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Envisioning Session at the Atlanta Microsoft Technology Center

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Podcast Transcript: Envisioning Session at the Atlanta Microsoft Technology Center

Danny Ryan:Hello and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. This is your host Danny Ryan and I’m here with my co-host Tommy. How are you doing?

 

Tommy Ryan:I’m doing well, Danny.

 

Danny Ryan:Great. It’s a Friday.

 

Tommy Ryan:It is a Friday. It’s becoming a pattern.

 

Danny Ryan:This is.

 

Tommy Ryan:We used to do these on Thursdays. Now it’s Fridays.

 

Danny Ryan:It’s fine. Hey. That’s not a problem at all. Yesterday you were at the MTC, otherwise known as the Microsoft Technology Center in Alpharetta, Georgia.

 

Tommy Ryan:Yes. Yeah, it was a good experience.

 

Danny Ryan:Yeah.

 

Tommy Ryan:It’s been a while and I’m kind of excited to do it again soon.

 

Danny Ryan:Nice, nice, nice. Let’s just talk about that. What was the overall, what was the purpose of doing this in the first place.

 

Tommy Ryan:Well, we were working with a customer that we implemented SharePoint for them back in 2008. They’re still on SharePoint 2007 today. We help them get their site structure in place, think about what are the right kind of divisions of knowledge and and who can lead that knowledge and get some extra network for them.

 

Danny Ryan:Okay.

 

Tommy Ryan:Worked until 2009 and they hired a SharePoint engineer and we help that SharePoint engineer get on their feet and be successful within the organization. Over time it was an investment in the platform and they’ve recognized that and they’re back into reinvesting in the platform. So much has changed since the time they got into SharePoint and started trying to grapple with the value of how that applies to their organization and it’s been stale so that time frame from 2007 to what SharePoint is today and Office 365, it’s changed quite a bit. There’s a lot to absorb a lot to learn and we thought this would be a good first step in the journey together to talk about the art of the possible and what makes sense from an adoption and roadmap strategy for them with SharePoint.

 

Danny Ryan:This is what, it’s called an envisioning session? Or what is it.. does it have some sort of general name to it as far as what you did yesterday.

 

Tommy Ryan:You know we use their envisioning center as a part of this engagement and I’ve heard them called architectural design sessions.

 

Danny Ryan:Okay.

 

Tommy Ryan:It’s really a visit to the MTC and this is kind of the first interaction that you can have.

 

Danny Ryan:Okay.

 

Tommy Ryan:With the folks there and then from there you can take different paths and you do things like proof of concepts, using the labs there.

 

Danny Ryan:Nice.

 

Tommy Ryan:Work with different people of expertise. We had kind of the general show of what is Office 365 and productivity and then we also, at the end of the day, dug deeper into Windows 10 and mobility, because this organization deploys mobile devices to some of the largest airlines and significantly large companies.

 

Danny Ryan:Okay.

 

Tommy Ryan:In the US and over the world. They wanted to get a sense of what is the strategy for packaging and deploying to new devices to essentially get those prepared to go to the field.

 

Danny Ryan:So they have a script that they somewhat want to go through as far as a high level and then you can start to dive into some deeper details in certain areas then, it sounds like.

 

Tommy Ryan:Right. The agenda for the day was introductions, who are the players that are here for the conversation and then they gave us kind of an overview of the platform, priming us. Actually before that they went through: what are the challenges? why are you here? how can we help? We had a session before and we had a prep session before that day.

 

Danny Ryan:Okay.

 

Tommy Ryan:That was to revisit that with a larger audience, everyone that was there from Stratix to chime in of what their expectations were, what their challenges were that we could address on that day. After getting that bass line we went into the envisioning center and inside that envisioning center we went through the experience of someone using the platform from personal use all the way through collaboration and using the different channels of communication with an Office 365 like Skype, Office 365 groups and Yammer and the whole gamut.

 

Danny Ryan:And Hololens.

 

Tommy Ryan:Well. They didn’t. We actually asked about that because they took us for a little tour around the center. There were Surface Hubs and they want to have a Hololens and they’ve asked for one so they’re hoping to get one soon.

 

Danny Ryan:Nice. That’ll be interesting to see that. You were mentioning, as far as who is it from the client that comes. Is it a group of five people, ten people. How is it decided who comes from the client.

 

Tommy Ryan:It’s people that are going to have a voice and how are they going to accomplish getting the most out of the platform.

 

Danny Ryan:Okay.

 

Tommy Ryan:It was very heavy IT centric. You know, the CTO of the organization or the CIO of the organisation was there along with the director of IT person and the actual lines of business within the organization that are running more technical type operations and even a network administrator.

 

We had a variety of people really in the IT organization but this is a very IT centric type of service they provide so they are customer-facing, people that are making sure that they’re using the right technology to solve the problems they have with their customers.

 

Danny Ryan:We were talking about, as we were preparing for this podcast, you’d mentioned what I call. What I call. In Boxborough where having multiple inboxes or multiple ways of people contacting you. Were there a lot of different… Was that conversation had yesterday or just all of the different ways that, “Okay now I’ve got ten different ways of contacting a colleague and I spend my morning trying to figure out how to.” Was that addressed for what happened?

 

Tommy Ryan:I don’t think that was addressed head-on but the nature of this group was a little bit a reservation around all these different communication channels. They’re coming from a world of really email and SharePoint and Sharepoint that today, is not used very well.

 

Danny Ryan:Okay.

 

Tommy Ryan:It’s really just email and then they’re introducing Skype and there was a comment in the group of someone getting spammed internally from Skype, that is as soon as Skype is turned on, that became more of a distraction than a benefit for them in getting things accomplished. That’s probably one of the things that was going through their head the most is one, how do I secure content well. That’s a typical IT type of thought process of, how far do I take it, am I protected against malicious activity or accidental activity. Like sending something out in an email to a customer when you think you’re sending it internally so if you have confidential information, maybe a policy that would prompt you to say, “Are you sure you want to do this, because this is confidential information, do you want to send it externally.

 

The whole absorbing everything that was there from Yammer to Office 365 Groups to Skype to OneDrive to SharePoint to Exchange. All those, and Delve. They even exposed Delve to them. Those were things that you just feel like, “Well, gosh, I’m just an email today. DO I really need to participate in these other work streams, these other channels of communication.” I don’t think there was an answer there but one of the things that is kind of common is that one place that you can thread it through is email.

 

Danny Ryan:Yeah.

 

Tommy Ryan:When you’re looking at Yammer, when you’re looking at Office 365 Groups, those things you can tune it a little bit to determine how much you want to be pulled in to all the activity that’s happening within your organization.

 

For example, Yammer, maybe you don’t want to stay in touch with what’s in Yammer but if someone wants to pull you in they can @ mention you and you get an email. For Office 365 Groups you can be a member of that group and decide not to subscribe to the updates.

 

Danny Ryan:Okay.

 

Tommy Ryan:Depending on how important these channels of communication are to you, you tuned in appropriately. That takes work. There’s a fine balance of how you might configure it to be out of the box for the typical user. It defaults to something that fits the culture of the organization, and that was a theme from the CIO of, we need to look at what is our culture and how do we want the platform to support that culture.

 

Danny Ryan:Neat. That’s good that he’s thinking about it that way.

 

Tommy Ryan:Oh, yeah.

 

Danny Ryan:That’s really great to hear. What else. Were there any other themes that sort of came up that sort of stood out from yesterday.

 

Tommy Ryan:What I.. was not surprised, but it was interesting to see the emphasis on Office 365 Groups.

 

Danny Ryan:Oh, okay.

 

Tommy Ryan:We’re really grappling with that internally. For example, we have a sales site inside of SharePoint where it’s got a document library and it has that sales content. It’s that one place you can go to go get that sales content.

 

You might not want to make that public to everyone in the organization, so it gets tricky in terms of how do I be collaborative around that content and also keep it secure. We’ve been kicking the tires with Office 365 Groups and with Office 365 Groups, it’s a more collaborative experience, you can kind of set who are the people that are a part of this pursuit. We’ve talked about after that pursuit is done then you can move that content into it’s record repository. It’s that one place to go, but that takes a little bit of automation. We’ve decided to keep it simple and just work with the sales site.

 

We are continuing to find what are those areas that Groups apply, because it seems like, when you look at the road map, there’s just a ton of updates to Office 365 Groups. You have to say Microsoft really believes that this is going to be big for us. I’d look at it as kind of the equivalency to social groups in Jive. We’ve got that experience of Jive where you had sites and you had groups. Sites had that hierarchy and groups was flat. Groups really were self organizing places that you could go to create and collaborate. This world, I think, Microsoft is jumping on this bandwagon of kind of user driver social content generation, where we don’t want to have to go through IT to go set that up and that makes IT nervous because where’s the structure.

 

At the end of the day, this environment at this customer, they had control and they put control over this environment and it didn’t flourish. How can you allow for environments to be empowered to collaborate. I think Groups is trying to strike that chord.

 

There’s a lot coming together with it, it’s every part of the platforms coming together when it comes to Office 365 Groups. You’ve got the email component with conversations, you’ve got a calendar that’s tied to that group. You have a OneNote that’s tied to that group. You have, really, a SharePoint site that is exposed as almost like a OneDrive repository for files. You’ve got Planner, and Yammer is coming soon. That should be anytime we should start seeing Yammer.

 

Danny Ryan:So there’s Yammer integration with Groups as well.

 

Tommy Ryan:Right, right. You almost see every facet of Office 365 comes together with a group, and so what I see it as is a way to take a group of people and provisioning everything that has to do with the platform concentrated around this community.

 

It you need to do something with Notes it’s exposed to you in a simplistic way. If you need to store some files, it’s exposed to you, not as a full blown SharePoint site, but it looks just like a OneDrive site.

 

Danny Ryan:It reminds me of a security context.

 

Tommy Ryan:It is a security context. It’s working in security context. Kind of the other side of that spectrum that, yeah, there’s a lot of great things with that, now it becomes a lot of extra containers that are flat and have no structure to them. They’re flat.

 

How do I go back and look at sales content for a particular customer. I would like to go to the sales library, go down into the customer and then go into the project.

 

Danny Ryan:Yeah.

 

Tommy Ryan:And find that content. Now I’d have to go look for it in a flat list of groups.

 

With anything there’s pros and cons and you have to see how does that play into your organization, in the culture of your organization and how you get work done and how you can discover content over time. Is it more important to have it highly collaborative. Is it more important to have it highly structured. Sometimes those things conflict with each other.

 

Danny Ryan:Awesome. This is something it sounds like we do with some of our existing clients and something that if they need to take a look at what’s out there, you set this up and it’s a day long? Or how..

 

Tommy Ryan:It was a day long exercise.

 

Danny Ryan:Okay.

 

Tommy Ryan:We work with the Microsoft account manager.

 

Danny Ryan:Is their account manager there with you during the day.

 

Tommy Ryan:Ideally they’re there with you, but the size of this account they have the group of partner account managers that are in, I think, North Dakota or somewhere out there in the Midwest.

 

Danny Ryan:Okay.

 

Tommy Ryan:That they had to participate over the phone. They want to partner there, they want the account manager there and then the customer.

 

Danny Ryan:Awesome. If folks are looking for this, this is something it sounds like it’s a good experience for them. If they want to reach out to us to have us participate in it. I imagine we’re just sort of sharing some of the things that we’re seeing in general with our clients and adding in, probably. Chiming in every once in a while.

 

Tommy Ryan:Yeah, we do that. I looked at this as a way to say, this is a great service for customers of Microsoft. Let’s go in and get immersed in that. It plants a lot of seeds and then let’s step back and say, “Okay, what do we want to take forward from that. What’s resonating and what do we think is the most important things to do this next year.”

 

Danny Ryan:We were talking before about creating Roadmaps.

 

Tommy Ryan:Right.

 

Danny Ryan:This sounds like something that’s probably not a bad thing to do for the Roadmap.

 

Tommy Ryan:It’s feeding into the Roadmap. It’s definitely, we talked about Roadmap and you said before, we get into the nitty gritty of that. Let’s hear the story from Microsoft.

 

Danny Ryan:Good. I want to start promoting our twitter handles. Your twitter handle is @tommyryan?

 

Tommy Ryan:@tommyryan, yes.

 

Danny Ryan:See, you got it early on. I’m @dannyfryan. The F for Francis.

 

Tommy Ryan:That’s right.

 

Danny Ryan:If folks are interesting in things that Tommy is up to, please follow him on Twitter @tommyryan.

 

Tommy Ryan:That’s right. It’s all together, no hyphen, no dash, no period, @tommyryan.

 

Danny Ryan:Excellent. You’re tweeting every once in a while, right? Or you’re retweeting my stuff every once in a while.

 

Tommy Ryan:Yes.

 

Danny Ryan:Thank you.

 

Tommy Ryan:I go into cycles but I would say within a month I’ll be tweeting a couple times and sometimes within a week I’ll be tweeting ten or fifteen times.

 

Danny Ryan:Excellent. Excellent. Well thank you for taking the time to share what happened yesterday. I appreciate you spending this extra time with the client, it’s nice.

 

Tommy Ryan:Sure.

 

Danny Ryan:Very good. Thank you everybody for taking the time to listen and please drop by ThreeWill.com if you’re interested in doing one of these envisioning sessions at your local, well, local. It’s your Alpharetta MTC. I don’t know if we’re going to be going to any other cities to do this. If you’re in the Atlanta or Alpharetta area and are interested in doing this just drop by our site and hit us on the contact us page and we’d love to talk about heading out there with you.

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to listen, thanks again Tommy.

 

Tommy Ryan:You’re welcome, Danny. Thank you.

 

Danny Ryan:Have a wonderful day. Bye bye.

 

Tommy Ryan:Bye bye.

 

Danny RyanEnvisioning Session at the Atlanta Microsoft Technology Center

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