10 Things to Remember from 2017 Office 365 Year End Recap

I hope you enjoyed my 2018 future of Office 365/ SharePoint predictions.  2017 Was filled with a lot of releases and many new technologies to learn and grow with.  It’s a good day for reflection.  In fact the Tech Community Blog posted 2017 year roundup.


1. Microsoft Teams released with integrated Bot Framework and SharePoint document integration

2. SharePoint Framework SPFx released for Office 365 and for on premise with Feature Pack 2.

3. Teams announced it would replace Skype for Business online.

4. Communication sites & Modern Team Sites released

5. Over 200 data previews formats

6. Modern List improvements

7. StaffHub, Office 365 Education,

8. Flow Released – Integration with Office 365 libraries.  Announcements for more on prem integration in SharePoint 2019.

9. PowerApps Released – Integration with SharePoint libraries.  Announcements for more on prem integration in SharePoint 2019.

10. OneDrive on Demand (Improved sync on demand files for SharePoint doc libraries) with Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

Introducing Mixed Reality & SharePoint Saturday VR #SPSVR See you in AltSpaceVR!

I have to thank my good friend Noah Sparks for tutoring me in VR.  He’s one of the most passionate and has spent a lot of time educating  taking the time to catch me up.  My first intro to mixed reality was with the Hololens at Ignite a few years ago at the LiveTyles booth, where you could see a virtual SharePoint portal as well as interact with any number of 3D objects in their booth.  They allowed me to wander around and experience AR based training from minecraft castle sitting on a Augmented reality table to a 3D video of a guy showing me how to lift weights properly.


Microsoft’s full continuum look at Mixed Reality (Image courtesy Microsoft)

Later about a year ago, I was at SharePoint Saturday Utah and participated in a session with Noah Sparks and Jared Buttars about SharePoint and Mixed Reality.  I was running a live periscope broadcast at the session and there was a lot of excitement and engagement both in the room and from on twitter and periscope.  After the session Noah delivered some 1:1 VR experiences with his VIVE.  Everyone who got a chance to use it was impressed and freaked out with how amazing it was.  Noah invited me over to spend a night experiencing the VR at a more detailed level.  It was that night I first tried Facebook Spaces

In anticipation of my new job at Blizzard and my new found passion for VR, I researched the mixed reality headsets.   I visited two different Microsoft Stores and got demos of the HP headset and at Best Buy got to experience the PS4VR, but ultimately decided to go with the Oculus by Facebook along with a Samsung 360 for 360 3D pictures and video and broadcast recording.

I’m not the only one who has been fascinated and sees a future for AR/VR mixed reality and communication and collaboration.  In fact, at the last Collab 365 they setup a room in AltSpacesVR and a few people had a session in VR.  Pretty cool.  Mark Stokes has done a great job of kicking things off in AltSpaceVR and great news… Microsoft aquired them.  This is another great reason to meet up in Microsoft’s AltSpaceVR.



I think we’re ready for a special event just for the Office 365 SharePoint people to discuss VR in a virtual reality environment.



Clip of What Productivity Looks like in Mixed Reality (Clipped at 13:09)


Interested in being on the committee, speaking, or participating?  Please join me.

Register your interest on EventBrite to be informed about the upcoming #SPSVR…  and Join me in the upcoming planning session for #SPSVR on January 4 Event on AltSpaceVR

At this meeting we will determine format, dates, times, length and room.


Image may contain: screen

SharePoint people gather in AltSpaceVR during session at Collab365.  Notice the showing off of Communities in SharePoint Online in VR.


Are you ready?  Not convinced this is Microsoft’s Next Big Bet, you haven’t been watching.  Look at the Fall Creators update of Windows 10 and Interface is so important. Go to Microsoft Store and look at the investment… check out the demo.  See you in Virtual Reality… in this case… Microsoft AltSpaceVR.


Ignite 2017 SharePoint Cliff Notes

Cliff Notes from Microsoft Ignite on SharePoint, OneDrive, and Office 365 and SharePoint 2019

  • Microsoft 365 == Office 365 ++
  • Bing for Business – data from both on-premises and cloud resources can be embedded in the same search results list using Microsoft Graph and AI to connect relevant contextual data from Office 365 and Internet based Bing results based searches. There is a preview.  When you search for a file, regardless the file type, you can preview the file directly in the search result without opening or downloading it.
  • Linkedin data coming to profiles in Delve and Graph, more to be announced for developers
  • New Office 365 App Launcher
  • Teams is the new shizz. It is taking front and center as intelligent communications.  It is getting call in support for meetings, better SharePoint integration, better everything integration and development support for much more.
  • New Yammer Vision/Roadmap think of it as the outer ring of communication.
  • Flow deeper SharePoint integration including column list access and support in SharePoint 2019
  • SharePoint 2019 TAP and Preview is open. https://aka.ms/sptap (Code: SPT232).
  • OneDrive announcement – When you share a document with outside users, they will receive one email with the shared document and one email with a one-time passcode. Then they can access, view, or edit the document even if they don’t have an Office 365 account.
  • OneDrive Files On-Demand is also now generally available which allows you to sync OneDrive files to File Explorer and manage your files directly through File Explorer without utilizing any of your device’s storage.
  • Microsoft’s SharePoint Migration Tool was also launched today. This allows users to migrate home directories, file shares, and document libraries to Office 365
  • SharePoint Hub sites were announced. This allows you to organize your intranet bringing associated sites together and create cohesion with shared navigation and look-and-feel.
  • New Security Controls – site classification, conditional access based on location and device
  • OneDrive UI improvements including sharing files from explorer
  • New Templates and Designs – SharePoint Mobile Natively – Communication Sites improvements

Not a sell out! It’s Matchmaking

I recently read a Facebook thread about a new MVP who was being approached by a vendor and asked if they’d do a review or join them on a webinar. The question they were asking their colleagues was if they were a sell out by participating in these activities. I was surprised by the first few responses suggesting that they NOT work with the vendor, then some more seasoned community folks joined in to explain that we all have to make decisions around who we work with and what is worth our time and where the line is in terms of endorsement deals.

Since IT and the technology industry isn’t fraught with Subway ads, or Nike shoe deals, many don’t understand how one can realistically partner up with a company or even try to take an unbiased approach to working with vendors on webinars and such.

As someone who gets at least weekly invitations to post something on my blog, or join a vendor in an expo hall, webinar, and so much more… I’ve personally asked myself this question over a hundred times and that line has shifted since the beginning. I’m sure there are haters out there that would say I’ve taken too many deals to call myself unbiased, but in the same vein, how can you call me biased if I simply work with nearly everyone or at least nearly a hundred vendors over time.

As a consultant I’ve frequently been in the position of recommending or suggesting vendors and partners to customers, so knowing what the best solutions are is extremely important. Awareness is the absolute biggest challenge in the vendor space. There are literally thousands of vendor solutions out there, and there is no perfect app store that lets the best solutions rise to the top. Instead it’s a game of what partners are willing to spend at an event. At a typical paid SharePoint Conference it’s not unusual to pay $15,000 for a booth and fly out the vendor team to talk to a hundred or so people that may happen to come by the booth. Believe me, I’ve spend a ton of time in vendor halls and the little candy bars and tchotchkes may have little return on investment, but spend more and the Xbox One, motorcycles and massive parties do provide names and hopefully more leads. Why couldn’t a small percentage of that vendor marketing spend be spent with the community influencers to delivering webinars and getting awareness of product through a broader variety of means such as product write-ups, analysis, overviews and such. I understand people may say a review can’t be unbiased if it is paid, but then again isn’t it better to have someone check it out and tell us how they think a product may be valuable even if they don’t rip it apart? Would you rather these vendors spend their money on google ads or share that money

I hope the solutions delivery companies today build alliances with their preferred vendors based on NOT on how much of a cut they get, but relationships are actually forged based on the products which sell the best due to the solution being the best for the customers along with customer service levels. The worst solutions and worst companies should weed themselves out as the solutions fail to sell and lack of deployments.

As someone who has now done hundreds of webinars, events, reviews and various activities with vendors I consider my knowledge of third party product as extremely valuable. It is an asset I bring with me as I work with a company. Understanding the rich ecosystem of products and the vast network of employees who participate in this space is of great value. I consider myself a matchmaker and I don’t need to apologize for participating in a webinar with a vendor. If we can focus on the challenge that customers have and see vendors as having solutions to those problems we’ll have a greater appreciation for the Microsoft ecosystem and sharing in the marketing budgets and giving back to the community in a share the wealth proposition we can travel further and strengthen our community and network. I’ll tell you that’s my strategy. Pretty much every dollar I make from a vendor goes back into the community by helping me subsidize my event travel, but I wouldn’t blame someone if they decided to put that dollar toward their kids school or paying your mortgage.

Love to hear your thoughts!

Vendors that are looking to get more involved with the community can reach out to me through twitter @joeloleson or linkedin or email at joel.oleson@gmail.com. There are plenty of influencers, bloggers, speakers, and product companies to go around. Happy to help you gain awareness for your product or solution. There are other great examples in the community who have been able to turn their evangelism for good for sharing their talents to share their knowledge and educate.

(Curious about the photo? Yes, I’m the one in the plaid shirt next to the babushka who lives in Chernobyl. I was speaking in Ukraine at a paid event which helped to subsidize this trip where I was also able to travel to Azerbaijan and speak at a User Group that has never been previously reached by anyone in our global community. I couldn’t have done it without their assistance. To put this in context I do also put in a lot of my own money in my travels, but I appreciate being able to share the wealth.)

SharePoint Community Launch in Morocco in Casablanca and SharePoint Days

I really enjoyed helping launch the newest community in the SharePoint World.  The community in Casablanca was born this week.  We had a great first User Group meeting followed by SharePoint Days Casablanca a 2 day conference attended by over 100 people not including the speakers which came in from across the world… Canada, US, Belgium, France, and more.  We had about 20 speakers on what is primed to become an annual French speaking conference in Casablanca.


With some of the new SharePoint community in Casablanca


Speaker lunch on the last day at the event outside.  To the right front is Hassan.  He was the one who helped kick off the ideas of a User Group in Casablanca and helped organize the event.  As well, big kudos to Serge Trembley for helping organize the speakers and inviting me to come.


Nicolas Georgeault and Serge were the speakers at the first SharePoint User Group in Morocco hosted by Microsoft at the Offices in Casablanca.

I made a lot of new friends and learned a few new words in French.  For those that attended my sessions… here are the links.


SharePoint Days Casablanca

Day 1: Planning Your Enterprise Search Strategy

Day 2: Power User Search Tips for SharePoint and Office 365


Search Tips and Tricks infographic …  I’m working with Serge on a new French version of SharePoint Search Tips and Tricks and hope to have it in the next couple of weeks.

SharePoint Colombia, Bolivia and Peru Community Recap

I just got back from an epic trip with Michael Noel, SharePoint MVP out of San Francisco, and Jeff Beaulieu the best darn insurance salesman from Riverside California.  5 days across some amazing countries and challenging myself along the way to connect with the community and having incredible experiences along the way.

Here’s a picture based blog post of our adventure…  I should have used Sway on this.


Fernando met Jeff and I at the airport.  Jeff is my brother in law, and I invited him to join us on the adventure.  He’s been wanting to tag along.  Yes, he’s very short.  He’s a dwarf or little person.


Fernando dropped us off at a hostal to get a few hours of sleep before Michael arrived and then we headed out to the Salt Mine Church

Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá outside of Bogota.

Jorge Enrique Botoga and Lucas David San Juan picked us up in Andres Rojas wife’s car and took us out to see some sites before the meeting.



That night we delivered a couple of sessions to the community in Bogota.  Lots of friends showed up for a rainy Friday night at the Microsoft Offices!  Special thanks to ShareCol and the special help of Fernando, Lucas and Andres!

SharePoint Colombia

On Saturday we flew into La Paz and negotiated a ride out to lake titicaca and to the ruins of Tiwanaku and Puma Punku.  I was fascinated by the pre-incan civilization and was anxious to see the site for myself.

Puma Punku Bolivia

As well, Michael and I decided to take on the adventure of the World’s Most Dangerous Road also called the Death Road.  All 3 of us completed the 65K downhill bike ride.  Incredible life experience.  We even picked up a new consulate friend.

Death Road

Below: In La Paz, we met up with the SharePoint Experts of Bolivia.  As we drove through the city they pointed out all the banks, businesses, and government institutions that use SharePoint in Bolivia.  These guys were awesome.  This really was the birth of the SharePoint Community in Bolivia and I wish them luck in their pursuits.

SharePoint Bolivia

Below: From there, we flew to Lima and were greeted by Edgard.  He took us to the city square and the catacombs.  Later we’d visit to the LDS Peru Temple (I do love visiting the temples) and visit a pyramid and walk along the boardwalk in Mira Flores.  Beautiful city.


Lima with Angel

That night we’d meet up with an awesome crowd in Lima.  We had 101 people sign up to meet us at the Microsoft Offices.  We had an awesome crowd.  Don’t underestimate the power of community to pull together an awesome event.  Great work Microsoft User Group Peru!

Microsoft User Group Peru

SharePoint Community Baku Azerbaijan

In my travel quest and quest to build communities around the world and reach out the underserved emerging markets and help connect communities with our global community I visited Baku Azerbaijan.  Where is that you might ask?



Well, it’s on the Caspian sea… Sounds like Narnia a little bit.  Well, It is a magical place with a history of fire worshipers, early man sites, mud volcanoes, and fire that dances on the buildings at night.  You’ll have to read my Azerbaijan travel blog to hear more about the Fire temple and ancient petroglyphs we visited.  This magical place has a lot of Oil, and is very strategic in between Asia and Europe.  They are host of the very first European 2015 games.  This event will put Baku on the map and their place in the world will rocket.  I already see a bit of Qatar and Dubai in their skyline, but unlike those other places, there’s a lot more history and sites to see that have a fascinating past.

Flame Towers

Picture: View of Fire Towers from Old Town.  See more photos on my trip to Azerbaijan on my traveling epic blog on the “Top destinations in Azerbaijan

We worked with Microsoft to put together a 1 day event in Baku.  Special thanks to Aydin Aliyev a local Microsoft MVP and Gachay Mirzayev from Microsoft.

At this first SharePoint Saturday in Baku Azerbaijan, I talked about Enterprise Search Strategy (click to view or download the slides).

Microsoft Azerbaijan


Gobustan petroglyphs

The community is truly rich around the world. Aydin, our local friend took us to the Fire Temple, petroglyphs and night view of the flame towers, nice local cuisine and more.

SharePoint Community ALS Icebucket Challenge… What’s all the Fuss about?

A couple years ago if someone asked me what ALS was I’d guess it was a technical term related to some kind of security token.  Then I found out I had a good friend who had Lou Gherigs disease.  I’d heard of that, but didn’t know anyone personally who had it.  The past few years I’ve been blessed with some incredible global travel experiences and opportunity to launch communities and training in some amazing parts of the world… from China, Vietnam, and Philippines to Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile.  After that trip I found out that our Sharing the Point reporter and blogger John Anderson, was inflicted with ALS.  At that time it was very private, but he wanted to let us know that it may be his last trip with us.  He was noticeably shaking and told us about how much harder it was to type.  We were able to do one more trip to Africa where we hiked Kilimanjaro and launched a SharePoint user group in Kenya. (Yes, the one that met a year later on the day of the shooting in Nairobi.)  John was able to go on a Serengeti safari while we were on the mountain.  This would be our last trip with him.  He is now in a wheel chair.  The Bamboo solutions team still considers him part of the team which is awesome.  They’ve seen him through this awful disease.  I’m sure he doesn’t like this attention that he’s getting.  He doesn’t want to be an example, but I think it helps to put a face to what happens.

John Anderson’s experience explained in his own IceBucket challenge




Just a couple of weeks ago, I saw my first IceBucket challenger.  It was Bill Gates putting something he had constructed to dump ice on his head.  It was pretty awesome to see him challenge Mark Zuckerberg and see him accept.  Bonnie Surma had sent me the link and said… Wouldn’t it be great to get the SharePoint community involved in this?

I was busy with my move to the San Diego area, and while I would have loved to have gotten involved I was concerned I couldn’t give it the attention it needed. So I blew it off, until I was in Houston for work, and Naomi Moneypenny asked me if I would accept the challenge if she challenged me at the Houston SharePoint User Group meeting.  I told her… Sure! I’d accept, and please bring an extra bag of ice for me.

So Naomi takes the lead…



Kanwal, Naomi, Richard, Sean




Mark Rackley and Benjamin Niaulin and even Todd Klindt





That night 5 SharePoint people did the #ALSIceBucket challenge right in front of me.  I was last to go, and took the opportunity to challenge a few friends who were with me when John shared his ALS story.  I challenged Dux Raymond Sy @meetdux , I mentioned Bamboo in my story @bamboonation , Michael Noel @michaeltnoel , and Mark Miller @eusp .



Dux took the challenge and despite being in Singapore he arranged to make it happen.




Team Bamboo joins the challenge and challenges the SharePoint Product Team, SharePoint MVPs, and the Partners and community.  http://community.bamboosolutions.com/blogs/bambooteamblog/archive/2014/08/25/team-bamboo-is-back-to-battle-against-als-in-a-really-cool-way.aspx


Here are a few more links:


Bill Gates



Satya Nadella



Jeff Bezos



Kermit the Frog



Wes Preston



Sean McDonough



Mark Rackley



Michael Gannotti



Sarah Haase



Richard Harbridge



Kanwal Kipple


Todd Klindt



Heather Newman



Dan Holme


SharePoint Uzbekistan Community Launch and SharePoint Saturday

Michael Noel and I have been planning our trip to Central Asia for years!  We knew the biggest challenge would be visas.  Around Christmas time and after our wild across South American to Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana and more, I surrendered one of my Passports to Michael for 4 months to line up the most logistically challenging trip yet requiring 5+ visas. I reached out to Linked In expert Jim Bob, chief networker to help me see if I could find any SharePoint contacts in any number of the “STANS.”  Pakistan is packed with SharePoint people, but that’s a story for Michael Noel to tell, since I couldn’t get that visa in time (4-6 weeks!).

I also reached out to Timus Bazicalos was already a facebook friend and we’d be talking for at least a couple of years (maybe even five years ago) about doing a SharePoint Uzbekistan event in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.  We focused on Tashkent as the main hub of our trip, and as the anchor for the event.  Timus would help us with logistics and ultimately be a traveling companion on our tour of the silk road and help lead us to the borders of Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and even Afghanistan.  His own visa requirements would keep him from being able to join us in those places, but it didn’t keep him from taking a week to tour the best of what Uzbekistan has to offer in some incredible ancient silk road cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Shakrazabh.  I’ve started blogging on my travel blog about the silk road adventure trip and a few photos of the fascinating places from my trip.


Bukhara Fountain

Silk Road Tashkent Uzbekistan


Tashkent is a fascinating city.  As the capital of Uzbekistan with over 2 million residents, as a city it is more populated than many of the countries in Europe.  It is a high tech city with great infrastructure and you can still see some signs from the former soviet republic.  While my travel was focused on the 12th century and prior, our SharePoint conversations were much more focused on the future of Uzbekistan.

SharePoint Saturday Tashkent Uzbekistan

SharePoint Saturday Uzbekistan.  Bottom row is Timus, Me with my Uzbek hat, and Michael Noel in the suit coat.  Far right is the Microsoft rep. He’s The Microsoft country manager and only MS guy in the country.  Akhadbek, is the one with the back stage pass.  He has been running a SharePoint forum for Uzbeks.  Minus our female SharePoint attendee.  I think she snuck out when we went outside for pictures.  You can see her in the picture below.  Why do I bring that up? Every country I go to has a mix of males and females, and Uzbekistan as well has female IT folks.  Women in IT and Women in SharePoint is important and I support their efforts.

SharePoint Tashkent

Speaking at SharePoint Saturday Uzbekistan.



SharePoint is an important part of the strategy of the Republic of Uzbekistan for their Ministry of Health.


We met with the SharePoint team at the Ministry of Health following the SharePoint Saturday after lunch.  Great conversations about responsive design, and best practices discussions on infrastructure.  Yeah, most of it was in Russian and Uzbek, so I didn’t understand most of it.


Tina and Timus, our Uzbekistan SharePoint friend his lovely wife who were our guides who would show us the adventure of a lifetime.  I feel very blessed to find amazing SharePoint people all over the planet, and have incredible experiences and adventures.  Timus, thanks for being a great friend and my wish is for much success to you and your family and all of the SharePoint people we met.  The world just got a little bit smaller.

If you’re a SharePoint guy and wondering how to connect with other SharePoint people in Uzbekistan, they are working things out to build a user group that will meet regularly.  Forums: http://uforum.uz/ join the Russian speaking community in Yammer: http://yammer.com/spyam

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