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Join me at SharePoint Conference 2019

Las Vegas.

Join me at SharePoint Conference 2019

This May, I’ll speak at #SPC19 in Las Vegas about ‘The future of the modern workplace and Office 365

It’s the largest SharePoint-specific conference in the world, so attracts top-notch speakers and is often the place where Microsoft showcases new features for the first time. This year there will be 150 speakers over 200 sessions.

The Microsoft team will be there in force too, with Jeff Teper keynoting (of course), Dan Holme, Bill Baer, and the ever-enthusiastic Naomi Moneypenny.

Reasons to attend

I understand that taking time out for a conference is a big ask (and I’ll pretend not to be offended that you’re still uncertain, even though I’ll be speaking). However, if SharePoint and Office 365 are important to what you do, here are some reasons to consider:

  • Personal sensemaking
  • Identify your unknown unknowns
  • A heads-up on SharePoint’s future
  • World-class speakers
  • $50 off if you use my code, ‘MARSHALL’


In the past I’ve been content to keep updated on SharePoint announcements remotely. After all, Microsoft does a great job of steaming and sharing presentations post event (see all the material from Ignite 2018, for example).

However, I went to my first big SharePoint and Office 365 conference last year, and what struck me was how valuable it is to get immersed in the conversations. It’s one thing to read a blog post of new announcements from the SharePoint team, it’s another to immediately explore what the implications are with like-minded people. You get a sense too, of what is exciting people and where the unknowns are (what isn’t said can be almost as important as what does get announced).

Unknown unknowns

The SharePoint and Office 365 world moves at a pace that makes it hard for anyone to keep up to date. Spending time at a flagship conference like this can vividly fill in the gaps.

Sometimes I like to go to a talk that is outside my comfort zone (basically any track tagged as ‘DEV’ and not ‘BIZ’)  just to see what excites people from a different perspective. For example, Power Apps was something I was vaguely aware of, but welcomed the chance to hear from someone who had considered the potential).

SharePoint future

Last year, we really saw the shift to Microsoft’s modern UI percolating through the SharePoint world. For intranets, I laid out a comparison of standard SharePoint capabilities and gaps compared to the intranet in-a-box marketplace.

This year, I expect we’ll see some solid examples of companies that have made the leap to create intranets using SharePoint alone. I’m really keen to learn what worked and where the limitations might still be.

There are other major shifts on the SharePoint roadmap this year that I’m sure will be explored (and more revealed) at the conference. Of particular note for intranets are targeting, mega menus, and news management. Nested hubs and multi-lingual intranets have been hinted at as ‘top of mind’ so quite possibly there could be more on the way for this too.

I also expect to learn a lot about the move to Microsoft Search rather than SharePoint search. For the first time this integrates across the multiple content sources in Office 365, for example showing Yammer, Teams, and SharePoint results all on one page.

There’s also the expo, and it will be a pleasure to meet many of the vendors that we feature in our annual intranet-in-a-box report and getting their perspective on how intranets will evolve this year.

The future of the modern workplace

My own presentation will be on ‘The future of the modern workplace and Office 365’. I’m really looking forward to discussing this in the USA for the first time.

Rather than a technology start-point, I plan to address what people want from their jobs and then move to discuss how a modern workplace incorporating Office 365 can help.

I’ll look at how work is evolving and emphasise the need to focus on employee experience. If we make it too hard to do the basic things, people don’t have the cognitive energy left to do the hard things that really make a difference. A relentless focus on iterative improvements is the only way to move past this, and the only way that Office 365 starts to make sense for your average employee.

One thing I find is that the senior sponsors who need to be persuaded to champion change often don’t experience the frustrations themselves: they have a team of people who shield them from poor digital experiences. So I’ll be showing how tools, such as employee journey mapping and personas, can really help here.

Much of my work involves discovery sessions with end users about their needs and frustrations in the modern workplace. Some recurring themes that I’ll explore are:

  • Why everyone asks for ‘one place to go’ but it never actually works, and why MS Teams might hold part of the answer
  • How enterprise search is failing us, because it’s rarely just about search
  • The importance of integrating frontline workers into the modern workplace, and how that maps onto SharePoint, Yammer, and more.

If you’re kind enough to come to my talk, you will learn a set of principles for thinking about how to deploy Office 365. I’ll show how emerging workplace trends will impact employee choices for what tools to use when, and how to simplify the Office 365 rollout for people in different roles.

World-class speakers

I’m glad that there will be many other speakers hopping across from my side of the Atlantic. People I’ve seen speak before that I’d highly recommend include:

  •  Agnes Molnar, who offers a very down-to-earth independent perspective on SharePoint search
  • The guys from Valo are both knowledgeable and entertaining, including Knut Relbe-Moe and Vlad Catrinescu
  • Suzy Dean from Addin365, CEO of a company doing interesting things on the collaboration management side.

One last thing: Get $50 off

As a final incentive, you can get $50 off the registration when you use my link or code, MARSHALL.

SharePoint Conference 2019.

Follow @SPConf and #SPC19 to keep track of what’s happening.

I hope to see you there, and if you want to talk intranets or digital workplace, do stop me and say hello.

Sam Marshall

I'm the director of ClearBox Consulting, advising on intranet and digital workplace strategy, SharePoint and online collaboration. I've specialised in intranets and knowledge Management for over 19 years, working with organisations such as Unilever, Astra Zeneca, Akzo Nobel, Sony, Rio Tinto and Diageo. I was responsible for Unilever’s Global Portal Implementation, overseeing the roll-out of over 700 online communities to 90,000 people and consolidating several thousand intranets into a single system.

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