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The Right Combination of Platform Plus Purpose Built

Danny serves as Vice President of Marketing at ThreeWill. His primary responsibilities are to make sure that we are building partnerships with the right clients and getting out the message about how we can help clients.

Danny Ryan

Co-Host – Danny Ryan

Bio – LinkedIn – Twitter

Sam Marshall

Co-Host – Tommy Ryan

Bio – LinkedIn – Twitter

Danny Ryan:Hello, and welcome to the Two Bald Brothers and a Microphone Podcast. This is co-host Danny Ryan. I’m here with the other co-host, Tommy Ryan. How are you doing Tommy?

 

Tommy Ryan:I’m doing well. That was a fun podcast we did last time with the Tesla.

 

Danny Ryan:We could do part two, part three, part four, if you like. Learning new things every day.

 

Tommy Ryan:Give me one thing. What’s one cool thing that you’ve learned lately with the Model 3?

 

Danny Ryan:Um, of course all these things are probably nothing unique to cars [crosstalk 00:02:00] today.

 

Tommy Ryan:You I haven’t had a new car in a while.

 

Danny Ryan:Um, the feature where, when I stop the car it goes into easy-out mode where you can program it to bring the seat back and the steering wheel to telescope in and up so you can easily get in and out of the car.

 

Tommy Ryan:That’s nice.

 

Danny Ryan:Which is kinda cool. I feel is kind of [crosstalk 00:02:27] rocket ship type stuff. (laughs)

 

Elon’s all about those rocket ships.

 

Tommy Ryan:Yes, he is. Take my Tesla Model 3 to Mars, baby. To Mars and back.

 

Yeah, I got a kick out of, I saw the picture that you sent to Dad and I with Linda driving the car and she’s holding on. You can see it was raining outside, so I think it’s, from what you’ve described, it’s taken a while to get used to turning it on autopilot and trusting the car to keep you on the road.

 

Tommy Ryan:Yeah. Yeah, it’s fun. (laughs)

 

Danny Ryan:Yeah. Awesome! Today I would like to talk to you about something that’s been pondering around in my head, and I think something that, typically, our customers run into. I know that we run into as a small professional services business, but it’s one of those age old questions, which is sort of like the build versus buy question, which is, has a similar lead up to it, which is decisions need to be based off of requirements where you need to have some sort of way of evaluating different paths that you want to go on.

 

But, the thing I wanted to talk to you about today was about platform versus purpose built, and I run into this in a lot of different places. One is, I do with a lot of the marketing, I do, there’s different routes that you can go. You get more of like an all-in-one marketing platform, like that Marketos or the Hubspots or the Pardots of the world where it sort of does a lot of this, all this stuff for you, and it’s an integrated thing.

 

Verses, you can more of like one-offs, buy more one-off products. And then you could also do a combination of the two where you can get more of a all-in-one suite, and then get some one-offs off of it, as well, more purpose built things that come out.

 

So, I run into that just in the marketing area. I know for our customers, we are typically working with folks who, or all the time are working with folks who are moving to Office 365, which we call a platform, that has all sorts of applications available to you, some of them more mature than others, and some of them better integrated than others.

 

Our last couple of conversations has been around the important subject of task management, and that’s a very important thing with regards to productivity. I will get to a question eventually. This is quite a lead up to it.

 

So, we have this platform that we help customers with, and then we’ve run into situations where recently a lot of the SharePoint intranet-in-a-box products have come up, and so you have this question of “Do I use what’s built in the platform, what’s built into Office 365 or SharePoint, versus do I add another product to it?” And I’ll call it a more purpose built product that does something, and does something well.

 

So, I wanted to talk with you about what we’ve seen in this whole process that people might go through, and just have conversation with you about that. And I think right now we’re at the place of customers coming to us and asking us, in particular, do I use SharePoint as itself or do I introduce another product into it.

 

Question is, you’re seeing the same thing, has this come up? Is this also something that keeps you up at night? (laughs) I guess, as you’re talking with customers, and as people are looking at this.

 

Tommy Ryan:As it relates to SharePoint and internet-in-a-box, I think you’re getting specific around that, and there’s the broader term of platform versus purpose built, but in the day-to-day with the job migrations that we have, I think we see half and half and maybe more than half that are looking at internet-in-the-box options.

 

I think it has to do with making sure that they can get the best of both worlds, have a backing platform that allows them to use some of the services that come with putting documents into the platform. There’s organizations that are not as happy with what you can do with kind of unstructured non-binary type file content that are in things like blogs and wikis, and other social type of features.

 

So there’s organizations that are finding the middle ground of not buying a system-like jive that might not have the enterprise backing that a Microsoft has, but they want to have something that has an innovative piece that they feel that’s gonna be a cadence a little bit faster than what Microsoft has to offer.

 

Danny Ryan:Microsoft is going quickly, but definitely not as quickly as they could go as a smaller nimble product company can do.

 

And so, you see a spectrum. You see organizations that are trying to say “Let’s hold back. Let’s not have to be on the bleeding edge. Let’s use what Microsoft. Let’s do it in a way that gives us a future that we can grow with the platform, as it grows.”

 

And so, when we’re migrating content they might not want to put into a wiki anymore. Maybe they put it into a modern page and use commenting on modern page for what they would normally do for wiki-style, just because of what you see in terms of direction and where things were going with how things were put into a SharePoint, in the SharePoint platform today.

 

And then, people look at that and say “That’s okay, but there’s a lot of things that I would like to add. I would like to have the tagging. I would like to have threaded comments, rich text comments, things that maybe I don’t get when I’m in the platform.”

 

So, that ends up pushing people to go to internet-in-the-box options. Then they have to decide “How much of that content do I want the platform to own?” Versus, “I’m okay with it going into another CMS system.” Because when you look at having some of that social content, the data structures that Microsoft is providing the natively store that are not really optimal to give you all the features maybe you’re looking for.

 

So these product companies are really trying to decide where do they land. Do they create something that they have full control over and can really move it in a direction and have less dependency than things that might change that could impact how they can provide a user experience, or say “Gosh, the more I put in the platform, the more companies are going to be happy about oh, I’ve got some choice with maybe layering something on different at a later date.”

 

So it’s an interesting spectrum to have to make decisions around and there’s no right answer. I think it has to do with organizationally what’s most important to them. Do they want to move a little bit slower, have less change over time, or do they want to get the latest and greatest and provide their organization something that is going to really be more engaging than kind of the standard out of the box experience.

 

[00:10:51]

Tommy Ryan:

 

Yeah, yeah. Really, a lot of this is looking at, I think there’s things that a platform, really wanna look at, sort of providing what every company, sort of a horizontal solution, what every company needs to have.

 

You have some basics of what you need to have, security, and all the fundamental pieces.

 

Danny Ryan:What I think is interesting, recently is, we’ve been talking quite a bit about Microsoft teams and how, as part of it, I think Microsoft understands the situation of you want to bring your [inaudible 00:11:33], you want to bring the whole, you’re going to be using this with other applications, so their integrations and their connectors, and they’re starting from the get-go where the expectation is you’re going to be the plumbing, you’re building on this.

 

Tommy Ryan:It’s funny, we’ve had some discussions where we’re reading the book from Satya Nadella called Hit Refresh, and we ended up one of the meetings where we were saying “Microsoft provides a lot these sort of building pieces,” but then you have to have a partner like us or you have to have someone who comes in and actually crafts out and builds out what the end solution is.

 

So that is a key component of what happens in all of this, and I am, I think to myself “Stop complaining about the fact (laughs) that they don’t build out the entire solution.” Because, this gives us an opportunity to come in and listen to the unique needs of that customer, create something that’s uniquely theirs that provides value to their organization, we’re the last mile. We’re bring in the expertise that’s needed to create something uniquely for them.

 

Danny Ryan:Right. Yeah. I think Microsoft, as a platform, move towards a product, a polished product, and maybe get their eighty percent. That allows organizations to use it out of the box and get value. Although, it won’t be as good as a polished product that might be purpose built for one area that is one of many within Office 365.

 

So, I think you can see people go to extremes where they look at platforms that are more development platforms that you have to start from scratch and there’s really not much there if you took it out of the box. You need to build it.

 

Then you’ve got the fully polished where it does what it does, and if you don’t like it, you kind of have to deal with it, because it’s kind of closed off to function in a certain way and they don’t want to open themselves up to the challenge of having more of a platform opportunity. I think that’s why we’ve gravitated towards Microsoft, is because they depend on the partner ecosystem to bring it to the last mile, to give it that extra twenty percent.

 

We like the idea of not reinventing the wheel with something and having a starting point that is not the three-wheel framework, but it’s the Microsoft collaboration framework that has so much support to allow us to have that strong foundation.

 

It’s easy to complain about what’s not there, and how they’ve got a couple things that just don’t give it a good starting point, things like To-Do. We talked about last time, that’s frustrating. I think it’s a challenge in an organization the size of Microsoft and the [inaudible 00:14:57] of what they do is where do you do you really hone in and knock it out of the park? Where are you going to fall short?

 

Is that going to impact your mission that you have as an organization of trying to provide this platform? I think the nature of how Microsoft goes about some of these things like tasking and wikis. It creates internal, I don’t know if competition is the right word, but to say “Okay, Planner, Project, To-Do, Wunderlist, here are a couple of our approaches. Let’s see which one rises to the top and gets the option and then we put our energy behind that.

 

I think they will be willing to try other things. I think what can be confusing, is which one are you lining up behind. That’s where you kind of have to guess and look at. Where is the momentum? When we see new task features, is it showing up more in Planner? Is it showing up more in To-Do? Or is it showing up more in Project online?

 

For us, we’re starting to do a little bit more in Planner, and we thought it was going to be To-Do, because that would be that one central place. We’re putting more energy in Planner right now because of the evidence of what is Microsoft doing in the integration story, and the features that are coming out.

 

Tommy Ryan:I think, just looking at what’s going on, we have platform versus purpose built, Microsoft wants to be the platform. I think sometimes they create some of the purpose built ones to [crosstalk 00:16:53] show you this is how you can do it, or (laughs) how you shouldn’t do it. They create them.

 

But, from a business standpoint, we have this conversation quite a bit because we’re moving people from Jive as a platform. It’s the security. It’s a platform move. It’s expensive, to move platforms, for moving products, for moving a purpose built product. It’s like choose what you, what do you guys want to use for task management. To move from one to the other, it’s a lot easier to do that than it is to rip out the plumbing and (laughs) [inaudible 00:17:27].

 

In the end Microsoft wants to win the war of creating the plumbing. They can lose the one-off battles. In fact, they want to enable a healthy ecosystem on top of the platform. But along with that, you can see that they, the focus for them would be “Hey, we want to provide the security. We want to provide the underlying needs that are in place for this overall approach that a company would take.

 

That’s a battle that they want to go after, versus the Googles, and the larger, the other platform players of the world.

 

Danny Ryan:What’s interesting is Microsoft was able to survive the Jives of the world that brought some of their customers outside of their platform for intranet type of collaboration, but at the end of the day, their customers are still using platform pieces, like Exchange and OneDrive, and all these things that give them hints and clues towards, “Well we’re providing you some of these services and they’re working for you, and the underpinnings are there. You’re going over here and fractionating your platform, and yeah it’s nice and shiny over here, but over time you’re going to be putting content in multiple places and creating more of a challenge for you.” I think a lot of organizations are coming back in.

 

Tommy Ryan:I think you’re going to see that even flow where

 

Danny Ryan:You will.

 

Tommy Ryan:Platforms get complacent with certain aspects of it, and then the community will vote by saying, “Okay, I’m not seeing enough innovation here we’re gonna go try the next Jive.” But Microsoft has weathered that because, I think, they have a broad platform that hits multiple aspects of an enterprise that not many organizations have. Very, very unique. You don’t see that with, you have Sysco and you have good. There’s other bigger players, but they’re just not as broad in the enterprise.

 

It’s amazing how Microsfot has done this for so many years. Usually you see a new player come in and reinvent it, but I think what we’re seeing hitting refresh is Microsoft is realizing is we have to reinvent ourselves. We can’t be the same Microsoft we were twenty, thirty years ago.

 

Danny Ryan:Yep. I think with the larger organizations that we typically work with, they’ll have multiple platforms. I think they do this from a negotiation standpoint. If you’ve got all of your eggs in one basket when the yearly time to resign the contracts, people know whether you’ve got alternatives out there as well. So, I think a part of this, as well, is that sometimes these larger organizations might even have multiple platforms in play, purely from a negotiation standpoint.

 

If they don’t have that ability to move from one to the other, you know, larger organizations are doing this over, typically, over a two to three year timeframe any how, because it could take that long to make the move. I see that’s also at play with all of this.

 

Tommy Ryan:Right. It can also see where does Microsoft stack up to the others, and experience that first hand. So their feeling comfortable that “Yeah. We should still be using Microsoft for xyz service, versus, there might be another player that can give them a better option.

 

Danny Ryan:Which is why, probably, they’re typically always talking about what’s coming [crosstalk 00:21:35]. But then they’ve always got to see what’s coming two to three years from now you’ll be happy with because these larger enterprises are like, “Well I don’t see Microsoft talking about this, and that’s the next big thing.”

 

Tommy Ryan:We saw that with Social for a while. I think that’s why a lot of people moved into Jive, is because they took a while to do that yammer acquisition, and it was a little bit too late for a lot of big players that ended up going to Jive.

 

Danny Ryan:This is good. This is more of just a conversation talking back and forth. I think for us, what I see it’s a great thing. We’re obviously a Microsoft partner, so out platform is Office 365. Then, I think a lot it for us, there will be certain situations in which we will augment that with purpose built products, like we use Go To Meeting for client facing meetings. There’ll be things that we just really, we have some specific requirement that’s in place that says we need to add something on top of what’s built into the platform.

 

Tommy Ryan:Yep.

 

Danny Ryan:We want to use as much of the platform as we can, and try to understand what’s there as well, but really make sure it works with what we’re trying to do.

 

Tommy Ryan:Cool.

 

Danny Ryan:Well thank you everybody for listening, for sitting down and talking here. We mentioned the book a couple of times. Maybe next time we get together we’ll do a check in on that, and we’ll be into chapter four or so. We’re making our way through the book. Do a little bit of what we’ve learned so far with that.

 

Tommy Ryan:Maybe instead of talking about sock I can give you a Tesla feature of the week.

 

Danny Ryan:(laughs)

 

Tommy Ryan:Let’s move on to that.

 

Danny Ryan:That sounds like a great idea. You can say I don’t have any socks on today, so (laughs) [crosstalk 00:23:41].

 

Well, thank you everyone for listening. Have a wonderful day. Thanks Tommy.

 

Tommy Ryan:You’re welcome. Bye.

 

Danny Ryan:Bye.

 

Additional Credits

Intro/Outro Music – Daniel Bassett

Danny RyanThe Right Combination of Platform Plus Purpose Built

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