Highlights from the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference Keynote Address

The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2015 kicked off this morning with the Vision Keynote address, delivered by Satya Nadella and other key figures from Microsoft.

The conference kicks off Microsoft’s fiscal year and gathers more than 12,000 Partners. You can read Microsoft’s official keynote review here, but we wanted to focus specifically on some of the Office 365 announcements that piqued our interest.

Partner Channel Chief Phil Sorgen spoke first, recognizing Partner of the Year winners with a shower of confetti. His talk centered on the huge cloud services opportunity that we have before us, and highlighted the chance to connect at WPC. The keynote contained these sessions overall:

Satya Nadella: Our journey together
Terry Myerson: Create more personal computing — the modern desktop
Julia White: Reinvent productivity and business processes
Scott Guthrie: Build the intelligent cloud platform
John Case: Product innovation channel evolution

Our Journey Together with Satya Nadella

Nadella “started [his] keynote off by anchoring us in our ambition,” reiterating Microsoft’s mission for all its partners to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, and move forward in a mobile-first and cloud-first world.

What does mobile-first cloud-first mean?

This part of the mission is something that’s been repeated frequently over the past several years. Nadella broke down the ideas of mobile-first and cloud-first this way:

  • Mobility refers to our experience with computing that is quickly becoming ubiquitous. We touch computers, we wear them, we talk to them, and since they’re everywhere, we need our experience across these to include all the applications and data we’d expect. Mobility is human mobility, not bound to a particular device.
  • The cloud enables that mobile experience of moving from device to device. Computing is distributed, with servers still existing “at the edge of our cloud.” Cloud-first is the key to how we drive business success for customers.

“We will keep coming back to this theme of business transformation.” – Satya Nadella

Business transformation comes down to differentiation, agility, and cost. The goal is to help differentiate and excel by using digital technology, and since things change so rapidly, companies will need to be able to adjust and be agile, keeping costs as low as possible.

GigJam demonstration

The demo of a new product, GigJam, came next. GigJam is described as “a breakthrough way for people to involve others in their business tasks.” This new technology supports business processes by bringing together data from various applications and allows users to share that information with others, but not just as a simple screenshare.

GigJam allows information to be excluded from shared views, so each person has an individual experience of the info. In this way, GigJam creates a “mini app” for each project or process. It will be exciting to see the future of this technology.

This is “what is possible when we breakdown the walls between applications, devices, and people” – Satya Nadella on GigJam

Business Process Meets Productivity with Julia White

The key address for those interested in Office 365 came from Julia White, with many of the same themes echoed from her talk on reinventing productivity with Office 365 at Ignite.

She reiterated that our workplace today is more connected and collaborative, shaped by our modern expectations and mindsets.
The Office team is breaking down silos of communications (i.e. voice, Lync, etc.) and centering instead around people (i.e. Office 365 Groups), while making new investments like Skype for Business Server, etc. Security, she says, is still of course always top-of-mind.

One example of our modern workplace that needs technological overhaul is meetings. The majority of our meetings these days have at least one virtual attendeee, but video is rarely used. According to White, video is essential, but it needs to be easy and seamless to use. Skype for Business will help create an engaging, video-friendly user experience.

Content creation is also ripe for change and innovation. Teamwork and co-creation is the norm in how we work, so it must be reflected in the core office apps. Real-time co-authoring will come to the desktop with Office 2016, finally! Let’s use collaboration in docs rather than endless email attachments.

White also reported that the team has made some significant developments in OneDrive for Business in recent months, from user experience to IT controls, and it’s still getting better. The next release is said to have the biggest changes since the initial rollout of the product, with improvements to auditing, reporting, DLP, and sync.

“Work is what we do, it’s not where we go.” – Julia White, GM of Microsoft Office

Lastly, Office Delve will come out with a new work analytics view, allowing users to track work-life balance, get information about their team and company, and view interactions between team members.

All these themes should resonate with Office 365 users as we juggle business priorities in a changing workplace. New products and improvements to old products will allow us to be productive and agile, from the road to the meeting room.

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