Custodians of productivity – at the Microsoft Ignite 2015 (Part 1)

By Siegfried Lautenbacher By Jeffrey Backus May 7, 2015
Custodians of productivity – at the Microsoft Ignite 2015 (Part 1)

Translation of the Original Article by Siegfried Lautenbacher

I have little experience with Microsoft conferences. I was even more excited to visit the MS Ignite, which is supposed to unite the previous conferences about SharePoint, Office, and Exchange et al. It is obviously also a “size matters” game. 23.000 people from all over the world travelled to Chicago to be “ignited”. A little conclusion already at half time. But, I know too little about Microsoft to post an evaluation. These are my observations, focused on my domain of collaboration.

The somewhat bland long keynote started with a performance by hip-hop artist Common, which was reminiscent of an evangelical preacher. I almost wished for Steve Ballmer to be on stage. Satya Nadellas Keynote was rhetorically not as strong as I expected after the early praise. However, by the content everybody understood: a radical change had begun. The core issues that the reinvention of companies revolves around were also the subjects of the conference:

  • Create more personal computing
  • Reinvent productivity and business processes
  • Build the intelligent cloud

Let us start with the Cloud.

Build the intelligent cloud

To start from a different angle: what are all the German CIO’s - whose strategies are heavily based on Microsoft – to do with their inhibition towards the Cloud, if they take the message of the conference and most of all the Roadmap of the MS products and services seriously? We will report about the hybrid approach – the possibility to bring Azure into the own data center and having SQL databases partially on premise as well as in the cloud – in its own article. This approach does not only run through IaaS: Microsoft is at the very front with their SaaS and Hybrid SaaS offers like Office 365. From the customers perspective “everything from one place” obviously also means “everything in one place”. And: how does Governance and Monitoring have to develop so that after a few years it is still clear what happens in the enterprise IT?

Reinvent productivity and business processes

„Custodians of productivity“– that’s how Microsoft sees itself today. Productivity of course starts with the individual - but integrated in teams. And teams these days are dynamic, regroup continuously, are global and virtual. So it is only logical that the former business processes, that are focused on hierarchical organizations, no longer fit. As Custodians of productivity Microsoft provides the right tools and work environments, focused on five areas and the relevant products and themes:

  1. Teams (Yammer, Office 365)
  2. Work from anywhere (Mobile first, Windows 10)
  3. Meetings (Skype for Business)
  4. Content Co-Creation (HoloLens, Office 2016)
  5. Intelligence (Office Graph & Delve)

There is not enough time to elaborate on each of these points – for me to write as well as for you to read. Therefore just a few notes. Let’s begin with one of the obvious problem children: Yammer. No more “Enterprise Social Network” – Yammer is (again) being positioned as “productivity for teams”, which in itself is nothing bad, and some of the newly introduced features are quite smart. But, I have seen a lot of question marks in the faces of attendees, that have rolled out Yammer on a grand scale. Here is more official information about Yammers role in the portfolio. One of the reasons for worry is Office 365 and the announcement of the Office 365 Groups… flippantly expressed: Communities. 

This is where it will be in the future. This came across very clearly and SharePoint will have to budge to it as well. True to the motto “cloud first” some of the existing online updates will be integrated in SharePoint 2016. Delve and its underlying technology Office Graphs will be very exciting. Delve is a tool that will helps the individual to have oversight of their projects, topics, colleagues that you have collaborated with, etc. In tweets you could often read “Business Pinterest”. Somewhat exaggerated you could say that the many various Collaboration Silos become one “User Experience through Delve. Interestingly, there will be boards, Delve for groups/teams/projects. 

The Organization Dashboard - which creates a kind of „work-life balance” of the company from the data provided by Office Graphs - will lead to super exciting discussions.
It is still a prototype, but full of “explosive material”. Who talks to whom? Who doesn’t talk? How much time does the team spend in meeting? Those are the topics for the “Quantified Enterprise” of the future. We will deal with Office Graph, Holo Lens, Skype for Business, Office 2016 and what is behind “Create more personal computing” in Part 2 of this Blogpost. All pictures were taken during the sessions.