I've been away from the community for what feels like a long time. Of course, I say a long time but in reality its only really been a month. On Monday 23rd August I woke up as I usually do around 7am feeling completely out of sorts; and two days later having taking two lateral flow tests and spending most of the previous 48 hours in bed both of them confirmed what I was anticipating. I had contracted Covid-19. Since returning to work last week a few people have asked what my experience was like. By experience they mean what was it like to get a severe case of Covid-19 and be hospitalized by the disease? How bad was it? Because after all its been well documented that you can have Covid-19 and not experience any symptoms at all. On the other hand I am sure most of us are aware of the huge number of global deaths resulting from this disease since the pandemic began. John Hopkins shows it being well on it's way to about 5 million people
y organisations have already signaled that they have learnt absolutely nothing from their experience of the pandemic. They have survived. And as soon as these organisations can they will try to have all their staff back in the office, and many will operate as if the pandemic had never really happened at all. Now, Microsoft has been really serious this past year about change. About concepts such as building resilience, working towards net sustainability and digital optimism and if you follow along with Envision, or look at Microsoft's Work Trend Index then you will see that these are the subjects which will underpin what this Inspire will be ultimately about. This is about moving away from a response period into one of recovery setting the stage for being able to reimagine an alternative future: one that many of us have actually been living for a while but without many of the restrictions currently in place. From Microsoft's perspective an optimal recovery is one that embraces hybrid working, asynchronous working and digital optimism which drives digital intensity and speeds up digital transformation. We'll see a lot on Teams. We'll see a lot on Security, on Azure and Azure Virtual Desktop. We'll see a lot about Endpoints. But the most important takeaway of all will be Microsoft's ask of it partners: are you with us in this new world? Can you be that advocate of change? Will you be responsible for helping to ensure that a recovery constitutes learning from what has occurred the past 18 months and when, not if, this happens again we'll be in a stronger position, a more resilient position to deal with it. This is not just an opportunity to transform digitally, but culturally too - reframing the very way that we work. We have the technology for that. We have that technology now
This has to be a quick one. In just a few hours time - straight after Satya Nadella's keynote I am on and in a Table Talk concerning Dataverse for Microsoft Teams, and having just returned from annual leave yesterday and teaching Microsoft Teams Fundamentals all day long, it's been an absolutely crazy last 48 hours. So Build. I love Build. As an IT Pro people have often asked me as to why I like Build considering I am not a developer. And the reason is not because it's online and free. Nor is it because I am a huge advocate of Microsoft. Build is Microsoft's principle event of the year aimed at developers - and whilst I am not a developer and will probably never think of myself as even a citizen developer even though I work quite a bit now with the Power Platform, for me the real value is twofold. First Build is in the broadest sense of someone involved in technology an event all about passion for innovation, for technology which can help others and make our lives easier. People come together, young and old, from every background, for the general good, to solve problems, to take things to the next level and redefine the art of the possible. In that sense, Build is the most positive and aspirational of all the Microsoft events. To me, it says I can make a difference. I can create something which matters to people. Secondly, Build is often a bellwether for what is going to happen over the course of the next year. Build sits pretty much at the end of Microsoft's financial year, and what we see in Build is Microsoft is really starting to think about what it wants from the next fiscal which starts in July, where it want's developers to focus and where it's own developers are focusing. There is many insights we can glean before we get to Inspire and before he head onto Ignite. I tend to think of it now as the beginning of Microsoft's event year.
Microsoft Ignite is back. It's been 6 months since the last one - and if I am being honest, it feels like the last one only took place last weekend. Of course, in many ways the last one was really the first - the first in lockdown, the first where it wasn't possible for us to attend in person - but it was also the first to surpass 70,000 attendees as the remote experience opened it up to a much larger audience who otherwise wouldn't have been able to attend. But whether this one constitutes 'Ignite Part 2' or is a singular replacement for Ignite the Tour, we all find ourselves returning to the biggest IT pro event of the year at a different time: both in terms of the calendar and in terms of more optimism as we may begin to see a return to a degree of normal life as we know it this year. I, for one, am very interested to see Microsoft's take on the state of things. Last year, see heard a lot about resilience, about being digital responders and we saw narratives such as accelerating digital transformation to the cloud for business continuity and supporting remote workers as they deal with a spectrum of challenges, including emotional and mental well being. Will we see a continuation of these narratives or will we see a pivoting of this? Jared Spatero's session The Hybrid Workplace suggests we will and where Microsoft think we will all be operating post pandemic. But what is intriguing is Satya Nadella's keynote which will be held on AltspaceVR. As much as showing the power of technology and mixed reality, how does this feed into the narrative, and like AI, how in the years to come will we all be using mixed reality day to day within our hybrid workplaces to connect, and get work done. What's clear from the last year, is we no longer have to be there, and so doing, we ultimately - if we are true to ourselves, may find it is even better than the real thing.
It's time to start again. A new conference with a new name. Back in November we announced that we were leaving TeamsFest behind and moving forward with Teams Nation. It's a decision that we were thinking about for some time given we wanted to become more inclusive of our audience outside of Europe, but we also wanted to avoid conflict with other parties who had a desire to use the name. Now - as then - we wish them the very best and hope it brings them as much success that we had the last few years. So what have we been up to since then? Over the last two months, we have worked on consolidating our old user group, the European Teams User Group into the Teams Nation Monthly meetup and so far we've have had some awesome sessions from speakers such as Hadrian Nessim Socard, Tomasz Poszytek, Joao Ferreira and Albert Hoitingh. With more attendees than ever before, our meetup group has grown to over 150 members in a really short space of time. We've set up on Twitter. We've set up on LinkedIn. I think Vesku mentioned he spun something up on Insta. It's gone well so far with the kind of incremental growth that is really nice to see. We're already booking up for the monthly meetup into June