In this article, I will describe what it was like attending the ESPC’15 in Stockholm and what were my personal highlights. *SPOILER ALERT* It was great : )
I had the chance of meeting and listening to a great set of speakers and people that I have been following and looking up to over the years while working on SharePoint. It was also great to see Jeff Teper returning!
It all started with the Keynote from Seth Patton, Jeff Teper and Bill Baer from Microsoft, on the topic “The modern workplace” – this is what Microsoft wants us to think about, how to make life easier and more productive for information workers in this digital age.
And it’s also never bad for professionals like us, so ingrained in the Microsoft world, to keep in mind what is the mission and ambitions of the company for the future.
Seth Patton was the first to go and there were 2 particular statements that I found interesting:
- “It’s not only about mobility of device, but mobility of people”
Providing great experiences on the go, with valuable insights, is key. Don’t think just about the device, but what are the workloads that make sense!
- “Moving from traditional hierarchies to responsive networks.”
The idea of responsive networks was quite interesting. It’s all about speed and innovation that ultimately lead to higher productivity. The advent of Millennials – young people that don’t understand a World without social media, networking and mobile devices – is something to be thought about. By 2020, they will represent 50% of the workforce!
Next, it was Bill Baer’s time and he focused a lot on the intelligent platform side of things, namely Delve Analytics and how machine learning can help you manage your time. I have to say I was quite interested in seeing how something like this can be brought to life in the real world. He showed some very interesting examples, such as having insights into where you are spending your time, between external meetings, internal meetings and free time.
Thinking about it, it doesn’t seem extraordinary to extract this from a place like your Outlook calendar, but things got more interesting. Time spent in meetings, in e-mail, in what he called “Focus time” and outside business hours. Well, that certainly looks more the kind of insight you don’t get every day!
There was also a social element to it: who are your top connections, how much e-mail do you send and receive from them, and the people you are losing contact with.
Have to admit I look forward to the insight a tool such as this one can give me, personally!
Next, Jeff Teper took the stage, the so-called “Father” of SharePoint. I certainly understood why the community appreciates his comeback so much. During the last few years, there was a feeling that Microsoft was listening to us. Once he took the stage, that seemed to vanish:
- “We’re still in the business of releasing Server products”
With so many mixed messages in the last few years, have to say listening to this is re-assuring. Even with Office 365 becoming an ever improving proposition, there are just too many customers still on-premises, and a lot that will primarily remain that way in the foreseeable future.
- But… “We’re Cloud-first, so things show up first in Office 365”
- “…then we take them down and package them in a Server release”
I’m happy to sign off on that
- Hybrid: “We know not everyone can go to the Cloud, some will stay on-prem”
- “Most will go on a staged way”
- “80% of our customers will be in the cloud in the next 2-3 years”
The #2 Keynote was presented by Geoff Evelyn, with the topic “The Future is About Looking Back”.
It was a very philosophical talk and Geoff is a great story teller. He reminded me how important it is to use stories when talking to customers! Stories are the best way to get people to remember and relate to the points you want to come across. It was a bit of a shame that the ending slightly escalated into a rant about digital dementia. There’s lots of ways to engage your audiences, showing the good and bad / up and down is definitely a good one, but I thought ending on a positive note, giving people a path and a way forward, would have been better.
He did make one particular analogy that I liked – with car mechanics. Since 1978, 85% of garages in the UK have shut down, due to people’s mistrust. And in IT, we have a similar challenge, as the information asymmetry can lead to unethical behaviour and taking advantage of customers, but that would certainly be short-sighted!
The other highlight was the ‘Gartner Hype Cycle’. I wasn’t aware of this theory, even though it does make a lot of sense if you think about it.
It was good to see where current technological trends sit in 2014 and where they have been evolving to. It is something you can definitely see happening on the ground with customers! Not surprised to see Hybrid Cloud Computing mid-way through to the disillusionment and Self-Service Analytics and IoT on the peak of inflated expectations.
You can catch the Full video (1:04:43) on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lz6kwekhoOM
Throughout the days, a lot of great sessions happened, all too frequently, too many at the same time, where you felt the desire to be in multiple places at the same time.
In Part 2, I will look in detail at the speakers and sessions I attended and thought were the most influential and insightful: Mike Fitzmaurice, Dan Holme, Chris O’Brien, Radi Atanassov and, of course, the MVP/MCM Panel!
About the Author
Alexandre has been working in the IT Consulting industry since 2007, mostly with Microsoft and Web technologies. SharePoint has been his main focus so far and he has become an enthusiastic supporter. Alexandre is currently head of SharePoint Development for Storm Technology.
To learn more about Storm Technology please click here.