FOSE 2013: Connect, Extend, and Build

Greetings all from day two of FOSE!  The day started with me running behind schedule as usual, racing (well, as much as one can race while in 4-inch heels) to my first session of the day.  Presented Brian Jordan from Microsoft, the session was on the Microsoft Workshop track and was titled “Introduction to SharePoint as a Development Platform.”  Though I focus on marketing and communications here at Bamboo, I thought it would be interesting to learn a little more about what my cohorts were actually doing while hidden behind computers pounding out code.  According to Brian, the crux of SharePoint development can be defined three simple words: Connect, Extend, and Build.

Connect: We all know that SharePoint encourages collaboration, but how does it encourage connection?  For one, SharePoint provides an easy interface that allows the user to access the platform with a single sign-on.  By providing this single sign-on, users cannot only connect to each other; but they can utilize SharePoint to enable existing products to connect; therefore providing increased usability and collaboration.

Extend: The great thing about SharePoint is just how much flexibility it can provide and how far it can be extended.  Similar to how we talk about taking SharePoint to new heights here at Bamboo, Brian discussed how users and administrators can utilize third-party and/or custom Web Parts to extend SharePoint’s native capabilities.  By creating integrated solutions, we have the ability to extend SharePoint feature offerings as far as research and development will allow.

Build: We all know that SharePoint has some great platform capabilities – content management, business intelligence, data maintenance, and more – but what about the capabilities that SharePoint out-of-the-box does not address?  According to Brian, it’s up to us, as developers, to “create solutions on top of the SharePoint infrastructure that leverage the breadth of capabilities provided the SharePoint platform.”

Sound like a daunting task?  Luckily for us, it doesn’t have to be.  As Brian noted, the SharePoint community is rich with knowledge as well as seasoned Microsoft MVPs who are eager to help share what they have learned along their SharePoint journey.  Be it MSDN, TechNet, or Bamboo Nation, there are numerous resources available out there for developers looking to take the plunge and start developing applications on the SharePoint platform.

After spending some time checking out the (massive!) exhibition hall, I headed to my second session of the day, “Mobile Applications – Using Mobility to Better the Mission.”  The session, which was on the Mobile Government track, included a panel of three distinguished IT professionals – Adrian Gardner, CIO, Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA; Bill Kirkendale, CIO, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, DC; and Tom Suder, President and CEO, MobileGov.  The presentation focused on the issue of mobility and how it could be leveraged to maximize how people communicate as well as do their jobs. 

The panel hit the ground running with their list of top best practices when it comes to developing, implementing and executing a successful mobile strategy.  Some of the highlights included:

  • First and foremost, consider the costs needed to implement a mobile strategy. Are you getting a positive ROI?
  • Listen to your users. Are you meeting their requirements?
  • Plan ahead and stay on track. What is your organization’s overarching strategy and is your mobile plan consistent with it?
  • Test the app before deploying. Get the bugs out before you roll out your application to avoid negative user feedback.
  • Make sure you have support available for your app. A mobile application isn’t a “love it and leave it” tool, it has a life cycle that needs attention and maintenance.

While just a few of the best practices mentioned, they overwhelmingly exhibited that there is much more to consider when it comes to mobile than we may realize.  To help further demonstrate the case for mobility as well as its importance at the workplace, the panel each provided case studies from within their organizations on how a mobile strategy was developed and implemented.  My favorite case study of the set was presented Adrian.  Given how sprawling Goddard’s campus is, it should come as no surprise that navigating it could be quite troublesome for new hires as well as visitors.  To combat this, Adrian’s team developed an app that acted as an interactive campus map. The app, which provided users with walk–walk directions for the entire campus, proved to increase efficiency and decrease headaches for onsite campus visitors.

The presentation ended with a Q&A session wherein the panel and the audience discussed some major ideas – Where is mobility going?  How can we utilize mobile apps to increase savings?  What metrics can be used to measure an app’s efficacy? – were chief amongst the questions asked.  In the end, with all the discussion of mobility and how can use our smartphones, tablets, etc. to do just about anything and everything; it was interesting to see that most people tend to have the same end goal:

How can I make my life easier?

On that note, time to fly to my next session of the day “How Technology Can Help Manage the Risk Inherent with any Project Through Better Visibility and Team Communication,” presented Bamboo’s own Julie Auletta!

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