Hundreds of SharePoint-focused admins, collaboration experts, developers and business stakeholders packed the room yesterday at SPTechCon Austin to listen to a keynote from Seth Patton, senior director of product management for Microsoft SharePoint and OneDrive and Chris McNulty, senior product marketing manager for SharePoint and Office 365.
The keynote got off to a strong start, and while in the format of a traditional corporate presentation, Patton's focus was clearly on connecting with the SharePoint community at hand.
Patton dove quickly into the SharePoint value propositions, rather than focusing on overall vision and mission. He gave a small nod to his audience by mentioning the Groove client — the basis of the original OneDrive for Business — which is usually never discussed in public, although SharePointers like those in the audience know it exists.
On-Premises, With a Case of Hybrid
Both Patton and McNulty reiterated Microsoft's commitment to on-premises throughout the presentation. They extolled the power of collaboration, citing an old New York Times figure that businesses waste $650 billion on poorly designed collaboration systems, compared with the 67 percent of customers who gain significant productivity improvements when a system is correctly implemented according to Avanade.
However, in spite of promises of “doubling down” with on premises, a "hybrid at the core" presentation bullet caught my eye. So, while on premises is clearly a priority, it looks as if we can expect the new features to still be developed cloud first.
'Built for Trust'
The presentation repeatedly highlighted the phrase "built for trust." And while you're probably thinking that that sounds very much like a used car salesman pitch, Patton and McNulty handled it well.
They interpreted "built for trust" on two levels — identifying and overcoming customer trust issues with the cloud in general, and identifying and handling SharePoint concerns. Microsoft's priority is to earn trust for its cloud solutions.
What came through in the keynote is that this trust will not be treated as an afterthought, but will act as an integral piece of the development process in any new feature.
McNulty walked us quickly through some of the new features of team analytics, live from his Microsoft account. He offered up a scenario of how his manager, Seth, could work with him on work-life balance. He suggested using the data to establish a meeting's value, and as incentive for individuals to take full advantage of the in-person time together. We also saw a demonstration of the “Citizen Developer” focused PowerApps. He created forms from a simple console pulling in not only from SharePoint lists but external data sources.
While the keynote didn't break any new ground with announcements of functionality, what followed demonstrated the true focus. Patton, McNulty and senior product marketing manager for Microsoft, Jeremy Thake could be seen walking around the conference, gathering feedback, demonstrating Microsoft's commitment to in-person feedback, user-voice and a rapid development cycle based on customer needs.