Digital Workplace

“I was in attendance at the Digital Workplace Conference last week and found some of the sessions really interesting. It was great to see some of the thought leaders in the SharePoint space in the flesh having been reading their blogs for many years.

I went to both of Adam Cogan’s Power BI sessions as I really like this tool and love the way Microsoft are allowing the Power BI team to operate almost as an independent start up company. I think this provides them with the flexibility and agility to move really quickly on the product and adjust to market demands as they happen. I still think the real challenge is finding a proper use case where Power BI actually provides a client with some tangible benefit. Nevertheless, its a very powerful tool and looks great!

Elaine van Bergen’s ‘How do you build a modern portal?’ session was interesting. This showcased Microsoft Graph and demonstrated how you can build pretty comprehensive portals as say, an Azure web site, outside of SharePoint. Microsoft Graph declares itself to be ‘One endpoint to rule them all’ which as far as I can see just means that Microsoft have unified their API’s to make them much easier to use.

John Lui from SharePoint Gurus demonstrated how to build add-ins using JavaScript and went on to explain how these add-ins could be reused across Office 365. It was a fairly technical session but entertaining all the same.

Next up was Marc D Anderson talking about creating a great user experience in SharePoint at a packed session (standing room only). He’s a good speaker – communicated very well with the audience and provided some really interesting insight into UX and broke any complex definitions of UX down to one simple question: How do users feel after they have used something? Good question.

Another guy whose blogs I’ve been reading for a long time is Joel Oleson. His session on the most compelling features of SharePoint 2016 was insightful however, he really downplayed the new version. Underwhelming as it seems, there is clearly something big coming on May 4th as there were several references to this key date. Basically, Joel reiterated what we all kind of get now – Microsoft will be updating their offerings in an interactive manner so SharePoint 2016 on-premise will forever be playing catch up with SharePoint Online. One rather bemusing fact was that for a on-premise SharePoint 2016 environment with high availability, you’ll need eight servers, excluding SQL (I think I heard him right). It was interesting to see what has been pulled out of SharePoint 2016 too – for instance, Excel services has been removed.

Finally, I went to see Laura Rogers give some tips and tricks in getting the most out of SharePoint Designer workflow. This was quite useful but mainly just qualified some of the things rhipe Solutions do with workflow e.g. adding good logging, etc.

All in all it was a good conference and I was pleased I could attend some of the sessions in and around my day to day work.”

Senior Consultant, Joe Ayre reviews the Digital Workplace Conference for rhipe Solutions.