Recap of #SPC18

SPC18 keynote audience in Las Vegas

For those who found their way to Las Vegas a couple weeks back for the SharePoint Conference North America (#SPC18), the event delivered on much of what we expected it to deliver: tons of product and features news, old and new friends everywhere, and a lot of fun. This was the 7th SharePoint Conference, which was held in combination with the annual SharePoint Virtual Summit, which was launched 2 years ago on May 4th in San Francisco at a small gathering of Microsoft, MVP and community members, and the press, when SharePoint was decreed to be “cool” again. Last year, the event was just online, streamed out to the masses…but something was missing. We wanted the live event — and we got it.

Christian Buckley, Dan Holme, and Bill Baer at SPC18I’m not going to summarize every piece of news out of the event, but thought I’d share the keynote/virtual summit highlights that I captured during the event. If you would like to watch again, you can find the entire keynote on-demand.

Microsoft Corporate VP Jeff Teper provided the framework for the Day 1 keynote, introducing the six pillars around which the SharePoint team is focusing their efforts: Sharing and Working Together, Informing and Engaging Employees, Harnessing Collective Knowledge, Transforming Business Processes, Extending and Developing, and Protecting and Managing Information. My list below are what I believe to be the Top 10 takeaways, summarizing many of the visionary announcements made — but by no means is an all-inclusive list of what was shared, so be sure to watch the keynote again for additional details and to see some of the live demonstrations.

Top 10 Announcements from #SPC18

Of course, this list is not all-inclusive, nor is it in order of impact or priority. Some may argue that there were other major announcement that should be included here, but these are the items that stood out the most to me, and which had the largest audience reaction from where I was sitting (front row, stage right):

1 – AI CAPABILITIES IN SEARCH

Microsoft has been making heavy investments into artificial intelligence and machine-learning, and there were a number of features mentioned in the keynote to highlight these investments within SharePoint and OneDrive, including the intelligence built into Files Cards in Office 365. As content is shared, you’ll be able to hover over an items and see who has viewed and interacted with your digital assets, and review an item’s activity stream, demonstrated using Microsoft Flow to streamline processes that integrate cognitive services, including geolocation, image recognition, text extraction, machine translation, and sentiment analysis. Now, anyone can haRness the power of AI to transform business processes.

2 – ALL-IN WITH DOCUMENT LIBRARIES

The audience was happy to hear that all of the capabilities of the document library are being brought to the Document Library Web Part, giving users much more flexibility in how they leverage their libraries. What’s more, the Files tab within Microsoft Teams now includes all of the SharePoint Document Library features — bringing the full power of the SharePoint document library experience to Microsoft Teams.

3 – SCAN WITH ONEDRIVE

The OneDrive app now includes a dedicated Scan button, which builds upon some of the best features of the Windows Lens app, and adds an important productivity feature to this OneDrive mobile app to make it even more indispensable.

4 – PAGE-LEVEL METADATA

Something that’s been mentioned over the last few months and is exciting to see in action is the ability to see and edit page-level metadata, allowing you to modify, organize, and filter your view around an artifact’s metadata, on the fly, providing yet another powerful personalization tool for your digital assets.

5 – OOTB PAGE APPROVAL WORKFLOW VIA FLOW

A brief Oprah moment during the MVP panel at SPC18This one got a big cheer from the audience, as this simple workflow has been built by almost every company and team using SharePoint over the past decade.

6 – SHAREPOINT SPACES

This new immersive, mixed reality capability is built into SharePoint, and expanding on the announcement made at Build earlier this month around Microsoft Remote Assist and Microsoft Layout. Spaces will provide “immersive mixed reality experiences” to every skill set of user, and across any device. The goal is to make it as easy as creating a PowerPoint or Word document, bringing mixed reality to the masses.

7 – MICROSOFT TRAINING SERVICES

This announcement caught some by surprise, with Microsoft now offering to deliver contextual training content directly into intranets as the company continues to offer solutions to improve adoption and engagement.

8 – ROW FORMATTER

Another announcement that generated a strong audience response was the ability to see real-time stats at the row-level in a list or library. Leveraging Flow for cognitive analysis, this feature provides a way to share data and activity visualizations for each row or line items in a list or library, giving teams a quick visual indicator of, for example, items that still require approval, or that have gone over budget.

9 – AI FOR IMAGES

Another AI advance is around teaching the cloud to recognize new objects for auto-tagging. As more and more content becomes image-based, features like this will help organizations unlocks the value of photos stored in Office 365. These features will help identify where photos were taken, recognize objects, and allow users to search for items that appear within photos.

10 – CUT-AND-PASTE EXCEL INTO A LIST

One of the strongest responses was the ability to cut-and-paste Excel directly into a List, once again leveraging AI to format columns based on existing fields, edit in place, and integrate with other Office 365 solutions, such as Planner. This has been a long-time request from many within the community, and is exciting to see at last!

Additional Notes

For those who missed the event this year in Las Vegas, no worries — the event will be back again next year, once again in May, and once again at the (newly refinished) MGM Grand, where I’m sure it will be even bigger and better. In fact, registration is now open at https://www.sharepointna.com

One final point: With so many regional events that have been successfully run through partners and the community, one big question that has been asked repeatedly is why we need another SharePoint Conference? I can see both sides of the argument. On one hand, the story around SharePoint has become increasingly complex, touching on many other products within the Microsoft stack, all of which are represented at Microsoft Ignite, making a SharePoint-only event seem redundant. However, for that same argument of the increasing complexity of the SharePoint ecosystem, the community wants a more streamlined conference experience. It is not surprising that the SharePoint content at Ignite rates the best-attended and most highly-rated. People who work with SharePoint want to see the other technologies through a SharePoint lens. And while Microsoft has partnered with an external group to align this event with the SharePoint Virtual Summit, it remains a non-Microsoft event, with Microsoft helping sponsor and support it as they do with other global events.

Why attend SharePoint Conference in 2019? Because there is no replacing the face-to-face interactions with the community, with the product team, and with the vendors that continue to make this ecosystem grow. In my mind, it is a must-attend event.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Apps & Services MVP, the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and fractional-CMO for revealit.io, tyGraph, and Extranet User Manager.