Greetings from the ShareFEST Conference! Keynote Speaker Steve Aylward of Microsoft on ‘The SharePoint Buzz in Health and Life Sciences’


Registratino at ShareFEST, the ShareFEST Conference for Life Sciences in Philadelphia

ShareFEST, the SharePoint Conference for Life Sciences is underway, and Ken Lownie, NextDocs’ VP of Life Sciences provided this morning’s welcoming remarks prior to introducing the first keynote speaker.  Ken mentioned that the initial vision of NextDocs CEO Matt Walz for a SharePoint-focused life sciences conference was that it should be “not about the future, but about how SharePoint is being used right now.”  To the delight of the crowd, Ken confessed that in response to Matt’s vision he, “immediately got visions of 2 days of peace, love, and SharePoint … but calmer heads prevailed, and I was told that I’d have to wear a suit.”


Ken Lownie of NextDocs at ShareFESTTaking advantage of the opportunity to mine the data pertaining to attendees at the sold-out conference, Ken mentioned that among the 350+ attendees were representatives from 109 different companies, consisting of a mix of large- and mid-size pharmaceutical companies, biotech, laboratories, etc. As well, 35% of attendees at the Conference are Director level and above, in keeping with the vision of the conference as being “about the business and applications use of SharePoint.”

Ken then introduced the first keynote speaker, Steve Aylward, Microsoft’s General Manager of Health Care and Life Sciences in the U.S. Steve titled his keynote, “The SharePoint Buzz in Health and Life Sciences,” and pointed to the fact that the sold-out ShareFEST Conference had brought more than 350 professionals from the life sciences industry to Philadelphia as an indication of the buzz surrounding SharePoint within the industry. When he asked the capacity crowd how many of them were unfamiliar with SharePoint, fewer than 5 hands went up, which was clearly a surprise, albeit a pleasant one, to the keynote speaker.

Recognizing that in the current economic climate, these are uncertain times for pharma and the industry, and that change is the only constant, Steve noted there are “about a thousand” employees at Microsoft who are “focused on solutions for life sciences and organizations, providers, health plans, and the people they serve.” Steve also shared that Microsoft’s mission statement for the sector is, “to improve health, around the world, through software innovation.”

After spending some time answering the “what is SharePoint?” question, and speaking to Microsoft’s commitment to continuing innovation, Steve said that following the release of SharePoint 2010 next month, the next step is providing “the ability to port all of these solutions out to the cloud [via Azure], giving the choice of where you want to manage your data.”

Steve wrapped up his keynote with several calls to action, the underlying theme of which was that Microsoft wants the opportunity to work with the life sciences industry on “the art of the possible,” and that he and his team stand at the ready to do just that.

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