Episode 31: Celebrating 20 Years of SharePoint with Microsoft's Jeff Teper

Jeff Teper hs
Jeff Teper04/28/2021

In this podcast episode, Dux Raymond Sy, AvePoint Chief Brand Officer, speaks with Jeff Teper, now the President of Collaborative Apps & Platforms at Microsoft and known as the "Father of SharePoint," about the 20th anniversary of SharePoint. They discuss the key milestones of the platform's development, including how it has served new users during the pandemic. Microsoft SharePoint has been a solution for tens of millions of people to collaborate and work more efficiently over the past two decades.

In the podcast, Jeff shares his perspective on the endurance of SharePoint over the last two decades. He acknowledges that many competitors, including Google and Huddle, have tried to beat SharePoint, but its longevity has been unmatched. Teper believes SharePoint's durability is due to its holistic vision of content management. The company brought together collaboration, content, and portals into a single product, which was unique at the time and is still durable today.

Teper also highlights SharePoint's adaptability, which he considers essential to survival in the tech industry. He mentions stopping the investment in InfoPath to move experienced developers to cloud service fabric for SharePoint and Office 365 (now known as Microsoft 365). This move was challenging, and people did not at once embrace the idea of moving to the cloud. However, SharePoint's willingness to lead customers and not just listen to feedback has helped the company stay ahead of the curve.

Teper discusses how SharePoint has adapted its strategy in response to user behavior. People no longer want to stare at websites on their browser; instead, they want to use communication tools such as Teams. SharePoint has embraced this change by making it easy to access content from SharePoint in Teams. This has been done by componentizing SharePoint, allowing users to get access to lists, files, and pages inside Teams. Teper admits that some people will continue to use the browser, and others will use a simple OneDrive app. Therefore, building products for a billion people means SharePoint must go where groups of hundreds of millions of people are.

Finally, Teper praises the SharePoint community, which has grown and evolved over time. He believes that few products have the community that SharePoint has built. SharePoint is still an essential building block for content management, but Teams and Power Apps are neck and neck for certain people. SharePoint has embraced feedback, evangelism, passion, and frustration from its community and used it to improve its products.

The conversation then turns to the impact of COVID-19 on businesses and how it accelerated the adoption of cloud-based tools. He mentions that Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, and OneDrive have matured, and that the shift to cloud-based work has resulted in companies seeing the benefits of getting features up to date all the time. He also highlights that the transition from classic to modern user experience in SharePoint has improved the platform's usability, making it more appealing for people to use.

Teper discusses how the adoption and change management work that businesses and users had to go through took years, but COVID-19 acted as a catalyst for the next level of growth. He notes that the pandemic also highlighted the importance of caring about people and how Microsoft developed a new brand, Viva, to address the issue of employee well-being, growth, development, and knowledge. The launch of Viva didn’t come without its challenges: Teper explains how four different projects in development, including workplace analytics, e-learning, SharePoint home sites, and Project Cortex, converged to create Viva, which caters to employee engagement, knowledge, learning, and well-being. Teper notes that marketing played a critical role in delaying the launch until the Viva messaging could be refined and aligned with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's vision for supporting employees during the pandemic.

Looking ahead, Teper discusses the challenges that organizations will face as they transition to a hybrid workplace model, and the role of technology in supporting this change. He notes that companies will experiment with different models of remote and in-person work, and that Microsoft is taking a middle-ground approach by encouraging in-office work for certain roles while also accommodating distributed work for others. Teper emphasizes the next few years will be a learning period for everyone, and companies must be humble enough to recognize that.

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