CollabTalk Episode #8 Recap

A brief summary of the monthly CollabTalk show

Christian Buckley

by Christian Buckley on 8/13/2015

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Ben Niaulin, buckleyplanet, Christian Buckley, CollabTalk, Marc Anderson, Naomi Moneypenny, Office 365, SharePoint

CollabTalk on IT Unity

Today was the 8th webisode of CollabTalk, a monthly talk show co-hosted by myself and fellow-MVPs Naomi Moneypenny (@nmoneypenny), Marc Anderson (@sympmarc), and Benjamin Niaulin (@bniaulin) during which we talk about SharePoint, Office 365, and all related products and services flowing out of Redmond. Why this post? I was chatting with Dan Holme a couple weeks back about ways to promote the show, and realized that I've never once summarized one of our shows in an article -- and so here I am.

If you've never caught one of our monthly webisodes, we try to keep things pretty light and entertaining -- and spend a lot of time poking fun at each other. Ben was unable to join us this month due to travel, but we were pleased to be able to add our good friend and yes, another MVP, Eric Riz (@rizinsights) to the mix. 

Each webisode follows a set structure: we introduce ourselves, thank our sponsors (Colligo and Beezy sponsored us this month -- thanks!), and then proceed to outline the topics we plan to cover. Most of the discussions stay on the business user side of things, but we do occasionally dip into technical territory, where needed, and add in the occasional poll -- as well as monitor attendee comments -- to make it more of a collaborative activity. This month, the topics included:

  • Getting ready for the SharePoint 2016 Preview
  • The Cloud Search Service Application for SP2013 and SP2016
  • The launch of Project GigJam
  • General Availability of Cortana Analytics and PowerBI

Rather than attempt to recapture the entire dialog of the webisode, I encourage you to check out the recording -- of this webisode and past webisodes, which are made available within a day or two of each show. I will, however, share a few of my own thoughts on each topic, as well as the resource links we provided during the show:

The SharePoint 2016 Preview

The preview bits are arriving earlier than had been anticipated by most of us in the community, which was announced last month at the Worldwide Partner Conference. We talked at length about what makes this release different from past versions, with Naomi and I going back and forth about how this release is the first on prem release based on innovation developed for the cloud first. I mentioned a conversation I had with Sr. Technical Product Manager Bill Baer (@williambaer) about a year ago where we were talking about the *massive* differences between releases of the past and this next release (now SP2016), and how the product team wasn't even sure how they would deliver the bits. Rather than building SharePoint on prem and online (for Office 365) in parallel, the primary development was done for the cloud, and then Microsoft had to figure out which features should be -- and could be -- delivered for on prem. Just a very different way of doing things, and Microsoft has had to re-think the way they deliver software, across the board. The resource links we shared include:

SharePoint 2013 Cloud Search Service Application for Hybrid environments

Honestly, I'm not a big search guy -- and I think we would have had some great input from Ben, had he been there today, since he's been doing a deep dive into many aspects of search over the past year (see his Sharegate blog posts for more), but basically what this new service app provides is an Azure-based search index that has the ability to federate your search indexes across your SP2010, SP2013, and soon SP2016 environments. Search is truly the *most* important aspect of any collaboration or knowledge management platform -- adding content is easym, but if you can't find it again, your system has failed -- and the ability to search across your various online and on prem infrastructure assets is HUGE. You can read more about this:

Project GigJam

I've been talking a lot about this topic, having made it the subject of my most recent #CollabTalk tweetjam (which you can join each month at For most of us, we heard about Project GigJam from the Worldwide Partner Conference as Office GM Julia White (@julwhite) took the stage and introduced us to a mashup, of sorts, that used Cortana, PowerBI, Dynamics CRM, and tools from the Office suite to demonstrate what collaboration may look like in the not-too-distant future.

One of my comments was that I'm not sure how GigJam would be practical, and compared this effort to NASA, and how much of the real value and innovation created comes not from the effort of going to the moon or to Mars, but in the technologies and advances created because of our pursuit of these things. I asked my co-hosts whether GigJam was a legitimate effort by Microsoft to fundamentally transform the way that we collaborate, or simply an experiment to test out theories -- is it revolutionary or evolutionary?

My other comment was that we need to understand more about how the various tools and apps are "packaged" to work within the GigJam framework. If it is difficult, if the technical barrier is high to GigJam-enable various tools, putting a container around them to be usable within the GigJam canvas, it would seriously limit the potential of the technology. Just some thoughts, and, as Marc pointed out, we've seen very little from the Ambient Computing team that built this technology before, and after, WPC….so more information would be great. We want to hear from them. Take a look at this promising technology here:

General availability of Cortana Analytics and Power BI

Finally, we spent our last few minutes discussing the pending release of the Cortana APIs and how organizations might use this analytics suite to build out some impressive visualizations around their data. The discussion went a bit sideways around how difficult it has been, historically, to do anything close to as impressive as the demos we've all seen -- because in the real world, we don't have access to all of the data in our organizations that would make these visualizations possible. We closed out the show talking about and how leadership teams need to step up and recognize that many orgs are still hoarding data --and that we all benefit when many of these data siloes are shut down, and data is democratized (while also recognizing that compliance, security, and governance measures still need to be met). I'm sure we could have talked another hour on that topic alone. You can learn more about the Cortana Analytics release here:

And that's essentially everything we covered in this month's show -- from my perspective. Again, I would recommend that you watch the recording, as Naomi, Marc and Eric offered some great perspectives of their own.

And be sure to register for our next episode, taking place on September 23rd. I'll be dialing in from the Beezy office in Barcelona, and I'm sure will have some stories to share from my upcoming travels. See you there!

Topic: Business Productivity

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