Kevin McDonnell

Information & Communications Technology

Office 365 Office 365 SharePoint Productivity SharePoint Azure Functions Microsoft Search Cognitive Services

Sevenoaks, England, United Kingdom

Kevin McDonnell

Solution Architect, CPS

When a project builds, tests, deploys and notifies a client that their latest request is ready and they reply that it's exactly what they envisioned if they couldn't fully articulate it, that's the perfect day for Kevin. After starting as a graduate in the infrastructure side of a UK Investment Bank, Kevin built on the ASP and VB spaghetti code that he taught himself at university to build out a well rounded approach to development. Taking roles on the SharePoint side has not stopped him wanting to develop properly and he retains solid understanding of Agile and DevOps processes alongside the technical side of cloud infrastructures.

After a couple of years as a dev architect at Ballard Chalmers, he has returned to focus on the Office 365 world with CPS as a Solutions Architect with a broad base across the Microsoft stack. This includes co-hosting the fortnightly podcast GreyHatBeard and working on a video series with Apress on an introduction to Cosmos DB as well as desperately trying to inspire the Cub Pack he leads with IoT devices to get them coding.

Current sessions

“Hello, can you hear me?” - Running a remote workshop on Microsoft Teams

Whether your are housebound due to the current global pandemic or you are an international organisation with staff all round the world, there are times that you can’t run a workshop with everyone in the same room. It could be for gathering requirements of a new project or working out the vision and strategy for a team but there are certain ways to be as effective as you can be to keep everyone focused and engages so that you get the most from the time.


“Hello, can anyone hear me?” - The etiquette of meetings in Microsoft Teams

With the current global pandemic, organisations are moving to far more meetings held online and for many of those, Microsoft Teams is the place to go for that. However, for many people, this is either the first time that they have run online meetings or the sheer number of them is greatly increased. People are not aware of the ways that Teams can be used to help support them in keeping attendees engaged and how to make sure that everyone behaves in similar ways.

The etiquette of meetings in Microsoft Teams will help both meeting hosts and attendees with useful tips on making the most effective meetings, whether they be a short daily stand up or a full day workshop. It will run through how to prepare, how to share, how to run and how to engage in a way that helps make the most wherever people are.


Knowing Me, Knowing You - using Facial Recognition in Power Apps

Don't you just love the way that Windows Hello recognises you by face and logs you straight in. Just imagine if Power Apps could do that and show content in an App based on recognising a face. Actually it can.

This session will take you through the steps for integrating Azure Cognitive Services to your app to show the tweets for a recognised person. Even better, you didn't need any more expensive licenses as none of the connectors are premium, you just need to pay for the limited Face service costs - and don't worry, I'll cover that too!


Dirty deeds done dirt cheap - building out a static website on Azure Storage for a low cost way in

Thought about creating a new blog or other website but been put off by the cost of even a low end VM or App Service in Azure? Have you thought about Azure Storage? That's right, you can host your site in Azure Storage with all the price benefits that it brings.
This session will cover how I built https://www.greyhatbeard.com on Azure Storage to host our podcast, using Gatsby JS to compile a fast static site and deploying it all automatically with Azure Dev Ops. I will also cover how you can build in authentication and access to the Graph as used on my MS Search Spa sample at https://github.com/kevmcdonk/ms-search-spa. Life ain't cheap so make sure your Azure costs are.
With thanks to AC/DC for the session title


Microsoft Search - the what, the why and the how

Heard about Microsoft Search but not quite sure where it fits in? Unsure how you can use the search on your own pages? Wondering if you can bring in other content? Let me guide you through what can done now and what is coming soon, balancing the different types of search.

Covering how Microsoft Search and SharePoint Search live harmoniously together (if treated right), this session will show all the benefits of having all your search in one place can give that feeling of consistency to end users and demonstrate that you don't have to lose functionality to do it.


Robot Rock - starting your Bot journey in Microsoft 365

You get an email. Perhaps from a customer (internal or external), perhaps from your boss.
Caller: "We need to make a Bot"
You: "Great, what should it do?"
Caller: "Make it easier for someone"
You (getting nervous): "Easier to do what?"
Caller: "Not sure yet, make the Bot and we'll work that out"

You might have done a little dev but really that was just a half finished JavaScript or C# course plus some awesome macros you recorded and tweaked (and you probably still have to support years later) but you really don't think you're a developer. Maybe there’s options for Power Users?

This session will take you through the thought process of building up the requirements for a Bot, the design processes to step through, how to implement in Power Virtual Agents and when to consider that you might need a little more customisation than that by showing you could use the Bot Framework Composer too


Using the Adaptive Card Template Service to brand your Teams messages

Have you heard about the Adaptive Card Template Service? It means that you can build out a set of templates that can be used to standardise how you display messages and keep track of how they are used. Learn about what the service can do, how to use it with Power Automate and with Bots and how you can host your own instance.

Add that little bit more magic to your prompts without having to design it from fresh each time.


Driving Microsoft Teams adoption with gamification using the Where On Earth Bot

Have you ever looked at the daily background on Bing or the version on your desktop? Did you stop and wonder where that beautiful landscape or haunting castle is? It happened at one organisation and soon became a daily challenge for the whole place. This convinced me to create the Daily Bing Challenge Bot as a way to drive adoption with Microsoft Teams, connecting people with what is possible in Teams through the challenge and inspiring them to use Teams for even more collaboration.
This talk will demonstrate the Bot itself and show how it can be used to gamify the adoption in an organisation.


Keeping your Flows in source control with GitHub or Azure DevOps

Have you ever made a large change to your Flow only to realise that you want to roll it back? Bet you wish you had it in source control, eh? Well, this session will show you that you can actually push your Flow’s to Azure Dev zoos or GitHub. Time to get sensible with your Flows.


Learning about Modern SharePoint with the SharePoint Starter Kit and the SharePoint Modernizer

Organisations are starting to explore modern SharePoint pages but many are not sure how to get going. The SharePoint Starter Kit is a set of great examples of what you can do with Modern SharePoint and how it can be done. But it won't stop there as the path to modern SharePoint pages can now take place with the SharePoint Modernization framework. Designed by the PnP community with the support of Microsoft, you can script migrations from classic publishing pages to modern pages and gain the advantages of responsive web and easier to use webparts.

This session will demonstrate what is in the Starter Kit, how it can be installed (covering the basics of Tenant Provisioning from PnP) and showing how the Modernization framework can be used to either script a page or by end users using the web UI.