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Find this Podcast “A Partner’s View of “The Future of SharePoint” on the ThreeWill Soundcloud, Stitcher, and iTunes.


Transcript

Danny:Hello and welcome to the ThreeWill Podcast. This is your host Danny Ryan and I’ve got Tommy here with me as well. Hey, Tommy.

 

Tommy:Good morning, Danny. How you doing?

 

Danny:I’m doing wonderful. I wanted to take today and go through what we heard about yesterday with the future of SharePoint. First of, it’s wonderful that SharePoint does have a future.

 

Tommy:It’s very bright. It’s very bright. I’m excited.

 

Danny:When I started seeing the little S in the Microsoft 365 menu changed over to Sites, I was worried about SharePoint for a little while there. It’s going to be in the background and it’s just another commodity service. It looks they’re going to actually call it SharePoint and then in the menu as well. I saw that yesterday. That’s good to see. Man, there was a lot of stuff introduced. At a high level, what were some of the big takeaways that you got from yesterday’s event?

 

Tommy:What I saw is there’s been a lot of experimentation in Microsoft 365 where you see things like Delve, and your personal profile in Delve, the cards in Delve, the blog capability for your personal blog in Delve. It seems like they were experimenting with that, and getting people’s feedback, and getting the usage of that and testing it out there. That’s starting to move over to the mainstream within SharePoint. For me, that’s exciting to see that they’re making investments trying to improve it, innovating quickly and then incorporating that into SharePoint, not just putting it in SharePoint, but making it extensible in SharePoint.

 

I saw two sides of the coin. One is let’s make the user experience as simple as possible. Let’s bring the best of re-concepts that are outside of SharePoint and other platforms that have been helpful, test that out and then we’re going to get into the fold. Then give the developers the capability to do it as well as the SharePoint development team at Microsoft. We’re working off the same framework and using the standard technologies and tools out there like Gulp, and Git, and Node.js, and Angular to take those things where those have matured over time and not come up with something different but embrace what’s out there that is in the mainstream. As that continues to get better and innovate on its own cycle, we’re not left in the SharePoint world building on five-year-old tools and technologies, but we’re using the latest and greatest.

 

Some great things on both fronts. I think from the user front in terms of cleaner, better UI that’s mobile responsive that takes into account some more advanced features that are simplified in the user experience to the extensibility and the development capabilities that you have today and moving into the future.

 

Danny:One of the parts that I like is where they were talking about the different types of Sites that SharePoint is addressing like team sites, publishing, recognizing that some people are using it for more general get the message out types of sites for team collaboration and then for apps. It was kind of neat to see them recognizing how different folks are using SharePoint.

 

Tommy:Right. I think they’ve simplified that for the user where there’s two templates. There’s the team site template and there’s the publishing versus having 52 templates to deal with or to choose from. They’re looking at what’s that 80-20 rule. What are people really using SharePoint for? They’re using it for team site. We’re using it for landing page where they want to control the content there. I think that’s a good thing.

 

Also, what I saw … I don’t know if you noticed this is I’ve seen a lot of innovation in the Microsoft 365 groups. As they were showing team sites, I said, “I wonder if they’re going to bring into the fold groups as a part of that team site experience.” They provisioned a group when they create that team site which I thought was awesome because that ends up giving you a really rich experience that you can follow that team site across the whole Microsoft 365 platform. That this team site is not just a separate thing that just sits in SharePoint, but it blows out the infrastructure across the board on Microsoft 365 to allow that team to collaborate, and discover other people, and discover content.

 

Danny:You sounded pretty excited by that.

 

Tommy:Yeah.

 

Danny:You sounded like you were glad to see that they had made that connection which was cool. Some other things, what’s the deal with … I guess, what we’re seeing with PowerApps. I mean, we’ve heard of PowerApps before yesterday. Then this new … What showed up this morning in my Microsoft 365 menu, I saw Flow. That was, for me, a new thing. What’s with some of these new apps that … I’m not even sure what I should call them, but these new features that are coming out.

 

Tommy:I’m not the most well-versed on those but the way I look at it in my initial understanding is when you look at Flow, Flow has some aspects of it like IFTTT, if this then that, where you can take an event that ends up kicking off another action. It’s very similar, to me, from a workflow perspective where you can allow something to happen when a new document is added. What are the common things that I would do manually post adding a new document? What notifications will I want? Some of that capability that you saw in SharePoint, designer workflows, now you’re getting capability on the multi-tenant Microsoft 365 environment to do some light weight workflow and integration with other platforms and making that a little bit more point and click, and WYSIWYG-like.

 

Then I see the PowerApps is a way to launch over into Azure and have some customizations there that you can hook into. That’s kind of the story I see as it relates to some of the custom applications that we build can be as PowerApps.

 

Then the SharePoint framework is where it gets exciting. Now, that’s where we can do what have been web part development in the past customizations to the SharePoint user experience versus something that’s sideloaded to SharePoint. That framework is something that we’ve been looking for. We’ve anticipated in some sense that had to come sooner or later. Now, that is out there publicly, there’s a roadmap. There’s a vision there that we know that it’s going to be in place. As we build things, we can fit into that future of building things that will easily adapt to the SharePoint framework.

 

Danny:It’s not out yet but the SharePoint app, how excited are you about that?

 

Tommy:I think that’s nice. I think one of the things when you would go browse SharePoint within a mobile responsive UI that comes with SharePoint or you’d use some of the apps that are out there, it’s just over complicated. It didn’t lend itself to a good user experience.

 

There is a sense at SharePoint, some commoditization of that where you’re trying to make it a simple basic experience, having a team site and a publishing site versus having 30 templates. If that is simplified and shrunk down than some of your standard consumption of SharePoint, you can have richer apps that allow you to get to the content that you have there.

 

As you can see, the ability to go in and drive down to your content or that content to discover you, the whole Office craft, where I’m interacting with you, I’m viewing certain documents and, all of a sudden, it says, “Base on this relationship and the content you have, let’s show you something else that might be of interest to you.”

 

With organizations, content is just … You just think about how much electronic documentation that goes on in organization. Just even the organization our size that have a technology and machine learning that goes into building something like Delve where that’s getting integrated into your SharePoint experience versus going off to Delve. I’ve been a big Delve proponent. Then our morning brews, I’ve been showing that every once in a while. It’s separate. Now, they’re taking some of those rich experiences, making those into the SharePoint experience and then allowing the surface all the way up to their native apps that you take on the go.

 

I think it becomes a good balance of what the things that are held in tension which is making it simple for the user, predictable for the user, easy to get going with it, point and click and run. You can use the platform with an extensibility story. When you get into other products that are out there, SharePoint hasn’t been as polished as other collaborative platforms. Now you’re seeing that polished on the UI but they’re not abandoning the developer capabilities. That’s tough to do. I’m excited to see how Microsoft is doing well and holding those two things in tension.

 

Danny:It was funny. You and I talking this morning about the mobile app experience and how this is quite similar to some of the things that we saw like from Jive several years ago with internet on your mobile device. I think it’s one of those things I know we hear time and time again for the projects that we do. We cover what’s sort of mobile access do you have to this content because it has become one of the most, arguably, more important than your desktop. How are people accessing this information?

 

For them to see it … I think we’re seeing it a couple of ways. One is the recent improvements to the OneDrive app and accessing site content from that app, which you’re showing me this morning, to just being able to go browse your intranet through your mobile device and having a really nice experience with doing that. That’s really important to people.

 

Tommy:Right. Yeah. To take it on the go. We’re in that mobile era. That everything you want to do, you want to be able access it from your mobile device. I’m looking at my son last night. Alex is sitting there. We’ve got the TV on but he’s spending all of his time on this small, say, five-inch screen consuming everything on the internet. I’ve got this large TV and I’ve got a laptop in my lap. The next generation consumes things on the go. They want this one device to do everything from taking pictures and video to being their phone to being their internet device.

 

Danny:It sounds like some good quality family time, too.

 

Tommy:How many screens has everybody have up in their room? We have got more screens than people. That’s awesome.

 

Danny:Right, right, right right. That’s a different podcast.

 

Tommy:That’s a whole-

 

Danny:We shouldn’t go down that path.

 

Tommy:I’m sorry. I’ll leave that one alone. Before we wrap up here, any other things that you took away from yesterday’s announcements at all?

 

Danny:A lot of exciting things. I think, at the end of the day, all of the background that we have with SharePoint is so relevant to continue to build into that investment in SharePoint that has that bright future. Our challenge is holding the ability to grow into all those new tools and apply the right technology at the right time along that roadmap. We’ve got some folks who are very excited and very champing at the bit for all these new tools.

 

We’ve been talking about Gulp, and Yeoman, and all of those kind of buzzwords that you saw in the presentation two and three years ago. With our ThreeWill Labs effort, we’re building things that look like Delve backed with Popcorn. We’ve been hungry for it. Now, it’s becoming a reality. That’s very exciting. I think it’s going to re-energize us as a company to see there’s a bright future in SharePoint.

 

There were times that you wonder, “Are we totally kicked out of building anything that’s a custom experience on SharePoint or is it becoming email?” It’s never going to be touch. It’s going to be very plain Jane. That’s all you get: SharePoint, a document library and that’s it. We’re excited. I think our customers are going to see so much more value out of their collaboration experience because there’s so much that’s coming with the platform as a starting point and you’re not stuck with what you get. It’s extensible and that’s a great story.

 

Tommy:I love any device, I love the fact that they’re embracing other services as we all. They’re not just saying, “Hey, you need a pure Microsoft experience.” Actually, I think that puts them in a better position for companies who might want to consolidate services where they feel like they have the option of using other … It’s one of those things. It’s going to say, “Are you going to go to the world and say, ‘Consumer, you have to use all Microsoft services to play in our platform.'” You’re going to say-

 

Danny:It’s amazing.

 

Tommy:Just by taking that approach, it’s almost like you’re more open to their services because of that. I’m glad to see them do that.

 

Danny:I think Microsoft has swung that pendulum and swung it well. I don’t think they’re too far in the other direction. I think they got a right balance of providing strong capabilities for their platform, but also going out there and building the best iOS apps out there and allowing developers to use Mac OS and Visual Studio code to build solutions and provisioning Linux environments. They’re very open so they’re really focusing on cloud first and services. I think Microsoft is heading in a great direction and showing that they can reinvent themselves. That’s hard to do for a company of that size. It’s amazing to see.

 

Tommy:I even see it with the services, such a great support for Salesforce where you can tie into it and they’re not treating it like you can’t access that data. It’s a more mature view of the world, I think.

 

Danny:It is. It is.

 

Tommy:It’s saying, “You know what? In a typical large enterprise, you’re not going to have a pure environment. People are going to be … You have different departments. You have different teams. You have different reasons for using different products and services out there. Can we make all of these things work better together better?” What a great-

 

Danny:Yeah. It’s all mindset, right? We’ve created 12 different commercial integrations with SharePoint because we believe it needs to be an integrated world. You need to be able to take best of breed and make it work well together.

 

Tommy:Awesome.

 

Danny:Well, this is great. Thank you for taking the time to do this. We definitely have some good material for followup podcast as well as we jump into some of the new products that are coming out. Anybody from Microsoft listening to this, you did a good job yesterday. Overall, you got us as excited as a partner. It was great to see that SharePoint really does have a future. Thank you for listening in. Thank you, Tommy for being here.

 

Tommy:Sure, Danny.

 

Danny:Absolutely. Everybody have a great day. Take care now. Bye bye.

 

Tommy:Bye.

 

 

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