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Recap: ShareGate’s fireside chat with Microsoft’s Jeff Teper on Microsoft 365 and the future of work

Recap Jefft 1

We sat down with Jeff Teper (@jeffteper), President of Collaborative Apps & Platforms at Microsoft, to gain insights on new Microsoft 365 innovations, AI, data, security, employee experience, and the changes they bring to your organization. Plus, Jeff shares his recommended IT strategies to adapt to the evolving workplace.  

The fundamental nature of how we work and collaborate is once again at a turning point.

Last time, remote work enabled by digital collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams caused the evolution of work post-pandemic. This time around, it’s breakthroughs in AI, set to enhance the capabilities of digital workspaces, that we’ve started getting used to in the past couple of years.

Both times around, Microsoft has been at the forefront of this change. With a new suite of products such as Microsoft Copilot and Viva, and new enhancements to current products announced in this year’s keynote address, the future of work seems to be just around the corner.  

To discuss this new vision and how Microsoft is laying the groundwork, Benjamin Niaulin, ShareGate’s VP of Product, sat down with Jeff Teper, Microsoft’s President of Collaborative Apps and Platforms (aka the ‘father of SharePoint’). 

We talked about the history of SharePoint and how Microsoft is once again gearing up to shape the future of work. Jeff also shared some powerful recommendations for IT teams that they can use to prepare for these coming changes and enable them in their workplace.  

Watch the full interview or keep reading for a recap of the highlights. 

Recap Jefft

SharePoint: Then and now

Before diving into AI, it’s essential to reflect on Microsoft’s history of launching powerful products that have consistently impacted how people work and collaborate. SharePoint is a great example, pivotal in enabling digital collaboration among teams.  

For those unaware, Jeff Teper has been at the center of SharePoint’s long history of innovation. Dubbed the ‘father of SharePoint,’ Jeff was instrumental in the early SharePoint stage in 1997- ‘98, with the launch of a product called Site Server, which was supposed to be a toolkit for websites.  

Jeff reflected on how they got a lot of things wrong with Site Server, so he started over by moving a portion of the team to a new group called ‘Publishing and Knowledge Management (PKM).’ The first product was code-named ‘Tahoe.’  

The idea with Tahoe was to give Office a server, do what Office did, and bring document management, collaboration, search, and portals together in an integrated suite package. The first version was shipped in 2001.

On the team side, Jeff was working on two different projects. One evolved from FrontPage, and the other evolved from Jeff’s team. Both were referred to as ‘SharePoint,’ and that’s how the name was first used. The idea was to have a collaboration-based version and then a portal version connected to it.  

While this initial idea did reasonably well for the first version, ASP.NET came out.  

The rest was history. SharePoint has amassed millions of new active users today and is one of the most popular collaboration platforms in the world. According to Jeff, almost 200 petabytes of new content are added to SharePoint monthly, and net new content is still growing.  

Jeff Teper, President at Microsoft, talks SharePoint

With this content explosion, organizations need extra help managing content and provisioning their workspaces in Microsoft 365.

ShareGate, an out-of-the-box management solution for Microsoft 365, can help you stay ahead of the mess and keep your SharePoint environment organized, secure, and optimized.

The coming tide: Microsoft 365 new innovations and impact

The key new value-addition announced across the board is undoubtedly AI and how it will shape the future of Microsoft 365.

Even with SharePoint, the integration with Copilot clearly indicates the direction Microsoft wants to take. But Jeff reminded us of something more important than simply focusing on AI, which is doubling down on the fundamentals.

“I think we have to stop and pause and reinforce our commitment to simplicity, performance, reliability across these apps that have hundreds of millions of users, Teams, OneDrive, SharePoint. People bet on them. And I’m really proud of the work that we did to make them simpler, faster, and so forth,” he said.

People use SharePoint and other Microsoft 365 tools because of strong fundamentals, such as performance, reliability, and simplicity. We depend on these tools every day. While the breakthroughs are there, it’s important to focus on improving these core functionalities and ensuring people have a great product they love to use daily. 

This is why new innovations include enhancements like Teams being twice as fast, the new SharePoint UI allowing you to build engaging sites, the new OneDrive user experience, the level of craft and polish, the simplicity in sharing, and more.  

The idea is clear, SharePoint needs to get better on a more fundamental level. Even here at ShareGate, we’ve been focusing on similar goals by adding new features that help IT manage the new SharePoint

But of course, at the end of the day, AI is the real breakthrough and what people will really look back on. Innovations such as creating new sites in SharePoint through simple prompts and managing existing ones with these new features will make everyone’s lives a lot easier.  

Jeff Teper on Microsoft’s plan for AI and the future of work


ShareGate helps IT improve their provisioning strategies with custom and dynamic templates that guide end users to create the workspaces they need, the right way, from the get-go. 

If we talk about measurable improvements to people’s productivity, their job satisfaction, the quality of their work, organization’s effectiveness—it’s going to be AI.

Jeff Teper, President at Microsoft 

A platform built on trust

According to Jeff, the key reason Microsoft has been so successful with AI and led the charge up until now is because of trust. People trust that Microsoft will build great products and that they will have a positive impact on their lives. 

Trust was what got people to move to the cloud with Microsoft, and it’s trust that will help Microsoft share this new vision of work with hundreds of millions of people using their products.  

“The trust that we’ve earned in the shift to the cloud, we want to put in the AI area,” he said.

Microsoft’s approach to the future of productivity 

The bottom line is the idea of doing more with less, addressing the unmet need to enhance employee performance, and creating great tools that enable all of this.  

It’s also creating a fluid, frictionless collaboration framework that makes working in these digital workspaces as natural as possible. Sharing documents, working in open channels, enabling synchronous and asynchronous communication, co-authoring inside and outside meetings, and so forth need to be as easy as possible.  

To enable this, Jeff highlights the importance of Microsoft Loop components and how they were instrumental in enabling all of this. Underpinned by something called the ‘fluid framework,’ the idea was to create a concept that enabled a new way of collaboration, unlike anything anyone else had done before.  

“We decided we needed to invent a new concept called Loop Components and Loop Documents, build them on SharePoint, and integrate them in Teams. And it’s taken a while for people to see it, but now the light bulb’s going on,” he said.

Jeff also emphasized a key competitive edge Microsoft has over rivals, which is offering a variety of tools that address different business needs in one package through Microsoft 365. Not only does this make it financially viable for businesses to opt for a singular package with everything they need, but it also increases the flexibility of work by making it possible for your team to do all your work in one shared space.  

“If you tried to cobble together all the things we put in Microsoft 365, you’d spend a lot more money. We want to give a common platform for how people work together better so that you can reach your full potential on how people collaborate. And that’s really where the ROI is,” he said. 

Microsoft Viva: Boosting employee experience and engagement

Jeff reminded us that the tools Microsoft was building that could enable this way of work and enhance employee performance also needed to be revamped. New value-additions to Microsoft Viva were born out of this. 

The goal is to add employee experience as a focus on top of base collaboration tools that teams are already using. By providing tools like Microsoft Viva that help shape a better work experience, organizations can take their team and individual performance to the next level.  

This also means Microsoft clearly sees an added layer of employee experience to be of significant value on top of the work processes that they’ve already gotten used to with their base collaboration tools. 

“As companies give their employees the flexibility about where they work, they’re worried about engaging those employees and the competition for talent,” he said.

Jeff’s recommendations: IT strategies to prepare for change in the workplace 

So much has been happening in the past few months. From laying out the groundwork for frictionless collaboration to Microsoft Copilot, which now seamlessly integrates with Microsoft 365.

So we asked Jeff about what organizations worldwide can do to prepare for this upcoming change. More specifically—What can IT do to help their organization transition into this new work mode?  

What can IT do to help their organization transition into this new work mode?  

Jeff’s answer comprises 3 parts:

1. Get your base platform in order

Start by getting your base platform in order. This includes: 

  • Getting everybody started with Microsoft Exchange and OneDrive. 
  • Evangelizing the use of Teams. 
  • Emphasizing the role of channels over email. 
  • Migrate your data over to the cloud if it hasn’t been done already. 

2. Write down your vision for the modern way of work 

The second thing Jeff emphasizes is for people in the organization to very simply and clearly write down how they’re going to work in a new way. Things like how many meetings are appropriate, how many documents we need to write down, how many get-togethers are enough, what’s overhead and what’s not, and so on.  

I think the right thing to do is just encourage people and every company to write down how they’re going to work, and whatever for them is a modern way.

Jeff Teper, President at Microsoft

3. Get ahead of AI

Jeff’s final advice is to stay ahead of AI and everything that’s happening in the space.  

Things are moving fast. It’s easy to fall behind and remain unaware of something that can have a consequential positive impact on your organization.  

Find people in your organization that are motivated to stay ahead of this. And then work with them to determine how AI can help the organization for the better.  

ShareGate helps take a load off your IT team so you can stay on top of your Microsoft 35 game. With ShareGate, you can quickly clean up your Microsoft 365 environment, put your controls in place following Microsoft best practices, and stay one step ahead in the modern workplace—right from the start. 

Key takeaways and the future of the modern workspace 

We had a blast talking with Jeff and getting his thoughts about how Microsoft is once again shaping the future of work. To recap, here are the key takeaways from our insightful conversation: 

  • SharePoint’s unprecedented growth reflects the tool’s ability to enable smooth collaboration and how Microsoft has enhanced this capability over time.  
  • People will remember this period by the breakthroughs in AI. But, it has been equally important for Microsoft to improve on fundamentals, like Teams becoming faster and SharePoint getting a new UI.  
  • Microsoft’s one durable differentiator has been the trust it’s been able to create with customers. This trust is going to be an important consideration when moving forward with AI and shaping the future of work.  
  • Boosting employee productivity means helping people do more with less. Innovations like Loop, Teams Premium, and Microsoft Viva are examples of what Microsoft is doing to enable this new level of productivity.  
  • How Microsoft 365 will mesh together the future of work and AI will require clear identification of business needs for organizations. Customers need an ROI to justify using the products Microsoft is building.  
  • For organizations to adapt to this changing landscape, Jeff recommends getting your base platform in order, writing down how you imagine modern work to be, and forming an internal team to stay ahead of AI.  

In 2023 and beyond, it will be important for organizations to optimize their Microsoft 365 environment to run a successful workplace. Get concrete steps to get started by joining our next fireside chat with Microsoft’s Karuana Gatimu

Jeff answers your questions

We received a lot of questions from our ShareGate users who wanted to touch base with Jeff, and we were really excited to share some of them with him.  

The most common of these are related to data privacy concerns and how jobs will be impacted. Here, we reflect on what Jeff had to say about both: 

Data privacy & AI: Jeff addresses concerns with Microsoft 365 Copilot 

Some of you wanted to know how Microsoft will ensure data privacy for organizations that will be prompting AI with all sorts of tasks. So, we asked Jeff if the data that users enter in the prompts, such as personal or company information, could be used to train the models.  

According to Jeff, the answer is no. The data people enter in the prompts will not be used to train the models. There can be instances where Microsoft and other companies partner up in a mutual agreement to help build models for specific domains. But nothing will be used without permission.  

The default is a hard no. And if we work across organizations, we will be very public and transparent about how and when we do that….people need to be very confident that we won’t use your data or your prompts to train the model, that the language model is grounded not on the public internet corpus, but it’s grounded on the data for your organization in the graph, and that grounding includes the security permissions and the policies,” he explained. 

Jeff addresses concerns with Microsoft 365 Copilot

The impact of AI on jobs 

You also wanted to know how AI would impact jobs. According to Jeff, there will be disruption.  

Many workflows will get automated. But, these will be processes that are currently ‘economic waste.’ AI will help create value and allow people to do more valuable work in the long run. There’s a reason the quote ‘unleash creativity’ was emphasized in the talk. It’s going to help people do amazing new things. 

The impact of AI on jobs

“Think about all the work, all the creativity, all the customer engagement, all the product ideation that can now happen because we’re doing some automation of some basic stuff, and that your creativity is unleashed with these tools. But getting from here to there is not trivial. And so, people in organizations, in Microsoft and governments, are going to have to invest in transforming people’s skills.”

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