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Thoughts from SharePoint Conference: Bringing People and Information Together is Key

Last week, the Microsoft masses descended upon Las Vegas for the annual SharePoint Conference.  Pre-show estimates put attendance at 10,000, and from the looks of the packed sessions and general crowds it was at least that many if not more.

From my vantage point, some of the key challenges revolve around data integration, findability and migration.  Microsoft has tried to emphasize new features in the enterprise search user experience and improve the backend scalability and performance by leveraging their acquisition of FAST. However, it all boils down to this:  if I still can’t find what I’m looking for, better chrome delivering less than meaningful results doesn’t help me much.

Many of the opportunities around the platform are likely the result of the Microsoft’s product-centric view of the world.  SharePoint is very feature rich, but requires a thoughtful approach to how people will be using it. People are the key factor in the equation.  People use software to find, analyze and consume data.  I saw many sessions that highlighted new slick features referencing users, but ignoring the information they ultimately were trying to access.

Data discovery using semantics and categorization offers a great solution to bridge the gap between untapped and rich data with people that are eager to find it.  At the end of the day, most SharePoint users are goal focused – how do I get the information I am looking for to complete the job at hand?

Migration of existing data sources, unlocking new data and presenting the data in familiar way through semantic tagging and logical categorization seems like an obvious solution.  It’s also important to note the world does not only revolve around SharePoint.  A daily workflow that exposes users to content extracted from the web and social media in a common dashboard seems to be a logical progression forward.

Semantic technology can play a key role in aggregating data in a usable way to make industry applications even more powerful and easy to use.  I expect to see more of these implementations to be showcased next year.

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