Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My SharePoint TV Debut

Lights, camera, action!

Almost a year after moving to Houston and becoming involved with the Houston SharePoint User Group (HSPUG), I am still an active member and volunteer. I have switched to the speakers committee because I enjoy helping HSPUG find awesome speakers to enlighten us. At SharePoint Conference 2014, I had the opportunity to be one of four members representing HSPUG on SharePoint Conference TV (SPCtv). My TV co-stars include Troy Lanphier, Naomi Moneypenny, and Mark Freeman.

If you would like to learn more about HSPUG, go ahead and watch HSPUG on SPCtv. I'm not promising a cliff hanger ending like "Who shot JR?", but you will get a better understanding of why I like this group so much.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

SharePoint World Domination

SharePoint has descended upon Las Vegas. 10,000 developers, administrators, power users, executives, and sponsors from 85 countries have gathered for SharePoint Conference 2014, a.k.a. #spc14. That hashtag represents not only the conference's presence on Twitter but also on Yammer. More on that later...

The morning kicked off with breakfast. Just like at #k2con, there were scrambled eggs but no salsa. Where's the salsa? There are at least a dozen of us from Texas here. I don't know if all the Texans need salsa for scrambled eggs, but I sure do! The redeeming factor was that there was...as you may have guessed...bacon. Even though I'm not a huge fan of bacon, I did have one piece so that I may remain in this cult known as SharePoint.

On three separate occasions, I had the opportunity to meet folks from Denmark. One of the gentlemen told me that there are about 200 people from Denmark at SPC14. I asked one of them why they came to this conference rather than going to the European SharePoint Conference. He said that the European conference is not as big. And let's face it, it's also not in Las Vegas...Sin City...where everything that happens gets posted to social media for the world to enjoy.

The day was filled with keynote and breakout sessions. The worth-a-mention of the morning keynote was hearing President Clinton talk about technology. I had not thought about it before, but he was the president when the Internet became popular. He never mentioned SharePoint, but he talked kindly about Microsoft and the Bill Gates Foundation.

So what was the highlight of the keynote session? Jeff Teper from Microsoft revealed a new app, code named Oslo, that will bring relevant content to the user instead of the user having to search for it. Views include presented to me, shared with me, trending around me, modified by me, liked by me, and viewed by me. I have deemed "work like a network" as Microsoft's new catch phrase. It was also announced that the next versions of SharePoint, Exchange, and Office would be released in 2015. SharePoint on-premises lives on!

At the IT Pro keynote, Bill Baer talked about  the transformation of IT, SharePoint 2013 and Service Pack 1, and Office Innovation. As we all know and have experienced, IT is being asked to do more. Microsoft wants to transition systems administrators to value added service brokers. In other words. IT professionals would be proactive, rather than reactive. As for SP2013 and SP1, Bill focused on the new features that SP1 brings, such as Yammer integration, OneDrive for business, and Windows Server 2012 R2 support. He also mentioned that in Office 365, Yammer can replace newsfeeds through a setting in Central Admin. My favorite quote from Bill came from during one of the demos, when he was in Central Administration. "SharePoint Health Analyzer has detected an issue. When doesn't it?" (Maybe the SharePoint Health Analyzer needs some bacon!) On the topic of Office Innovation, Bill talked about a new feature code named Fort Knox, which introduces two-factor authentication. Also, Office 365 will be capable of handling 1 petabyte (PB) tenants and 1TB site collections.

After lunch, I went to a session to learn how anyone can build an Access app. Since I already have 3 blog posts about Access Apps in SharePoint 2013, I was already familiar with most of the content for this session.

My last session of the day was Microsoft's Roadmap for Enterprise Social. The speakers focused on "work like a network," did a more in-depth demonstration of Oslo, and explained the Office Graph. Another feature they highlighted was the ability to have Yammer conversations inside Office documents. Christophe Fiessinger finally and officially answered the question "SharePoint Social or Yammer?" The answer was "Go Yammer!" Although SharePoint social features will exist in SharePoint 2015, those features will not be enhanced or improved from what they are now. The focus and investments are on Yammer.

That was day one of SPC14. Between sessions, networking events (a.k.a. parties), and a little sleep, I did not blog about each day individually. Stay tuned for a post-SPC blog where I'll share the highlights from the rest of the conference.

Don't forget... When you get into SharePoint, you get into bacon!

Monday, March 3, 2014

When You Get Into SharePoint, You Get Into Bacon

#k2con is gone...but not forgotten!

Hopefully you've read my previous post #k2 con is on! If not, you'll want to do that before you read this one.

OK, now that you're all caught up, let's recap day 2 of the first K2 User Conference.

Day 2 started with a disappointment. There was no bacon at breakfast. The rest of the choices were about the same as day 1, but we had sausage patties instead of bacon. After tweeting my disappointment, I was informed, through Twitter, that there was bacon on the muffins in the hall. While I never investigated for myself, I was happy to have my faith in bacon at SharePoint related events renewed.

At the beginning of the keynote, emcee/comedian Baratunde Thurston had some quotes from various people from day 1. He said he was up early, checking out social media to see what we attendees were saying about the conference. While he expected there to be tweets, he did not expect to find a lengthy blog post recapping day 1 written early on the morning of day 2. Yes, it was my blog post #k2con is on!

Just for fun, Baratunde brought me up on stage, where I got to do some shameless self-promotion. Then, Baratunde performed a dramatic reading of my entire blog post. He would read a little and then stop and ask me a question. My answers generally seemed to surprise him and make him laugh. I'd like to thank the audience for laughing along (LOL). I may have also interjected once or twice, which almost made Baratunde regret his decision. All in all, it was a fun start to the morning. Because of my new fame (notoriety?), I had the opportunity to meet many people who otherwise would have remained strangers.

The best quote, which actually came from me...an original thought!... was "When you get into SharePoint, you get into bacon." Thank you to those who tweeted what is now my personal slogan. I've added it to my Twitter profile, too.

As a SharePoint enthusiast for more than 5 years, I have always thought of K2 as a third party add-on for SharePoint. During the conference, though, I saw many examples of how K2 is used as a standalone platform or in conjunction with non-SharePoint platforms and systems.

At the next K2 User Conference, I'd like to see more entry-level sessions. The ones I attended assumed that you were a current K2 customer and that you had built workflows, forms, and/or solutions already. I feel that this alienated new customers or employees who were new to their companies using K2.

If you're still in Vegas and attending the SharePoint Conference, remember this one thing:

What happens in Vegas stays ...on social media to live on forever and ever!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

#K2Con Is On!

Greetings from Las Vegas!

Since I'm awake way too early (but an hour later than yesterday), I thought I'd update you on how the first K2 User Conference is going.

The morning kicked off with registration and breakfast at 7am. The K2 staff was ready and checking people in even before 7am. I appreciate that they were able to accommodate us early birds. While I waited for breakfast to open, I browsed the vendor/sponsor halls. Typically, I see the same companies at SharePoint events, but there were some new ones this time. Later in the day, I had the opportunity to speak with 5th Method. I asked them what the first 4methods were. I'm not sure they appreciated my humor, but they were good sports about it. Back to breakfast...it was your typical conference breakfast with some carbs, some fruit, and of course BACON! I'm not a huge fan of bacon, but you can't have a SharePoint related conference without bacon. While I ate, I met some nice people from Massachusetts. It turns out that they are clients of my friends from Atrion. It's a small world after all...

The keynote included some technical folks from K2, Microsoft, and Clarity Consulting. Marketform was the winner of the FWD Thinker award and demonstrated their K2 solution called Alfred for us. Since a few of my co-workers recently completed a SharePoint front-end solution similar to Alfred, I was intrigued and impressed by Alfred. The emcee for the morning was Baratunde Thurston, author of How To Be Black. He's also a comedian and entrepreneur. His presentation was entertaining, insightful, and down right funny. I liked how he told a bunch of stories that were so well linked together it felt like a personal conversation.

After lunch, the breakout sessions began. First, K2 demonstrated their new product K2 for SharePoint. They implemented K2 for SharePoint in under 5 minutes. I have not implemented, configured, or used K2 yet myself, but I've heard that it can be quite difficult. Needless to say, the live demo was a huge success. K2 for SharePoint is expected to be available to blackpearl customers in April.

Then there were three more sessions: Fast Data, Using K2 to build K2 for SharePoint, and Fast Forms. As a non-developer and not-yet-a-K2-user, I found the first 2 sessions to be more technical and more advanced than I would have liked. In the Fast Forms session, the speaker introduced us to K2D2, a robot who can be controlled through K2 and who can post to Yammer when his head is removed. That was really cool and fun!

In the evening, I attended the K2 attendee party at the Vanity nightclub in the Hard Hotel & Casino. The booths in the club had a 70s feel to them, which I really enjoyed. Our booth was right by the dance floor. When "Thriller" by Michael Jackson played, about a dozen zombies came out and danced in, with, and among the crowd. They even stuck around for most of the night. After the zombie attack, I had a photo op with Adriaan Van Wyck, the CEO of K2. He was a very down to earth guy, and I enjoyed the chance to meet him.

When the party finally ended an hour later than scheduled, I returned to my room for some much needed sleep. I've got another full day of K2 sessions, followed by the SharePoint Conference welcome reception tonight. If you're at either conference, I'd love to meet you! If you're not here, follow #k2con and #spc14 to be virtually here.

I'll leave you with this quote from Marketform's presentation yesterday. Since tweeting it, this quote has received 7 retweets and 2 favorites, so it must be important. :)

"The difference between good solutions and great solutions is the user experience."