, so we’ve made another one.   It’s on the same subject, but at a different pace.  There are “soundbites” from 25 different people.   This doesn’t give their full exposition of what they mean, just an excerpt – which can be pretty funny.

Given the hype around intelligent systems and a lot of news from Ignite around machine learning, I expect we’ll hear a lot more from Microsoft about the intelligent intranet. But I also think they have an incentive to keep the term fuzzy, and I expect the industry will define it more concretely in an organic fashion.  I’m excited about helping this process in my own small way.

What do YOU think?  If you have ideas, experiences, or questions around the Intelligent Intranet, drop me a line at