I’m sitting here in my office, hours away from the start of my Thanksgiving vacation, reflecting on the past week of drinking from the SharePoint fire hose at SPC12 in Las Vegas. I had some goals for the conference, but thought I’d report back on what actually took place, and make note of some key statistics, action items, and observations that came out of the event:
- With more than 10,000 attendees, according to a friend at Microsoft, the SharePoint Conference is now bigger than TechEd, making it the largest technology conference that Microsoft puts on each year. (I’m wondering how it compares in size, though, to the internal TechReady events and to the Worldwide Partner Conference, which are both pretty massive....but this is according to him).
- Microsoft is focusing on social. For those who may have missed the keynote Monday morning, it was crystal clear that Microsoft is “all in” on social, sharing some information around the recent Yammer acquisition and plans for integration, as well as new pricing for Office365.
- The Axceler party (SharePointCity) that we put together with Harmon.ie, Jornata, Blue Rooster, Webtrends, CloudShare, Symantec, BrightStarr, Concept Searching, and Apptix was the largest (and according to 3 Microsoft veterans, the best) private party at a SharePoint Conference yet. For those who missed the party at the Tryst, Harmon.ie CEO Yaacov Cohen, with the help of Mark Fidelman, handed out awards for their Top 25 SharePoint Influencers list (watch it here). And then Axceler CEO Michael Alden, with the help of Pamela Anderson, handed out the 1st annual SharePoint Golden Lifeguard Awards for best governance solution to John Breen from Flowserve and John Lamoureux from Biogen, as judged by a panel of community experts, including Michal Pisarek, Susan Hanley, Ruven Gotz, Veronique Palmer, David Rubenstein, Sarah Haase, Owen Allen, and Ant Clay.
- I did not get to as many sessions (not full sessions, anyway) as I had hoped or planned, as my team was heavily engaged in partner and customer meetings throughout that tended to pull me away. Thankfully, all sessions were recorded, and I plan to go through and grab more info in the coming weeks, sharing my thoughts about what is happening across the SharePoint landscape. But honestly, it felt almost the same as the Worldwide Partner Conference.
- Something different was the huge focus on the community. You saw a major shift in how the exhibit floor was organized this year, with a tremendous focus on the community. The SharePoint timeline wall highlighted when people got involved with the platform (me in 2004), with displays highlighting user groups, SharePoint Saturdays, and other community-based efforts to support all things SharePoint. Additionally, I saw many people conducting podcast and video interviews (did a few myself), and loved the fact that Erica Toelle rented out a massive suite and hosted nightly community parties. The danger here, of course, is that Microsoft is not viewed as trying to run / manage the community efforts (which is not their intention) but simply to support those efforts. I saw it happen with IBM and Rational Software, where IBM came in like a giant wet blanket, smothering the flames of the community and basically killing off a vibrant partner and community ecosystem.
- The parties were off. the. hook. So much going on. Honestly, I did not participate in as many activities as I had anticipated, as I focused more on partner meetings and catching up with key folks from the community, but there were too many opportunities for extracurricular activities to mention. I think I capped my activities at 3 per night, trying to get back to the hotel no later than midnight each night. Sometimes that worked out. Sometimes…not so much.
- The Microsoft store. I made a bunch of noise about there not being a store last year, pestering organizer Matt Berg, as did others. You have the largest collection of Microsoft fanboys on the planet, and there's never been a store? Come on. So Microsoft listened, and the store should now be a fixture at future events. More swag for everyone.
- Product announcements. I know there were many announcements from Microsoft and exhibitors this past week, so you may have missed some of the news coming out of Axceler. We announced three new products this week, including ControlPoint for Yammer, ControlPoint Change Manager, and Axceler ViewPoint. Add to that the recent update (and minor rebranding) of ControlPoint FileLoader (which has been selling very aggressively) and our typical timeline of updates to all of our products within 30 to 60 days of any new SharePoint version (beta support for SharePoint 2013 is available, but we're preparing to offer full support) and its clear that Axceler's product and engineering teams have been very busy.
- Seb Matthews totally dissed me on the last night of the conference for dinner. What's up with that? He says he was having phone problems, but we all know how transparent that line is. Just wanted to point that out. ;-)
- More content is forthcoming. I did manage to write and submit one article on Monday, which came out early Tuesday through CMSWire based on the presentation by Chris Plescia and Jeff Schumann from Nationwide Insurance, but have not had time to convert my notes from other sessions. Still working on getting additional content live, but should be available later this month. That’s what the holidays are for – catching up on content, right?
For all of those able to attend the SharePoint Conference last week, I hope you have a fun and productive week, and were able to get tremendous value out of the sessions and the many business connections made. I know I did, and am looking forward to following up on the new (and missed) connections.
My next major event is SharePoint Saturday UK in early December, followed by a 2-day partner meeting in the Midwest. I am home until then, spending much needed time off with the family, preparing for the holiday season. My thoughts and prayers are also with all of my friends in Israel and the surrounding area as the conflict there grows. Safe travels home, and hopefully things can be resolved soon.