10,000 attendees from 85 separate countries. Crowds acres thick. Badges swinging off backpacks rich with ISV paid ads. Crappy breakfast food.
Ah yes..I’m back at a Microsoft conference. This time, its Sharepoint 2012 where we are big braining on everything related to Sharepoint 15-2013-whatever.
The keynote was great - not incredibly polished like the Partner meetings or sounding like a bad Russian gangster movie like Dynamics conferences and, yes, it did have a failed Surface demo. But, the product showed REALLY well and the changes in 2013 are epic.
Here’s my shortlist:
- MySite gets a major respect upgrade and now becomes the focus of the entire experience. It concentrates tasks across sites (through Exchange), it allows document follows AND site follows, it allows for site recommendations and TOTALLY makes easier the ability to upload and create documents. Further, the newsfeed, sites, tags, etc all work better and they’ve reduced the need to go to the site settings page. Combined with document preview windows, its really, really nicely done.
- Everything is more interconnected. SkyDrive Pro, SkyDrive, Outlook, Office – all of it works together across all platforms (including iOS) to get at and view documents. Further, they’ve reduced the dependence on Active X and are support more open protocols (HTML, REST, etc) to allow for browser independence.
- Disk space usage is lowered through creative storage (like diff’ng docs rather than storing complete versions) and back end server improvements make for a better performing UI (faster refreshes on changed data rather than full page refresh).
- Search is king. FAST is cool.
- The Yammer integration is still new and no one really knows what it means. However, everyone is really excited about it (by everyone, I mean MS people). The REALLY big news is that it will still be a standalone offering AND its free to all Office 365 E1 to E4 subscribers.
- Dynamics got two, count ‘em – two, mentions during the preso as an app that will really shine with Sharepoint.
- Office 365 is the chosen platform for deployment with a faster release cycle and more obvious support from MS. They talked nice about on-premise deployment but the ENTIRE focus is on O365.
That last message was particularly clear in the dev portion of the keynote wherein they discussed the app model changing to an Azure or O365 deployed model. Oh yeah, don’t forget Azure – they are definitely back dooring it through Sharepoint.
More to come…
Author: Curtis Beebe
Microsoft’s “verticalization” of their Dynamics channel makes all the sense in the world from a Microsoft channel management perspective. The designation of vertical specialties gives Microsoft an objective approach to resolving channel conflict, assigning leads, and providing sales & marketing support. At first glance, this is one of those “blinding flashes of the obvious” that will enable partners to sell better, reduce sales cycle time, reduce the cost of sales, and stay focused in a specific area of expertise.
The problem is that it doesn’t work. The first issue is that the Dynamics products, just like all of the Microsoft products, are horizontal by nature and design. Sure there are some ISV’s that provide a bit of industry specialization, but ERP and CRM solutions are inherently NOT vertical solutions. They are designed to provide processes and functionality across a range of business types.
That brings us to the second problem. Because they’ve been selling horizontal products, most partners have grown their businesses horizontally. Some of the savvy partners have developed industry specific knowledge and terminology to help them sell, but the solutions remain fundamentally horizontal. As a result of the horizontal approach, partners tend to look at their customer’s businesses based upon the business process groups that are being automated: process manufacturing, discrete manufacturing, professional services, wholesale distribution, depot management, etc.
The big disconnect is that Microsoft is trying to define the customer’s business based upon SIC codes. The SIC codes are focused on the type of product being manufactured, sold, or distributed, rather than the general business process group: one business process could map to dozens of different SIC codes. The result is that partners are trying to manipulate the lead distribution system by selecting all of the hot, unassigned SIC codes within their geographies rather than truly focusing their business.
This effort is doomed to become just lip service that partners pay to Microsoft in order to ensure they get their share of distributed leads.
A rather dramatic title for a blog on managing an IT consultancy, I admit. So, why use it?
As a career consultant and professional services manager since the late 80′s, I see a pattern of behavior that repeats itself time and time again: for all the benefit Microsoft technologies can provide a client, and all the strengths a skilled Microsoft partner can provide the same client, at the end of the day most clients and partners find themselves rather dissatisfied with the experience. And yet, I see very little changes in the behavior of most clients or partners to address this issue.
Sure, as an industry we talk (a lot) about client retention, satisfaction and being trusted business advisors so as to create better, stickier clients. And, as clients, we talk (a lot) about vendor management, software selection, RFP processes, etc to better engage and work with a Microsoft partners. And yet such talk culminates in the same behavior each time: a client hires a vendor to do a specific job, expectations are usually different on each side, scope is defined on such mis-set expectations and, when the contracted project is done, the client feels they didn’t get full value and the partners feels they did the job well but are not appreciated.
If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing each time and expecting a different result, than clearly this constantly repeated behavior indicates a death of reason in the approach to Microsoft Client/Partner relationships.
The purpose behind this blog, then, is two-fold: to provide advice to partners and clients on how to better manage themselves and their relationships, and to engage open discussion and commentary around same. Our contributing authors will come from Microsoft, the Microsoft ecosystem (Partners and ISV’s) and Microsoft clients spanning all industries and all departments (accounting, ops, IT, marketing, sales). The goal is the development of a broad viewpoint on how to improve our ability to manage, and engage, Microsoft consultancies.