3 recommended updates: Organization assets for SharePoint Online

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Version 19.07.24 is now available.

Microsoft MVP Jasper Oosterveld on channel cross posting in Microsoft Teams, the ability to create organization assets in modern SharePoint, and an update to the SharePoint’s Site usage page.

Welcome back to 3 recommended updates, a new blog series where I bring you the latest and greatest from the world of Microsoft and Office 365.

I hope you enjoyed the first part—where I discussed org-wide channels, page recommendations, and Q&A in Yammer—and are ready for the second one!

3 recommended updates series:

In this release you’ll find a critical update to channel cross posting in Microsoft Teams; the ability to create organization assets in modern SharePoint; and an update to the SharePoint’s Site usage page.

Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at my 3 recommended updates you need to know about now.

Microsoft Teams: channel cross posting

When I first heard about this update, I kind of just shrugged my shoulders.

That is, until I ran into the following situation at InSpark: I wanted some of my team members to share the first part of this series with their networks on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Sharing an article on Microsoft Teams
Sharing a post in one team channel….

I had the same request for my marketing colleagues. The challenge? Both were using two different teams in our Microsoft Teams environment—I had to post the same message twice.

Posting the same article in multiple teams.
…and again in another.

Annoying, right? That’s when I really understood how awesome this new feature is!

The channel cross posting feature would have saved me valuable time—and it promises to save Microsoft Teams users valuable time in the future.

You can now post a message to multiple channels in a single step. Channels can be part of the same team or a different one. Additionally, any edits that you make to the post will be reflected across all channels.

Microsoft 365 Roadmap, Featured ID: 52393

Good to know:

  • Changes to the original post are reflected across all the other channels! You don’t have to go to multiple channels to apply an update.
  • Channels can be part of the same team or a different one.

Channel cross posting is currently in development, with plans to be released in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Organization assets for SharePoint Online

From the moment customers started working with modern SharePoint pages and uploading images, they saw the following menu:

Modern SharePoint's current Recent images menu.
Modern SharePoint images menu.

And immediately they asked: ”Can we add our organization’s images?”

Microsoft has finally addressed this request by releasing organization assets for SharePoint Online.

Organization assets lets you register one or more document libraries via PowerShell as a special source for images, such as photos and logos, across all sites.

Microsoft tech community, SharePoint community blog

This enhancement was first announced by the Microsoft product marketing team as part of the April 2019 Updates to SharePoint News posted in Microsoft’s Tech Community. Initially slated to start in May, it’s taken a while for the feature to actually be released.

This is huge because most organizations have their own media files. They want to provide content owners access to these files without having to root around on their computers or the web.

Here at InSpark, we’re huge fans of modern SharePoint news. We use it to share announcements about new customers, projects, and innovations—and we like to add visuals to the news posts we share.

Our marketing department has a huge collections of stock photos that have already been optimized for these kinds of posts. Once the organization assets feature became available, we connected it to the marketing department’s stock photo library, and—voila! All our colleagues have instant access to beautiful images to use in their news posts.

Good to know:

  • You need to use PowerShell to activate a library as an organization asset.
  • You can specify up to 30 organization asset libraries for a single organization.
  • This feature is not available for Office 365 Germany, Office 365 operated by 21Vianet (China), or Office 365 US Government plans.
  • Be warned: The organization assets option can take a while to appear. For our tenant, it took at least half a day. Not sure if this was a fluke or default behavior—either way, be patient!

Microsoft started gradually rolling this out to Targeted Release customers in late June, with worldwide rollout planned for the end of August. Learn how to create an organization assets library in the official Microsoft documentation.

Updated feature: Site usage page

Normally, I am very positive about SharePoint Online. But I am starting to get a bit annoyed—mainly about the lack of proper statistics for the actual usage of SharePoint sites.

For example:

SharePoint Online Site usage page displays limited analytics.
The extent of SharePoint’s current analytics.

These stats don’t actually tell you much. What devices are these visitors using? Where are users accessing these sites from?

Nearly all of our customers want to know the following:

  • How did visitors access a site or page?
  • How much time do visitors spent on a site or page?
  • How many visitors return to a site or page?

That’s the just the beginning of the list. Basically, customers want the same level of insight offered by Google Analytics and third-party products.

Soon, users will be able to see the most popular platforms from where their sites are accessed on the Site Usage page to best determine any information presentation methods to optimize the user experience.

Microsoft 365 Roadmap, Featured ID: 52155

Customers want to see if their investment pays off: are their employees actually using the SharePoint sites?

Unfortunately, a lot of our customers are disappointed when they start to dive into the available analytics. Seeing popular platforms is a step in the right direction, but this shouldn’t be the focus. Step up your game Microsoft!

Good to know:

  • Users will be able to see the most popular platforms from where their sites are accessed (desktop, mobile app, mobile web, tablet).
  • Users will see trends for the past 7, 30, and 90 days.
  • These new data insights compliment what is already available on the Site usage page—unique viewers, site visits, site traffic (‘heat map’), most viewed content, and visibility on external use if granted.

The update to the Site usage page is currently in development, with release planned for sometime in July.

Optimization rather than transformation

It’s been another interesting round of updates from Microsoft.

The introduction of organization assets has to be my favorite, mostly because so many of our customers have been requesting this feature for a long time. Communication and marketing departments will be especially thrilled!

I also really like updates that improve our efficiency and save us—and our customers—valuable time. That’s where channel cross posting comes in.

However, the statistics update to the Site usage page really annoyed me—partly because it missed the mark, and partly because there are more important analytics questions that need to be addressed.

All in all, this recent round of updates is a bit of a mixed bag: Microsoft is finally addressing some long-voiced customer complaints, but these updates optimize the current user experience rather than radically transforming it.

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