How Not to Woo a Crowd

I’m here at the European SharePoint Conference, so far just an amazing experience. I’ll come back to more reviews of the various sessions, presenters, and the event itself later.

However, I just attended the opening keynote titled Apps Everywhere, delivered by Microsoft to a room filled with hundreds of SharePoint professionals, and that was far from a pleasant experience.

I really wanted this presentation to go well. I really wanted to be convinced that Apps is as cool as everyone says. I actually think they may be, although for different reasons than the marketing group of Redmond would like you to believe. I’ll get back to that another time, though, because I haven’t actually made up my mind about Apps yet.

I have made up my mind about the keynote, though, and it was at best a disaster. Being a Microsoft keynote, we knew what to expect in the marketing message: Use Apps, Apps will save the world, Apps will give you everything you ever dreamed.

For a keynote like this, you’d at least expect everything to work perfectly, but you could forgive a slipup every now and then. Microsoft presentations are usually polished to a shine. We got the first issue in the very first demo, when the presenter added a Bing App to display some data from Excel inside an Excel workbook.

Then, he continued to demo how perfectly this migrates to SharePoint, and poof, nothing really worked. Permissions issues, redirects to wrong pages, whatever the underlying problem, but suddenly he had to excuse himself because he could really get his editing to work.

This is forgivable. Everyone who ever delivered a demo knows that sometimes things can go wrong.

However, this repeated itself for every single demo in the entire session. I’m not joking, I think that every single attempt to show how great Apps are failed.

Note: I was a bit busy tweeting at the time, but I think maybe he got a demo where he inserted an image into Word to work.

On its own, this is a bad situation, but don’t think it stopped there because in an attempt to show at least something that worked, he switched from a demo version of a Microsoft recruitment app to a live one.

At this point, all red flags should go up, but they didn’t. Within seconds, the presenter had shown, to the entire room, all the job applications received, and unless I completely misunderstood something, these were all real applications, from real people. Then, some unlucky applicant got his private details exposed, including potentially sensitive data such as application documents, results from the interview, whom the person had met and when, graduation information, and so on.

In the images blow, I’ve redacted everything I could isolate as sensitive, but this was shown to hundreds of people and can’t be very pleasant for the applicant.

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Oh, and to that person, in case you haven’t received your result yet, congratulations, you got the job!

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Bjørn Furuknap

I previously did SharePoint. These days, I try new things to see where I can find the passion. If you have great ideas, cool projects, or is in general an awesome person, get in touch and we might find out together.

One thought on “How Not to Woo a Crowd”

  1. Ouch!! You can probably put this alongside the almost anorexic state of documentation around how Apps work, how to build them, and what you can/can’t do with them.

    I’m potentially facing a client who wants to build a bespoke .Net MVC application which provides some touch points with SharePoint .. they’d maybe like to use an “app” for publishing / integration and possibly even hosting, but the information out there is woefully short.

    The few demos I’ve seen of apps have been along the lines of “no-one really knows how to get them working yet .. ”

    Such a shame, given how great some of the other new features in SP2013 have been documented.

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