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An End-User’s Takeaways from SharePoint Fest D.C. 2013

From August 5-7, I had the privilege of attending SharePoint Fest D.C. 2013, where AvePoint was a Gold Sponsor. As someone who is relatively new to the Microsoft SharePoint community, it was amazing to see how well-crafted the event was. I walked into the North Bethesda Marriott Convention Center and road the escalator up to the main exhibit floor to a buzz of people very excited to hear the keynote speakers and meet their peers from other organizations, some of whom they already knew from online forums and user groups. The Convention Center is beautiful and lets in so much natural light that it was refreshing to be up and talking SharePoint…even before I had my first cup of coffee!

I grabbed my coffee, met up with my colleagues, and off I went to hear the first keynote speaker, Microsoft Senior Director of Technical Project Management Arpan Shah. Shah gave a great presentation on Microsoft Office 365, SharePoint Online, and the future of cloud technology for collaboration. The application streaming technology, or Office on Demand, was really interesting to me, because it launches a temporary copy of an Office app without installing it. When you log off, the files you were working on are saved in the cloud and not on the computer you used. This is a great feature for anyone who needs to work, but doesn’t have access to their company-issued computer. Once the keynote was complete, everyone was eager to attend seminars and workshops taught by Microsoft certified trainers, engineers, and MVPs covering a wide variety of prominent topics within the SharePoint community.

I attended a session by AvePoint Chief Architect and SharePoint MVP Jeremy Thake entitled “The App Building Playbook for SharePoint 2013 Marketplace” where he covered many questions developers have about creating SharePoint 2013 applications, such as when to use apps compared to solutions packages. Much of what was covered was quite new and enlightening to me. Since I am an end-user and not a developer, it was eye-opening to learn a bit about what a developer has to do in order to develop an app that will give me a much better work experience. It made me realize how I often take for granted how much work goes into making me more efficient at my job with SharePoint. I walked out on day one with a new perspective on SharePoint and AvePoint’s development team.

Day two was another beautiful morning at the convention center. I went straight for the coffee and into the keynote presentation by Innovative-e Managing Partner and SharePoint MVP Dux Raymond Sy on “Revolutionizing Your Organization with SharePoint 2013”. Sy talked about how SharePoint 2013 should be used to help manage information and how all levels of an organization can have visibility into schedules to help it perform better. He explained how people perform better when they have defined responsibilities and are held accountable. Sy’s presentation really spoke my language, since I use SharePoint for managing projects in my day-to-day work.

I also attended Jeremy Thake’s session on “Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) in SharePoint”. Perhaps as a result of learning from developers and architects for two days, concepts started to “click” faster than they did before the event began. Thake discussed the pillars of ALM and their requisite benefits as well as the ALM maturity model. This discussion was also geared toward developers and architects, but I left Jeremy’s session with a better understanding of ALM.

Feeling good about my SharePoint knowledge, I spent the rest of my time networking with other end-users and found I might have been a SharePoint “newbie,” but I wasn’t the only end-user at the convention center. SharePoint Fest D.C. was a true SharePoint event: It allowed developers, architects, managers, power users, and end-users to discuss and learn together. I’m looking forward to next year’s event!

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