As a new Microsoft employee today is a pretty exciting day. Having spent the majority of my career in the Microsoft ecosystem being on the inside of this glorious machine is thrilling. Yes, there are challenges that face us as a company and an industry moving forward but that has always been the case. The reality is that we are uniquely positioned to provide a high quality end to end experience for enterprise users. The advent of Windows 8, the Surface and SharePoint 2013, just to name a few of our launch events this season, provides the type of technology tools that great innovations are built upon.
As as self-described SharePoint Enthusiast I’m thrilled at the ability to evolve the adoption of this platform for users everywhere. My job primarily focuses on driving adoption of platform components within Microsoft, however, everything my team does has an impact on the industry as a whole. Being able to sit with such smart folks and discuss the evolution of modern collaboration and how we can produce experiences that are compelling is a pleasure.
At SharePoint Intelligence in Portland, Oregon today I discussed this new paradigm in more detail. Now more than ever there are some key messages that I want people to focus on. As anyone knows who has followed my blog, my tweets or my speaking engagements knows I am primarily focused on driving business value from real world scenarios. I am just as enamored with the new technology as anyone else, however my time in business management has taught me the value of ensuring people understand the measurable value they are getting from technology implementations. As we discuss moving to the cloud, migrating to SharePoint 2013 and doing application development for new form factors this is a paramount concern. I feel that as an industry segment (SharePoint people) we can do a better job of measuring & communicating value. I’ll be discussing this in detail with members of my team from Discovery & Collaboration in MSIT at the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas. Here are a few high level pointers on this topic:
Understand Your Organizations Strategic Roadmap:
You will be best placed for success if you have a clear understanding of your stakeholders “big bets” for the coming years. Is your company launching new products, expanding existing services, taking on new partners to collaborate with? As always understanding the pain points that exist in the C-suite will help to narrow your focus and provide solutions that matter.
Let Strategic Needs Dictate Technology Investments:
You can’t do everything all at once. Not if you want to be successful. Therefore, understanding strategic business needs will help you to select the technology path that will best serve your company. You are then positioned to make the best budget and resource decisions available to you. Recognizing that this is a multi-year investment will help you to select key programs that can be built out over time. For example maybe you need to have better extranet capabilities for information collaboration and process transparency with your external partners. If so then investing in O365 and continuing to migrate data to the cloud will be a strategic initiative for you. Ensuring that the mobile and tablet experiences are tailored to the needs of those users in that experience may be a phase 2 project under that program. I’m not aware of any company who has unlimited resources so strategic decision making at this point is critical to success.
Over-communicate with Your User Community & Stakeholders
As we move to the cloud and evolve our SharePoint platform we continue to ask people to embrace new behavior. Asking someone to post to a newsfeed instead of send an email is a change in their normal routine. Changing human behavior requires not only an edict from IT but a vision that people can emotionally engage in. Whether that vision is the success of their company or product or simply an understanding that being more efficient will empower their ability to embrace a stronger home/work life balance our communication skills as technologists must be stronger. Build in communications planning to each program & project plan you have. It’s essential to high quality change management practices.
Further, we need to embrace a more regular cadence of communication with our stakeholders. In clear and simple terms, with metrics that support our positions, we need to show the value we are delivering as SharePoint and information technology professionals. My personal belief is that your ability to have those discussions successfully will play a large part in your platform and career successes.
Embrace Social – It’s Here to Stay
Whether you’ve been able to leverage social for business value yet or have completely rejected the idea of it you can rest assured it’s here to stay. The social features of SharePoint 2013 integrate enterprise social features with all the other collaborative goodness that we’ve come to know as SharePoint. Our acquisition of Yammer only serves to solidify our presence in that space. We clearly believe that the ability to quickly collaborate with others has value. Each company will have to identify the audiences, both internally and externally, that can get value from these tools. It’s time to embrace these tools, if you haven’t already, for the game changer they are.
Get Your Metrics Together:
If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it. That has never been truer. Knowing a baseline of user analytics around processes and content is key to evaluating what to migrate and what to kill. Additionally, its good business to understand the usage patterns of your user community. Make sure these features are turned on and that you are reviewing actual data on a periodic basis. As you move from launching portals to developing apps understanding usage patterns will be more important than ever.
We are at a pivotal time in our industry. Now is the time to grab your enthusiasm and your skills and plan for the future. Embrace the new Windows, our new form factors and SharePoint 2013 as tools of business transformation. We are here to support you in this journey and I personally couldn’t be more excited! I hope to see some of you at SharePoint Conference and online! Do not hesitate to come up and ask me questions anytime. Let’s #MoveForward together!