SharePoint | 62 min read

Recording SharePoint and Office 365 Trends with MVPs

WRITTEN BY Benjamin Niaulin
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With 6 MVPs specializing on collaboration for SharePoint and Office 365 discuss changes and trends for the coming year. There is a lot happening, will it impact you and your organization?

Lucky enough to have been joined with 6 friends and fellow MVPs, we discussed some of the changes coming to SharePoint in general from what we can see. This originally came to me when I saw the new Groups for Office 365 arrive and stir a few thoughts for 2015. It confused me at first, wasn't sure what I was seeing and why it was heading this way, but now it may all be falling into place.

Here are the experts that helped me discuss some of these trends in SharePoint

Office 365 SharePoint MVP Panel of Experts

Here's the video transcript

Benjamin: Well, hi everyone. Good afternoon/good morning/good evening wherever you are. Thanks for joining us. Today we are going to be looking at trends in SharePoint 2015; what's new, where are things going a little bit from different perspectives. I'm really, really fortunate and lucky to have some of my friends here today with us. I do believe we are still waiting on Christian Buckley unless I haven't added from him yet, probably. We are going to be looking at all of these things and how it impacts us in the situation today.

Again, thank you for joining. We are going to be looking at all of these today. One Drive for Business Office 365, SharePoint 2013 we saw the conference being announced. There are new things coming on Office 365, changes in Yammer all the time so the idea was really to discuss this with some of my friends here and see, some of the conversations that'd be going from there. My name is Benjamin Niaulin. I work at Sharegate, a migration and management tool. This is going to be with a few other of my friends. I will let Christian, as soon as he is un-muted, to introduce himself. Christian, how are you?

Christian: I'm on un-muted. I'm good, can you hear me all right?

Benjamin: Absolutely.

Christian: My name is Christian Buckley. I'm, just very recently moved over to GTconsult where I'm the managing director for the Americas. It's a South African based consulting and management service provider that's expanded into the US. In fact we just signed our lease on our office in Bellevue, downtown and so it's a very exciting time.

Benjamin: Awesome. Thanks for joining Christian. Naomi.

Naomi: Hey guys, nice to meet you and thanks so much for being on this call. It's really exciting we get to talk about these cool things. I am Naomi Moneypenny. I am a chief technology officer at Synxi. I get to sit down at where we do machine learning and recommendation technology for SharePoint and Yammer to help you find the content and expertise you need to know about but didn't know existed. I'm broadcasting from San Francisco today, which is really cool. I'm at my client's office [inaudible 00:02:22] where I'm doing an enterprise social strategy for them. It's a cool venue too.

Awesome. Thanks for joining us Naomi. Fabian...

Good morning, good afternoon everyone. My name is Fabian Williams. I am a SharePoint architect for the Planet Technologies in the DC Metro area. I'm mainly focused on the dev side of things and happy to be here with my other friends.

Benjamin: Thanks Fabian. Michelle.

Michelle: Good morning/afternoon/evening. My name is Michelle Caldwell and I'm a director of collaboration at Avanade and as well as solution SharePoint architect. I focus in large enterprise rollouts, I have globally distributed user groups. I have also been focusing social and digital. I'm really happy to be here with my other friends and my colleague.

Ruven: Hi everyone. My name is Ruven Gotz I am also a director at Avanade. I am the practice lead for the collaboration practice across Canada where I specialize in things like SharePoint, Office 365 as well as the world of social and Yammer. Just a brief note about Avanade, Avanade is Microsoft's global partner with over 20,000 employees in 23 countries. We're owned by Microsoft and Accenture. Thanks for having me.

Thanks for joining, everyone. I really, really appreciate it. The way I saw the panel to go this afternoon was really to look at some of the questions that we've prepared. We've discussed what's going on in the market right now, how should people, whether they are coming from a developer's stand point, an IT pro, a business person or just looking in general for the future, some of the things that are happening and how it could impact them and their organization. We are going to go through some of these questions together and then towards the end...If you are an attendee here today, first thanks for coming.

What we are going to do is ask questions and at the end when we have time we'll go through some of the questions, we'll try to, we won't probably have time to go all of your questions. That's my French coming back up all the time, I can never get rid of that French accent, can I? We are going to go through all of your questions. I'm going to try to select some towards the end so that we can discuss them as well. Here we go.

SharePoint is not dead

Before we begin I want to put something very, very clear because there lots of misconceptions, lots of talk, lots of rumors so before we begin I think it's important, I saw a slide on the internet so I put, of course the credits at the bottom of this. I think it's very, very important that we say the following; SharePoint isn't dead. We'll talk about this but there will be another on premises version in 2015. This was said by Jared Spataro, Microsoft general manager. We have a large on premises install base that's important to us and we are committed to future releases of the server.

What does that mean in the long run? I don't think they know, I don't think we know of course but it's important to know that there will be another version of SharePoint on premises. However, there are definitely changes. I can see, my friends here see there is a lot of changes, a lot of things happening towards Office 365 and that's why I wanted to do this webinar. What I see, and this is a picture. You will notice there is something called Oslo, it's just, there are changes happening with the brand. This is not necessarily all true here that you see on the screen. It's just that there are changes with SharePoint itself. I think, you guys can interrupt me at anytime of course but it looks like there are definitely things happening to the brand.

SharePoint is here, SharePoint is definitely staying. We've just heard it from Jared even though he is not necessarily here but we are starting to look at developing through apps and maybe Fabian will talk about that in just a few moments, Yammer discussions and social content through One Drive for business, the office graph with the application that was called Oslo now Delve. There is a lot of things happening and we can see new brands and new products being pushed a bit next to SharePoint or using SharePoint, just under a different name. I see a lot. I saw all of these changes and I started to think what's happening in 2015 and what should we be telling our customers or we should be doing in the couple of coming months.

One thing keeps coming back up very, very often. I know I've talked about it before, I've tried to demystify it because One Drive for business is a brand. Just had a fun discussion with a friend of mine as well at a conference just, I think was it yesterday? I forget the days now, in Texas, in Dallas and we were talking about one drive for business as a brand itself and to stop looking at it as the offline synchronization tool but really as a complete new product that uses the old SharePoint my sites and the sync tool to provide a new audience with a new way to work and collaborate.

There are definitely lots of impacts around One Drive for business. I can see from the Microsoft side, them pushing it quite a bit in very different ways marketing and from looking at the last couple of blog posts from the blogs, it's often SharePoint and One Drive for business. I can often see them, one next to each other being promoted very well much the same in terms of content collaboration.

To be very honest with you, the main reason why I wanted to do this so quickly is this thing that came up. This is what really made me want to do this entire panel and talk with my friends to see well, what should we be doing now because when Groups got release for Office 365... If you are not familiar with Groups for Office 365, this brand new. We are talking maybe two, three, four weeks, they have announced it at the last SharePoint conference in March, if I'm not mistaken in Vegas.

Essentially what we can see is from our Outlook we'll be able to create, we are really high level here but groups. Inside of these groups we will be able to have conversations. Not Yammer conversations yet, just exchange or just conversations directly into this group. We'll be able to have a calendar which we could have from this drop down menu, an Outlook calendar and of course we can manage or add files and work with them as a group.

When I saw this, I'll be very honest, I got very, very confused. How was this going to work because we have team sites and this is a way of a team to work on documents and exchange conversations with new speed and have a team calendar and then I see groups for Office 365 and of course we have members, we have a calendar we have files, we have conversations. All of these together definitely got me confused and this is why we are here today because I imagined many others, I just got pinged today, once again in the Office 365 IT pro network Yammer hosted by Microsoft now with over 20,000 members conversating in there, if that is even an English word. I just got pinged again today and confusion around groups for Office 365.

To my friends I have a question; what do you think of Office 365's new groups' feature and basically how do you think it will impact future, I put quotation because I hate the word collaboration projects because first we have to look for a requirement, a need, right Michelle? But what do you think of this office 365 group feature and what is the impact you think it will have? Will we still be having team sites? What do think? Naomi, what do you think?

Naomi: Thanks Ben, I have a lot of thoughts but let me preference them first with understanding a little bit in terms of how things are being rolled out with the new Office 365 schedule. I think it's something that we are seeing a big transition to generally enterprising products. We've heard a lot about consumerization of IT. I think one of the effects of that is that no longer are we looking for enterprise solution that's at 80/20 of the need. So 80% of the need would be traditional IT department would go out and source the package that the vast majority of the users in their enterprise and then that will be the thing that's implemented and sucks if you're part of the 20% but so be it. I think that consumerization of that is going to be more of a service model now where we are seeing there is different kinds of tools.

Whether you use link, whether you use Outlook, whether you use Yammer, whether you use other capabilities on your desktop, there is lots of different tools that you get to pick. This gets a lot harder for you as the user. You have to figure out what is the right approach for you, how do you like to work and what kind of tools do you want to use when. But fundamentally it's more about the decisions just like you do in the consumer world versus what it is that you do in your enterprise world where you are used to getting the tool rolled to you.

Saying that, we've seen a lot of things come out of the Office 365 group. We've seen the increase cadence of new technology being rolled out and I think it has led to a little bit of imbalancing too. I think there is some companies who are seeing all these new features and then there are other companies that don't have any of them. It's a bit of a journey there. I think the groups feature is one of those features where it's a new feature that came out. It's a very exciting feature. I think it's great that they think it is. I think the overall implementation from a strategy perspective is there but the actual how things will co-exist inside of the enterprise is not quite well defined yet.

I think that makes a little more complexity from an end user perspective. End users are like, there is this group thing and then there is Yammer but we've already invested in Yammer but we haven't started this roll with Yammer, can we just go through it to groups. But know that both paths will go the same place eventually.

Christian: Hey Ben, I think it's also important for people to not get hung up on the past technologies. When we talk about some of these features, especially when you talk about as if you talking about one drive for business, there is a lot of people that are like, "Oh well. This is like the old group stuff. The whole technology it's kind of the my sites this." I know in our heads we are trying to translate these things that are coming out compared to the things that we know. I think Naomi makes a great point in that you have to focus on what this means around the needs of your business first and even set aside the technology and think, "How does my team need to work?"

The way that I look at the groups technology it's about putting that social interaction, that kind of close team collaboration into the main work streams where we are getting work done; exchange, email is still a major workload for most organizations. We've not moved away from using that email model so if we can make exchange in Outlook more collaborative then it's going to have a positive benefit on how the team works.

Not every team is going to use all of those features within that work stream, within that work load however, the story gets much easier. But I think the grand vision is that whether you are collaborating on a Word doc or a PowerPoint or having a conversation around your vendor review that's happening in exchange or somebody has shared content in a secure area in SharePoint or it's a broader organizational conversation within Yammer, you are going to have similar social interactions that are happening within each of those workload areas.

Benjamin: I think it's interesting if I can interrupt you because there was a, I forget exactly who said it, I'm not sure if it was Jared or Jeff, but I talked about it recently I have mentioned it again in the Yammer question earlier today when somebody was confused about groups for Office 365. You bring a great point, the thing is essentially if I can rephrase it, it's not an exact quote but I think it said something like if in three years from now, this was at SPC 14, SharePoint Conference 2014, three years from now if you still care what technology you are using, Exchange or Yammer then we have failed. The idea I think, is not care about what tool you are using. Whether it's Yammer conversations or having a group conversation or document conversation that it can be seen from anywhere. I think that was a good point there.

Ruven: Benjamin, I agree. I think we are in a transitionary phase which can be quite painful for a lot of us and for a lot of users. I think the direction that we are seeing Microsoft had is one that's quite brilliant. When Microsoft bought Yammer and you can upload documents to Yammer but I also have SharePoint and I can manage my documents in SharePoint, what I'm I going to do about the fact that I have no great governance in SharePoint and almost no governance about documents in Yammer and I'm fragmenting locations of storage. It's very painful for all of us and people at Microsoft, what are you doing? What are you thinking?

But some of the thinking we are seeing from Microsoft, and I'm just going to finish with this because it's reiterating what others have said, is that it's going to be a one stop shop. It's going to be what I've been calling fortunist collaboration. SharePoint is a great tool but truthfully it's a little bit clunky for collaboration. I don't see social as being about social as much as it is about improved collaboration.

I think that we are seeing all of these things; conversations around documents, emails around groups and all these things moving towards, not too far in the future, moving towards that all in one solution where you just know that your documents are managed by SharePoint-like capabilities and your discussion is managed by Yammer-like capabilities.

Benjamin: That's exactly where I think that's where a lot of things are changing. This is kind of what I was saying. It's happening quickly. I think we were talking about that with Naomi, for a lot of us it's we are in IT, we are in this every single day so we are following Microsoft but for an organization it's all of a sudden there is group features, they just finished team sites. There is definitely a period where we have to look at all of these and choose what's obviously is going to be right for our organization first.

I think that's the great opportunity Ben really for looking at the IT pro community. There has been a lot of talk about the change of role of IT pros and how we can fit in the new cloud world. I think a lot of that is really being able to filter what is necessary for organizations to understand here is the case and exchange and then picked up and it's accelerated dramatically over the last few years in terms of the features and things that are being rolled out. That puts even more onus on the folks who actually understand the technology and can then translate those interests into business needs and business requirements and find the right solutions for those problems.

This is Michelle and this is a great segue. As you all know me this is one of my sole boxes around requirements and understanding what the business thing really is. I do think that these changes are really going to force that mindset in IT but there is already existing an organization today. No longer can we take SharePoint out looking to solve problems. We really need to be looking at the full toolkit that the platform in Office 365 are going to be offering and determine what's the best tools from that toolkit to solve the business problem.

Benjamin: That's very, I totally agree with you, it's very often, almost a joke now today... I have a slide I use very, very often and it's tell me what SharePoint can do and then I will tell you what I need or what will do. That just can't work, that never works. I 100% agree with you and I like what I'm seeing in Office 365. It's just time to adapt to be able to choose the right solution for the need that we have of course.

But that brings me actually to the next question because Groups is for Office 365. What does that mean? Does that mean I have to or should go to Office 365? Should I use hybrid and if I do, because hybrid is a very, still vague for many people... what exactly is hybrid or what does it mean for us? Should I go to Office 365 first? I guess that would be the first question. Then if I choose to use a hybrid model where we have some on premises and we use Office 365 for other scenarios or One Drive for business or for private sites collections because it would cost us less and so on, what is the impact? What is hybrid and does it actually work? What are the limitations if you know any?

Christian: Okay, one, two, three...

It depends.

I'll chime in on that one. It really depends and it all depends on where you are at a particular place within your business lifecycle right now. I do a lot of hybrid, I speak about it as well, I'm a firm believer in it. I believe hybrid can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. It doesn't have to be that you are migrating from point A to point B. You can actually have a hybrid situation where you're maintaining your on premises and you're just extending that to the, pieces of your workload to the cloud. I think eventually all of us are going to be in piece of hybrid anyway.

It goes back to the group question and what you were talking about on the way things are shifting. What I would like to call out and the reason I believe hybrid has a place in here as well is because the way we work is completely changing. We are becoming more consumer-based. By consumer-based I mean we are looking towards the end user. The end user may be your user that is behind a cubicle at work. Because that person, whether it's bring your own device policy or whether or not you are at home and you are tele-working, we are moving towards a place where you don't just work in a building in an office somewhere. You are always working. You choose when you want to have some impact, things are coming at you at lightning speed.

We are delighted to have that cohesive experience where you are, like I'm Fabian at work but I'm also the same Fabian when I get at home. I don't have to remember a new log on, a new password to get access to resources and even when you are using that on premises, Word Outlook and so on and so forth, you have the ability now whether you're using Office 365 or not, to save things in different locations.

This is an extension of having your information in one place wherever you are and having the same log on or the same identity wherever you are. When you think about hybrid, the point here is you just want to have your users have a seamless experience no matter where they are. Identity certainly is key and it's probably one of the trickiest things to at hybrid because managing that user experience is going to be the make or break of whether or not people adopt it and another don't adopt it. That's my input.

Benjamin: But how is from your experience, if I can continue with that, what is your experience with that hybrid experience? Is it, because for example, not too technical but in the suite bar of SharePoint or Office 365, we can click on the sites for example, then they will show as an end user, it will show me all of the SharePoint sites that I'm working on, a member of, I have access to anyway. Is that experience seamless when I connect the two when I'm using my identity? How does that, is there other, if this works, is there things that we should know about complete experience before we start looking at going to Office 365 or the hybrid model?

Fabian: Absolutely. I didn't want to take up the entire conversation, I'll pick it up from where I left off, that's a good segue into this. One thing I will tell you is that you can have the experience, you can identify that you've shifted from on premises online or you can have it totally seamless. The way that you manage is going to be again, key to identity because if you have a federated user, and what I mean by a federated user is the user that is managed where they have a log on that is whether they are in a cloud or they are on premises they are the same person and it's usually typically managed through [inaudible 00:25:09] then by employing those technologies then it's going to be very seamless. You won't even know that you've left an environment because in essence you have single sign offs.

From a usability standpoint, let's say you want to do a search because one of the workloads from hybrid and definitely search and of course there is DCS and there is do it and there is others but you can use consumer service applications that can return a search result in [inaudible 00:25:37] on premises and online and unless you put the results specs and boxes around it you will never know, unless you hover over the link to see that you are moving from one phase to the next.

It's very harmonious, it depends on whether you want to have the experience delineated so that you can now lift the barrier off on premises or if you want to have it just very fluid.

This is Christian. I was at an event yesterday at Microsoft down in Bellevue. It was an Office 365 event and we had a couple of the folks from Nationwide Insurance that were out and they shared some of what they have done. I think most people were probably seeing videos, the customer evidence around what they did and their passion for Yammer. But it was a good update for me to see what they've done with their very much hybrid platform integrating SharePoint and Yammer and other pieces.

I think this is where it falls fully to answer the question of how well this hybrid worked, that it still depends on what you are trying to accomplish and what hybrid means to you because they presented a very beautiful polished solution. But they were also very upfront about the pieces that were out of the box and where they went and even employed some open source components to get to the end state that they were looking for. There is certainly, there is a lot of things you can do if you are trying to maintain your team sites and large portions of data and pieces of your organization that have customizations that are on-prem and are just not ready to move over to that new environment.

I think it's, for the majority of organizations, I think it's much simpler than that. Maybe everyone disagrees with me but my experience doing migrations with SharePoint goes back to 2005-2006. I started working with a number of organizations that were large Lotus Notes organizations and finding out if you have ever done a Lotus Notes migration into SharePoint you know there is really no such thing as a lotus notes migration into SharePoint. It's just a messy thing. What we found out is very similar to what Jared, I have dropped his name again, shared WPC last year about his experience with open texts.

The same thing where you set up the new environment, in this case Office 365 and you maintain the whole system it might have some light weight integrations that you have somewhere blended your search experience, a single sign on experience but for all intent and purposes two separate systems. When people come forward and say I want to create a new team site, I need to do this work activity, you ask that question; can it be done? Does it need to happen with the old work flow and the complexity of the old system because of those integrations and customizations? Or can you go and do it within the new environment?

What you have is slowly the new displaces the old and there is this natural user-driven migration over to the new platform and so a lot of the technical complexities are trying to move to that new system and make it all this blended hybrid system. Some of those things start to fall away as people self-select to move to the new platform. That's not the answer for everybody but that is, it's something that organizations are really starting to stop and consider, do we really need to move all of this content in the way that we have loaded into SharePoint today? Do we need to provide a bridge between old and new or can we just start making the switch? That's why, one of the reasons why One Drive for business is growing so rapidly because it's helping with this user-driven self migration over to the new platform.

Ruven: This is Ruven and I would a just like to agree with what Christian said and the others as well. But I don't want to paint it too simple. If you are doing hybrid, you are going to encounter complexity. Now, you have to look at what your business case is and as Christian talked about, what are you really moving, what are you keeping, but ultimately a pure on-premises solution or a pure 365 solution is going to be simpler than a hybrid. There's going to be bunch of technology issues that you need to resolve with your infrastructure and also with change management training and adjusting people's expectations. So don't go in thinking it's going to be just super simple. It's not yet, I think it will get better, but I think it's not yet that simple and you have to be a little bit cautious when you are thinking about your hybrid scenarios.

That's a good point. Before Fabian and Naomi I know you guys have... I just want to add one thing for the user experiences. The interface for Office and SharePoint 365 is completely different than what we have on-premises. So I think this is like you said, change-management and making sure people know what's going on, because yes, it's all hyperlinks to them so whether they click on a hyperlink that brings them to on-premises or they click on a hyperlink that brings them to Office 365 it doesn't matter to them at all as long as it helps them solve a problem, or work better but there is definitely a complete interface change I think so it's something to take into account when we're doing it. Fabian, I'll let you continue, sorry about that.

Fabian: Right, and then we'll give Naomi and the rest a chance as well. The picture that I'm trying to paint in this as well, and I hear the other points of view and the perspectives, but I think you're looking at it from an organizational standpoint. Where I would always go back to is that in the end your customers are going to be right, and if you don't believe that they are going to be someone else's customers. Whether your employees, are they going to say, "You know, what can't keep working for this company because I'm not growing, because when I come out of college and we've been using all these new things and now you're putting me back here?"

What are the customers that you're actually selling to and doing business with? The point that I'm trying to make and emphasize, let's say we take the word hybrid in the traditional concept of how Microsoft is doing it, look at this prospect as well. You can create an app today that can be a provider of users app, you can have it in your own on-premises infrastructure to do authentication and then service with something to SharePoint online. That in itself is somewhat of a hybrid.

You can have so many mix and matches of use whether its on-premises resource in terms of the context, or just the idea of getting to achieve something and there's no boundaries anymore. That's the reason why in the end everyone is starting to move in some parts of hybrid and with the locks they have in place now with Azure to make things so simple it's a blended area. So I will let others to continue because I can pick this conversation back when we talk about apps, but hybrid, trust me, it's here, it's not going to go away, and one way or the other you are going to be using it.

Michelle: I think that's a great point Fabian because I think everybody is going to do hybrid, right? I think, at some point. I think all of those systems regardless of what we are doing, where we are hosting them eventually go to that hybrid model.

Naomi: Okay. Just a couple of things I wanted to bring out, because I've been working with some very large enterprises going hybrid for a number of different reasons and just a few things I want to call out for people on the phone, things to consider. The support surrounding your on-prem environment, versus your cloud environment is going to work very different so I'd encourage you to do your due diligence in your research. If you are going to go hybrid, you are going to be in parallel universes for a while. If you're going for a long term you have to look at how that support system is going to work together so that your end users and your help desk aren't impacted negatively.

We talked a little bit earlier about the hybrid search experience. I personally feel like it has a ways to go from the usability perspective. Yes, you can see both sets and results in the panel from both environments but to an end user who is used to on-prem enterprise search results without the hybrid integration they're expecting those things to be ranked against as a whole and in the hybrid search results you don't get that, right? You get your on prem results which might be ranked accordingly and then your hybrid results separately in a separate section on the search results page.

I think there's work being done in that respect and those things will become more seamless over time but you have to make sure you are educating your users about how that experience is going to work for them. Proposition, because of a lot of time's cost, is super cheap, but it's our jobs as technology professionals to make sure they understand the impact of that desire and that the interim might cost them more to get there than they might realize.

So just a couple of things to think about, food for thought. I don't want to paint a stormy picture, which is what some folks go in there, but the journey can be a little rocky so do your research and be prepared.

So to continue, because that was quite the same. I mean between the same things, internal discussions of Office 365 hybrid, so I think there's going to be a lot of talk for them to come to the air as Office 365 brings more and more features. Again, it's not about the features, but sometimes like groups for Office 365, like One Drive for business as mentioned earlier they are driven by the user sometimes. It's things that we need to be able to look at and if we do choose to go and use these parts of the toolkit to help and solve some of the things or challenges that we have, well then it's to be able to bring them into the hybrid scenario and use our features, our log-ins to be able to log in into both.

And so then for the next question, and again it's still related to a bit of the groups, but they made a big deal about Yammer. I think we've discussed it a bit through the previous questions but, what do we actually need, or is there any other form of enterprise social as well? For that matter, what should we be doing? There's groups from Office 365 that's bringing conversations and I think my question came essentially from a panel that I attended, SPTechCon, and I said that weirdly for whatever reason again with the French accent coming back up, but what are we going to do when we already have team sites deployed or in the middle of doing this and we've just finished?

A question came from a friend of ours and she said, "I've just finished rolling out Yammer internally and we've got Groups, and we're in office 365 so now we've got Office 365 groups that are going to essentially create or so they've said, it's not sure yet, going to create Yammer groups at the same time to bring the conversations back in. What do we do right now? If we are starting to launch our Yammer or launch our Office 365 and our Team sites, what should we do because it is confusing?" Looks like Christian has an opinion.

Christian: Just use Yammer. This came up again yesterday, there was a lot of conversation around this and just all jokes aside, I think we have all felt the huge pressure from Microsoft on adopting Yammer. Now, I'll tell you, I'm a huge fan and so I use it on a daily basis. I'm in there in a dozen different places, having different conversations with community members, with partners, with my internal team and it's fantastic for that. Again I don't look at it as, "Oh should we use Yammer or as these new features are coming out in the next version of SharePoint and Office 365 today," as Yammer or these other features there are different uses for that.

My team may outgrow some of the uses for this external networks, where we would be using more of the embedded Yammer experience within Office 365, and then we may go six months where we are using the in-line social experience in the platform, and suddenly there's a need for an external network to go out for a specific purpose or to grow community and we'll create another external Yammer group. So, I look at it as just more tools in the tool belt that are being the refined and improved for the overall Office 365 platform, but it has its purpose inside and outside of Office 365.

Ruven: This is Ruven. Just a couple of comments. I think that one of the question marks that I hear a lot when I talk about Yammer is people say, "I don't have time for Yammer. It's just tough enough keeping on top of email." And they think that Yammer is another source to keep on top of. I treat Yammer and other social tools, things like Twitter, differently. I don't see Yammer within my organization and we have a large number of Yammer users on the daily basis. I don't see Yammer as a thing like email, something I must catch up with, something I need to at least look at if not respond to each item.

Yammer to me, is something, when I've got a second I can dip in, see if there's anything relevant to me, respond where possible and because it works pretty well on portable devices and on your mobile, when I'm standing in line at Costco, I'm checking the Yammer feed for a few seconds, see if there's anything new or interesting. I don't worry about catching up with everything that I might have missed on Yammer. If it's something urgent, that I really need to see, someone will either tag my name in it, or forward it to me, or send me an email about it, and I don't worry about actually getting on top of it.

Part of the problem is that it is impossible to stay on top of everything that is hitting you. You do not have the bandwidth. It's not a matter of however you manage it. It's impossible. There's too many things coming from too many different places so you need to learn to triage that. You know you've got to look at your email. Yammer has useful things, places where you can contribute back, dip in when you can. One last comment there are many use cases for Yammer but I think the facilitation of collaboration and the reduction of e-mail are the ones where I really think there's a big win.

Michelle: I agree for that reason, I see to a reduction of email and also reducing meetings and also making meetings more productive as some of the most common scenarios, really. Because some people you may be getting used to using Enterprise Social and starting to use Yammer, you may want to have that toe in the water kind of approach. But for organizations like our own we've been using Yammer internally for four years and everything we do at the company is on Yammer. We have no internal email anymore because of it. Now during this year our campaign has been really to run all meetings so there will be no meetings without Yammer in our company. Just from the agenda, correlation and putting people together as well as taking notes and making notes transparent across the organization to all the people who can possibly benefit.

So, I think that there are some key use cases that can be enabled for any part of an organization. I'm really looking at the different ways to be productive. I think that message gets a lot stronger when we look at the whole suite of the 365, both in terms of SharePoint as well as the productivity tools. When we see these new features like document conversation that allow us to do inline social, it really helps to take away the barrier of I have to go to some other destination site and I have to go check another place, in terms of, I have that document right in front of me, the thing that I'm working on and I have that deliverable but then on the side I have that conversation from Yammer so I can check in with my colleagues see what they think of my update, those kinds of things.

Those scenarios I think, have really worked for the next generation of how we are going to do productive work, and really enable different use cases for different scenarios.

Benjamin: Thank you. I'm going to move on to the next one because there's definitely a lot. I keep hearing Office 365 today. Of course a lot of the changes we are seeing there are coming from Office 365 so what about all the on-premises stuff? We said there's a new version coming out in 2015, but what does that mean for those that do not have Office 365, or does that mean that they should get prepared to go, how do they get prepared if they should, or? What do you think about all this? Can we ignore Office 365 right now?

Well, I think if you are in SharePoint you are on the call you are interested in Office 365. Even if you were running SharePoint completely on-premises and don't have plans to change, you should definitely be looking at Office 365 because it will always be running the newest version of SharePoint. We are getting away from sort of the release cycle of SharePoint 2015 or 2017 or whatever the next versions will be and you are able to see some of those features there. Looking at maybe there are some workloads like moving e-mail, I think a lot of people are really familiar with that and are happy to move that kind of stuff to Office 365, but just for checking out the new features and things rolling out, you should have at least an instance of Office 365 which you can get on for example, and also at least check out the new version of SharePoint and the linear code that's running there.

Benjamin: Any other ideas? So basically we should definitely if we are all here, and if we are all working at SharePoint then we need to be looking at Office 365. Is that what I'm saying? Yes, that's what I'm saying.

Christian: In the future you do need to look at that. However, I'm sorry I take a little more pragmatic approach to this I'm understanding that a lot of organizations that have made heavy investments in their existing SharePoint platforms. I always tell customers the same thing. I know that Microsoft sales hates this kind of talk but if the system you have deployed is meeting your requirements today, you don't need to move. If it's not meeting your requirements today then you need to start looking at Office 365 and the future there. There is going to be time, we talked about this, there is at least a next version that's coming out.

I believe there is at least another on-prem version behind two to three years behind that. On-prem is not going away so you have options you don't need to rush and hit that panic button around this but you do need to think about, it's a great time to reflect and look at what are we really trying to do with this system and why would we not move these assets out into the cloud and start making a plan for that because that is the future.

Ruven: One of the questions here, and a couple of people posted this in the questions in the chat window. People are saying why is there so much emphasis on 365? We are in a business that is not going to move and we've seen many others that are not going move. I can tell you as a consultant who speaks to a lot of customers, we are quite shocked by the volume of people that are actively moving or considering moving to the cloud whether Office 365, which is by far the most common or other platforms.

It's been an interesting surprise that after so much backlash after the last couple of SharePoint conferences where we heard people saying the emphasis by Microsoft is too heavy on the cloud, too many customers aren't going to be moving now or any time in the future. Even some of our largest most conservative clients that you would think would be the very last to consider it are amongst some of the real movers in that direction. I think it's driven by simplicity and cost and some good answers that Microsoft has been able to give around security and stuff.

It's really happening in a big way out there but that's not to discount the fact that there are certain organizations for their own particular reasons or regulatory reasons or there are quite a number of them that aren't going to move that way. I think Microsoft is not forgetting about that group of customers. They know that they'll lose them to something else if they can't support them and Microsoft is working hard to ensure that.

Just addressing one quick question that I spotted, someone said the next version of SharePoint is going to be a cut down version of SharePoint online. I think that's not the right way to say it. There are certain elements of SharePoint online that simply can't run on-prem, they are purely cloud-based so those elements won't... to take the hugest example, you have Yammer integrated in certain ways and more so into SharePoint online, you are not going to see that Yammer on-prem move to the next version of SharePoint. I don't see that description of a cut down version as being correct.

Benjamin: Thank you Ruven. I definitely agree. There's a lot of changes. Most of them are looking to be in Office 365 and that brings me again to the next, and Christian you said exactly my words for the next slide. How would you describe the future of SharePoint for our organization if I'm working in an organization? What is the future of SharePoint? They keep saying work like a network, what does that exactly mean? We've answered that a little bit already meaning Office 365 whether we like it or not, we want to be going to Office 365 or we just can't or won't right at this moment. But as Ruven said a couple of years ago many of our customers were saying the exact same thing and then after a while especially today with the security certificates that Microsoft was able to get that many companies won't ever be able to get for themselves.

On top of the no migration, no servers to take care of and of course all of the changes happening a lot of people and... I think the main driver has been, for even, we have an insurance company, we have huge companies going into Office 365 and it's all about the cost. At the end of the day even if IT didn't like it at first, when it looks like it is going to be saving a lot of money for the organization and it is secure and certified by Microsoft, it's almost a no-brainer.

I'm seeing more and more of the same people that said they would not be going there anyway. I guess my question though we may have answered a bit. How would you describe the future of SharePoint for anyone's or organization looking from the perspective of the people that we have here today in this panel, what should they be looking at for next year? What is working like in network exactly? Should they be continuing to build their teams sites, should they be continuing to build custom solutions for their organizations or should they wait? What's the plan here for the coming 2015?

Christian: I think first and foremost just to answer the second half of that, continue building that, it's like now more than ever it is critical that you are building solutions within the SharePoint framework and thinking specifically if you are going to go build customizations about how this will fit into that the app model and into that where you've decoupled the services from the full trust code solutions, to rebuilding those.

We architect, you change the way that you are building those customizations, if you are building customizations. Your organization may be saying we have no current plans to move to the cloud and I think what the future is, is that there will be aspects of that that aren't going to be moved to the cloud sooner or later and so the smart teams are in and architecting new builds with that future in mind.

For the first half of the question I will let others answer but I mean it's another, it depends on what investments you've made to date, what plans are of what working like and what the culture of the organization is and how much of that Microsoft work like a network of the future of SharePoint vision, what that looks like in the organization just can be very different depending on what you are trying to do.

Naomi: I think you've made great point Christian there, I really do. Just on the working like a network sort of aspect, I want explain just a little bit. It's really about understanding how information flows inside of an organization and understanding that as a company if we want to be more agile we have to me more connected as an organization. That agility comes from being able to transmit information very quickly to the points and resources that need it.

Traditionally a lot of our organizations have been built on hierarchies and understanding going up and down the hierarchy takes a long time. It's a good thing from a command of control perspective so it works very well in the military but really when you are trying to make decisions and do it responsibly in terms of understanding what customer needs are or how perhaps new input data you have from competitor intelligence or suppliers and understanding how information flows inside of your organization, working like a network is really about how do I get the interoperability between all the people in the organization who would need that data and when they need it.

If we think about that it's really taking that to the next level. It's really about breaking down the boundaries between the different kinds of applications that we are working with. I think we see that in terms of productivity tools. We have new tools coming out like Sway which is really going to break down the barrier what is PowerPoint, what is Word, it doesn't really matter anymore it's a new altering experience. I think we see that between SharePoint and between Yammer and between One Drive for Business.

In SharePoint we now have the my sight has really replace it with One Drive for Business and so we are taking that to the next level in terms of breaking down the artificial boundaries that we have between applications so that people have seamless access to the content in the context of when they need it.

Benjamin: I completely agree. I mean there is a lot of changes and we are seeing them and I think bringing up Sway is a perfect example. There is those barriers breaking down and goes back to the what would the quote that I tried to quote which is if you still care if you are using Exchange or Yammer within the next three years then we failed. That brings the same exact point no matter what tools we are talking about. We are already, we just hit the time so I want to make sure we get that last question in.

I'm going to jump to the developers. This is especially for my friend Fabian here who is able to join us after another webinar. How should we look at developing in the future for SharePoint? We have mentioned the bit to keep office 365 in mind but right now it feels, I'm not a developer of course, but I'm hearing tons of things. I'm hearing do apps, don't do apps, farm solutions, client side optic model, JavaScript, now there is this Office graph. What should we be doing? And even if I'm not a developer, what should I be telling my team to focus on for the 2015 that is coming?

Fabian: I don't think there is, I wouldn't want to disrupt anything that you are doing right now. There is a lot of fear and confusion and rumors out there about what to do and what not to do. I think in the view of point everyone here like Ruven, Christian and Michelle on this note I will definitely agree. If you are doing something now that works for your company there is no need to change it. A lot of the things that people are more fearful about farm solutions and the client side object model and sandbox solutions, some of those items are deprecated. That doesn't mean that they are done, you should walk from it, it just means from a support standpoint, don't build too far into the future with it. And even declarative on sandbox solution is still supportive.

If you are building and you have these items in place already and you put investment leave them be if they are working. The one thing I will say is if you are doing something new with an eye towards the future you should obviously consider apps. When the app model came out they had of course everyone going to the wayside. That's only because the advent of Azure, it was a subject of Azure, and Azure has been so much about that you can just jump to Azure and still get what all those apps give you. In the same vein as Azure evolves now provider  apps are actually going to be easier to create and provide you much more flexibility than even SharePoint hosted apps.

I tell my customers all the time if you're building solutions, we're building apps, if we're building apps we're not going to look at SharePoint wholesale, we're going to look at because that will build into the future. That said, you're going to require a certain level of skill sets and until we get to that sweet spot, it is going to be very hard to do. I think the trick is in identifying but it is the way of the future. I would say, don't change what you're doing but if you're building something new look towards apps and look towards the provider hosted apps.

Benjamin: Actually thank you very, very much Fabian. It is out of time so to say thank you to all of the panelists here and to say obviously good-bye. Of course we didn't have time to go through all of the questions so what I am going to do is this was recorded, I'll make sure to be posting it as soon as possible, hopefully tomorrow. I'll also have all the questions that everyone has posted and try to get some answers, ask the community and try to post it at the same time on that very same blog post.

Before we go to thank each, every panelist or to go on our merry way if we can say it like that, before you go would you have one advice to give for 2015? Again just remind us who you are, who you work for and then the advice that you would have for 2015 and then again, thank you everyone for joining us and attending. I for sure will stick around afterwards to see if there are some questions that I can answer. I really, really appreciate your time. I know everyone is extremely busy.

Ruven I know you have to go so I'll start with you.

Ruven: Ruven Gotz from Avanade. The final bit of advice, I noticed there were some questions specifically about SharePoint 2015. Some people were saying what is next with SharePoint? If you want to see what's next with the on premises version of SharePoint keep your eye on Office 365. What you're seeing evolve in 365 is what you're going to see come in 2015 for the most part. And investigate the cloud, that's what I would say, just to find out how it works and what's up.

Benjamin: Thank you very much Ruven.

Fabian: This is Fabian. One advice that I'd give for 2015, obviously I'm going to plug, going to the Ignite conference in Chicago but that's that. If you look at that and just see what Microsoft is doing in terms of just changing that conference or the way it's even run or organized that gives you an idea of how you [inaudible 00:58:56] and about how you're doing business as well. That should be my advice.

Benjamin: Thank you Fabian. Michelle if you're still here, I think you muted yourself.

Michelle: Yeah I am. One bit I would talk about what Ruven and Fabian have said as we look at the trends that Microsoft is setting around the cloud and what's coming from potentially, look at the conference and they way they're organizing those services now and use them as a queue for yourself as these services start to merge and interchange with one another more seamlessly. Look at your internal support organization because you may have some work to do there to better prepare yourself to support these new capabilities and tools as you roll these out to your users. No more will users say, "I have to talk to the mail team or the SharePoint team and the app dev team," because it's all then in the integrated. Look at your internal support and start comparing yourself for that transition.

Benjamin: Thank you very much Michelle. Naomi?

Naomi: I'm Naomi Moneypenny from ManyWorld and check us out at I guess my parting advice is really to look more at these business requirements. The reason I say that is because never in the history of technology and another sweeping grandeur and statements like that has there been so much opportunity for information technology to add value to your business. This is not about keeping the lights on type infrastructure, this is about thinking about how you can deliver a new functionality and feature into your business features to create solutions that they never could dream of before.

You can do that even more with collaboration but the world has become a very small place and so collaboration with customers and suppliers is almost as important as a collaboration going on inside of your own organization. Thinking about how we can empower those kinds of scenarios, learn from customers, learn from suppliers, learn from partners and really have a demand chain focus to your thinking.

As an IT professional it's really about understanding what kinds of things we can do with these new functionalities and toolsets. The business people don't have time to understand that kind of stuff so we have to think as IT professionals the end is on us to understand these kinds of functionalities and then be able to show the business the art of the possible. If we can help them understand the art of the possible you can show them how IT really contributes to the business and in fact can actually mean growth engine for the business.

Benjamin: Thank you very much Naomi and thank you for coming again. Just a little quick shout out, Naomi works for Synxi as she mentioned but it uses machine learning. I won't pretend that I know that much about it but I think that's going to be another big, big topic this year with delve, with office graph and the cool things that they're doing there at Synxi to be able to provide information without having to go and look for it or find it. Thank you Naomi for coming. Christian?

I thought I was getting dissed there at the end but Christian Buckley with GTConsult. If you're looking help in managing your SharePoint farms please take a look at our website. My advice, I think just point out there what you just said about these new features out there, so much of what Microsoft is focused on is improving that end user experience and focusing on productivity. I think we are going into the golden age of productivity with the solutions. As you're constructing it's no longer about just providing this shell, this collaboration platform on which people will figure things out, you very much need to look at what is that end to end user experience and how does that experience move our business forward. How is the business getting value? Then you'll get more value for your business if your end users are in and being productive. So many of the features things are tied into that and user productivity; it's just an exciting time.

Thanks Christian, and again, thanks for joining us. Again, Christian from GTConsult and America's now leading new practice. I'm very, very happy to have you join us today. I'm going to stick around to answer some of your questions. I thank you, I can't thank everyone enough, the panelists and you for taking the time out of your day to come and see this and discuss. Hopefully we can continue the discussions wherever on Yammer, on the Office 365 IT pro network or just ping us on Twitter. We'll be more than happy to continue the conversation.

Again, thank you everyone for joining us today and have an awesome day.