Never before have I been so excited to be in the SharePoint space. Not because I now work for Microsoft as their Director of Strategy & Adoption in the collaboration & app spaces for Microsoft IT and not because of the release of SharePoint 2013 or O365, though both of those things for me are worthy of excitement. What I'm really enthusiastic about is the evolution of the portal experience and the transition of IT from a project & commodity based business to a service organization.
In follow up questions to my keynote speech at SPTechCon in Boston I was continuing my explanation on both topics so I thought I'd blog about it as well. This article will focus on transforming IT into a service organization.
First, IT has often been looked at by those in the C-suite as a cost center. Both in people and hardware a mature, global IT organization can be a large entry on the expense side of the balance sheet. Now, leaders in the IT space are realizing what many of us have known all along. IT generates revenue. We enable sales, employee collaboration, customer awareness and product delivery. What we're not great at however is connecting the dots between the technologies we implement and the outcomes that we influence.
Further, unless you are a deep technology professional many of the things we deliver in IT seem to be an artful combination of "jazz hands" and "magic pixie dust". Our peers in HR, marketing, legal, or the corporate communications departments do not have our deep technical knowledge nor do they spend their off hours building servers or writing code. So when we come to their meetings and lay at their doorstep a long list of acronyms and technology features we become disconnected from each other.
There is a solution. In IT we must make the transition to being a service organization. Much like other mature technology consulting and implementation companies we have to utilize our own internal marketing and communications teams to package our capabilities in terms that our peers can understand. Then with our partners in those other organizations we can connect the dots between the capabilities we deliver to the revenue and behavioral outcomes we jointly prioritize.
This has very concrete effect on our structure, thinking, personnel and priorities as an IT organization. In Microsoft IT we are busy maturing our capability to go to our internal market with service offerings that are easy to understand and adopt. In the SharePoint space this is very helpful as the full breadth of capabilities that can be delivered by SharePoint as a platform are staggering.
As an example in SharePoint we know and understand that having a working taxonomy and tagging content is fundamental to driving personalized experiences. If we extend this idea to include metadata gathered from our profile store via Active Directory and other sources we can deliver rich, personal experiences that connect people to each other and relevant information with more speed and accuracy. The underlying enterprise services that drive this outcome are very complex and require technically driven architecture, design and implementation.
What Tom in sales really wants however is for his customer to login to the extranet and be presented with the relevant documents, conversations, people and supporting information in a modern UX. Tom might even want to provision this type of experience before the deal is closed to streamline the conversation of replying to the RFP. By delivering this experience we can increase the close rate on sales, drive enhanced brand awareness and streamline communications between our employees and our customers.
In our SharePoint practice driving this experience would mean selecting the following services from our service catalog:
- Create a Site
- Share with External Customers
- Get Started with Tagging
- Get Social Capabilities
If you just wanted to talk to someone to understand what services would enable that scenario you could select "Collaboration Consulting" and an Engagement Manager would discuss your business needs. After a knee deep analysis we'd select the services for you, complete a Scope of Work and after approval hand off to the delivery team.
As we expand the capabilities of our service catalog we will ask you a few questions when we are provisioning your site. Are you using it for project management? If so we'll turn that feature on for you. Will you be publishing any sort of news, status updates or announcements? If so we'll turn on publishing and connect you to our Enterprise Publishing portal to share your news with others.
These examples reflect an outside-in approach to discussing IT capabilities. How does the customer see us and what do they need? Categorizing our services in this way helps us drive adoption, reduce IT costs by reusing components and increase satisfaction with our internal customers.
Now is the perfect time to be rethinking how we engage with our internal customers because we are dealing with so much change. New requirements, product capabilities and business scenarios are driving a large degree of change within our industry. Our job in IT is to drive the success of our respective companies by delivering technology solutions that meet their strategic needs. Changing the way we discuss, package, design and deliver these services will provide a competitive advantage to our people.
In my next article I'll discuss the evolution of the portal experience and how these services will enable people to embrace the future of SharePoint and other collaboration technologies.