I have arrived back in the USA after two incredibly busy and successful Microsoft SharePoint events in Southeast Asia. We have been trying to grow the SharePoint community in this region for some time, and while it has been slow to develop, the success of these events proves that there is great potential for continued SharePoint growth.
Our first event was Hong Kong SharePoint Conference on January 14. Being our second event in this small but densely-packed city, we were hopeful for a bigger turnout this year than previous years. In total, we had just about 200 delegates, which is about 40% more than before. And while this wasn’t a huge event, the involvement and participation from attendees was a vast improvement. After talking to several attendees and sponsors, SharePoint adoption has been very slow here but has finally started to heat up. With many financial institutions situated in Hong Kong, this is a somewhat risk-averse culture with a tendency to do things the old-fashioned way. But, the tide is changing. In fact, during the keynote that Dux Raymond Sy and I delivered, the message of using SharePoint 2013 to “Revolutionize Your Organization” hit home with the crowd. In fact, we got everyone so fired up they actually stood up and did a short “Gangnam Style” dance. It was great fun!
After the Hong Kong keynote, I had two more sessions to present. The next one was “Enforcing SharePoint Governance”. This is a talk I have given several times over the past couple of years and the basic message is simple: Use your SharePoint architecture to your advantage when enforcing SharePoint governance. Understanding and planning Information Architecture and Information Management strategies and using these to build a robust logical structure of farms, web applications, and site collections goes a long way when enforcing governance. Of course, it’s never easy, so we discuss trade off decisions (e.g. the pros and cons of creating multiple site collections) and how to use PowerShell to help automate certain tasks. I make it clear that using third party tools – such ones offered by AvePoint – can significantly reduce the administrative burden and increase the flexibility of a solution.
My final session in Hong Kong was an introduction to the new application model in SharePoint 2013. While I’ve had lots of feedback and many questions from giving this session at other events, I just wasn’t expecting much here as attendees are quite reserved. I was wrong – in fact, I had lots of great questions about when to use this new model versus creating traditional-style SharePoint applications. Some conversations continued in the hallway well after the session concluded.
After Hong Kong, we headed to Singapore for the third annual Southeast Asia SharePoint Conference from January 16-17. In the two prior events, we averaged around 500 delegates, and we blew away those numbers this year with nearly 1,000 attendees on the first day. Part of the reason for the big turnout was this was that both a SharePoint conference and an Office 2013 and SharePoint 2013 launch that Microsoft helped organize. The launch portion took place on the first half of day one with three targeted keynotes. We then held an executive-level Q&A discussion that AvePoint Co-CEO and Co-Founder Dr. Tianyi (TJ) Jiang and Richard Riley, director of the SharePoint core marketing team at Microsoft, conducted.
Keynote at Southeast Asia SharePoint Conference 2013 in Singapore
As for me, I was all over the place catching up with friends, speakers, sponsors, and AvePoint colleagues. Having lived in Singapore for a couple of years, this event is a bit of a homecoming for me and it’s always nice to catch up with everyone. My first session on day one was a repeat of my “Getting Stared with SharePoint 2013 Apps” session. I had about 200 attendees, which filled virtually every seat. Like in Hong Kong, I got lots of questions, and the best question of the day asked about how Domain Name System (DNS) name resolution works for 2013 apps. In fact, it was such a great question, I gave away a free book to the attendee who asked it. The answer, for those curious, is that SharePoint 2013 apps get a unique subdomain name created for each application. This is done for security reasons related to cross-site scripting, but it does require that a wildcard DNS entry be added to be sure name resolution still points to your SharePoint web front end server or the load balancer.
Discussing the new SharePoint 2013 App Model in Singapore
Day two was just as busy as day one. We started off the event with a SharePoint game show for all attendees. This worked out really well. We had four SharePoint experts as contestants: Dux Raymond Sy, Mark Rhodes, Daniel McPherson, and Richard Riley. I played host for the event and asked our contestants a series of SharePoint trivia questions. Debbie Ireland kept score, and we involved the crowd as well. I had a great time teasing everyone about some really bad answers, and all were taking it well while joking back at the same time. In the end, Dux won the game, but all participants had a great time.
Later that day, I did a book signing with Milan Gross, co-author of my most recently published book. We only had about 25 books to give away, but I think the attendee line stretched across what seemed like half of the conference floor. It’s so very kind of people to wait in that long to get a signed copy. After we ran out of books, we signed about 10 more book covers for anyone who wanted them. Not as good as the real thing, but the cover provides a discount code to buy the full book online.
My final session was scheduled for the final time slot on day two. The topic was a newly-revised talk on integrating SharePoint with Microsoft Exchange Server. This presentation was originally based on a book chapter I wrote back in 2009, but a lot has changed since then. With amazing improvements with Site Mailboxes and eDiscovery in Exchange 2013 and SharePoint 2013, it was time to update it. I’m so glad I did – it was great fun researching and testing all the new features that break down the walls between SharePoint and Exchange. Plus – the delegates really got into the session. I must have gotten at least 20 questions during the session, and most of them were on Site Mailboxes. Clearly, people are excited about this new feature and are looking to better understand how it really works. In fact, I had so many questions, I ran well behind schedule throughout the presentation. As the scheduled finish time was approaching, I asked attendees if they wanted to stick around for another 15 minutes so I could finish the presentation. Several people told me to keep going and not one person got up to leave even though the session ran well beyond its scheduled end time at 5pm! That was a great highlight for me and a super nice way to end the event.
I’d like to thank Debbie Ireland and her amazing support team for helping to produce these shows. She and I have been coordinating this event for three years now, and I’m honored to be able to help out. Also, let me acknowledge my close friend Alan Dias from Microsoft Singapore, who did an incredible job coordinating everything from Microsoft’s end. It was a huge success and the credit goes to the tireless work of these two!
Here are a few more shots from the event in Singapore:
Hard at work signing books with Milan Gross (center) in Singapore
With Dr. Tianyi (TJ) Jiang (left) and Ken Shiomitsu (center) before giving away a Microsoft Surface at AvePoint’s booth
Book signing line