By now you’ve already heard the big announcement that came out of the SharePoint Conference (SPC) held in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. The announcement of SharePoint spaces took almost everyone in the audience by surprise.
It was not expected, and as soon as it was announced, a buzz emerged in the room. Without a doubt, a mixed reality SharePoint is cool. However, eyebrows were raised, and questions came to mind like, “what’s the business application?” or “how will other SharePoint content co-exist?”
Having attended SPC, I had the opportunity to visit the SharePoint spaces booth at the conference and give it a try. First, the “spaces” in “SharePoint spaces” is intentionally not capitalized. I got that update from the Microsoft product team. Second, the demo we got to try was the demo that Adam Harmetz presented during the keynote.
I put on the HoloLens, got a good grip on the controller and entered SharePoint’s mixed reality. If you’ve used virtual reality or mixed reality devices before, you know the experience is truly immersive. The closest the keynote demo got to truly conveying what it’s really like to step into a SharePoint space was Adam Harmetz’s worry of walking off the stage (I also worried about walking into a wall or something).
In the space, I was surrounded by mountains and floating in front of me were menuoptions. I used the controller to click on the bicycle and was advanced to a larger bike, a product, that I could turn, examine, get closer to and almost feel. I could see how this would be a great way for product companies to orient people to their product lines, even greater for shopping.
I had a similar experience with the tent. I could go in the tent, get a sense of scale and size. I zoomed back out to the main menu, clicked on the organization chart. I could see user profile cards and reporting structure. Not much to interact with here. After zooming out to the main menu again, I decided to visit the camp site. I was suddenly standing in front of a real crackling camp fire, picnic bench to my left, and an empty campsite to my right. I could turn around and see the forest, and it was like I had been here before. But I was alone. While it made sense to be navigating through the products by myself, as soon as I got to the campsite, I missed not having someone else to interact with.
While all of this was really cool (I was walking in SharePoint!), it took me back to my original question. What business applications could we use this for? Here are a few of my thoughts:
- Product orientation, product catalog – if you’re a product company, good news, this should be an easy win. It can help with selling, it can help with education, a great way to get people closer to your products without have to ship anything anywhere.
- New Hire Orientation – what if you could onboard employees with a SharePoint space? Sure, it’s fine now, but the immersive mixed reality experience would leave a greater imprint with corporate culture, policies, instruction on how to do your job.
- Virtual Meetings and Communication – My first take away from the demo was how do we get other people to the camp site with me? There is so much value in having a shared mixed reality experience to improve the effectiveness of virtual meetings, team building, and collaboration.
- Travel Experiences – What if you could allow people with disabilities, challenges, or constraints to experience unique travel destinations that were previously financially or geographically inaccessible? And you could enable these experiences using SharePoint? The ease of creation combined with the value they provide is ripe with potential.
I’m sure there are many more use cases that make the future of SharePoint spaces a no brainer for the direction of business and productivity platforms. There are also many more questions to be answered as to when, how, and what will come next for SharePoint spaces. For now, this teaser has definitely left me ready and wanting more.
For more information on SharePoint spaces, and to see some more screen shots of the demo, visit this Microsoft blog article.