The key to success with any technology upgrade is to prove a return on investment from a productivity perspective. Businesses can often rush into updating technology or infrastructure deployments without carefully considering the benefits that they can bring. Decision makers need to keep the potential productivity benefits in mind and weigh them up against the pitfalls of rushing into an upgrade, simply because it is popular.

With this in mind I’ve pulled together a list of 10 ways in which Microsoft SharePoint 2013 will improve productivity:

1. Document Management

Uploading documents in previous versions of SharePoint has always meant a lot of awkward clicking. The other option of getting documents into SharePoint 2010 quickly was using SharePoint Workspace, but that was often unpredictable and had document library scalability limitations. The new drag-and-drop functionality of SkyDrive Pro is an attempt at taking your content offline and replacing SharePoint Workspace. The experience of taking your documents offline has also been improved by simply clicking the sync button.

2. Sharing

SharePoint really takes the effort out of security management for business users by simply nominating the user or group and permissions with two clicks. Requesting access to a site is traceable, so if you go back to the site after you have requested access, it will detail who is handling the request.

3. User Interface

SharePoint 2013 offers a far more polished, “user first” user interface than SharePoint 2010. The interface has been cleaned up and some SharePoint-nuances like “Site Actions” have been replaced with simpler alternatives (such as a “Settings” icon). It makes SharePoint easier to understand, and more enjoyable to use for both end users and IT management.

4. Social

SharePoint 2013 has been designed with new social capabilities to facilitate better collaboration between employees. Enhancements to the user experience include Interactive feeds, Community Sites and Follow Sites, all of which promote a social working environment.

5. Search

SharePoint users spend a lot of time trying to find documents, and SharePoint 2013 enables them to discover information faster. There are now quick document previews in the web browser, much better search refiners on the left-hand side, and subtle improvements like “view library” and “send”.

6. Managed Metadata

SharePoint’s Managed Metadata service has been hugely helpful in allowing users to tag content with a taxonomy or folksonomy of terms. SharePoint 2013 offers a number of improvements such as being able to follow terms from a social perspective. The other addition is the ability to have properties associated with terms, which has been introduced to drive navigation by term sets.

7. Site Policies

Site Policies help business users who are accountable for sites and need to clean them up over time. In SharePoint 2013, the site policies now trigger workflows that you can build and have various configurations for handling inactive sites.

8. Web Content Management

Running internet facing sites is a key emphasis in SharePoint 2013. Improvements include embedding video directly into pages, much shorter URLs, and the ability to have better multi-lingual and multi-device support. This benefits internet facing site authors, but also internal sites that want these advanced publishing features.

9. Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence continues to evolve in SharePoint 2013 with improvements across the board in Excel client, Excel services, PerformancePoint services and Visio services. The in-memory capabilities of Excel client now allow business users to pull data from various sources and build sheets in minutes.

10. Apps and the Marketplace

The new app model takes the risk out of customisations from an upgrade perspective and allows for more flexibility than the sandboxed solution model. Out of the gate, there is not much there – but you can be sure that the marketplace will grow exponentially to benefit users.

The 10 points I have outlined above show how SharePoint 2013 will drive productivity in any office environment. IT has a responsibility to drive the future of productivity. It is likely that SharePoint 2013 will dramatically change the way we collaborate across the organisation, and businesses should get on board or risk losing out on this productivity revolution.