After three full days of Microsoft Ignite, several things have become clear:
- Responsiveness in the user experience is a HUGE focus, and Microsoft speakers demonstrated this repeatedly by holding up iPads and iPhones and showing on huge screens how Microsoft Delve, and Outlook and SharePoint 2016 work on any size screen.
- SharePoint remains a key tool, though often users access SharePoint features and will not realize it. Microsoft Delve, and the new concept of Boards, Microsites, and what Microsoft calls “InfoPedia” (a code name for now) are all built on SharePoint features. Generally, site collections provide the plumbing.
- The “Knowledge Portal” of the future (which includes InfoPedia features) will change the paradigm of how users interact with knowledge. The concept of teamsites for connecting seems to be a thing of the past.
Essentially, Microsoft is using its newest tools to “connect people to information,” and “connect information to people.” They do this by using what they call intelligent machine learning to analyze data, personal usage of information, and the connectedness that is uncovered. Part of this is based on another concept called “groups” which are self-created and maintained groups of users. Groups do have a permissioning model, but are not exactly like the access control list features of AD and SharePoint.
As users participate in groups, follow content, and follow people, the intelligent learning engine makes connections and suggests content, groups, and people that may be of interest to the user.
Delve presents content to people, and the functions a person may want to use (read, comment, follow, share, etc.).
Now it gets a little confusing. Delve is available now with Office 365. The Knowledge Portal, which is coming, includes “Boards” for casual collaboration, “Microsites” for department or group-like sites, and “InfoPedia” which is a more robust model for presenting and working with content. InfoPedia will not be integrated with other features for about another year or so. And, these all tie to Delve. On top of that, OneDrive for Business integrates across much of this, as well as the new Outlook functions.
Microsoft has made a powerful commitment to responsiveness and support for BYOD. Clearly the emphasis is still out the Cloud and Mobile (a mantra repeated at every presentation is “cloud first, mobile first.” All of this magic will reach on premise SharePoint in drips and drabs, though they did announce that hybrid search (a single index for cloud and on premise content) and Delve that includes both Cloud and on premise content, are coming.
What’s clear is that to truly take advantage of all of these great new features, an organization has to have the perfect storm of Microsoft technologies in place (O365, Azure, soon Windows10, SharePoint 2016). That’s a stretch for most organizations. I will give Microsoft credit for working to roll in features in the existing product sets though.
The take-away from all of this? The Microsoft team has a powerful vision for how people and information come together. If successful, they will radically change the nature of the desktop and how we as consumers and knowledge workers will collaborate, connect, create, and use knowledge.
There is a lot more to talk about. However, even though I was there just what I wrote in this blog entry alone is enough to make your head spin!