So after a week in Chicago, dealing with the cattle chute’s at McCormick Place (25,000 plus attendees) Microsoft Ignite 2015 has ended. My colleague Stephen O’Connor and I had a good time and learned quite a bit.  Here are some final tidbits:


  • The top three countries for attendees were 1) USA, 2) Canada and 3) Belgium (or so we were told from some gents from Belgium).  I would not have guessed that.

  • We heard rumors that Chicago was again selected for IGNITE 2016

  • Some of the participants we spoke with felt that it was a bit too big and difficult to negotiate such a large crowd and packed agenda

  • Metalogix had a fine social event at the House of Blues in Chicago

More importantly, it is clear that Microsoft is working hard to present a new face to the IT industry and its customers.  Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, said that Microsoft wants to “empower” people.  Rather than simply providing the software to manage or run applications and for storing documents, Microsoft clearly wants to change the nature of what it provides.  Intelligent machine learning, people to content and content to people connectedness, and collaboration are key themes that the Microsoft speakers consistently included in their presentations.  And, of course, “mobile first and cloud first.”

I think we need to applaud the vision and effort to change the paradigm relative to the use of Microsoft products.  The teams at Microsoft have absolutely embraced the use of advanced search capabilities and management and visualization of data (including big data) as key bits of plumbing within their ecosystems.  They reminded audiences over and over again that very soon there will be more devices than people, and a more than quadrupling of data over the next decade.  They make the case that organizations have to be ready to tackle this, and as an organization Microsoft is committed to providing the tools to do so.

On the flip side, the vision is really much further ahead than the ability of organizations to benefit from what was presented.  The “perfect storm” of Microsoft software and applications must be in place, along with extensive use of Cloud capabilities provided by Microsoft.  Other than email and exchange, our client base is only tentative dipping their toes into Cloud-based content and collaboration. Microsoft has acknowledged this, and they are aggressively providing hybrid scenarios and options, such as a single search index and Delve working across environments.  But, there is a long way to go. 

Finally, Microsoft’s vision for connectedness is fascinating, but it will require an entirely different approach to how people interact with content.  Microsoft Office Graph, Delve, Boards, and Micro-sites where content is dynamically presented based on connections and activities (a complex algorithm) will make old-fashioned static web sites and even SharePoint teamsites somewhat obsolete.  Content can exist in any context, and be driven there automatically, regardless of its locations.  That is extremely difficult to achieve in the current product set.

So, we shall see where it goes.  Organizations need to approach these changes strategically, with a much more critical eye on governance and change management than ever before—especially as the user interface and user experience changes as dramatically as it appears to be changing over the next 2-3 years.