The Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta is currently home to the largest IT Conference around the world with more than 20,000 attendees.
Microsoft and its sponsors, for the second year in a row, are hosting a combined conference tied together with their Office 365 platform. The conference itself is symbolic of how Microsoft is trying to tie all of its products together into one cohesive experience.
The Keynote was a bit different this year with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella only making a brief appearance in the morning, providing a more in depth future look at technologies in the afternoon. The focus of the keynote was on Microsoft’s Partnerships and Customers such as BMW, Facebook, Rolls Royce, Tyco and Adobe laying out how they utilize Microsoft Services to run their businesses. Adobe in particular announced they are moving all of their cloud platforms (Document, Creative and Marketing Clouds) to Microsoft’s Azure Platform where they perform 23 trillion transactions per quarter.
Another focus within the keynote and through all of the sessions was the idea of artificial intelligence, predictive learning and bots.
Microsoft is leveraging the data it receives from connecting all of these applications to analyze and predict what customers will do, need or think of next. This was a large focus during the second Keynote provided by Satya where more specific examples were discussed such as how Swiftkey predicts your next word or how Lowes is using HoloLens and customer feedback to provide a better design experience.
Navigating a conference this big is always a challenge but after the keynote, and with backpacks in hand, the audiences went to more product specific roadmap sessions.
My track had a strong focus on Project, SharePoint and Groups. The Future of PPM session laid out some interesting scenarios of integrating LoT, Microsoft Flow, SharePoint, PowerBi and Project Server to break down the formality of Project Management. These examples felt natural, real and just around the corner in some cases. They included things like:
- PowerBi Dashboards showing tasks mapped across a floor plan for a building
- Leveraging the BOT Framework to determine who owned a particular area and assigning them a task automatically
- Using IOT sensors to create issues automatically when an alarm is triggered
While some of this is certainly available today, this near future looked to be an achievable goal, if at least for this specific scenario. Microsoft’s PPM roadmap has had a focus on Out of the box reporting, Mobility and continuous improvement to date. This is visible in their releases of the Portfolio Dashboard and the new time sheeting iOS application. Moving forward the new focus will include desktop updates to improve Timelines, Accessibility and Developer integrations as well as online updates to add External User Support & Multiple assignments in Team Tasks, a highly requested User Voice item. On the slightly longer term they will be making Portfolios and Programs more of a focus and continue to modernize the user experience in Project Online.
I was hoping for a bit more information in this session that I want to attempt to gain from the remaining PPM sessions this week.
What about the Financial Management items that were announced last year - these are still in play just need more work - or some assistance with alleviating confusion regarding the licensing changes? Throughout Ignite, I will be syncing up with my Paragon colleagues - Geoff Lewis, Jim Kane and Sudeep Nambiar - to integrate their views. There will be additional blog posts by our team covering additional topics such as the further integration of Groups into the online world and other SharePoint-centric content.
Stay tuned for more from the Paragon Team at Ignite 2016 in Sunny Atlanta!