Another key upgrade is the ability for users to tap into back-end databases create their own workflow without having to do any coding. For example, a business analyst using Visio to sketch out a desired workflow. This information can be imported into SharePoint as a Visio chart, and SharePoint will then generate the necessary code. As West notes, this process used to be a full-on development project, but now, it can be done by end-users with no coding required. Similarly, a new tool called Dashboard Designer lets users create their own dashboards without requiring a team of developers.
Database integration makes a big difference for Outlook as well. If, for example, a user edits an Outlook contact, Outlook can write those changes back to the central database so that the next time somebody else opens up that contact in Outlook, they see those changes. Users don't have to do anything extra to share the updated information; Outlook's back-end integration makes it happen automatically.
To best take advantage of all these collaboration upgrades requires some solid up-front planning about who has what permissions, but once the permission architecture is in place, Office 2010 reduces the burden on IT staff by letting users directly tap into back-end data without needing to call on a developer. In fact, much of Office 2010's integration is seamless enough that end users will hardly notice it, and they won't have to modify their work habits much to take advantage of it.
This story, "What's in store for Office 2010?," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in Microsoft Office, and read more of Pete Babb's Killer Apps blog at InfoWorld.com.