We kicked-off day one of SharePoint Saturday The Conference this morning (yes, we realize it's Thursday), a venue designed to be all things to SharePoint administrators, executives, newbies and enthusiasts alike. First up, Microsoft's Dean Halstead, Collaborative Visualization Architect, gave us an inside look at how Microsoft manages ideation, social business and innovation.

A Purpose-Driven Microsoft

The first day of the event is built around an executive track. This is both strategic and advantageous: it’s rare that C-suite execs could survive more than one day of any conference (nevermind one dedicated to SharePoint), and it gets the official Microsoft branding out of the way so that on Friday and Saturday SharePoint geeks can roll up their sleeves and get down to business without the corner office looking over their shoulders.

But the upside of an executive track is that a lot of the top-level stuff gets clearly outlined.

If you’ve ever been curious how Microsoft innovates, Hasltead provided some key details. It’s no surprise that Microsoft is dedicated to researching and developing new technologies, but it doesn’t happen overnight -- it’s takes nurturing and supportive environment built on 6 tenents by which Microsoft approaches all innovation:

  1. a balance of invention, reinvention & evolution
  2. hiring the best people
  3. a commitment to openness & partnership
  4. a long term approach
  5. a focus on scale
  6. embracing disruptions

Sounds pretty purpose-driven, right?

As much as we like to relegate Microsoft to ranks beneath Apple and Google, it is quite remarkable to see how many platforms that they are developing concurrently. Bing, Xbox Kinect, Windows mobile, SharePoint, among others are all examples of the way that Microsoft has remained relevant across all markets.

What's Good for the Goose, Is Good for the Gander

What is most refreshing is that even for a company like Microsoft, they are still trying to innovate social collaboration within and for their customers.

Learning Opportunities

Microsoft doesn’t think they have it figured out but they are actively working to make it better. They make the perfect case study -- with thousands of employees spread out globally being able to communicate, collaborate and curate effectively is key. Many of the enterprise solutions available were once internal hubs designed holistically for Microsoft.

Outlining the organization and process by which Microsoft is designed sheds light on SharePoint’s evolution. It is a continuous process, evolving based on feedback, employee-based interaction, and real-world implications for social agility.

It’s one thing to collect this intelligence, it’s another to actually do something with it. Innovation at Microsoft isn’t so much a destination as it is a journey and one of which they hope you’ll be a part.

Sadly, today is our only day at SharePoint Saturday but it will be chockfull of updates and insights. Stay tuned and we welcome you to share your comments, questions and experiences with us.