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Things unsaid at the 2014 SharePoint Conference

Well, SPC 2014 has now come and gone and most of us have recovered (there are still some in the Clark County Prison, but that’s a tale for another time).  This year, I come away from the conference with more than my fair share of learnings. Certainly I could dive into the nitty gritty technical details of each session I attended, but for now, I won't.

No, what I’d rather do is talk about what wasn’t really clearly stated at the conference. This tells a far more interesting story.

So, here goes. 

Yammer, the cloud, and all things social

OK, so this WAS talked about in a lot of detail.  What wasn’t really stated was just how much influence Adam Pisoni and the Yammer team have on Microsoft’s way of thinking. This is a big deal. Yammer just doesn’t think like Microsoft. It’s fresh. It’s progressive. I think it’s exactly what Microsoft needs to remain competitive and to ultimately lead the charge, not just in enterprise social, but in the way people work.  

“Work Like a Network” was the tag line for the conference.  The 2014 SharePoint Conference showed me that we aren’t just seeing this change in the products Microsoft is delivering, but in the way Redmond (and San Francisco) are working together. 

We’re going to open up

I was amazed at how transparent Microsoft seemed to be. Nice work you guys! You were transparent about the roadmap  for SharePoint (buh bye on-prem…). You were up front about how this really is a big experiment. You talked openly about enterprise social and what kind of things you’d like to focus on even though much of it hasn’t been developed yet! 

Jared Spataro in SPC session 112 mentioned that, “This is a grand experiment. We know there is value in what we're doing but we don't know what form it will take.” 

I love that! To some, this transparency is scary. To me, it’s a refreshing change and I think it heralds a new and exciting era at Microsoft.

Ok, we’ll play!

Up until this conference, most of the stuff SharePoint/Office was capable of doing was best done in Internet Explorer on a desktop or laptop machine running Windows. Well, Microsoft realized the world doesn’t really play that way anymore. Honestly, the world hasn’t for some time. Every session I attended mentioned this and leveraged an iPad, Android device,  etc. for demo purposes.

There are bazillions of people that are using Mac OS/iOS, Android, Firefox, or Chrome. These people are using their phones and their tablets. Some are using wearable technology. This demands that Microsoft not just play, but excel in these spaces. They’ve answered the call!  Because the focus is on the cloud, people don’t need to download clients. They don’t need to leverage Windows. They don’t require Internet Explorer. With a fast release cycle, every week could expose new functionality for Office 365. Already, we see functionality in the cloud version of the software that may never exist on prem. Expect more of that.

While I certainly didn’t dive into the technical details of Office Graph, Office Online, or Groups, I wanted to give a sense of a grander vision I see happening at Microsoft. Things are changing and I’m incredibly excited about the potential.