MS Tech Summit Johannesburg

I spent the last couple days at the Microsoft Tech Summit at the Sandton Convention Center in Johannesburg, and I thought I’d write up a post with the major talking points I picked up.

Cloud First / Mobile First

It’s not really news if you’ve been following Microsoft recently, but in all the talks I attended the unified message was that the cloud is the place to be. Microsoft are putting a lot of effort into development and the fruits for all that work will be seen first (and sometimes only) in the cloud.

Unified Platform

While I (and probably most of the people reading this post) are primarily SharePoint specialists, we need to keep the wider picture in mind. SharePoint is a small part of the greater O365 suite and Microsoft is really pushing for adoption of the entire product line rather than just a portion (like SharePoint). There are also some very compelling experiences that we can offer clients when we’re using the whole O365 stack, rather than just the SharePoint vertical.

Using SharePoint for what SharePoint is good at

Microsoft’s messaging around SharePoint seems to have condensed around a very specific functionality set: Knowledge Management and Collaboration. I have been (and am still) involved in a lot of projects that push SharePoint to it’s absolute limits. While there is obviously still a place for this sort of development (especially with third party tools like Nintex), Microsoft is positioning SharePoint as a repository and collaboration tool and not a business automation suite as they have in the past.

Hybrid Support

I was very pleased to hear the “Hybrid” buzzword many times over the two days. Microsoft is aware that many of their customers have large investments in on-premises environments and will continue to support them. If, however, clients want to take advantage of the new functionality being released they will have to have a presence in the cloud and Microsoft is working on a host of tools and functionality that will enable hybrid scenarios in a much more seamless way than is currently available.

Intelligent Intranet

I saw a number of demos leveraging the machine learning and intelligence that is provided by Graph and Delve to bring that level of contextual information into line of business applications like the Office apps and Outlook. A phrase I heard a few times was “We want to present the user the information they need just before they know they need it.” These experiences are still in beta, or rolling out worldwide and rely heavily on having users in the O365 ecosystem. In the coming year I think there are going to be some very exciting productivity tools and functions coming up for us to use and sell.

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