SPC14 Keynote: Bill Clinton Provides a Global Perspective & Microsoft Teases New Things to Come

UPDATE: Here is the link to the presentation on Channel 9

It’s a beautiful day here in sunny Las Vegas and a great one to officially kick off SPC14. I met up this morning with my fellow full badge holders from Bamboo for a little breakfast and the SPC14 keynote. I could tell you about the breakfast but, let’s face it, that’s not why you’re reading this…

The keynote was broken up into two sections, President Bill Clinton addressed the crowd first, followed by product team members from Microsoft. Leading up to the conference, there were lots of people wondering why President Clinton would be speaking: Does he know about SharePoint? What’s the connection? Turns out he does not know a whole lot about SharePoint specifically, but he does know a vast amount about global technology trends. The Clinton Foundation works closely with Microsoft and the Gates Foundation on various philanthropic projects, and this was the focus of President Clinton’s talk.

President Clinton began by showing how the growth of technology helps the global economy, mentioning job growth as well as efficiency and productivity increases. He explained that technology is transforming the world and, as such, is the basis for a better tomorrow. He focused on big-picture ideas and brief case studies. We learned about how cell phones enabled fishermen in Southeast Asia to increase their revenue by 30% simply because they were able to call throughout their markets and find the best prices. Clinton mentioned the influence of electronic giving as well. Our ability to text a number and donate to a cause has revolutionized disaster relief. He also talked about the Caribbean and how they have the highest energy costs despite having abundant sunshine and wind. They import fuel oil instead of using clean energy and that is one of the major projects being taken on by the Clinton Foundation. Lastly, he talked about his personal work in Ukraine and the recent developments there. He talked about how he helped draft an agreement after the Cold War to take nuclear weapons out of Ukraine and for Russia to recognize Ukraine’s borders, an agreement that seems to have fallen apart. He used this example to explain how the world is too interdependent and too connected for people to not get along. He said that too many people are focused on their differences from other people rather than their similarities.

After a standing ovation, Microsoft took the stage. We heard from several product managers and directors about what we will be seeing this week at the conference and in news releases throughout the year. The main thing for me was what they call the Office Graph. Basically, it connects all things Office. This will be out in the new version of Office 365. It adds Yammer integration throughout the O365 network. Here’s an example. Say you’re in a meeting and, while there, your team is working on some piece of breaking news. You come out of your meeting to find that your portal has blown up with links to a news story and discussion. Cool, but nothing new yet. So you start reading the article and someone posts a video. You click to watch the video (in the new video portal, seemingly a YouTube competitor of sorts), and there on the right-hand side of your screen is the Yammer discussion feed letting you stay current with the conversation. Now someone has drafted a PowerPoint about your organization’s reaction and posted it to the portal for review. You click that, it opens in the PowerPoint online app, and, lo and behold, there on the right side of the screen is that discussion thread keeping you up to date as you work. Pretty cool. And that’s not all. The new Oslo app takes advantage of this O365 app cooperation to pull together all the information pertinent to you across the O365 suite. It is essentially a bigger, better news feed showing you all your work-related information. This information is also totally searchable and displayable. In the demo, they used a marketing campaign as an example. They wanted to figure out a good market for the campaign and had a big data spreadsheet. Not wanting to read through the columns, they went into Oslo and asked it what the average earnings were for … and it took over from there, knowing that that spreadsheet has earnings information and automatically populated a map of the regions mentioned in the Excel file with the earnings information shown. It was pretty sweet. We were also told, in no uncertain terms, that Oslo adapts wonderfully to a mobile experience across mobile platforms.

Speaking of mobile, we saw everything (except Blackberry) used on stage. There was a demo of compatibility from a PC to an iOS device to a Windows Phone to an Android device. Also announced was a new open-source REST API for building Android apps. More on that later but, sorry developers, the technical details there went a little over my head. Other announcements included: OneDrive for Business as a standalone app, new security enhancements, and more storage rolling out in their cloud environments.