The Future of Content Management

What will be the future of content management in SharePoint in 5 years? Are information architecture and metadata going away? What is not going to change? Lincoln DeMaris, from the OneDrive & SharePoint Product Team, shares his vision for the future of content management.

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Anthony Woodward: Hi everyone. I have Lincoln DeMaris with me here from the Microsoft team.
Lincoln DeMaris: Hello. Happy to be talking with you.
Anthony Woodward: So, tell us a little bit about yourself, Lincoln. How do you fit in with the world?
Lincoln DeMaris: Well, I'm here because I work at Microsoft. I'm on the OneDrive and SharePoint product team. I work on SharePoint team sites, document libraries, and lists, and I've been part of the SharePoint family for about 11 years now.
Anthony Woodward: Wow.
Lincoln DeMaris: I've been working on content management, ECM, team sites, and document libraries.
Document libraries have been a part of my life in one way or another for a little more than a decade. So I guess that's why I'm sitting in this seat right now.
Anthony Woodward: Yeah. Unfortunately, they've probably been a part of everybody's life.
Lincoln DeMaris: Did you say "unfortunately"? "Fortunately! Fortunately!"
Anthony Woodward: Fortunately. Sorry! Sorry! I get that wrong every time.
Lincoln DeMaris: We're all blessed by document libraries.
Anthony Woodward: Big fan. Big fan.
Lincoln DeMaris: Thank you.

Modern SharePoint Document Libraries

Anthony Woodward: Microsoft is rolling forward your strategy with modern document libraries. This is changing some of the experiences around document libraries.
Lincoln DeMaris: Yeah.
Anthony Woodward: What's the feedback you're getting on that, and where are customers able to accelerate their use of those tools?
Lincoln DeMaris: It's incredible how much the world's changed, and at the same time, how much the world has stayed the same.
At the end of the day, what it's all about is people have their stuff, and they want to get to their material. Also, SharePoint and OneDrive product family are all about giving you access to the things you need.
There has been a significant paradigm shift over the last decade has been about mobile and everywhere access. You see us continuing to make it easier to get at all your stuff.
Office 365 groups are all about bringing the thing that a team works on together into one spot. We're making that stuff available on desktop and phone. We've been talking about that all along.
Anthony Woodward: Yep.
Lincoln DeMaris: It's going to be not just about the fundamentals of giving people access to their stuff, tagging content the right way, organizing it. That's all only DNA.
On top of that, the future is going to be about insight and intelligence around your data. It will be about harnessing the power of the Cloud. The Microsoft Graph will feed you insights about your data and help you to work smarter.
Anthony Woodward: So IoT [internet of things] activated document libraries.
Lincoln DeMaris: Yeah. Right.

How Do Taxonomies and Metadata Work with Modern Document Libraries?

Anthony Woodward: I've had a long history in this industry as well, and if we go way back, we talked a lot about taxonomies and architectures and metadata.
How much of that is still feeding into those new experiences? How much of that is still feeding into those new experiences?
Lincoln DeMaris: So much. I still talk about all that. We're still talking about content types; we're still talking about metadata, taxonomies.
Modern document libraries have kept the core of that stuff intact but have tried to make it easier for everyday people to use. It makes it easier to use metadata and easier to filter. We also provide guaranteed performance and reliability around large lists.
Moreover, so all that stuff still runs through Office 365, and all our modern investments are about, you know, "How do we bring that product truth of document libraries to more people in an easier way?"
Anthony Woodward: Yep.
Lincoln DeMaris: Also, even looking forward to like the power of the Cloud giving us intelligent experiences over data, taxonomies, content types, file plans, all that stuff is still core and cardinal to all that.
Anthony Woodward: Yep. No, absolutely.
Lincoln DeMaris: That stuff isn't going away. Maybe the power of the Cloud will help you apply tags the right way without you having to think about it, but at the end of the day, it's still those top-down structures that drive a lot of process and organization. I don't see that changing.
Anthony Woodward: Nope. So the core building blocks are still there.
Lincoln DeMaris: Core building blocks are still there. Better than ever before.
Anthony Woodward: Terrific. One of the things customers keep saying to me as an observation is, they're starting to see that those fundamental building blocks are changing slightly in nature to be more user friendly. To have more of that Facebook-style kind of way of aggregating data that is entirely different from how it started back in the days of SharePoint 2001, 2003.
Lincoln DeMaris: Yep.

The Vision for the Future of Document Libraries

Anthony Woodward: Is there a vision that you can articulate for customers around where you see that going around that feed kind of centric model?
Lincoln DeMaris: Oh, sure. It's always going to be part of our product where you go to a document library. You bring up a deterministic list of files and folders sorted by metadata and filtered by metadata. It's like you're viewing the actual file structure underneath.
However, increasingly, we're going to bring you things like the activity feed on the homepage of a team site. Alternatively, a Delve feed that shows you relevant files according to a person.
We're going to bring you more and more. Push experiences of content that you opt to want to read depending on what you've done, what you're doing, with whom you work. We're going to look at you and your working habits in a non-creepy way, and we're going to bring you the content you need to be successful.
However, that's going to co-exist with a more deterministic, database-centric view of your content. Like both of those worlds can live side by side.
Anthony Woodward: Yep.
Lincoln DeMaris: Moreover, you might spend most of your day kind of in the world of content being pushed to you as our algorithms determine, but you're still going to have those underlying structures underneath.

How to Think About SharePoint Migration

Anthony Woodward: Oh, fantastic. Customers every day are talking about some of those standard problems of taking data they have and migrating it into Office 365. Do you see anything there?
There have been some announcements here at the conference; those tools now are coming out. Is there anything specific to document libraries or to lists that we should see some further releases? Alternatively, anything that you can share with us? There have been some announcements here at the conference; those tools now are coming out. Is there anything specific to document libraries or to lists that we should see some further releases? Alternatively, anything that you can share with us?
Lincoln DeMaris: You know, I'm not an expert on content migration, but I know that it's a significant focus of us. We naturally are delivering the latest and greatest best stuff in the Cloud. It's to everybody's benefit to get your business on Office 365, to get your content powered by the latest and greatest for Microsoft. Hugely continuing our hybrid investment, content migration.
You know, we have some partners around here that we lean on for that. We also have some first party tools, and we have Fast Track, we have various programs for helping people get to the Cloud.
I'm not the best expert to talk about specific ones, but I hear about migration all the time. I must answer questions from the guys on my team who work on migration, and it's a focus area. We want to make that painless as possible.
Anthony Woodward: What we've seen, we would agree that seems to be happening, which is excellent.
Lincoln DeMaris: Yeah.

What Are the Top Three Blockers to the Modern Workspace?

Anthony Woodward: What do you reckon the top five blockers are the prevent customers from using the tools and taking advantages of these modern workspaces?
Lincoln DeMaris: Top five! You're supposed to ask the top three. Top five is almost double.
Anthony Woodward: I've extended it.
Lincoln DeMaris: So, you mean top five blockers to get to the Cloud individually?
Anthony Woodward: We'll let you off the hook; we'll go for three.
Lincoln DeMaris: Well, I might keep going. What if I get six? You can't stop me.
Anthony Woodward: I can't. You know, what we're hearing from customers is there's much planning and thinking that they must do. They love the model of Modern Workspaces, they love the concept of that, but they've got to get through some of those barriers.
Lincoln DeMaris: Yeah. I mean the omnipresent challenge that runs through everything is just that the pace of software innovation is only accelerating, and at the bottom of that is human beings that must cope with change.
Anthony Woodward: Agreed.
Lincoln DeMaris: Moreover, no matter how cool the stuff my team builds, we're still asking people to adapt to a new way of working. We are asking them to go from their comfortable, local files or comfortable decades old on-premises system to this cool new stuff in the Cloud. Moreover, it doesn't matter how cool your thing is, you're still asking human beings to change, and that's asking a lot, we understand that.
So, just the human element bringing real people along to this cool new technology is the omnipresent challenge. That's number one, change management. Nothing novel there.
Number two is just about control and customization. SharePoint was customizable to an unlimited extent on-premises. You could do anything you wanted with it.
Sometimes that had fantastic results, but other times it ended up with an unusable environment. Office 365, we strive to make it customizable, flexible, but it's a little more constrained in terms of what you can do.
Like we're running this service for you, we guarantee the reliability, so there's not an extensive breadth of customizations you can do like there is on-premises.
Moreover, figuring out which customizations on-premises are a business essential and migrating those, re-imagining those as part of the modern workspace in the Cloud, that's a big challenge.
Anthony Woodward: Yep.
Lincoln DeMaris: Number three is just getting things to people fast enough. Like we're out doing all these demos, everybody's always asking, "Hey, when can I get this? When can I get that?"
We're still excited to talk about what's on the roadmap; we're continually delivering things every week. We ship every week now, and it's just keeping people up to date with what's the latest and greatest.
We have all these features that are out there in the service, and not everybody knows about all of them just because there's so much hitting the Cloud at once, you must over-communicate and make sure everybody understands the latest and greatest, what's coming, what's here, what's imminent.
That's three. Those are pretty big ones. Maybe I will stop at three. That was all-encompassing.

How Will We Interact with Content in the Future?

Anthony Woodward: Yeah. That was great. So where do you see the community going? Where do you see the whole content centricity of organizations going?
Where do you paint that future outside of what SharePoint's doing or any revelations Microsoft has?
In five years, do you think we'll be interacting with content in the same ways or do you think there'll be new ways of working that you haven't yet discovered?
Lincoln DeMaris: Like we've been saying, I think the core thing will be the same. It's like I want to pull out my phone; I want all my places, my spaces, and my workplaces, a tap away. I want all my stuff retrievable wherever I am, at whatever device I'm looking. I want to slice and dice by the same set of metadata everywhere. I want the same views, I want offline, I want online. That's the core thing.
In five years, we're still going to be asking the same thing out of our content management tools. I think the idea that's going to change is just increasingly intelligent experiences helping us stay up to date with what's truly relevant in our work networks and on our teams.
Anthony Woodward: Terrific.
Lincoln DeMaris: Moreover, so everything's going to stay the same, but everything's going to change, you know? That's the trope, I suppose.
Anthony Woodward: Yep. Well, terrific. Thanks for coming along.
Lincoln DeMaris: Yeah, it was a good chat.

Expert Interview Series

This video is a part of RecordPoint’s Expert Interview Series. In this series, we speak with top Microsoft industry experts on topics related to compliance, governance, collaboration, and information management.

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