Notes from the Field – Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference

By Mike Alsup posted 07-20-2014 17:55


I attended the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, DC last week. It was a high-energy forum with 20,000 attendees from around the world. Intel announced much better PC numbers early in the event, and Microsoft’s announcement that it was terminating 18,000 Microsoft employees was held until the last day of the conference, so it didn’t figure into discussions.

I attended Jared Spataro’s session. Jared is the new Vice President of Microsoft Office and comes from Open Text, so he understands the history of ECM and SharePoint exceptionally well. He described the evolution of Office in three phases.

  • Phase One – Microsoft grows standalone productivity products, including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, etc. They competed well, but one day they were all merged into
  • Phase Two – Microsoft Office. They add Exchange and SQL Server and Lync and Skype and competed as an ECM Suite, broadly defined. Then, along came Google and Apple and changed how Microsoft thought about Office and Mobile. Then, Microsoft bought Yammer, and that changed everything, resulting in
  • Phase Three – Office 365. Yammer and Social haven’t been added as a silo in Office 365. The key new concept is that People are now an object in this system just like a document, and the relationships of people and documents and organizations are the heart of Office 365.

Jared and his team have been weaving rich functionality around People, Groups, and Collaboration into something they call the Office Graph. The implications of this evolution rolled through the week. Microsoft is enabling Apple (iOS) and Google (Android) users to participate with Office 365 as full and equal citizens with Windows clients. Microsoft is focused on enabling, securing and governing content for users everywhere. They demonstrated how a phone or tablet would have a governed and ungoverned identity. So, when a user was in his governed business identity, his business documents are visible. When the user was in their less governed personal identity, the business documents are no longer visible. It is clear that Microsoft wants to be THE content management vendor of choice in the Mobile First, Cloud First world. We saw the Microsoft competitive ECM positioning much more clearly at WPC than ever before.

The App (Client Side Object Model or CSOM) Model, which is the foundation of Office 365, fundamentally changes how applications, solutions and vendors integrate with Office 365, compared to SharePoint on-premise. Many of the cloud file sync and share solutions provide different levels of support for Windows 8, iOS and Android, while support for all three OS’s is enabled in OneDrive for Business, which is the default file management product supported within Office 365. Open Text, Laserfiche, HP Trim and many other vendors that are focused on managing SharePoint content by taking it out of SharePoint are finding that this is much more difficult to achieve in Office 365. Microsoft announced during the conference that 1TB was the new free storage allocation in Office 365. If you already use Office 365, the incremental cost of moving from another ECM solution into native Office 365 capabilities and storage is the incremental cost of storage, plus the cost to migrate, less whatever the maintenance and support cost of the ECM or cloud file sync and share solution that is being migrated. The financial incentives to move and consolidate to Office 365 can be fairly compelling. 

Vendors that are focused on governing content within Office 365 have a better chance of success, because this is much less in conflict with the core Microsoft mission of retaining the content inside Office 365. The richer version of a “document” that Jared Spataro described, with its Social comments, and the collaborative richness of the Office Graph (or whatever this capability is eventually named) will be significantly harder to manage externally, but at least they have a chance of success.

I belong to a SharePoint CEO Group that has been meeting at various Microsoft events (SP TechCon, SharePoint Conference, Gartner ITxpo, WPC, etc.). Most of them are primarily Microsoft partners, but over half didn’t attend WPC. I believe that this reflects the devastating effect that Office 365 is having on the smaller SharePoint services providers. It is leaving many the infrastructure and training providers behind.

The Washington Convention Center is much better with the new Marriott Marquis which just opened next door, and is made for conference networking. From 7:00 AM until 1:00 AM, the lobby was the primary WPC networking forum. See y’all in Orlando next year.

#office365 #enterprise content management #EnterpriseContentManagement #SharePoint #sharepoint #InformationGovernance #Collaboration