Riley shared an experience where he tagged items and others began following along with his tags. An important document was released, and as a result of his colleagues following his tags and posts, they reviewed the document without being asked and provided feedback, even making corrections. He said that never would've happened without the social connection tools. The tools encouraged the interaction, which in turn produced better documentation because the community was working together.
Under the insight aspect of SharePoint are some tremendous improvements to the business intelligence (BI) portions. For example, the addition of integrated PerformancePoint dashboards with Excel and Visio services makes for a much better display of data.
One of the impressive BI demonstrations was its ability to connect back to SQL data and link your data with your SharePoint lists. In SharePoint 2007, you could read the data, but with SharePoint 2010 you can both read and write, so you can make a change in your SharePoint list that gets written back to your SQL database. (Note: There are solid security pieces in play.) Even better, you can use that same concept and go one step further to make changes to data to another app through SharePoint and have it update the SQL as well.
Behind Backstage and beyond
Riley also showed me how much better the interaction is between Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010. One thing I haven't fully understood until now is the new Backstage aspect to Office 2010, but seeing it in this context was very helpful. Opening a document is easy enough from a document library, but once you have it, you can check out documents, manage versions, and so forth all through the Backstage view. You can see all the document's metadata and update it from the Backstage.
Additional new features include PowerPoint broadcasting through SharePoint, document co-authoring whereby different people can work on and edit a document simultaneously, improved Outlook alerts, and using SharePoint Workspaces (formerly Groove) to manage offline documents. But my favorite piece was the Office Web Apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote), which allow you to work on documents without Office installed on the system. Having the ability to render and edit documents through the browser (and multiple browsers are supported with equal functionality) is great.
Finally, under the concept of composites, I saw one final demonstration in which users creating an online list form can take advantage of InfoPath Designer 2010 from within SharePoint and make immediate changes.
Usage and benefits are soaring
I was pretty impressed all around. SharePoint 2010 is jam-packed with new features that matter, ones that will increase productivity if used properly. I predict the number of companies using SharePoint is going to soar with this next release. I've been working with SharePoint since its first release (where I hated it) through 2007 (where it was growing on me) on to 2010 (where I can honestly say I'm really impressed by and loving it).
What about you? Does SharePoint have you pulling your hair out? Let the SharePoint team know what your needs are in the comments below (they will be reading). After all, if it isn't in SharePoint 2010, it might make it into the next version.
This article, "SharePoint 2010 is polished, refined, and feature-rich," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at InfoWorld.com.