We have arrived at the final day of Microsoft Ignite here in Orlando, Florida.
As more than 25,000 attendees make their way home, it is time to look back at the week that was here at Ignite and identify some of the trends.
Logistically, with the exception of some minor scheduling challenges on Day 1 after the Vision Keynote wrapped up late and the challenge of getting to the follow on Tech Keynotes in time, this week has gone well from my perspective and many whom I have spoken to about their Ignite experience. That is why I was not surprised to see Microsoft's Julia White reveal earlier today that Microsoft Ignite 2018 would be right here in Central Florida again from September 24-28, 2018.
Equally impressive was the staff, who took care of attendees this past week just a couple of weeks after living through Hurricane Irma. They were all enthusiastic, smiling, and shared warm greetings as you made your way around the various Ignite venues.
While it would be impossible to attend every session throughout the week, I did go to several to gather background information about several of the announcements and products including:
Luckily, every break out session and others will be available on-demand from the Microsoft Ignite website along with the presentations slide deck so that everyone can consume even more content once they are back home. As of this writing, there are more than 640 sessions listed. In something new this year, it looks like you will be able to engage in discussions around these sessions/topics via the Microsoft Tech Community.
We also brought you our regular look at the scenery around this conference to give you an idea of what it looks like here on the ground in Orlando. This year that meant visiting the Expo Show Floor and the Hang Out where there is always so much activity.
Throughout all of this there seemed to be a couple of themes that made themselves known very quickly.
We first heard the term Microsoft 365 back at Inspire in Washington, DC when the company launched Microsoft 365 Business and Microsoft 365 Enterprise.
This week two new versions of Microsoft 365 were announced to add F1 (Firstline Worker) and Education to the collection.
However, I'm not listing Microsoft 365 because of the subscriptions that were announced and added to the portfolio. We all know that Microsoft 365 the subscription consists of three key elements - Windows 10, Office 365, and Enterprise Mobility and Security (EMS). Those items refer to the subscription package itself and nothing else.
During this week I caught a sense that Microsoft 365 is more than just those subscriptions, but a new way the Redmond company is using to describe the entire collection of products and services that they provide to their customers. Now you begin to include Azure, machine learning, artificial intelligence, the Microsoft Graph, and even now Quantum Computing to name a few. If it is a side service or feeds into any service that Microsoft provides then that is part of Microsoft 365.
No one in marketing has said that this is the purpose of the phrase "Microsoft 365," but it is interesting to hear in sessions and the hallways how "Microsoft 365" is the first term used as the discussion moves towards the products and services under that umbrella concept.
The software giant has become agile as we have been watching over the last few years. Windows 10 and Windows as a Service is one example. Office 365 is another one plus Windows Server and many Azure products and services.
Although there have been stumbles along the way as they fail fast and learn from those opportunities, they seem to be hitting their stride after two years of development for Windows and these other products and services in the public eye/forum. We are quick to complain when a demoed feature gets cancelled from an upcoming release but Microsoft truly is putting a lot out there into the world as they develop in a way they never have before.
Two examples from this week shows how agile this company has become: StaffHub and Microsoft Whiteboard. StaffHub was a concept last summer and is now a generally available product for Office 365 customers to schedule shift workers. Microsoft Whiteboard spent a little more time incubating between 2015 and now but in that timeframe it has become the most used app on the Surface Hub and the team has just ben expanded three-fold to continue pushing this app to include it in the Microsoft Graph and integrate it with the various apps and services within Office 365. Someday I expect this app will make it to the Windows 10 Store as an app that can be used right from the desktop to collaborate with team members all over the world.
That type of speed when in bringing a product from concept, to private testing, followed by public preview opportunities is lightning fast.
The other thing to notice here: Employees are encouraged to float these type of concepts and given the opportunity to work with them and see where they go. While I am sure there have been more products that never leave the walls of the buildings on the Microsoft Campus or see the light of day but it is still impressive to see them moving so quickly in these areas.
One last note on agility - with the release next year of Office 2019 (Perpetual), those users need to see fixes at a little quicker pace - especially when something gets broken and needs to be sorted out. What I heard from users this week is that it should not take two or three months to do that.
I have a copy of Nadella's book (that I will begin reading once I return home), and I did get the chance to sit in on the Fireside Chat that Nadella did this past Monday with Walter Isaacson. Outside of keynotes and other events, this was the first time I have heard Nadella in this type of venue and talking about his personal and professional life in such a personal way.
It seems it is that approach which has had a tremendous impact on Microsoft over the three and a half years since he became the companies CEO in February 2014.
As someone who has regularly attended events on the Redmond Campus, I could feel the difference between my visit in November 2013 and November 2014. It was palpable and positive. Employees were invigorated in their work, purpose and that seems to be making a difference for the company in many ways.
Nadella is donating all of the proceeds from Hit Refresh to Microsoft Philanthropies and each employee at Microsoft is receiving a special edition of the book that is just for employees.
This printing is the result of Nadella going through the book and marking it up to communicate even more deeply and personally to the folks who work at Microsoft. There are additional notes and highlighting throughout the text for that very purpose of showing how the can continue to be One Company and One Microsoft as they continue this new and refreshing journey.