Going to Vegas for The SharePoint Conference 2020

Mastering the Breadth of Office 365

As some of you might know, my background lies in email. I’ve been working with email systems since 1982 and with Exchange since 1995. It’s been quite a ride. But time moves on and being a specialist in one area is not a great career strategy, even in an area that’s quite broad, like email. Technology moves so quickly today that it’s important to acquire a spectrum of knowledge.

Working with Office 365, I think it’s wise to have a solid grounding in the two basic workloads (Exchange and SharePoint) with a major in one. At the same time, you need to have knowledge of at least two of the other Office 365 apps, like Teams, Yammer, and Planner together with some capability in automation (PowerShell or Power Platform). To complete the package, you should have knowledge of Azure Active Directory with added credits for associated technologies like conditional access policies, information protection, and so on.

In short, despite Microsoft taking care of many mundane operations previously handled by on-premises administrators, there’s lots of work to do in the cloud.

Acquiring Knowledge

Acquiring knowledge is hard. You can read all of Microsoft’s documentation (which has become much better over the last few years) plus roadmap updates and blogs. You then add the independent commentary and opinion from non-Microsoft sources like MVP blogs and vendor sites, and suddenly there’s a ton of detail to master on an ongoing basis. It’s possible to read all this content, but do you really master it?

Some have questioned the value of technology conferences in the world of the cloud. Critics say that sessions delivered by vendors are marketing pitches about features that might or might not be delivered. They point to the same old faces appearing at every technology conference with the same decks, and probably the same bad jokes.

There’s some truth in these assertions. Even major events like the Microsoft Ignite conference have their fair share of bad sessions delivered by people who don’t understand their material or can’t connect with their audience. Even so, that’s no reason to discount conferences. The value I find in conferences is twofold. First, I like listening to sessions about topics that I really know nothing about. These sessions force me to think about what I do know and how to relate the new information, which might lead to further investigation. Second, there’s no better way to meet people who write and contribute to the community than at a conference.

SharePoint History

I have a long history with SharePoint going back to the original SharePoint Portal Server 2001. I have discussed the (woeful) SharePoint administration tools with Bill Gates in 2007. And I write more about SharePoint Online more now than at any time in the past. All of which brings me to a decision to attend and present at the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas in May 2020.

Off to Vegas

I’ve attended the European SharePoint conference for the last few years, most recently in Prague last December. These events are high-quality and well-run. The SharePoint development group supports the conference and it’s an event that I recommend. With that in mind, why incur the jet lag penalty by traveling from Ireland to Las Vegas for three days?

Come to the SharePoint 2020 Conference with https://sharepointna.com/#!/register?utm_term=REDMOND
Come to the SharePoint 2020 Conference with https://sharepointna.com/#!/register?utm_term=REDMOND

It’s obviously not gambling because I don’t. Over twenty or more visits to Vegas, I think I might have lost the grand sum of 25 cents on a slot machine. It’s not the shows, even if Vegas has some incredible shows to see. And it’s not the restaurants either, even in the delightful surroundings of the MGM Grand. Instead, it’s the people and the technology that attract me to Vegas.

I also want to encourage attendees to expand their vision and think about Office 365 from a different perspective. SharePoint is important to Office 365, but it’s important as the provider of document management services to Office 365 instead of being the center of an ecosystem, which is the case for SharePoint server on-premises.

Vegas SharePoint Sessions

In any case, if you’d like to join me in Vegas in May, consider using this code to get a $50 reduction on the conference fee. I’ll be talking about Teams, doing an updated and revamped version of my Things you never knew about Teams that might be useful someday talk plus a new session about the ins and outs of Office 365 sensitivity labels and their use to protect Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business content, control settings for Office 365 Groups, Teams, and SharePoint Online sites, including using PowerShell to work with labels. I haven’t built the deck yet, but I know it’s going to be an interesting talk.

Hopefully, I will come back from Vegas with a few new ideas and insights. At least, that’s the plan. And if you’re at the SharePoint Conference 2020, come by and share your views.


The Office 365 for IT Pros eBook covers the important stuff about SharePoint Online in-depth. If you can’t get to the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, perhaps you should subscribe to the book.

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