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Bits and bytes from the 7th New Zealand SharePoint Conference

Time really flies when you are having fun… And this year the 7th Annual New Zealand SharePoint Conference happened in Auckland with a huge audience.

More than 30 speakers presented during the two day conference, covering a spectrum of topics related to collaboration, communication, document management and mobility. Intergen has been a proud supporter and sponsor of this conference since day one.

Intergen stand at 7th Annual New Zealand SharePoint Conference

We had the pleasure of hosting some casual drinks for Intergen clients who attended the event and had a great turn out at the Number 5 Restaurant. We also had a very yellow presence at our exhibition booth where we provided demos, showcased recent case studies, held a competition over the 2 days (where the winner walked away with a Surface Pro 2) and gave out lots of yellow lollies! You can find more photos in our Facebook album “7th Annual New Zealand SharePoint Conference”.

Here are some insights from Intergenites who attended and presented at the SharePoint Conference.

Gavin Barron (Solution Architect)

The drive from Microsoft is clear: move to the cloud. Office 365 is getting regular updates which not only address issues with the current offering but deliver new functionality. Office 365 will also be receiving an update before the end of the calendar year to roll out the new Office Delve toolset.

Delve will provide users an exciting new means of discovering documents within the organization. Delve leverages the new Office Graph which tracks user interactions and relationships from latent data in Exchange meetings, Lync conversations calls and presentations to build a rich contextual relevancy model. With this innovation search and discovery move beyond just the metadata and content of the document and towards a people centric discovery tool.

The Power BI tools are a fascinating addition to the range of options available to those looking to gain insights into the data that they hold. Power BI enriches the flexibility of Excel to provide a familiar analytical engine allowing users to gain deep insights into their data.

Lee Stevens (Senior Consultant)

My highlights from the conference:

Future of Azure + Office 365 

I attended a couple of cloud sessions and can safely say that Azure is going to be a massive game changer for many businesses.

Cloud-based “Infrastructure as a service” and “Platform as a service” have traditionally been complex subjects. The main thing I noticed at the conference is that Microsoft have simplified their cloud based offerings. From everything down to the pricing through to Administration screens. The concept of “pay as you go” Infrastructure appeals to many, for many reasons also. You can literally spin up an environment in minutes, picking from a range of templates. (You will soon be able to spin up a complete, pre-built SharePoint environment as well).

Those that have already taken the plunge and moved to Office 365 are also likely to see more features than their on premise equivalents. Things like Power BI and Delve (Formally Project Oslo) will be for Office 365 only. Similarly, Office 365 can connect to Azure seamlessly meaning that data held in Azure can easily be pulled into SharePoint.        


Since the announcement was made to retire InfoPath, a few were left wondering where this was going. A general point was made that Microsoft’s vision is that forms become more contextual and mean a user does not have to leave where they are to fill a form in. The future of forms for SharePoint is likely to be as follows:

  • Excel surveys (FOSS - Forms on Spreadsheets)
  • List Forms – (FOSL - Forms on SharePoint Lists)
  • Structured Documents (Uses Word – For structured forms to create things like applications etc)
  • App Forms (Uses Access Services for “self contained” Apps)

Will be really interesting to see how this all pans out! 

Reiteration of all the good things we do

It would be easy to forget that sometimes we take for granted what a good job we do at Intergen making complex technology simple for our clients.

Cloud First, Mobile First, Use “Out of the box” and simple security models were common topics that cropped up from the key note speeches and throughout many of the sessions. It was fascinating seeing the reaction from others in the audience that some of these were new and radical concepts!

It was pleasing to see that Intergen are doing the good things in line with the way that many of the industry experts were advising. However, some didn’t convey this message too well. It was nice when one client mentioned “Intergen came out of that session looking really good without saying a word!”   

Linda McConnell (Marketing & events Coordinator)

We thought it would be an excellent opportunity to invite some of our valued clients and potential clients for a casual drink after the first day of the SharePoint Conference. We booked out a space at the Number 5 Restaurant, across the road from the Langham hotel where the conference was being held and sent out our invites a couple of weeks before the conference.

We were very pleased to have 22 RSVPs and arranged to meet at our exhibition stand after the last presentation of the day. As with many events like this you can expect sometimes only half of your RSVPs to be able to attend so you can imagine our delight when over double showed up!

We had a fantastic evening of networking, drinks and nibbles and it was a great opportunity for attendees to be able to chat to three of the presenters of the conference who also happen to be Intergen staff.

7th Annual New Zealand SharePoint Conference Vegas Night

Kyle Muir (Intermediate Developer)

The highlight from the Auckland event was being able to go to sessions run by Marc Anderson around his SPServices tool. Hearing the great things that this free tool is capable of, especially with older versions of SharePoint, was excellent – it had many more functions to it than I’d ever imagined and given the context of some of the work that he had done with it was very interesting to see. I will definitely be looking to utilise this tool more in the future.

It was also great to see Todd Klindt’s session on PowerShell with SharePoint Online was also very interesting – it’s good to know that the limited PowerShell cmdlets for SharePoint online doesn’t necessarily stop you from leveraging the CSOM libraries to create some truly powerful SharePoint Online administrative tools.

Ebby Peter (Senior Developer)

One of the biggest takeaways for me from the SharePoint Conference was the use of Search Results Web part & Display Templates, and the potentials of a Search Driven Application. This is a fundamental shift in how we view and develop a SharePoint solution.

The combination of the Search Results web part along with Display Templates can replace many of the components that were traditionally on the custom development radar. For instance, carousel or a fancy navigation on the site can very easily be made using a combination of search results webpart and display templates. These display templates can be created once and reused with minimal modification. This approach of configuration-over-customization can reduce the development time of projects.

Jesse Kim (Senior Consultant)

There were many great sessions and world-class speakers. For me the biggest takeaway was from search-related sessions that explored managed and crawled properties, use of display templates, how "continuous crawl" actually works, and the importance of setting up different content crawl jobs targeting different sets of content sources configured upon careful capacity planning and analysis of the nature and categories of content.

Admittedly, search tends to be one of the areas that are met with set-and-forget kind of treatment when it is in fact a huge discipline and a specialisation in itself. These sessions served as a good reminder of that.

There was also a popular presentation by Paul Culmsee on capturing intellectual capital around the "why" of a SharePoint implementation and getting to the bottom (and a shared understanding) of the ultimate problems SharePoint is expected to solve together with the constraints and challenges that are unique to the organisation. It was interesting to see the methodology, called dialogue-mapping, and the tools his company developed (http://glyma.co) in action.

Sudeep Ghatak (Senior Consultant)

This summarization of the SharePoint conference does not do a justice to the fantastic experience and the stuff I learnt while I was there.

The conference started with a keynote presentation with emphasis on these key points:

  • Introduction of the newest member of the Office 365 family: DELVE
  • Sneak preview of Surface Pro 3 
  • Vodafone’s Technology at workplace

Highlights of the conference for me were:

  • Marc Anderson’s sessions on One Page applications: It was an interesting session from a developer’s perspective. I had used SPServices in the past and it was great to interact with him after the session.
  • Benjamin Niaulin’s sessions on “Intranet” and “Search” were very informative and he presented them beautifully. It’s great to learn from such great speakers.
  • Kudos to our three Intergen presenters Bryce Saunders, Gavin Barron and Kyle Muir. I could hear people talking about their sessions in the connect zone later that day.
  • The day ended with casual chat with other Intergen clients and other colleagues. What a great way to end the evening with the “Vegas” night.

7th Annual New Zealand SharePoint Conference Vegas Night

All in all a great learning experience! Thanks to the SharePoint community!

Zaki Semar (Senior Developer)

The keynote was quite interesting with a variety of speakers. The highlight from the Keynote was the industry speaker from Beca who gave an insight into what has worked best for them over the last ten years, as they have been using SharePoint since its 2003 release. The 2 key points from that were:

  • Use Out of the Box SharePoint features as much as possible and minimise custom development.
  • Keep the security/permission model as simple as you can keep it.

This was great because these are recommendations that we make to our clients all the time…so to get that validated from someone on the other side on a stage like that was great given that some of the clients we personally gave that advice to were in the same room!

The other highlight was around ‘Delve’ which is a new additional feature to be launched onto the Office 365 platform later this year. In short, it gives a social-like experience across Exchange, Lync and SharePoint. It is definitely something to look forward to.

Another takeaway from the conference was regarding replacement for InfoPath. The key points from that were to keep using InfoPath if it makes sense for the business case taking into account migration strategies and that there is no true replacement for InfoPath at the moment. Microsoft suggests using ‘FoSL’ (Forms on SharePoint lists), structured documents and Microsoft Access forms or Excel surveys instead of InfoPath to cater for the various business scenarios if applicable. However, none of these are true replacements and comes with severe limitations when compared to InfoPath. So, there definitely was an air of concern amongst the attendees and also amongst the SP community in general on this front.

Finally, to meet some international speakers and attend their sessions was quite awesome!

Posted by: Nick Hadlee, Practice Manager | 31 July 2014

Tags: SharePoint, SharePoint Conference, SharePoint 2013

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