Feedback on the Evolution of SharePoint Saturday

Thanks to everyone who read my previous post and then responded to the survey! There were many great discussions via the various social networks on this topic, and most of what was shared was consistent with the feedback I’ve heard in person. As promised, I wanted to share the results of the survey — and provide some commentary. I’m going to leave the survey open for a while, as I want to continue tracking responses, but here is what we have to date:

Tracking Attendance Frequency

While not a scientific survey, I wanted to get a sense of who was commenting, and whether we were capturing feedback from only the die-hard SPS fans, or a cross-section of attendees at every level. What we see here is that a majority (51%) of respondents have attended 2 or more SPS events per year since they were launched in 2008 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. What this means is that these folks have ventured outside of their regions, assuming they’ve attended the annual SPS that is closest to them. Of course, there are many areas which have not held even one SPS event, and yet people have traveler far to participate.

SPS survey Question 1

I also wanted to get a sense for timeliness of their feedback. For 20% of respondents who have not attended an event in more than a year, there has been a slow but steady change in how many SPS organizing teams have built out their event programs, so I’d encourage anyone who has not attended in a while to make it to the next one within their region.

SPS survey Question 2

Topics people want to see

And here’s what most people really wanted to see: the topics that are driving attendance. As you can see from this list, it’s not just about SharePoint anymore. One would argue that these events were never 100% about SharePoint alone, but have always supported related topics and technologies. But that is even more true today — and clearly, people want to see more of a variety, making the organization of SPS events more complex. But for those SPS events that have seen a decrease in attendance, this may be useful information to help in your planning efforts.

What are the top 5 topics that people want to see at SharePoint Saturday?

  1. Modern Sites
  2. Microsoft Teams
  3. Office (suite) / Office 365 Productivity
  4. PowerApps and Flow
  5. End User Adoption and Engagement

Check out the full stats below:

SPS survey Question 3

How can SPS improve?

What I especially love about these kinds of community surveys are the anecdotal stories and direct feedback that can be captured. For this survey we asked an open-ended question:

SPS survey Question 4

I’ve filtered for a few blank or duplicate responses, but left the raw feedback so SPS organizers can consider them into their planning efforts:

  • Change the name!
  • Consider arranging informal cafe areas for themed discussions and allow people to make connections.
  • There are never enough women speaking; organizers should do better
  • Give opportunities to new speakers so that more people can share their knowledge and bring new topics
  • Yeah I would like to expect more business scenarios to discuss and some coding portion with the depth knowledge sharing. Some content portion should be with more weightage
  • It should have future roadmap, all releases during entire year. It should also focus on sales part too.
  • I wish that the organizers would be more open to local SharePoint/O365 experts which helps the local community just as much as people flying in and just SPS hopping. Other people have would really appreciate the opportunity. Also be open to more advanced topics. Every SPS is the same fluff every year. Let’s start thinking outside the box on these presentations.
  • Most of the time i notice scheduling of some important sessions will be around the same time. The scheduling can be better.
  • No keynotes or sessions before 9am
  • Change the name of the events and focus more on Microsoft 365 offerings, including Windows and mobile topics, like a mini TechEd
  • I like the evolution to office 365 Saturdays
  • This event is ripe for disruption – the model needs to change
  • Think more about what makes each event Local. The yin and yang of common attributes across events and local uniqueness will keep new ideas and innovation flowing into these events.
  • As I’ve found that these events are mini-conferences, I am conflicted about the more intimate nature or the Saturday events (a good thing), v. another good reason for attending: networking. The conflict comes from enabling more grassroots speakers and more dialog during the smaller sessions, v. providing dedicated time/space for even more personal one-on-one/small group discussions, similar to (but less formal than) the “ask the experts” type roundtables.
  • it depends which location the european ones are good have not been to the US for SPS
  • We’ve been altering Charlotte to include all the various services related to SharePoint in some way but haven’t made a name change jump yet. We had our best attendance in CLT last year.
  • Mix it up with workshops, a hackathon, or different formats other than just 60min sessions.
  • Sometimes longer breaks, less sessions but more interaction and networking. Oxfords debate panels would be nice. SharePint MUST BE!
  • The name. “SharePoint” in its own just isn’t possible any more. You can’t talk about SharePoint without referring to Teams, Flow, PowerApps, azure storage accounts, cDNA, web roles, functions, etc.
  • It works. Sadly the events are seldom close to me.
  • you guys have always done such a great job. I really appreciate the entire day and the people who put on the SharePoint Saturday Utah group
  • I like that they are free events, but I think there can be a lot of people who register for events and are no shows. a Little deposit when booking that you get back when attending would be helpful.
  • Please make a round table with experts and fellow community members a must after SharePoint Saturday or as a last session for the event. I would love the chance to collaborate around specific admin,dev and user problems amongst community members and experts.
  • Spread the word!
  • Videotape key (not all) seminars
  • It is getting harder and harder to draw the line of O365 vs SharePoint-centric content. If you include the O365 suite there’s simply not enough Saturday to cover all the content. Expanding the schedule horizontally doesn’t scale as attendees are having to pick and choose between multiple valuable concurrent sessions.
  • I think offering them free hurts as it makes it real easy for people to stay in bed.
  • Allow for a symbolic ticket price (to be given to charity) in order to discourage noshows.
  • It should be renamed as SharePoint is no longer the focus.
  • Weekends are for family. I’d rather they were on a workday
  • The drop out rate for the UK events runs at about 50% – if we could charge a token amount (even if we refunded it on attendance) it might help
  • The name. It’s no longer about SharePoint only.
  • Yes make event some premium events like AWS host in 5 star hotels and invite only standard public who will really use this services
  • Hardest thing is to attract new speakers not always the same. Even if this means less speaking for myself

Some clear patterns here. SharePoint Saturday as a brand may be recognizeable, but many locations are switching to O365 or even M365 to stay relevant to where companies and attendees are going — and maybe it’s time for all of us to change. I’m still not a fan of moving the events to a weekday or charging attendees anything, but I know there are some locations who have or are planning to try this. Something we’re doing in Utah is organizing a business-focused pre-day event called Microsoft 365 Friday in which we’re targeting executives and managers with an abbreviated schedule of topics, sort of like a community-driven EBC (executive briefing center) event with a single track, lunch and networking. I’ll let you know how that goes in February.

What are your thoughts on this feedback? Anything missing from these lists that you’re seeing within your local community? And for my fellow SPS organizers out there, what else are you doing to stay relevant? Let us know!


Also published on Medium.

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.