The 2012 Microsoft SharePoint Conference kicked off yesterday at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The theme this year is "Share More, Do More;" in this blog over the nexts few days I'll share a few highlights from each day.
My taxi ride from the airport was a microcosm of the high-caliber attendees of this conference - I shared a van with a SharePoint Product Manager from Microsoft as well as folks from Deloitte, Avanade, and Axceler. Naturally, the ride ended up being sponsored by Axceler (thanks Christian!). I then went to the opening reception from 6-9 pm, and afterwards to a small "ShareSalon" organized by Ruven Gotz and Erica Toelle. Here are my takeaways from today:
1. A Help / Training tool for SharePoint: At the ShareSalon, Sue Hanley and others were strongly recommending Asif Rehmani's VisualSP, a ribbon-based, context-senstitive, on-demand Help feature, that can promote adoption and user satisfaction. These experts have seen how effective it can be with their clients and I'm looking forward to trying it out.
2. A new SharePoint consultancy focused solely on the content experience side of SharePoint: Michal Pisarek and a few others have founded Dynamic Owl, a consulting firm focusing on strategy, business analysis, information architecture, and governance for SharePoint. The fact that a firm of this nature can exist (and thrive) now is one more indicator of the shift toward a more business-aligned, user-oriented approach to this platform (the approach I call Content Experience).
3. The economic flip side of the conference: I just wanted to note that, as the folks from the SharePoint community were socializing at the expo reception last night, many talking about how much business they have (or are trying to get), I spoke to quite a few people from the convention center who were working the reception as waitstaff, bartenders, security, etc. - and the overwhelming theme was the lack of work in Vegas. I don't mean that anyone was complaining - the tone was very much a positive, consistent one of "thank you for being here, thank you for bringing this business." When I joked with one of the bartenders, "I know you say that to all the vendors," he said "No, really, you have gotten us out of the house for four days this week. Thank you." Comments like that and many others I heard, with their underlying message of how much people are NOT able to find work in this city, really point up how lucky the SharePoint folks are to be on the "good" side of a very in-demand technology.