Conference Notes

Digital Workplace Conference 2016 in New Zealand

Last week I attended the Digital Workplace Conference in Auckland. There were about 600 people at the conference, with conference sessions spanning two days, along with both pre-conference and post-conference workshops. It was the eighth annual conference in New Zealand (having been renamed from the original “SharePoint Conference”), and the 21st conference put on by ShareThePoint across New Zealand, Australia, and Southeast Asia. That’s pretty good going.

I had a couple of sessions to present at the conference (more to come on those), and was able to attend a few of the sessions. Some comments on those:

  • Ambiguity, Fetishes and Teddy Bears: The Modern Workplace Survival Kit (Paul Culmsee and Kailash Awati), focused on the positive and negative ways that models (a way of reducing uncertainty and ambiguity) can used in organisational life. Paul and Kailash led a fun activity during their session to show how to build a model and give it an impressive sounding name, and provided a categorisation of how people respond to and use models in their work.

  • Got O365 – Now What? (Bryan Holyoake) talked about the challenge every organisation is facing when they move to Office 365—how you do you take best advantage of the features and capabilities on offer? Bryan offered his thoughts and approaches for addressing this challenge, and given my own parallel interest in this topic, it was interesting to hear how someone else talked about / approached the same issue.

  • We Built it, but Why Won’t They Come? Practical Advice to Overcome Common User Adoption and Change Hurdles (Sue Hanley), provided an expansive view on user adoption and change, offering 12 practical strategies for addressing the hurdles. Sue had many stories to share (which the audience loved), and excellent pointers on to design an adoption program to maximise business value. I found a lot to agree with in the presentation.

  • Working on the Move with SharePoint and Other Microsoft Apps in your Pocket (Darrell Webster), in which Darrell lived the possibility and presented from and demoed from his mobile phone. Darrell talked about the idea of working on the move, presented the facts and figures to show it is happening on an ever-increasing basis, and provided live demonstrations of the various Microsoft apps for working with SharePoint and other Office 365 services from mobile devices. It was a live (and therefore risky session to pull off), but Darrell was up to the challenge. Darrell also talked about device add-ons—an external battery pack and headset, to name two—that enhance and support the mobile work style.

  • Graduating into a Digital World: How the University of Canterbury is Shaping its Future (Sudeep Ghatak, Toni Gee), on the SharePoint journey at the University of Canterbury. Sudeep and Toni talked specifically about the transition of HR personnel files from paper into SharePoint, and some of the design challenges facing the university in doing so. Sudeep and Toni proffered some key lessons for any organisation embarking on a SharePoint journey, such as a need to understand what SharePoint can do (fully agree) and the need for a long-term vision (business and technical). Good stuff.

Clearly the challenge at every event that has multiple tracks running simultaneously is which sessions to attend and which to pass on, and that’s not always an easy choice. My oldest son—who runs his own IT services company helping people and firms with Microsoft technologies (among others)—attended the conference too, and he said he really liked Lee Stevens’s sessions What the “Internet of Things” REALLY Means for Your Business. Other people I talked with called out Oscar Trimboli’s session Skills in the 21st Century Digital Workplace (which I skipped to go to Darrell’s session above) and Dorje McKinnon’s one Digital Workplace Success Metrics: Choosing the Right Analytics Tool.

All in all, a very good event. Thanks to the conference organisers and sponsors for making it possible.

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