This conference marked the first time I travelled outside of Australia since 2019. As hard as we’ve all tried with virtual conferences, user groups and meetups this solidifies for me the value of in-person events. I feel I struggled to maintain existing relationships over the last 3 years in the virtual world, and even harder to build new relationships and expand my network. It was a sentiment echoed by many others I spoke to at the conference. I was delighted to be welcomed with open arms when reconnecting with old friends and in the space of a couple of days, I’ve been able to make connections with wonderful new people.
Throughout the conversations and sessions during the week the idea of Microsoft 365 as a platform to build business applications on was a common theme. This isn’t a new capability, but rather I think an indicator of the maturity of organizations and their adoption of Microsoft 365 and SharePoint. Core business applications such as Document Management systems, Projects Management systems, Legal Matter Management systems are being built on top of Microsoft 365. Traditionally these where entire applications requiring their own infrastructure, administrators, maintenance. All of that came at a cost, led to siloed information and a complex governance and compliance story. Moving these business systems to Microsoft 365 makes a lot of sense, data can now be governed, protected, administered and searched via a unified set of technology. This has also led however to a new set of usability issues and data overload for users now that everything is just “in SharePoint” or “in Teams”. I believe making sense of all this data and getting the right data to the right people at the right time will led us to the next level of increased productivity. It is a growing problem that I discussed with Maarten Visser during an ESPC Community Live Stream interview while at the conference.
I also believe that integrations will play a major role in solving this problem by delivering data and functionality embedded in applications the user works in, without forcing them to context switch. It’s something we are seeing more and more in Microsoft’s own products (think @mentioning people and files, loop components, Teams messaging extensions), it is also an area I’ve been passionate about for many years with the work I do with Office Add-ins and Microsoft 365 development. We heard a lot about the different ways we can now build these types of integration all the way from no code options, to low code and pro code.
One great announcement during the conference was the preview of the Microsoft Graph Developer Proxy that will help developers simulate throttling and other error conditions when developing against the Microsoft Graph. Often developers wouldn’t encounter these issues until they deployed to production.
A big thank you to the conference organizers, they such a genuine and fun bunch of people to be around, and really foster the community feel of the event.
For me a big part of this conference was that connection with community and that’s reflected in the photos I’m adding on to this post. Thanks for all the memories, there would have been a lot more photos, but it appears I don’t hold a camera very steady on the dance floor!