You know that you’ve had a good trip to Las Vegas when you arrive back home exhausted. By that measure, the SharePoint 2012 Conference was an unmitigated success.

But once I caught up on my rest, something else crept in -- excitement.

As a conference sponsor and exhibitor, I had the opportunity to talk SharePoint with an incredible range of professionals in the SharePoint community -- from chief information officers to end users; from Fortune 100 companies to municipalities to small businesses. Everyone I spoke with shared an excitement around the potential for SharePoint to help them work better, faster, and smarter.

These conversations inspired me to spend some time thinking about both the short and long-term future of SharePoint. The following are some of the topics that I believe will drive SharePoint utilization moving forward.

Adoption Takes Time

There is no question that the SharePoint community is fired up about the release of SharePoint 2013. Even so, the process of adopting the new platform will take time -- in large part due to the potentially significant cost of implementation.

Many companies are just now getting up-to-speed on SharePoint 2010, and I believe we can expect a similar pace of adoption for SharePoint 2013. Although the new features are interesting, it is important to remember that they will remain out of reach for many SharePoint users who continue to work on prior releases.

Creative Solutions Can Close the Gap

Although it is natural to want to dive into the “latest and greatest” platform, I am equally excited about innovative interim solutions that help to close the gap between SharePoint 2013 and previous versions. Through customized user experience design and add-ons, previous versions of SharePoint can compete with – and in some cases surpass – the functionality of SharePoint 2013.

You’ve just got to think outside of the box. In fact, even Microsoft is getting in on the game, by enabling the adoption of some features from SharePoint 2013 in SharePoint 2010 production environments. Many companies will wait to implement SharePoint 2013, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they need to be stuck behind the curve in terms of UX.

Making Room for Innovation in the Marketplace

For the first time in SharePoint history, SharePoint 2013 will include an app marketplace. Frankly, I don’t know what to expect from SharePoint apps. I’m sure we’ll see both the inspired and the ridiculous, but the beauty of a marketplace is that it makes room for new innovators.