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Thoughts on SharePoint Conference 2014

March 10, 2014 13 comments

My thoughts on the Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2014.  The event was a great success, held Mar 3-6, 2014, at The Venetian, in Las Vegas.  Compared to previous SharePoint Conferences, SPC14 was held at a bigger venue, it was easier to get around in, the exhibition hall was more wide open, the keynote speaker was about as big a deal as could have been had (Would Hillary have been a bigger coup?) and The.WIFI.Worked.  A tremendously successful conference.  The SharePoint and Office 365 teams at Microsoft deserve to take the next 36 hours off, perhaps attend the Las Vegas NASCAR race, and then bask in the success of their conference.

The new product announcements show some good new direction. I’m particularly excited about

  • the New Office 365 APIs that bring Office 365 closer to parity with SharePoint Server 2013 as a platform for business applications (http://bit.ly/PkMEO2),
  • the new content enablement that is provided for PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook applications (http://bit.ly/PkMEO2)
  • Improvements to Power BI across the board and the release of Power Map. (Even though this was announced a month ago, I’m adding it here (http://bit.ly/PkOvmd)
  • The concept of Working Like a Network (http://bit.ly/PkO23e). It will take a while for this to roll out, but the application ideas are already starting to roll around this one.
  • And the biggest one, for me and my new company, BluLink Solutions, will be the patterns for migrating Trusted Code solutions to the App Model (http://bit.ly/PkOXkj).

SPC14 was the 5 year reunion for those attendees of the tremendous and inimitable SPC09 conference, and it was the 10 year anniversary of the launch of SharePoint 2003, which started the enterprise-wide push and where “SharePoint” started to find its legs, as it grew into MOSS 2007 and SharePoint Server 2010.

SPC14.InfoPathFuneralOne of the things that makes for a great reunion is a strong community.  I consider myself lucky to have been able to observe the growth of the community and the depth and breadth that it contains now is fantastic.  No longer can anyone single group, or collection of groups, control, manage or “provide direction” to the community.  There are many groups within the community, and the overall group is large enough to support new groups as needed.   I attended the meetings of the MSFT Technical Communities and the SharePoint Saturday leaders and the SharePoint User Group leaders and some very useful coalitions are building helpful tools to support different locales and groups of different sizes. I heard that the Women in Technology (secondhand, as I wasn’t on the list) group overflowed its planned meeting space and that is tremendous. Impromptu activities such as the funeral procession for InfoPath, small groups such as SP FitBitters and SPRunners, or around evening events or side trips to local attractions, and countless others, are great examples of where the community is diverse enough to take care of its own.  This is so encouraging.

On the other hand, it does mark the maturation of the SharePoint community and marks the time when messages will be more and more difficult to ensure are delivered and received accurately.  The good old days of one person being able to understand all of SharePoint is gone. One person can now understand most of SharePoint, and can track most of what is goingon through diligent following of multiple blogs, RSS, and twitter feeds, but that can be difficult to maintain when we also have to work…

The early three social kings of SharePoint have changed, as well.  Mark Miller (@EUSP), it seems, has moved to greener pastures, Joel Oleson (@Joeloleson) will always continue to drive a large group of followers as illustrated by his leading a procession in a Monk’s robe through the conference, and Jeremy Thake (@jthake) has now moved to join Microsoft in leading developers to new depths. No longer are the three of them driving the community audiences (Devs, IT Pros, End Users) in a coordinated broad direction.  True, the trio has been divided for a little while now, but I think SPC14 marks the official passing of the torch back to the community as an entity.  Even at SPC12, the community booth efforts were spearheaded by a group with these three providing much of the guidance.

Moving forward, though, I think that SharePoint as a whole is too large for a single group of friends and workers and associates to be considered the leaders.  Each of us has our own path to carve out of the world of business solutions. The relay baton has been passed. SharePoint has grown up.

Where will you, as an attendee of SPC14, shine your light?  Whatever you are working on, share it. When you come up with a best practice, or a new approach to using OOB features combined in a unique manner to provide new functionality, let others know.  As you see your companies using SharePoint as a platform for new vertical applications and to support solid business processes that have been rebuilt to mash up data in a new way and expose it to new business groups who couldn’t access it before, share what you see! Talk about the impacts, and help other groups realize the potential locked within their SP OOB mentality.

SharePoint Friends Don’t Let SharePoint Friends Work Only with OOB Functionality.

I had a great time at SPC14 and I hope that all of you did, as well.  If you didn’t, let MSFT know. If you did, let the community know!    I can’t wait to see everyone again next time.

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