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So, we’ve been around for a while now, about 3 years since we launched to market and around 18 months before that working on our Oxygen Digital Workplace for Office 365 and SharePoint Online.

As a business who deliver Digital Transformation solutions, we set out to create an organisation that leveraged technology to bring about widespread change in how people go to and conduct ‘work’ every day. To us, the tech is obviously vitally important, but it was always ‘people-first’ – without an engaging and user-friendly experience, then it becomes impossible to achieve a human-centric digital workplace.

A key component of any transformation of course, is change. Humans are, in the main, cautious of change – consider the diffusion of innovations theory and you will see how Innovators and Early Adopters, in theory, make up only a very small percentage of the total population. As a result, we spend a lot of time ensuring our solutions are engaging from the outset and easy to use… thus lowering the barrier to entry and encouraging the Majority to embrace the – necessary – change.

One aspect of the Digital Transformation journey that continues to surprise us however, is the phenomenon of partial-digital-transformation-then-stop. This is when an organisation has seemingly bought into the required changes, but then quit before the transformation is complete. A perfect example of this is moving to Office 365 for email and specific collaborative tools, such as Skype for Business, Yammer and Teams. Most companies embrace this wholeheartedly, and whilst they may not immediately move their phone system to Skype for Business or Teams, they are well prepared to grasp SharePoint Online in replacement of ageing and costly file shares or network drives.

Then there are those who don’t…

These are the organisations, and you may well be one of them, who have moved your email Exchange from on-premise to the cloud, and have started using Skype for Business to message, or perhaps call one another… and, you exclaim, ‘we have even moved our file share to SharePoint Online’ – as a statement it’s not entirely incorrect, but if completed in the literal sense, then it is far from right… and the thing is, the opening exclamation is often followed by ‘but it doesn’t work the way we thought it would’ or ‘it doesn’t do what we were told it would’ or worse still ‘the permissions are all over the place and we’re concerned that we have no control over who can see what anymore’.

The reality is simple:

  • SharePoint is NOT a file share, or network drive. it wasn’t designed to be one and it won’t perform like one. Here’s a few reasons why:
  • Technical Limitations
  • 5,000 item limit
  • URL length
  • Performance
  • User Experience
  • Single site, multiple hierarchy document ‘folder’ is not efficient
  • Search
  • SharePoint allows metadata and document content search – a file share uses standard old Windows Explorer search. ‘nuff said.
  • Versioning
  • No access to versioning in Windows Explorer
  • SharePoint IS a very powerful collaborative portal that can be adapted to handle many complex tasks including automations, complex permissions, sharing, co-authoring, versioning, metadata tagging, searching and much more

Unfortunately, if anyone has told you SharePoint Online will directly replace your file share or network drive, you have been misinformed. Whilst it will store your documents, files and folders, it requires more specialist configuration to perform correctly. Your return in investment should also far outweigh any solution you have utilised previously – this might be realised in terms of cost or productivity.

Moving to Office 365 and SharePoint Online, and choosing to do things ‘the old way’ is like saying:

‘We want to collaborate the same way we have done for the last 20 years’

It’s a bit silly isn’t it.

Drop us a line and pick our brains on the ins and outs of every option available. We’re really keen to get you using the best version of tech available and that suits your business and your way of doing things. We’ll explain what’s going on in the wider market and whilst it may not be for you right now, we’ll highlight the key things to look out for in your organisation to help you identify when IS the right time to make the change.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to the SharePoint Maven, Greg Zelfond. Read Greg’s article on this here.

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