There are in fact two versions of SharePoint: the on-premises version, SharePoint 2019, and SharePoint Online, which comes bundled in Office 365 (the Cloud). Though those with Office 365 automatically have the latest features in SharePoint Online; those with on-premises SharePoint, have to wait for the next release to get the latest and greatest.
SharePoint’s greatest strength is it’s an all-in-one approach – it’s a portal, a content management system, a search engine, a social collaboration platform, a web development platform, and so much more. Its greatest weakness is that it’s an all-in-one solution – everything and the kitchen sink; a jack-of-all-trades, a master of none. Some argue that SharePoint is a “mile wide, but a foot deep.” It offers so much, but some features are seen as still ‘developing’ or even sub-par. But there are a lot of tools and features, and with each release, it gets better and better (though more complex).
“With Office 365, Microsoft currently offers the most powerful communication and collaboration suite on the market. And the latest announcements from the Microsoft Ignite conference across the main workloads like SharePoint, Teams and Powell Apps prove that they continue to move forward fast in order to stay ahead of the game,” says Antoine Faisandier, CEO of Powell Software, a Digital Workplace software that extends and enhances the Office 365 capabilities.
It’s important to note that SharePoint is still a technology. It doesn’t include all of the people, process and planning that is required to make any intranet technology work. Intranet technology will fail without careful planning, process and committed people. Most of the key ingredients of a successful intranet in the digital workplace are based on people, and process; technology is merely an enabler.
Among the latest features, building upon the SharePoint 2016 version:
We are Intranet consultants (www.PrescientDigital.com) and we principally use Office 365 - SharePoint Online (almost complete feature parity with SharePoint 2016) for Enterprise Content Management; improving the way our organization functions in terms of employee collaboration and knowledge sharing specifically via document management, and social collaboration (discussion groups, profiles and blogging being the most used social tools). Increasingly we use Teams, and use it with external clients that can be invited to a specific Team.
The solution could use improvement, however, in terms of Web content management / social media tools (e.g. wikis), and general usability. We also encountered many, many problems with deployment -- customization and implementation requires more work than you expect. Additionally, like most organization, we customized the user experience, which can break (particularly specific webparts) with every SharePoint patch and upgrade. However, we found no issues with stability or scalability.
We switched to SharePoint Online because its the market leader, and 80% of our clients use SharePoint. We are first and foremost SharePoint intranet consultants, so we build and design other intranets, and need to deeply understand the ins and outs of SharePoint.
The initial setup of SharePoint is very complex and requires a lot of work to customize, including hiring outside experts. The advice I would give to others looking into implementing this product is plan, plan, plan, and plan to run over-budget (unless you hire very strong outside experts to develop and run your plan and budget) for customization activities. And do not underestimate the infrastructure required (servers and farm configuration).
Additional changes and improvements were announced to the SharePoint Online in Office 365. An overview of the changes are here: Big Changes to Office 365 / SharePoint Intranets
SharePoint 2019 features major upgrades to the user experience design and mobile access, including a new dedicated SharePoint app. The UX for SharePoint 2019 is noticeably superior to previous versions of SP. It’s very clean and modern, with a major emphasis on images, and video. The new "modern UX" is fully responsive, and has it's own dedicated mobile app.
“SharePoint 2019 has the most UX (improvements) than we’ve ever delivered before in a SharePoint release,” Hani Loza, of the Microsoft SharePoint team, on www.IntranetBlog.com.
Among the new UX features, particularly noticeable in the new SharePoint Communications Sites, are drag-and-drop web parts for image galleries, slideshows, hero slideshow, and video.
Continue reading: The New SharePoint: SharePoint 2019