Meet Office 365 for IT Pros at the European Collaboration Summit 2021

First In-Person Event Since 2019

The last in-person event I spoke at was the European SharePoint Conference in Prague in December 2019. Much has happened since, but as society gradually recovers from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, conferences are beginning to cast off the constraints imposed by having to run as virtual gatherings. Don’t get me wrong. Virtual conferences filled a gap while travel was impossible or restricted, but the energy, vitality, and enthusiasm present when gathering to listen to a series of sessions delivered by Microsoft Teams or Zoom is very different to an in-person event.

All of which means that I am looking forward to being in Dusseldorf, Germany for the European Collaboration Summit (ECS) starting on November 29. ECS runs alongside its sister event, the European Cloud Summit. Both events are being run under strict Covid-19 protocols to protect all those involved.

ECS is a community event which isn’t run purely on a commercial basis (costs must be covered, so the event is sponsored). The result is that the ECS vibe is quite different. Because it’s a community event, ECS sessions deliver more independent and diverse thought about how technology works and how to extract value from deployments. Compared to the blandness of a Microsoft event like Ignite, the level of marketing hyperbole, overpromising, and under delivery is far less.

Although I enjoy seeing the range of expertise available in most ECS sessions, I consider it regrettable that all the ECS keynote sessions feature Microsoft employees. This is no criticism of the Microsoft speakers, most of whom I know well. Instead, it’s a desire for conferences to surface diverse leadership opinions instead of automatically assuming that the only source of inspiration and knowledge comes from those with a Microsoft badge. There’s surely some independent thinking available in the Microsoft collaboration community suitable for a keynote to replace and counterbalance the sameness of the messages delivered by Microsoft at conferences around the globe. Remember, if we all believed the marketing bluster received from Microsoft in the past, everyone would be communicating by Yammer instead of using email and Teams.

My Schedule

ECS begins with a day of workshops on Monday with sessions delivered over the following two days. I’ll cover All About Microsoft 365 Sensitivity Labels at 14:45 on Tuesday, 30 November in Room 1 (Aurum room) while fellow Office 365 for IT Pros author and MVP Paul Robichaux will present on Email is the Easy Part: 5 Pitfalls to Avoid in Tenant-to-Tenant Migrations at 15:00 on Wednesday, 1 December at the Teams Stage.

Figure 1: Speaking at the European Collaboration Summit 2019

I’ve covered the development of sensitivity labels and their spreading influence within Microsoft 365 since the debut of the technology. Recent articles include:

Hopefully, I will have some new information to share with attendees. That’s the plan, but like most plans, it will go out the window once the first slide hits the screen. We’ll see how things evolve based on audience participation, questions, and whatever comes into my head at the time.

Here’s a downloadable copy of my presentation (not protected by a sensitivity label)

Regretfully, I won’t be at ECS on Wednesday. Other commitments bring me back to Dublin on Wednesday morning. However, there’s a bunch of good sessions scheduled for day 2 of ECS, so I suspect I’ll be one of the few leaving early.

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