• Writing SharePoint Conference Abstracts

    Are you a SharePoint expert? Do you have some other area of business expertise worth sharing with enterprise-scale companies? If so, you may have already realized that presenting your own session at SharePoint Conference 2014 would be a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your field while networking with those who share your interests and ambitions. Unfortunately, the time to submit to the 2014 conference is already past.

    The good news is that this will not be the last major SharePoint Conference, and you're in a prime position to start working on ideas for future conventions n this field. The process for doing so usually begins with an abstract of the paper, workshopping topic, or panel discussion you would like to have at the center of your session. This article walks you through how you can effectively write an abstract for future SharePoint conferences.

    Keep It Brief

    The requirements for an abstract will vary depending on the conference, year, and sometimes even the topic. Typically, abstracts will be anywhere from 200 to 500 words in length. Additionally, a summary of the abstract will also be required. These summaries will typically be 50 words or fewer.

    If you have a topic that's too broad or complex to present on, the abstract and summary will help you realize that fact. Within the summary, you should be able to communicate the subject matter and benefit of your presentation.

    Submit Early and Often

    Many conferences have multiple rounds of submissions. By submitting during the first round, you give yourself an opportunity to refine and revise your abstract for re-submission during future rounds.

    Additionally, you can always submit to other SharePoint conferences using the same materials. Do note, however, that different groups have more or less restrictive policies when it comes to re-using papers or materials that have already been published elsewhere.

    Be Active and Direct

    Don't just talk about what you're going to talk about in a nebulous way (e.g., "This paper will discuss the importance of business intelligence and ways that business intelligence can benefit companies"). Rather, talk about what will be said about the topic (e.g., "Embedded business intelligence web parts can improve efficiency, performance, and profitability of the workforce").

    Here's one thing to remember that may help you shape your abstract's structure. The abstract is often used word-for-word in the conference program. In other words, your description should make people understand your point and want to hear more about it.

    Alongside the need for direct discussion of your major ideas, be sure you use an "active voice" in the abstract. Don't know what an active voice is? A sentence written in passive voice has a subject indirectly enacting a verb (e.g., "He was starting to run") while a sentence written in active voice has a subject directly enacting a verb (e.g., "She ran"). The active sentence structure makes your words more lively and, more importantly, helps conserve valuable space in the abstract itself.

    Past SharePoint conference programs and abstracts are available for your perusal, so here's one final tip: Take a look at the abstracts that have gone before you! After all, any abstract that made it to the program also successfully made it through the submission process.

  • The Bystander Effect in Business

    SharePoint is a valuable and versatile tool used by the majority of Fortune 500 companies, along with other successful companies worldwide. However, powerful tools must be used correctly to be effective. Here are five ways your company can get more out of SharePoint.

    1: Dive into Social

    If you're a veteran of SharePoint usage, you may not be accustomed to the new social features. It's time that changed. The release of powerful social features in SharePoint 2013, along with Microsoft's acquisition of Yammer (the largest "enterprise social" company on the web), opened countless doors.

    2: Dig into Customization

    While SharePoint 2010 and earlier versions had a great many customization options, the newest release gives users an added incentive to create effective web parts and customizations. Just as important, users are more empowered than ever to create such custom components. Many of these HTML 5–based web parts are available for a low cost (or even free), and a savvy user on your team can complete highly tuned customization for your company's needs.

    3: Launch into Integration

    The ability to synchronize and even directly integrate SharePoint with other platforms has been a priority for Microsoft for several years. As a result, there are dozens of enterprise solutions that connect directly with SharePoint. This includes Office 365, along with many non-Microsoft products.

    4: Training

    Even if your SharePoint deployment is set up perfectly, your employees may not be aware of or familiar with all of the resources available to them. When other projects are underway, it's easy to set training aside. However, a simply weekly session to empower your staff will have a significant impact on y our bottom line.

    5: Bringing in Experts

    While there's a great deal you can do on your own, there are some opportunities and shortcomings you may be unable to see for yourself. Having an outside party help you evaluate the big picture issues, and connect you with solutions for concrete solutions, can accelerate your company in a small window of time. To get a free consultation from SharePoint Engine on how we can help your company thrive, visit our contact page today.

  • The Bystander Effect in Business

    The unconscious mind is a fascinating thing, and while it's needed for healthy functioning, it also comes with risks. The business environment makes workers prone to several well-known biases and unconsciously selected behaviors, including the infamous "bystander effect." This article examines the bystander effect in the workplace and shows how you can manage effectively and take advantage of SharePoint features to prevent the bystander effect from damaging your business.

    What is the bystander effect?

    The most famous instances of the bystander effect revolve around violent crime. In these cases, brutally violent acts were committed in front of a large crowd, but no one in that crowd intervened—or even called the police. The most famous of these examples is the Belle Isle Bridge, where dozens of onlookers did nothing to intervene as a woman was beaten to death.

    Why did this happen? The larger the group of people who are present to witness an act, the more each individual assumes that someone else has already done something to help, that someone else is better equipped to help, or that there is a good reason—that the individual is not aware of—for not intervening. After all, if there are dozens of other people behaving in a specific way, it is easy to unconsciously assume that this behavior is correct.

    Hopefully violent crime is never something your workplace or its denizens have to worry about—but there are lesser forms of the bystander effect that influence your team. One workplace experiment took place in an elevator. Actors were hired to drop pencils or coins in an elevator after the door had closed. The goal was to see how many people responded, how quickly, and what factors seemed to play into the likelihood that they would help.

    When only one person was present in the elevator besides the actor, it was 40% likely that they would help pick up the dropped objects. As more people were present in the elevator, however, it was less likely that anyone would help. With seven people in the elevator, there was only a 14% likelihood that anyone would help the clumsy stranger.

    Large Group Work and Avoiding Bystanders

    With large groups and task teams, it's easy to fall prey to the bystander effect without even realizing it. When something goes wrong or a client is concerned, there's a general sense that it's probably someone else's responsibility—or problem.

    How can you avoid this? The first and most important thing to do is ensure that each employee has specifically designated domains. This will give them a greater sense of autonomy and responsibility in facing tasks. Further, by using SharePoint's social features to list the responsibilities of various team members, you are both validating the individual's role and making it clear who other team members can talk to about the type of issue in question.

    SharePoint's communication systems are excellent for many purposes, but be sure that you avoid triggering the bystander effect with large-group missives. When you send group messages, make sure each individual knows how they are expected to respond and who they are to report to.

    Making use of SharePoint document and page creation tools will help even further, as it helps individual employees feel empowered to help create the learning resources for your company. As knowledge, expertise, and low-level authority spread out in your company, the likelihood of rapid and effective response also increases.

    And last, be aware that the bystander effect is broken as soon as one individual is seen breaking through the inaction. When individuals act in ways you want all employees to act, use SharePoint's communication tools to draw attention to that behavior—not just to reward the employee in question but to help establish a "new normal" for the rest of your workforce.

  • Why Attend SharePoint Conference 2014?

    We've given no shortage of attention to SharePoint Conference 2014—and with good reason! The conference is a hub of learning for those who use Microsoft products to improve their business, but that's just the start. Here are the best reasons why you should attend SharePoint Conference 2014.

    Sessions Galore

    There are more than 200 sessions at the conference designed specifically for people in your line of work. We don't simply mean "people who work with SharePoint," either. Microsoft has multiple conference tracks, with sessions designed for developers, professionals, and executives.

    The Biggest Event of Its Kind

    There has never been a convention in this field that rivals the size of SharePoint Conference 2014. With the combination of SharePoint, Office 365, and the newly acquired Yammer, the event is set to be the most significant networking event for SharePoint professionals. Microsoft has also promised that those who haven't integrated Office 365 solutions will be given "best practices and practical guidance on how to set up, manage and support your Office 365 environment."

    The Most Prominent Experts in the Field

    You're not just hearing from the usual suspects (as outstanding as those suspects may be). This conference puts you in touch with the minds and talent behind all the major enterprise-focused Microsoft offerings. These great minds will be giving you their insights on how you can make the most out of SharePoint.

    The Launch-Point

    While Microsoft hasn't made (and never does make) any promises of this nature, the conference is likely to be the launching point for the next generation of enterprise solutions. Exactly what that will look like, and how it will shape SharePoint and other Microsoft offerings, has yet to be seen. To be one of the first people to see that future emerge, and to give your company a competitive edge, participation in the conference is a must.

    As you prepare for this major event, be sure to take a look at our articles on networking, planning, and otherwise making the most out of your conference experience (found in the archives of this blog). We hope to see you at SharePoint Conference 2014!

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