This article is an elaboration on a previous blog post about offering a simplified UI to certain user groups in an organization.
SharePoint is popular among IT admins for its high level of data- and user governance and equally infamous among many user groups for the somewhat “clunky” UI, causing many users to switch to other, more user-driven solutions. This is obviously not a sustainable solution from a governance and security point of view.
To scope the issue, we have drawn up the model below. The pyramid illustration was created based on our research and shows that as little as 20% of an organization’s users are using a customized SharePoint solution, de facto leaving up to 80% of the users to other solutions.
So, the first conclusion is that 20% of the users are utilizing the customized SharePoint solution, which is great, since it is often the same 20% that have specific needs that SharePoint will help them solve on a daily basis. Examples could be: work flows, detailed project management, journalizing etc. For these types of tasks SharePoint is very useful.
The real issue arises when the remaining 80% of the users “meet” SharePoint.
Since the described situations always imply files or documents, it is tempting to store and organize an organization’s documents in SharePoint. That makes a lot of sense – from a governance and security perspective – and for 20% of the users.
The real issue arises when the remaining 80% of the users “meet” SharePoint. Bear in mind, that they often have very basic needs in relation to corporate files and documents. They simply need to be able to find documents, work with them, and possibly share them with colleagues.
Since SharePoint is perceived as quite difficult and complex by these 80%, they will, in many cases, find alternatives like Dropbox, Google Drive etc., and often there is very little that the IT admin can do about this.
A solution to the “80% issue” can be to connect an “interaction layer” to the same SharePoint Online tenant. If this sounds Greek, it is because this is a completely new layer-technology that has emerged because of the introduction of Office 365 and SharePoint Online, making it possible to distribute a fully automated interaction layer for SharePoint Online, the way you would subscribe to Netflix, Spotify or other services.
An “interaction layer” is a provider hosted application that holds no data and can be connected to any SharePoint Online tenant, giving the users access to their SharePoint Online documents and basic social-media-wall-based communication. The UI has the same logic as if you had “Facebook with documents”. In plain English, this means that 80% of the users – the ones with basic needs – can work on the same SharePoint Online data as the 20% with the customized solution, but in a completely different and very intuitive UI.
Provisioning of the SimplySo interaction layer is done here: https://simplyso.company. If you choose to give it a go, you will be able to work with your existing data in the SimplySo UI immediately after having accepted the terms. Provisioning takes about 30 seconds.
The simple answer to “why” is, that 80% of the users, in our experience, will find other solutions for storing and working with company data, if not provided with a useful and intuitive UI for SharePoint.
From an IT and organizational perspective, you can enjoy all the benefits of strong data governance, security and state-of-the-art user administration, while resting assured that all users are working on the same set of data, but potentially through two different UIs. You can’t tell what data was accessed, altered, shared or uploaded through which UI. Bottom line: All data sits safe in SharePoint Online at all times.