SharePoint North America 2018 Conference is completed and I wanted to share some of my thoughts and perceptions from the conference. You can find several recaps of the event, such as listening to a podcast from The Intrazone by Bill Baer (@williambaer) and Mark Kashman (@mkashman) where Bill and Mark summarize and discuss of the main announcements in the conference. There are also several blogs that list the main announcements such as a blog by Nick Brattoli (@byrdttoli) on Collab365 community. Another good summary blog is put out by Brent Middleton from AvePoint.
The key message from Microsoft is AI
A key message from Microsoft is in every conference is the importance of AI and this also applies to the collaboration space. Microsoft Corporate Vice President Jeff Teper (@jeffteper) drove the keynote presentation with his team including several demos. Brent Middleton describes well the presentation by dividing Jeff’s presentation in following core pillars:
- Share and Work Together
- Inform and Engage People
- Harness Collective Knowledge
- Transform Business Processes
- Extend and Develop
- Protect & Manage Data
Modern Office 365 solutions from Repstor
My role in the conference was to work the Repstor booth to present Repstor Outlook plugin technology and Repstor Custodian that enables organizations to build structured sites/site collections based on things such as customer/project/cases/matters and any other dimension that an organization wants to provision sites for document and email filing. I am actively looking for Microsoft channel partners to work with Repstor in a few key vertical markets such as legal, professional services, regulated industries, public sector (federal, state, and local governments).
You learn what people really need by talking to them
Working a booth will give you an interesting perspective of what organizations are looking for. When you talk to tens of people after a solution pitch, it is interesting to learn what resonated, what was not understood so one can then refine the messaging. Repstor is in an interesting position with respect to current Microsoft technology and I would like to say that Repstor is experiencing “a perfect storm.”
Office 365 is a key investment for Microsoft
First of all, Repstor is a solution is based on Office 365 technology that is a key investment area for Microsoft. Microsoft has made it clear that with its 135 million Office 365 users worldwide, it is important for Microsoft to continue innovating the Office 365 platform. According to Microsoft, there are 400k organizations that use SharePoint and this is a 200% increase from previous year. Also, there is over 85 SharePoint Saturday event taking place on a worldwide basis. This is a good foundation for the large Microsoft ecosystem to highlight solutions of a different type to increase the adoption of Office 365.
The importance of architectural model
Second, Repstor is built with an architectural model that is based on state-of-art and uses Microsoft public cloud technology such as Microsoft Azure as an engine for provisioning SharePoint sites/site collections and other artifacts that are part of the template configuration.
Hiding complexity to accelerate development of solutions
Third, Repstor removes some of the complexity that some organizations might experience when building SharePoint apps and this will increase the adoption of Microsoft Office 365 and this is important for any organization that has invested in Office 365. The worst thing that any organization could have is to have a subscription to something that end-user organizations do not want to use.
Cloud is really here and every Microsoft partner has to support the cloud
What I was able to find out in my discussions is the strong move from on-premises solutions towards Office 365 environments. It is very clear to me that especially for independent software vendors, it is critical to support public cloud solutions to be able to stay relevant. It was also very easy to confirm that organizations are looking for value-added solutions that will increase the value of the Office 365 platform and this is where a rich third-party Microsoft ISV ecosystem comes to play.
Evaluating if the investment in a conference as a sponsor has ROI
Any software vendor such as Repstor that sponsors an event needs to ask the question whether the investment to the sponsoring was worthwhile and if there will be a return on investment. Based on the traffic, I strongly feel that Repstor will have new channel partners and customers from the event. However, I also think that there were quite a few vendors that might have the challenge to compete in the future due to several reasons such as aging software, an outdated architectural model that does not support a model that is both cost-effective and utilizes the public platforms in an optimized manner. We are living in a fascinating technological era where software vendors in all ecosystems including Microsoft will have to reinvent themselves. I wrote about this in my previous blog and I was able to witness this again at SharePoint North American 2018 conference.