September 2018 Releases Webinar
Rewatch our webinar to learn more about the latest Powell 365 product updates available to customers and partners.
Every month the Powell Software team works hard to update and improve our solutions to be in line with the expectations of our clients and partners. As our intranet solution is evergreen, we are constantly publishing new releases of the Powell 365 digital workplace and Powell Manager provisioning tool to improve the end-user experience. During this month’s webinar, we highlight our top picks from the latest feature updates. Don’t miss out! Watch the webinar recording to hear best practices, tips for success or simply learn more about Powell 365 technology.
In this session:
We are excited to share this webinar and talk about the latest update regarding Powell 365.
For this webinar, we have Antoine, who will present along with Juan, who is a technical leader for North America. Juan is going to deep dive into the latest updates on my side I’m going to do the introductions and conclusion as well I am in charge of power software for North America. Antoine is based in Seattle. While Juan is based out of Toronto.
All right, in terms of agenda:
First I’m going to introduce very briefly Powell 365, for those who are not fully versed into what the solution can deliver. Then we are going to highlight the key 2018 product updates before speaking more specifically about what was new, in line with the latest release around SharePoint modern which has been available for one week now. Finally, we are going to provide a very, very brief overview of what is coming next.
All right, so what is Powell 365?
Powell 365, this is first and foremost, is built with the WYSIWYG designer, Powell Manager that enables us to design and deploy SharePoint structures. In Powell Manager, which is an Azure-based platform, our customers and our partners can design SharePoint layout templates, navigation bars, themes, site collections, web parts and so on. You can deploy them into SharePoint Online, or SharePoint On-Premise. This means that the result is our SharePoint templates, SharePoint structures that we call Powell 365 that have been designed with Powell Manager.
The end-users, they are working they are collaborating, sharing information on SharePoint Online, designed by Powell Manager. Okay so on one side, we have power manager -tools that enable us to build these SharePoint structures. On the other side, we have Powell 365. It’s a traditional collaboration intranet product that is based on SharePoint.
More than an intranet in a box
We can say that Powell 365 is more than an intranet in a box because it is a tool that will enable our customers and our partners to design a digital workplace that can evolve. They can use the initial templates, but you can also add to templates, and use a tool that accelerates the time to market and significantly reduce cost.
2018 Product Updates
In terms of updates, we have three key orientations. The first one, it used to be very aligned to the Microsoft office 365 updates. Of course, very important. We want to provide a platform that is evergreen and that will always run along with the Office 365 updates.
Second, a very important orientation key, is that we are very close to our partners and to our customers. We want to integrate their feedback into the next features into the next releases of Powell 365.
Thirdly, we have a vision of a digital workplace designer, that can go beyond your office 365 platform and is a true universal enterprise digital workplace designer, which we are going to release very soon.
These three key orientations are very important to understand the key updates for Powell 365 in 2018, and also the key components of the latest features.
The key new features in 2018
So, I would like to talk about the key 2018 new features. I think that there is one thing to understand about what we have delivered so far. It is that Powell 365 now fully integrates and fully supports the SharePoint modern experience. This means that with our tool Powell Manager, you can now design and deploy these templates: modern page layout, modern themes, modern Microsoft Web parts.
You can also build any kind of SPF x web part and extension. We fully integrate Modern Team communication and tab site templates. We also integrate new features that Microsoft released which is called SharePoint site design. That’s very important. We are the first software vendor on the market worldwide to fully integrate a SharePoint modern experience. We now have many customers that are using Powell Manager to build and design, modern SharePoint sites and Modern SharePoint portals.
Deep Dive into Powell 365 features
To carry on with the whole modern experience, one of the things that we can achieve with the site design and the site template is that we can now start to brand Teams sites. We get that through the site design deployment. So, in SharePoint, one of the things we have is a connector that will allow you to view all of your Teams, be able to interact with them, see the team members, see recent activity, etc. So this means that from a SharePoint perspective, bringing a bit of Teams into SharePoint, and then bringing SharePoint into Teams, we now can brand the site. You can add our custom look and feel, use our web parts and apply them to your Team site. All of this is now available.
Coming up, you’ll have more direct access to Discussion. We have a discussion feature that’s coming out that you can use interchangeably. If you don’t have Yammer, or whether you’re On-Premise, or simply want to go a different direction with discussions. We’re also going to look into a little bit tighter integration with Teams, looking at profile cards. Being able to integrate some of those native tools inside of Teams.
There are two key updates in terms of the SharePoint Modern Experience. We’ve made quite an array of updates to improve our web parts and the look and feel.
We have some advanced configurations that are now available in our modern web parts. These configurations are part of the modern web parts and can be configured from a general setting. Since we started integrating with Modern, we’ve added advanced JSON formatting. This formating with include richer configuration options and will soon be able to distribute them out across templates.
One of the big advancements, in terms of Modern, is site design. It has allowed us to deploy theme and look and feel and templates. One of the things we’ve heard a lot in the SharePoint community is that there are some limitations with site designs. For example, how many design themes are available in any one environment? This is the reason we’ve set up a function where you deploy a site design to a different testing environment to fully try it out first. Then once validated, you can bring that into your production environment. It’s a good testing approach for you to use site designs going forward.
We’ve made a considerable improvement in some key features. There have been updates on widgets, design displays, tool capabilities.
Power Graph Query
We now have a power graph query web part (traditionally we’ve seen a search query web part which can look across boundaries). With this feature, we can search against the search index and give you some rich aggregations. We now have released a graph query web part that looks directly into lists and it’s immediate. It doesn’t depend on the index and gives you those key advantages of retrieving data as it is created live.
Changes to the list views have added some key advantages. First of all, you can leverage all of our display templates within Powell Manager. There are different pre-made visualizations and UX options available as well as the option for you to create your own. It is also fully responsive. so any kind of key designs that you might put together are fully responsive and then tier two will be device capabilities which are a lot better than lists you can kind of out of the box.
Drag & Drop
We also are looking in the future to improve drag & drop capabilities to be able to upload files, additional action menus to give you some actionable interactions with documents and folder management. That’s coming in the future, but this was the first step to give us a little bit of different functionality and feature for you to use.
Powell Manager updates
We’ve seen considerable improvements in the SharePoint landscape, which lead to specific updates in Powell Manager. This new level of SharePoint object hierarchy allows for the reuse of list library sites and site collections.
Page object and cloning
We’ve added a page object. This is a page template that is built out of both a layout and a page and includes a fully configured page with web parts. This page object feature lets you create a page and reuse it. We see a lot of scenarios in which this is a need. For example, you need to create a page and use it across multiple site collections, subsites, or templates. This update will give you the ability to do that. You can now clone, as we’re used to in Powell Manager. Cloning offers the option to make key updates or slight configurations that are then implemented across different pages. You also the ability to synchronize and manage these page templates from a central place.
The team is so excited to put this out and get your feedback on it! We think that it’ll be a good considerable improvement and accelerate your, your build and your deployment.
We’ve also improved the UX of Powell Manager. One of the key advantages here is that we’re able to add some key descriptions to make it quite clean and clear, in terms of how to interact with the site collection and synchronize and do all the different management activities that you need. It also makes the UX a lot more compact and a little bit more user-friendly.
New Web parts
We have the new query web part to work in sync with our new search web part. They both leverage a display template that allows you to pick and choose how you want to visualize content. We’ve added this same feature to our RSS widget. So if you have RSS that you want to bring in but have more design options, you now have the capabilities to use our pre-built design templates. You can also build your own more capabilities if you would like something more in line with your branding look and feel.
Our Delve connector has been available for a while. Although we’re able to reach in there and use some of that Sales intelligence, we’ve upgraded our web part to give you two key features: a search capability to search through Delve and better use Delve, and Graph API to interact with the content. Having a more interactive web part will produce more engaging results. We’ve added some pages in there for you to visualize content. Still, there’s much more to come as the graph API gets more mature and there’s more for us to interact with. So stay tuned on this because I think this will be a considerable jump in, in, in functionality in the future.
Modern Web parts
There have been some key improvements there in terms of UX. UI changes have been done to the Members web parts. We’ve compacted the look and feel. We’ve added a little bit more of paging and maximizing the number of users to display. Of course, it is quite key in utilizing the space.
We’ve also taken the staff directory, which is a page inside of a search site or in a search template – one of the functions within search. This was a pretty key functionality for a lot of our customers. Therefore, we felt that it was a good idea to move this into its template. It will allow you to reuse it which will allow you to expand this a lot easier a lot quicker. And you can use it throughout all your implementations.
Cadence of updates
What is important to keep in mind is that we want to stay always ahead of the game. That is why we are updating our solutions on a very regular basis. As a cadence, we keep a monthly pace. This means we release product updates every month and Office 365 improvements every two months. And we will continue to innovate, as we release new features and soon a new product.
How do we communicate updates to customers and partners?
We have two Yammer networks (we are using Office 365 tools, of course😊) to communicate with partners and clients. One of the networks is for customers and another one is for partners. We communicate on a very regular basis through these networks. This is where they will be able to find all the information related to these updates.
All these feature updates must be automatically available for the customers. At Powell Software it’s completely transparent. Any important fixes on a web part or feature will be available on the content delivery network, CDN. Our architecture avoids the need to treat to redeploy for all the portals. The next time a user connects to the portal, they will call the latest version of a feature. This includes all the updated features, which have been updated on the CDN.
As regards to the new features, we add them into Powell Manager. For example a new page template. It’s a new menu in Powell Manager. It’s a menu that wasn’t available two and exists today. As a customer, you can use it or not. It’s up to you. This is your choice. For example, here you can see the list of all the site collections in my Powell Manager tenant. You can see all the features that are available for each site collection and all the actions that are available for each site collection.
We communicate all updates through our Yammer network. We push updates on the content delivery network monthly. Of course, these updates affect all of our products, including our implementation engine, Powell Manager.
What’s coming next
We have two key releases by the end of 2018. The first one is a power distribution ball, a social engagement board. This is used to comment, to discuss. That is fully based on SharePoint Online or SharePoint On-Premises. This is a tool for our customers who are not using Yammer because they are On-Premise, for example. We are going to offer a tool that is fully based on SharePoint.
At the end of the year, we are going to release a new solution that is called Powell Hub. It is our version of a digital application workspace. It goes beyond Office 365 driving productivity streams from all corporate applications without being based on SharePoint. It can be a desktop app, a mobile app, or can also be accessed via the browser. Your browser. This is a new approach that we will talk a lot about over the next month. We plan a release of the product by the end of the year. So stay tuned!
Please note: we are going continue to add new features to Powell 365 and Powell Manager. Our goal is to update the solutions with new innovative features to satisfy customer and partner needs.
We hope you enjoy our webinar! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us today!