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Can AvePoint fill the Meeting Workspace gap in 2013?

I have always felt that SharePoint is loaded with numerous hidden gems, features or functions available out-of-the-box but simply waiting for the right use case to unlock their value.  This is one of the real value adds that working with knowledgeable consultants can bring—the good ones know those hidden gems, match them to a business need, and can help an enterprise deploy them to their advantage with a minimum of custom code.
The Meeting Workspace site template was one of these hidden gems, particularly in the 2010 edition.  Over the years I’ve helped numerous clients get value out of these.  The ability to create them from—and link them to—Outlook appointments, and especially recurring meeting series, is something that has helped many of my clients support regular meetings and store files, presentations and minutes from week to week.
For this reason, I was personally quite disappointed when Microsoft deprecated the Meeting Workspace template in 2013.  Sure, many of its functions can be replicated with some configuration work and saved as a unique template, but if you want SharePoint to be a time-saver this kind of work strikes me as rather counterintuitive.  Customers want SharePoint to come as loaded with ready-to-use features and functions as they can, so the loss of one in the otherwise-compelling 2013 edition was unfortunate.
I’m pleased to see AvePoint step into the gap here and give us a tool that should help fill the void of the Meeting Workspace.  Recently announced on their website by Jeremy Thake, it seems the “Meetings for SharePoint 2013” app will be available in the Office Store app marketplace soon.
You can count me as someone who is very eager to download and install this app in our own SharePoint environment, and try it out internally.  I know I’ve had a great many clients who will surely be interested in how it tests out, and I’ll certainly look to post about it once I’ve kicked the tires.
As a side note, this app marks an interesting move into actual user collaboration tools by AvePoint, who are best known (and rightly so) for a number of great utilities and governance products.  Mr. Thake does note that “a premium app… can be unlocked on purchase for more enterprise-level reporting features”, which is more in line with AvePoint’s traditional focus on governance.  This presents a good tie back to their existing product suite, but it begs the question—what other goodies have they got up their sleeves, and how long until we see them?

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Rich Wood

Rich Wood has been planning, designing and building enterprise solutions and internet sites with an emphasis on stellar user and customer experiences since 1997. Rich is a National Director for Content and Commerce Platform work in Perficient Digital. One of the rare breed of strategists to truly understand both the business needs of the customer and the platforms that serve them, he is a keen advocate for and accomplished speaker/writer on issues that surround that inflection point. His work has been published on CMSWire, Sitecore and Microsoft partner blogs, and his own LinkedIn page as well as our various blogs here at Perficient, and he has spoken at multiple major conferences including Microsoft's SharePoint Conference 2014. Married and a father of five, Rich enjoys spending time with his wife and family. He is a native of South Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a graduate of Marquette University.

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