In terms of features and functions that end users will directly appreciate, the latest version of Microsoft is a lot less personal in that it is designed to foster collaboration across multiple users. But solution providers should pay close attention to how Microsoft has gone about making Microsoft Office 2016 a full-fledged member of the so-called API Economy.
Traditionally, Microsoft has positioned Microsoft Office as a consumer of data created by other applications. In the context, Microsoft Office was deployed almost as the universal front end to enterprise applications. But with the official release today, Microsoft Office 2016 is also designed to make it easier for other applications to consume data created first within Microsoft Office, said Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Office Division. In fact, one of the first examples of that is the work Salesforce is doing to integrate its ecosystem of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications with Microsoft Office 2016.
Within that overall integration context, two of the more important new elements of Microsoft Office 2016 are Office Graph, machine learning software that makes it easier for end users to visually keep track of overall collaboration ecosystem; and GigJam, a workflow process management framework currently only available in preview mode. Via GigJam, organizations not only can pull data into Microsoft Office using REST application programming interfaces (APIs), they also can share that data via a custom view that the end user designs and is distributed with all process logic and security policies associated with that data attached. GigJam is scheduled to become a standard feature of Microsoft Office 2016 next year.
In general, Microsoft is trying to take Microsoft Office 2016 well beyond the realm of personal computing. In effect, it’s now a platform for collaboration. But instead of limiting that notion of collaboration to just files and documents, it’s clear that Microsoft views Office 2016 as a vehicle through which both processes and relationships will be established and managed.
For solution providers, the implications of that set of collaboration capabilities should prove to be nothing short of profound. Regardless of the size of business, the ability to easily move data in and out of Microsoft Office 2016 should provide a foundation for crafting solutions that can be extended in almost any direction for years to come.