Catching Up on Post-Ignite Activities with Fellow Community Reporters

Chatting it up with DarrellaaS and AlistairPuginI’m trying to get into the habit of doing more with video and live streaming with customers, partners, and the community….in case you hadn’t noticed the increase in activities. I caught up with two of my fellow #MSIgnite MVP Community Reporters, Darrell Webster (@DarrellaaS) and Alistair Pugin (@AlistairPugin) to share some of our activities in the almost 2 months since the Microsoft Ignite Conference at the end of September, as well as to share some recommendations for sessions from the event. It’s always fun to catch up with these two gentlemen — and we discussed doing a few more of these in the coming months as a way to track our trending interests, but also as a way to point each other toward valuable content during the event. During Ignite, we were all so busy running between Community Reporter duties, customer and partner meetings, and other networking opportunities that none of us were able to see many actual sessions. As a result, we’re all slowly going through the recordings and slides available through the Ignite site, on the Microsoft Tech Community site, and on YouTube — and this post and video are my way of sharing some of the sessions that I missed in-person, but now recommend.

The recording of our conversation can be found at the bottom of this post.

My Travel Summary

I’ve been writing and tweeting about my post-Ignite activities on a regular basis, but the video and this blog post serve as an opportunity to aggregate and summarize what I’ve been up to since Orlando. In short: haven’t been home much. I spent 3 weeks on the road in October, most of that time in support of AvePoint around a series of events in South Africa. I keynoted the three SharePoint Saturday events in Durban, Johannesburg, and Cape Town, presented at 4 different partner events in Cape Town and Johannesburg with AvePoint partners Karabina and Mint, and participated in AvePoint Red Bus events in Bloemfontein, East London, and Port Elizabeth. Yep, that would be 10 events in just over 2 weeks. And what better way to cap off 2.5 weeks of travel but to travel 20+ hours from Cape Town to Richmond, VA to lead a half-day workshop on Microsoft Teams? Had a blast, enjoyed hanging out with the user group (Erin Glenn and Hunter Willis rock!), but I was ready to be home.

Alas, I was only home for a day before catching a flight to Minneapolis for another SharePoint Saturday Twin Cities, where I got to crash with my daughter and son-in-law. I also got to co-present with my good friend Tom Duff (@duffbert) on our joint “Office 365 Productivity Tips” session, which is a ton of fun to do, and which we’ll be recording and posting to YouTube next week, AND doing live (with all new content, every time) in a webinar on Tuesday the 28th (register for the Office 365 Smack-Down here). I returned home that Sunday night, looking forward to a week with the family.

Of course, I had a ton of client work to catch up on, and the week home was quickly over, and I was back on the road to Europe, where I keynoted the inaugural SharePoint Saturday Vienna (#SPSVIE) event, and then joined several other speakers on a flight to Dublin, Ireland for the European SharePoint, Office 365, and Azure Conference (#ESPC17). Fantastic event, made some great connections, and was able to spend a lot of time with the teams from AvePoint, Crow Canyon Software, Rencore, Colligo, tyGraph, and KanBo.

I made it home last Friday at around 9:30pm, and understandably spent most of this past weekend sleeping and doing absolutely nothing. Loved every minute of it, too.

Session Recommendations

So here are three sessions that were all on my Ignite calendar at one point, but that I was not able to attend in-person. As I mention in the video below, there’s a theme with my picks, but if you follow this blog, there shouldn’t be any surprises. Here are my recommendations:

My first recommendation is Microsoft Teams and Yammer: Velocity meets community – BRK2147, by Melanie Hohertz,  Simon Denton,  and Sara Krajewski.

I really like this one. If you’ve not met Melanie, who I saw at #SPSTC at the end of October, she’s a great presenter and a lot of fun to hang out with. For those of you on the technical side of things, you may see it as a bunch of “fluff” at the beginning, but the setup they provide is necessary to the rest of the presentation, so keep watching. What makes this session valuable are the real-world examples from Cargill and Mott MacDonald on leveraging both Teams and Yammer. If your organization is struggling with the “which tool do I use, and when” issue, you’ll want to watch this session. You can find the recording, speaker contact information, and community discussion around this session on their Microsoft Tech Community page.


My second recommendation is Build smarter apps with Office using the Microsoft Graph – BRK3080, by Yina Arenas,  David Lavenda,  and Wes Hackett.

This one provides a great overview of the Microsoft Graph, shows you its extensibility, with David and Wes sharing specific examples of extending the Graph through intelligent apps. This is not a marketing session, but an introduction that kicks the tires and shows you much of what is under the hood with the Graph. I believe this session is a must-watch. It’s becoming increasingly important for people to know more about the Microsoft Graph and understand what it can do – because it’s the future, people. The Graph is at the center of just about every exciting new feature coming out of Redmond, and tapping into the Graph is the future for enterprise collaboration and knowledge management. You can find more content and discussion around this session on their Microsoft Tech Community page.


My third recommendation is Let’s talk about Conversation Design – BRK3301, by Vishwac Sena Kannan.

Another important topic is bot development, and, more specifically, conversation-as-a-service, which is really about the future of UX design. Content is rapidly being replaced by conversation — I’ve been talking about this topic for years. I saw the trend within SharePoint, as the platform was used to either store documents or, in the more active team sites with strong employee engagement, lists of data. With the move toward more social features, the future of knowledge management is shifting to conversation — and bots are at the forefront of this movement. Vishwac, who is a Sr. Program Manager with Microsoft, provides a great overview of the bot framework, and a sneak peek at Microsoft’s Conversation Designer to help with the collaborative design and development of bots. Again, you can find more on this session and join in the discussion on the session’s Microsoft Tech Community page.

Next Up

I’m continuing to go through Ignite content, and will definitely have additional recommendations in the coming weeks. Darrell, Alistair and I talked about doing this again, possibly in early January, sharing 3 new recommendations each. As I pointed out in the video, I am surprised that we did not overlap. We did not review our recommendations with each other in advance, and its great that we diverged in our findings — but given that we’re all Office Servers & Services MVPs with backgrounds in SharePoint, I expected there to be at least 1 duplicate….but no. That really speaks to the volume of content available, and the nuances of our different backgrounds and interests. Good stuff. Looking forward to doing this again, guys.

And if you’d like to watch, you can find our discussion via YouTube below:


By the way, you can find more details on Darrell’s recommendations here, and Alistair’s rantings here. Additionally, I’ve posted the slides from the recording on SlideShare, which you can download and share, if you’d like.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and M365 Apps & Services MVP, and an award-winning product marketer and technology evangelist, based in Silicon Slopes (Lehi), Utah. He is the Director of North American Partner Management for leading ISV Rencore (, leads content strategy for TekkiGurus, and is an advisor for both revealit.TV and WellnessWits. He hosts the monthly #CollabTalk TweetJam, the weekly #CollabTalk Podcast, and the Microsoft 365 Ask-Me-Anything (#M365AMA) series.