SPTechCon 2014 Keynote: Microsoft’s Olaf Hubel Shows us the Future of Work

Back when the cloud was just a fluffy thing that resided in the sky (i.e., when this blogger was in college), working together meant trying to herd team members into a room at the same time with print-outs of work to
distribute to each other. There was no Facebook, only the wealthy kids had laptops (that weighed 20 lbs), and cell phones. What’s a cell phone?

How did we seriously get anything done?!?

Obviously, collaborating as a team was no easy feat. Luckily, thanks to advances by Microsoft, there is a quicker, easier way to get work done. In his keynote presentation The New Way to Work Together, Microsoft
Senior Technical Product Manager for Office 365, Olaf Hubel, introduced the future of work and its three pillars: Office 365, OneDrive for Business, and Enterprise Social. As the way we interact and do business
has been changing, so too have the tools that we utilize day-to-day to get work done. Microsoft’s new services and capabilities within Office 365, according to Olaf, have been expertly developed to help you meet the challenges of a rapidly changing workplace and increasingly sophisticated employee expectations.

Olaf began his keynote with a discussion of Office 365 and its benefits. Specifically, he noted three key high points:

  • Continuous innovation
  • Provide insight to manage change
  • Office 365 trust

With the rate at which technology is evolving; it becomes imperative to make sure that software updates are not only rapid but readily accessible. With Office 365, patches have become a thing of the past. Unlike previously, when you had to download and install updates, Office 365 offers instant updates that are automatically installed so that you always have the latest version of the software. Continuous innovation at
Microsoft not only includes driving change but also user interaction. Microsoft prides itself on its 365x24x7 availability. No matter where you are or the time of day, Microsoft personnel are available to answer questions and entertain user feedback; thereby building trust with its users.

When it comes to interacting with users, Microsoft’s goal is to make sure that there are never any surprises for users. This includes notifying admins – both via Microsoft blogs as well as automatic alerts – when there are changes that could possibly affect their Office 365 environments. In order to provide insight to manage change, Microsoft, according to Olaf, maintains complete transparency when preparing and deploying updates. This benefits the user by increasing organizational readiness and improving the end-user experience.

Perhaps the greatest benefit for the end user is the trust that Microsoft has strived to establish. Office 365 trust is perhaps the most vital of Office 365’s high points.  In order to build trust, Microsoft relies on three key things: security, compliance, and privacy. When it comes to security, Microsoft works endlessly to provide best-in-class security. This is best exemplified by its 10+ years of experience building enterprise software and online services. As for compliance, Microsoft prides itself on its commitment to maintaining and when possible, exceeding, industry standards and organizational compliance.  Lastly, when it comes to privacy, Microsoft is committed to practicing full transparency and only uses customers’ information to deliver services (i.e., no data mining, etc.).

To close out his discussion of Office 365, Olaf provided a summary of the Three Pillars of Office 365, all of which are available to enhance and enrich your SharePoint environment:

  • Contextual Apps
  • Robust Office 365 APIs
  • Flexible Tools (e.g., Azure, Visual Studio, and Access)

The second part of Olaf’s presentation focused on OneDrive for Business. Unlike OneDrive, which provides personal cloud storage and is managed by the user, OneDrive for Business is a cloud storage service that houses work documents and is managed by an organization’s IT professionals. Adopting OneDrive for Business (previously known as SkyDrive) provides a number of benefits to users such as:

  • Productivity on all devices – OneDrive for Business provides solutions for all devices and adjusts its user interface based on the device. Sites automatically adjust to your media so that you always have the best view of SharePoint.
  • Work on Office documents from anywhere – With OneDrive for Business, you can access, view, and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents from any location. Work with your content where you are with your device, be it a PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet.

The theme of the last part of Olaf’s presentation was Enterprise Social. When it comes to developing enterprise social, one of Microsoft’s key goals was to image search and discovery. This includes providing a fluid, intuitive way to find information.  Since each user is inherently different, Microsoft strives to be proactive and tailor searches to the user.  This includes enhanced search tools in Office 365 as well as social networking capabilities that allow users to tap into their own network for information discovery and sharing.

One of the cornerstones to information and sharing, according to Olaf, is the “Office Graph.” The Office Graph represents the connection between users and illustrates how work gets done.  This includes utilizing collaborative software such as Exchange, SharePoint, Yammer, and Lync.  By utilizing these tools, Microsoft empowers and enables teams to work like a network and establishes a strong bond amongst
the following:

  • People
  • Content
  • Ecosystems
  • Insights
  • Experiences

Olaf closed out his keynote by reminding us of the goal of developing tools for the future of work – To make getting work done easier.  With the ever-evolving software and services such as Office 365, OneDrive for
Business
, and Enterprise Social, Microsoft is driving the charge towards unification across platforms, as well as increased collaboration and productivity.

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