August 25, 2015

Expert Interview: How the App Model is Transforming Software

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Tags: Podcast

Laura Rogers, a Senior SharePoint Consultant and a Microsoft MVP at Rackspace, was a recent guest on the TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series to share her insight on the intersection of sales, marketing, and technology. The series, which is hosted by TechnologyAdvice’s Josh Bland, explores a variety of business and technology landscapes through conversations with industry leaders.

Rackspace is a managed cloud computing company based in Windcrest, Texas. In this episode we discuss workflows, user adoption, and what to expect at SPTechCon 2015.

Below are a few highlights from our conversation:

TechnologyAdvice: How does SharePoint help improve business processes or workflows?

Laura Rogers: A lot of the work I do as a SharePoint consultant is helping with business process automation tools, like SharePoint, by using forums and workflows and creating user interfaces.

Historically, there were a limited number of tools to automate processes in SharePoint or Office 365. SharePoint Designer was the free tool, which is part of what you get with SharePoint. And then there were a handful of third-party products that people could buy.

Now, those tools are all changing.

With this app model, traditional workflow businesses have been able to create apps of their products and deploy them in the cloud. There are a lot more competitors now that are quickly spinning up apps to automate workflows.

There’s still the concept of a poor end user who can’t explain what their business process is in the first place. Since you’re dealing with people, that hasn’t improved over the years. You’re dealing with people having to get in a room together and figure out what their process actually is. A lot of times, that’s the biggest problem. There’s definitely a wider plethora of tools available now for people to be able to quickly plug in once they pick one.

TA: What do you see getting big in SharePoint in the next few years?

Rogers: The biggest change we’re seeing lately is this shift to the app model, where everything is an app. Things are getting to be a lot more modular and simply plug into SharePoint and do what they need to do. You’re having to do less of the installing products at the server level in SharePoint.

In the past, that has been a little scary and a little sketchy because when you install things at the server level you can break things you weren’t expecting to break. The app model is definitely a big shift that’s happening lately.

Another shift in SharePoint is, of course, Office 365.

Office 365 and SharePoint 2013 are pretty similar. It’s interesting as you start to see little things get added and changed in Office 365 on the fly. It’s definitely something where it’s good to keep up with Office 365, even if you’re on 2013, just so you can know the differences and know things to point out or things that could be “Gotchas!” since the products differ in several places.

I think as SharePoint 2016 is being developed, Microsoft’s keeping this in mind to not necessarily make it too drastically different. When you get SharePoint 2016 on-premises, the biggest change is going to be making the hybrid model easier to configure. It’s easier to have a hybrid experience for end-users. If you have on-premises and Office 365, the goal for them will be to not clarify two different places they have to go, but to be able to meld those together.