No matter how much Microsoft and other platform providers talk about the speed of delivery in the cloud, there still needs to be some kind of "shock and awe" announcements left off of the weekly build schedule and shared through a carefully orchestrated mega-conference.
Now, granted, some updates that are shared during a conference—such as the announcement that the SharePoint 2016 preview would come in August, which was earlier than most had expected—could have been shared through normal channels, such as the Office Blog, prior to the conference. Other announcements, simply put, require visuals to help tell the story and get people excited.
One such announcement was Project GigJam, introduced by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella during his vision keynote at the Worldwide Partner Conference earlier this month, and demonstrated live on stage by Office GM Julia White.
What is Project GigJam? Well, if you'd like to read more about it, there’s plenty of news out there on the topic, including RedmondMag.com, Fast Company, Fortune.com, Venture Beat, PC World, ZDNet, SiliconRepublic and Microsoft Trends, among others, with the entire demo and surrounding discussions available via YouTube and, of course, the Microsoft Partner Network.
Judging by the feedback at the event and happening across the Twitterverse, people were both intrigued and excited by the demonstration. During her presentation, Julia talked about the “Millennial Effect” driving change in technology, where we all (not just Millennials) are more connected than ever before, and where we want more flexibility in how we work and where we work, we want more personalization in our tools and devices, and more options in how we involve others in our workloads.
While some in the audience may have been scratching their heads at how technology like GigJam will apply to their existing investments in Microsoft technology, Satya sought to clarify the goals, telling the audience, “It is about our collective ability to drive agility for our customers. Everything we do has to support that goal. How do they move faster? How do they enter data quicker? How do they take advantage of that to take intelligent action?”
Satya went back again and again to the theme of “business transformation” during his vision keynote. “Because that's where I want us to center in on: What's the value we are adding to the core of our customers and their ability to compete, their ability to create innovation?” he said.
Satya then went on to talk about the three bold ambitions for Microsoft from a technology standpoint, beginning with the reinvention of productivity and business processes. As he promised during last year's Worldwide Partner Conference keynote, Microsoft has quickly moved away from the confusing “devices and services” model of his predecessor and toward a vision of “platforms and productivity.” He continued: “Central to this ambition is the reinvention of even the category definition of both business process and productivity. We don't think of these as separate anymore.”
Satya envisions a future where all of the core communication and business productivity solutions are combined into one solution, one set of services—a future where all other product and service vendors can also come together as well. He talked about how the barriers between the tools and solutions we use impede our organizations from working well together, and how these barriers must come down, including the barriers between the tools we use at home and those we use at work.
Of course, there are questions: What does it take to enable an existing tool or service to work within the GigJam framework? What are the authentication implications, and how will that affect the user experience if authentication is not smooth? And what about permissions management? Auditing and compliance? Governance and change management requirements? As our business processes and productivity solutions are merged together into one canvas, how does this impact our rising security concerns? Things to think about—and for Microsoft to address as they begin to introduce this reinvention of collaboration.
GigJam is a working example of how Microsoft's vision for the future of productivity can bring together the core business solutions and productivity tools into one working canvas, and it’s definitely worth taking a look if you've not yet seen the demo.
Christian Buckley is a SharePoint MVP and chief marketing officer at Beezy.