Like Inspire earlier this year; this Ignite will be my 4th. Having just got back from surviving Covid I don't mind admitting to you that I'm completely unprepared this time around. I wish I could tell you differently. Yet if I had said something different a.) I'd be lying and b.) that's really the reality when you are out of the loop for a month working in cloud. Saying that; I am actually looking forward to this Ignite probably more than any other since it's been held virtually. Why? We are going to hear a lot about Teams, about Collaborative Apps and Fluid. We are going to hear more on Windows 11 and Windows 365. We are going to hear more on Viva and probably the recent acquisition of Ally.io. We'll hear about the new Stream and how it continues to evolve, more about new devices and form factors, and a slew of new features for the Power Platform which will continue to fuel its prodigious growth. We'll see how Yammer is changing and how SharePoint is being fused increasingly with teams, yet at the same time broken apart and siloed into apps as it's services are pulled through. But you know, we are going to hear the word Hybrid most of all. It's going to be used in this event like never before. And it'll be used alongside resilience, and agility, and analytics, and zero trust. We may even hear more about that new kid on the block digital optimism. So why am I so interested in all this? Rather than just about the tech? As an event organiser myself I am always interested in fleshing out the narrative: the overall story of the conference which binds all these subjects and sessions together. Well, if you've been around and followed what Microsoft's been up to during the course of the pandemic then that narrative hasn't really changed all that much. It been coming to fruition, playing out, following the script to use idioms. Cast yourself back to Judson Althoff's session at Inspire 2020. At the beginning of the pandemic it was about being first responders; it was all about survival. As we meandered through the pandemic and the lockdowns it was about supporting recovery. Now its time for the the third act. As vaccine development has helped us begin to manage Covid and countries and economies start opening up it's now about the reimagining and the rebuilding. And what that constitutes is what Microsoft is doubling down on. Hybrid. Hybrid which posits that a.) we are going to go through something like this or something similar again and b.) Something that is almost inevitable given our experiences during the past 2 years. But you know, it's not a particularly earth shattering or revolutionary insight. Most of us know or have personally experienced that some people want to work alongside others in person or have to because of their roles. We also know that some people want to work from home as it benefits their personal life or their views on - for example - sustainability. Again, we also know others want a mix of both. So in fairness many of us didn't need Covid or the experience of it for what we already knew. Yet, the why as in why Microsoft is going all in on Hybrid? Its because for them it represents the greatest opportunity. Hybrid is the greatest opportunity for mitigating what we've all just been through. It's the greatest opportunity for creating a permanent change to the way that we work, and for real meaningful social change. But let's not forget too: hybrid represents the greatest return on their investment for what they have been investing in for many years. And don't forget - it what's going to keep us all in the job as technicians; it's where Microsoft is focusing their innovations
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.