Ignite 2017 is now upon us, and serious organizations and Microsoft-y geeks everywhere are busy putting together their wish lists for what they hope to hear. I’m no different. Sure, AvePoint is an independent software vendor and core Microsoft partner but at the end of the day, I’m still just in Office 365 user. So what is it that I’m hoping is under the tree when the keynotes start today? It’s pretty simple really.
First and probably most important, it’s probably time that Microsoft creates some clarity around the collaboration vision in Office 365. It’s perfectly understandable that they’ve spent the last several months heavily innovating on new technologies to change the way we collaborate, and they’ve done a fantastic job at that, but a pause to gather our breath and understand better where to place our bets for the future would be a welcome change of pace.
Microsoft Teams has come storming out of the gate and been a major topic of conversation both inside my organization and also in the many organizations I talk to in my daily work. There’s something about the combination of ongoing conversation and ready access to much-needed resources all from one interface that is very compelling. But as of right now, it really only works if the group I’m collaborating with agrees to have our conversations and meetings in Teams. If you’ve got a few email stragglers in your group they’re bound to miss a lot of what’s going on in Teams because even the notifications that go into email from Teams don’t give up much info. I think were past the days of people wringing their hands and saying “what’s the difference between Yammer and Teams” as much has already been said on that topic, but there is another potential conflict giving me concern at the moment. I can send instant messages through chat to individual users in Teams, and that lot looks a lot like the kind of one to one chatting I have been doing for years In Skype for Business. For a while, it seemed like Skype had the upper hand on meetings because I could integrate a phone bridge for those unable to get voice online, but that differentiator went away just recently and now Teams has it too. Similarly, the ability to set up a Teams meeting right from the Outlook ribbon crept into my world just recently as well. And back to an earlier point, it’s hard to know when I should send a user a Skype chat versus a Teams chat because depending upon their configuration they may never see it. So this boy hopes that at ignite this year we see a clear vision for both Skype and Teams and can begin moving forward to the way we will collaborate in the year to come. Oh and by the way– some cool provisioning APIs for Teams would be awesome as well 😉.
I went and did it-I mentioned Yammer up above. Don’t get me wrong, I think Yammer is a great way to communicate to the people I don’t even know I’m going to be reaching, but this thing with Yammer connected groups has me confused. “Yammer connected” groups are Yammer groups that have some of the typical Office 365 Group services, like SharePoint and Planner, associated with them. For sure, SharePoint is a fantastic place to store documents that are being collaborated on so it makes sense that we want to associate something like SharePoint with the Yammer group. But given the viral nature of how Yammer groups get created, I’m not so sure I want SharePoint sites to have that same viral nature. In most organizations I talk to, there is more scrutiny and attention on governance of SharePoint then there is for Yammer. As of now, the only way to avoid getting SharePoint when you get a Yammer group is to turn off the ability for users to self-serve the creation of office 365 groups- that seems pretty extreme and not something most organizations are going to want to do. And further, Microsoft has been coming behind and creating a new Office 365 Groups and associating them with my non-connected Yammer groups while I was sleeping. It would be great to get some vision about how and if Microsoft decides to address the “Yammer is viral so SharePoint is too” approach.
Now for the thing I’m most excited about. It seems that for almost the last two years, the SharePoint team has been working like crazy to get to a point where they have parity with a lot of things SharePoint has done for years but to have those features be more modern, more appealing, and easier to use. Significant investments in things like modern lists and libraries, the new SharePoint page model and framework and even related technologies like flow and power apps are essentially modern ways of accomplishing jobs that SharePoint has classically performed. While they are significant and welcome innovations in the way that we do what we’ve always done, it will be great to see the vision laid out for the next year or more. They’ve done the groundwork to solidify the capabilities and usability of SharePoint, and to me seem poised to take that to the next level. We’ve already seen brief glances at things like the new SharePoint admin center, OneDrive sharing and file access enhancements, deeper and more direct integrations with Flow and PowerApps from the team in their May event, so I can’t wait to see what else they have up their sleeves. It would be great to have my mind blown by things I never thought SharePoint could do.
So those are just a few of my wishes. It would be great to hear yours, and I’m quite sure we’ll revisit this space for a “here’s what we learned at Ignite” post from me in the near future. I’ll be sure to point out how we did on the hopes and dreams expressed here.
For those who will be attending Ignite, be sure to drop by booth 301 to check out AvePoint’s products and services to make your collaboration the best it can be!