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Microsoft Partner Opportunities in SharePoint 2016

Last week's "Future of SharePoint" event held by Microsoft in San Francisco earned high praise from the SharePoint community. The importance of SharePoint in the Microsoft ecosystem was reconfirmed, which seemed to reignite energy in the SharePoint community.

To help those of us who don't live and breathe SharePoint understand the impact of the 2016 release on partners, I spoke to Naomi Moneypenny, chief technology officer at ManyWorlds Inc.

"From the visionary standpoint, SharePoint 2016 and Office 365 will deliver the intelligent Internet, which surrounds employees with the conversations, the content and the apps they need to get their work done," said Moneypenny, an MVP for Office Servers and Services. "Intelligence built into SharePoint is one of the building blocks that will really make a difference for customers and service providers."

For the two core groups of SharePoint service providers, system integrators (SIs) and ISVs, Moneypenny highlighted the top opportunities as she sees them.

Top Opportunities for System Integrators
Moneypenny sees the role of SI as "the architect of change readiness." As partners have already experienced, the cadence of releases -- from versions to feature packs -- is increasing. Updates with new tools and new functionality will be coming out continuously.

"As an SI, you need to look at the framework you can deploy to help your clients' internal IT teams manage that level of change," said Moneypenny. "It's not just the SharePoint installation that we are all familiar with; the readiness aspect has become critical."

A second major opportunity exists by helping those internal IT teams look at the interconnected pieces of the corporate SharePoint experience from a higher-level perspective. As enterprises implement across the stack with Office 365, Azure Active Directory, SQL Server 2012 and SharePoint, they need guidance to optimize their overall architecture and use of SharePoint. 

Search is another big opportunity opened in SharePoint 2016 through extended functionality. "One of the wonderful things with SharePoint 2016 is the ability to search from a cloud or hybrid version and extend it back into previous versions of SharePoint," explained Moneypenny. "That allows you to treat your on-premises content the same as the content contained in SharePoint 2016."

Since clients won't need to spend their budgets on massive migration projects, this ease of content accessibility has the potential to free up funds for more productive service projects.   

Next up is the governance opportunity emerging from the announcement that many of the security and compliance tools that are a part of Office 365 will now be shared with SharePoint. "The whole area of governance -- helping clients design their architecture to best support their security, compliance and reporting requirements," noted Moneypenny. "And also the aspect of governance inside of the organization -- defining who can do what through authoring capabilities. The new functionality of SharePoint 2016 makes governance a big opportunity from a consulting perspective."

And finally, Moneypenny recommends that SI partners work proactively with their clients to take full advantage of the enhanced compatibility in the SharePoint 2016 development framework. "If you have customers currently building Web parts for SharePoint 2013, looking at the functional compatibility is important," she said. "You want to make sure what you are building now for the customer will work now and port into the future."  

Top Opportunities for ISVs
For those partners building custom applications on SharePoint, the new model framework supports a much wider range of development tools. "With support of client-side object models, developers can incorporate newer technologies into SharePoint 2016," said Moneypenny. "The new framework supports more standard Web technology, so it opens up opportunity for a lot of development folks."

While a separate product from SharePoint 2016, Moneypenny sees Microsoft Flow as a game changer. "Amazing potential is being unleashed with native support of Microsoft Flow in SharePoint 2016," she said. "Microsoft Flow is sort of the enterprise version equivalent of IFTTT [If This, Then That], bringing disparate data streams together. For example, you could mine data out of Dynamics and Twitter and put them together as a list in SharePoint. Combining workflow with the data pulled through Microsoft Flow is powerful stuff." 

Last, but not least, the graphing APIs available through Office Graph allows developers to personalize applications for the user. "From the SharePoint perspective, whether you are delivering content to specific employees or a team site, you can mold the experience to the individual or group," said Moneypenny.

Given this huge challenge to pare a list down to the top opportunities for partners, Moneypenny pointed out that there is much more that she didn't cover that partners should consider. "In the end, there is huge opportunity for every type of partner," she said. "SharePoint 2016 is making the platform -- which we always said we had -- a reality for both delivering data, as well as consuming data. That data can come from anywhere inside your business or beyond."

Microsoft's Web site describes the current state of SharePoint this way: "More than 200,000 organizations use SharePoint today and an extraordinary community of more than 50,000 partners and 1 million developers make up a $10 billion solutions ecosystem around SharePoint." With a renewed sense of future, SharePoint partners will be doubling down, continuing to build that ecosystem. The best may be yet to come.

How are you going to capitalize on the SharePoint 2016 opportunities? Add a comment below or drop me a note and let's share your story.

Posted by Barb Levisay on May 11, 2016