On May 4, 2015, Satya Nadella and other Microsoft executives announced upcoming capabilities coming to Office and Windows that are designed to reflect Microsoft’s focus on “mobile first|cloud first” and delivering consistent user experiences that allow people to work any place, any time, on any device. My favorite quote of the morning came from Corporate Vice President Gurdeep Pall: “Workplace is a misnomer. Work is what you do; it's not where you do it.”
The keynotes kicked off with a spoken word introduction – in person – by the rapper Common. Depite the fact the he just won an Academy Award, I don’t think most of the audience knew who he was. But Common wasn’t the real star of the show – Nadella was, and his messages resonated with the packed crowd of 23,000.
Nadella started by introducing the guiding principle for the jam-packed 5 days of conference sessions: “mobile first|cloud first.” He told the audience, “What matters is mobility of the experience across all of the computing devices in our life. This only happens because the cloud enables it.” If mobile first|cloud first is the guiding principle, then the word of the conference was “friction,” as in reducing it and creating “friction free mobile experiences.” Virtually every speaker used the word at least once, and many more than once. Reducing friction is about making it easier for people to get their jobs done and while Microsoft still has a long way to go, the direction is exciting (though still a little confusing, a topic about which I will write more in the future).
Here were the themes of the conference, as described by Nadella:
- Create more personal computing
- Make the interaction as natural as possible
- Provide multiple modes available in appropriate contexts
- Build trust into the core of the operating system to ensure that the data is being used for the benefit of the person and the organization
- Create experiences that are not just about great PCs - it's also about creating new categories (like tablets that can replace your laptops, the Surface hub, and holographic computing) that will be part of our digital life and work
- "Windows 10 is not just another release of Windows. It's about a new generation of Windows. Windows delivered as a service."
- Reinvent productivity and business processes
- More than Office - which is now available on every device. (Nadella announced the public preview that is now available for Office 2016.) New categories of tools like Sway, OneNote, PowerBI, Cortana. "These are innovations that are coming to market as we execute on our vision of bringing productivity and business process innovation.
- Compliance and governance "built in.”
- Continuing to advance the state of the art with Delve.
- Build the intelligent cloud
- You need the cloud back-end to achieve all these things - "driving application agility."
- You need the best tooling and platforms coming together.
- It's not just about having big data infrastructure, it's about having the tools to unlock the insights available from big data.
- Organizations need to have choices about public and private cloud development - or about combining the two. This is no more evident than with the roadmap for SharePoint 2016. The details of SharePoint 2016 and the focus on not just choice, but making it possible to combine choices in a hybrid environment, were explained by Microsoft Senior Technical Product Manager Bill Baer in a session that is available on Microsoft's Channel 9 site where you can also watch virtually every Ignite 2015 session and download both video and slides.
- Azure stack will enable organizations to replicate the capabilities of the public cloud in their data center.
- Consistent management suite to manage data centers.aint
I plan to write more about what was discussed at the conference, especially about the future of collaboration and governance, but so that you can start planning, Microsoft has already announced that Ignite will return to Chicago in 2016, from May 9 – 13. But, be prepared, the size and scale of the conference meant for a lot of walking. I was at Ignite from Sunday to early Friday morning and logged more than 42 miles on my Fitbit (98,111 steps)!