One of the major reasons organizations turn to cloud collaboration platforms in the flexibility they allow teams and users. While legacy storage often leaves workers shackled to outdated technologies just to access their content, cloud collaboration platforms provide businesses and departments with powerful options to mold storage and sharing tools to their specific needs.
Perhaps the most visible example of this is in the range of mobile features that SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business provide to users. With these functionalities, teams can work from multiple locations and multiple devices, ensuring that projects aren’t delayed simply because one team member isn’t in the office, or a work computer had to be repaired. Workers who need to access files remotely no longer need download and install costly and unreliable VPNs to reach documents and data stored on company servers. Rather, anything a user could access from their desk at work, they can access on their laptop at home, or even from their phone.
Designed to be every bit as effective as their desktop counterparts, the SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business mobile apps provide a wealth of features to make work on-the-go a simple and powerful experience. With easy to use interfaces that almost exactly resemble those of the cloud solution’s desktop UI, they make certain that users aren’t suddenly confused by what might seem like a new confusing approach to behavior. Ultimately, an examination of these applications will make users wonder why they were ever willing to settle for anything less!
Exploring the SharePoint Online App
With SharePoint Online, users on-the-go have the option to download, upload, and edit files, as well as check in on SharePoint Online sites and Team Sites. For a mobile user who needs to check in with a teammate, they don’t have to constantly jump back and forth between SMS and their file, since the SharePoint app provides them with real-time access to their content and ongoing conversations. Users are immediately notified when other users edit content or upload new files. On top of this, a powerful and easy to use search option means that users can easily find any single file or folder, or even previous versions of their work. Rather than making users scroll for what might seem like an eternity on a small phone or tablet screen, or navigate through deep directory structures, SharePoint Online mobile search features ensure that every piece of data you might need is, quite literally, at your fingertips.
Because many apps that help users access content on-the-go feel cluttered, SharePoint Online has taken special care in designing a look that is clean and easy to navigate. Upon opening the application, users can choose between a few tabs. If a user selects the “Sites” tab they’ll be shown a list of all their sites, organized by those which were most frequently visited. The app will also suggest sites to you based on what people to whom you’re connected in your organization are looking at or subscribing too. This same approach goes for the organization of a site itself. Upon entering a site, team members can see files organized by recent edits, as well as files that are tagged as popular among other site members. Should they wish to access a specific piece of content, users can either look at the entire document library for the site or quickly use the search option.
In addition to the Sites tab, users can peek into both People and Links tabs. The links tab is populated with links designed for everyone in the company to see. Much like a Yammer these links represent critical points of navigation for users and do not frequently change as the might if simply posted in a Team Site, or get buried as they would if sent via an instant message application. While being able to post these links is normally designated for admins, users can interact with them and with one another depending on the content of the link. As a means to provide users with on-the-go responsive access to company portals or other parts of Office 365, the Links portal is a powerful and easy to use tool.
The People tab is designed to help users see what other people in their organization are working on, and provide general information on each individual based on data in Office 365. For large organizations with numerous departments, this feature is especially helpful. It empowers all members of an organization to seamlessly stay in contact and monitor expansive inter-departmental projects. For users who might need to contact an individual who’s not a member of their Team Sites for information about a project, the People tab is extremely helpful.
While admins who use the mobile application don’t have as many options as they might from their desktop, they still have robust control over permissions: being able to dictate who can access what files, and removing people’s permission to see certain files. Admins having access to these powers from mobile and on-the-go is immensely important. Permissions safeguard sensitive files and ensure that users and teams have the ability to access those files they need to collaborate. Admins being able to do so from a mobile device means that important files aren’t left vulnerable, and teams aren’t delayed on being work with crucial documents simply because an administrator is working remotely.
The Power of OneDrive On-The-Go
For users who rely on OneDrive to store their personal files, the available mobility options only expand. OneDrive’s mobile app supports over 320 different file types (including 3D files and large sized PowerPoints), with rich previews for each and every one. Not only are users able to access all these different file types on the go, but OneDrive makes sure the preview format of each is designed so that users can easily read and parse the information. If your business relies on servers or home drives, this is practically impossible, even for users who do have access to the files remotely.
The previews available in OneDrive are also specifically designed to ensure that users cannot only view, but really absorb their files, and keep on top of every single document they need. As noted in a recent OneDrive mobile demonstration at Ignite 2018, looking at code files on a small mobile screen can be a nightmare. However, in OneDrive, the files are specifically formatted so that users who need to check on them at a moment’s notice can easily comprehend each line and command. With the aforementioned PowerPoint files, the OneDrive app now retains all transition animations added by the author, and loads these large files progressively, slide by slide, so that users needn’t wait for the entire file to load before viewing even the first couple slides. Should users want to share any of these files, all they need to do is click the “Share” button, after which they’ll be given the option to send a link available to anyone who receives it, select only specific people who can view the file, or directly send it into one of their Team Sites. For files that have been shared with a given user, the Shared View allows a user to sort those shared files by who shared them or how recently they were shared with the user in question.
While the options for previewing and examining files and folders is impressive, the application doesn’t stop there. Much like its counterpart, OneDrive for Business’ app is specifically designed to emphasize the ‘collaboration’ in cloud collaboration platforms.
For instance, OneDrive’s app, with its latest updates, allows users to easily prepare for meetings right on their phone or tablet. Worried the folks you’re meeting with haven’t seen the report you sent them? Pull it up on your phone and see a comprehensive graph of who viewed that file and when! Took some notes down on paper during a meeting? Easily scan those notes right into your documents folder using just the app and your phone’s camera! If you choose to share the notes with the other folks at your meeting, when you go to share, OneDrive will have automatically filled them in.
Options like these help users and teams maintain constant access to their files, no matter where they are. With OneDrive, you’re never isolated from the documents you need, nor out of touch with the teammates you rely on. Why settle for the restrictive and limiting features of a massive server room, when your users can fit ten times the functionality in their front pocket?
Cloud Collaboration on Mobile is Changing the Way We Work
An ever-growing mobile environment, the SharePoint Online and OneDrive mobile applications have largely changed the game for other cloud providers who want to give their customers extensive mobile functionality.
With ever-expanding mobile features, organizations and users don’t have to worry about business trips or long subway rides or poor internet speeds getting in the way of what they need to get done. Mobile devices allow us to stay connected and in sync in nearly all aspects of our lives; that’s what makes them so powerful, popular, and useful. If these devices truly make sure that we can stay in touch and top of our social and personal and family lives, why shouldn’t they help us do the same with our work?