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The SharePoint Intranet-in-a-Box Market – Interview with Sam Marshall

Danny Ryan

Co-Host – Danny Ryan

Bio – LinkedIn – Twitter

Sam Marshall

Guest – Sam Marshall

Bio – LinkedIn – Twitter

Tommy Ryan

Co-Host – Tommy Ryan

Bio – LinkedIn – Twitter

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

 

Tommy:I’m doing great Danny. Looking forward to today. Talking about SharePoint intranet-in-a-box.

 

Danny:Awesome. Yes, yes and interview number two. Today we have Sam Marshall from ClearBox from over in the UK. How are you doing Sam?

 

Sam:Hi there. I’m very well thank you. I’m looking forward to it, too.

 

Danny:Awesome, awesome. Today we’ve got a great conversation that a lot of people are talking about. I know it’s come up for us quite a bit. I wanted to talk about … with Sam, he’s got a company that really focuses in on the decision process around what you should be using for your digital workplace. Sam, you’re gonna correct me if I say anything wrong here, right?

 

Sam:Oh for sure. Yeah.

 

Danny:Good. So Sam has a lot of options as far as workshops that he runs. Also, at the end of the podcast, we’ll go through a report that he has available for people who are interested in the products that are out there. I’ve given sort of a high level for you there Sam, but just tell me a little bit more about what your company does.

 

Sam:Yeah, thank you Danny. We’re based in the UK. This year’s our 10 year anniversary. We focus on digital workplace, strategy, things like intranet adoption, intranet governance, getting the right team in place. Basically, we do everything about intranet apart from the actual technology. So, we don’t sell any products, we don’t build things on top of share points, we’re really focused on the needs of the business user and the analogy I make is … it’s a bit like once a company’s installed a load of gym equipment, you then need to say, “Well okay, what’s the training program for our team? What is it we’re going to do with this equipment to achieve our goals?” and that’s quite a nuanced thing to help people think through because you carry on with the analogy, if you’ve got a bunch of marathon runners, they’re going to use the gym equipment in a certain way and do certain routines, but if you got a bunch of Olympic power lifters, then they’re probably completely different equipment and follow an entire different program.

 

We come across this a lot with Office 365, but you get so much stuff just with that license. The trick that we try and help companies think through is, what do we need out of this goodie bag that would work for us and what can we safely ignore?

 

Myself, I-

 

Danny:What’s your-

 

Sam:Yeah, go on.

 

Danny:Yeah. What’s your background … I was just inter … just going to ask you probably what you were just going to say, but tell me more about your background?

 

Sam:You’re going to cue me up perfectly, and I interrupted you by segueing in to it myself.

 

I’ll give you the funny answer. I studied baboon behavior as a psychology graduate, and then I specialized in Artificial Intelligence, building like a robot. If that isn’t the perfect background for intranet, I don’t know what is.

 

It turns out that the baboons are like robot’s pays as well, as getting involved in things like SharePoints. A man’s got to eat, you know.

 

In between that, the serious answer is I did a lot around knowledge management and working with internal communicators. That’s what got me into intranet and things like SharePoint cause I think the technology to me isn’t that interesting, but the things that people do with it and how it affects the digital workplace, that’s fascinating.

 

Tommy:In saying that, if you honed in on SharePoint and Office 365 as that platform, or are there other platforms outside of that? I know you advise people on Intranets and the box that interacts with SharePoint, but are there other platforms that you get involved with?

 

Sam:Yes. We’ve always made a point of saying “We are technology neutral,” because we don’t see that as the biggest challenge. We have worked with clients who are using open source systems like, Drupal, and also some of the ready-made non-SharePoint platforms like, Interact, which is a big player in the UK and I think also getting more visibility in the US. But, in fact it’s probably 80% of our clients have already made the decision that the answer is Office 365 and they come to us saying, “Now Sam, can you tell us what the question should have been so that we can justify the answer, Office 365.” We run with that. We have no problem with the technology choices that we make.

 

Tommy:Okay.

 

Danny:Awesome. What … just sort of getting into our conversation here, which is … and it has to do with really the build versus buy decision, what’s been happening over the last couple of years with regards to, in particular with SharePoint online, but also some of the other products that have been coming around. What and … How did you get into this whole idea of doing this, the SharePoint in a box report? Give me a little bit more background, was it just a lot of people were asking you for what the options were out there? Tell me a little bit more about that.

 

Sam:Yeah, yeah, in part. So maybe we should explain a little bit what this intranet in a box is and what report is that we’ve done. So intranet in a box products are things that you install on top of SharePoint, or alongside SharePoint, or within your Office 365 environment, and they kind of take the bare bones of SharePoint and give you a lot more of what you would normally expect to see in an Intranet. So, for example, that hero image, the news publishing, maybe a much nicer looking feel. So recently, something that worked well on mobile, that wasn’t available from SharePoint 2013. We saw a big growth in companies who have maybe been doing this for years as an agency, taking a whole bunch of requirements, and responding to an RFQ, and then building it again and again for different clients.

 

And I suppose each one of these companies said, “Do you know what? Why are we building yet another Carousel web-part from scratch when 90% of the requests ask for the same thing. Why don’t we turn that into some kind of product so people can buy it and take an accelerated approach to getting the intranet that they want. And as ClearBox, we noticed this was happening, and thought well, we’re in a pretty good position to be the neutral guide for people on this because we’re never gonna sell any of these products, but we do have a really good understanding of what it is that companies are looking for. We’ve worked with everything from small charities of a couple hundred employees, all the way up to the Unilevers of this world that have 50 or even 100,000 employees, so we see the range of requirements.

 

A couple of years ago, we’re talking end of 2015, we took a look at the market and said “Let’s do a free download where we look at six of these products, and we’ll do like a buyers guide. We’ll do a star rating of the strengths and weaknesses and have a look, at least let people who are interested in sourcing one of these understand what’s available.” So we did that, and we got a really good response, and we got lots of indignant vendors knocking at our door saying “How come you picked them, and you didn’t pick us. We’re really great as well. When’s the next faction of the report going out?” So we thought, yeah okay, that’s a fair question, let’s do this again. So we put out an appeal for participation, and we had 26 vendors respond. And I’m starting to think “Okay, so this is something we should really take seriously.”

 

So we produced a paid-for research report, it’s like 250 pages. Every product, we put them through like eight different common scenarios, so things like publishing news, supporting communities, two-way conversations, analytics, and we evaluated them consistently across each one of these and said to the vendors, “Show us how your product would fulfill this scenario.” So it was a little bit like a mock RFP, where you might come up with some use cases and ask for a demo of those use cases.

 

Since we did that, we find yet more indignant vendors knocking on the door, who yet again felt excluded by this, but also some really good feedback from the vendors who had taken part, saying “Yeah, we’ve got lots of new things to show, we’d like you to do an update of the report.” So we’re just oiling the wheels to start again for this year and, so far, we’ve had, I think, 48 companies that want to be listed.

 

Danny:My goodness.

 

Sam:So this is a very, very active market area. And I think really interesting because what’s driving it from a company point of view, a lot of our clients say we’ve got this steer from CIO, we want to buy, not build everything in IT. Wherever we can, we want software as a service, or we want it to be cloud based, because we’ve been so often in the past with SharePoint, where we invested hundreds, if not millions of dollars in this custom solution. Microsoft broke it all and it cost us hundreds, if not millions, of dollars more to fix it. Can we push that headache onto an external company who will not just keep in-step with Microsoft plans for us, but in-step with maybe a whole cohort of customers, and therefore spread the cost.

 

I think not only is there a boom from the supply side, but there’s also a real boom from the customer interest happening as well.

 

Danny:Looking at that report Sam, it’s incredible. So detailed and it’s something that I think a lot of people like to see and kind of compare it as rating it as a Consumer Reports-type of view, where you’re comparing some of the same parameters.

 

Sam:Thank you, a lot of ibuprofen went into that report, I can tell you.

 

Danny:Yeah. You can tell there’s someone that has attention to detail or obsessive-compulsive maybe behavior there.

 

Sam:It wasn’t just me, I had a team of eight obsessive-compulsive working for me as well.

 

Danny:Okay, nice. Yeah. And I can see … it’s interesting to see the amount of folks that are in this space. You probably don’t know this, but you wonder what’s the market opportunity, you know, what does the space look like, and all these companies that are going into creating an intranet in a box, how are they rationalizing that. Are they product companies that go into it saying “We see this space, it’s got a market potential of this, and we’re going to go after that market and go after this niche in that market,” or is it consulting companies that built the same customizations over and over again and that productize that and try to spin off a product side. I assume you see a mix of those and do you have any comments on what makes a good intranet in a box company that can be successful endeavoring in this space?

 

Sam:It’s a really good question because it has a lot of signs of an immature market, and what I mean by that, is last year on the whole, pretty much everyone doing this is coming at it from the consulting side and moving into being a product company.

 

Danny:Interesting.

 

Sam:I don’t see many product companies who are saying “We want our product in this space, alongside all the other products that we’ve got.” And what that means is that there’s a really challenge for a consulting mindset company to change the way they work to support a product that might mean multiple releases and help desks and all the other things that you would expect when you buy a license that don’t fit that project mindset of doing consulting where there’s a clear endpoint, and anything you want after that is another contract or a kind of bespoke support engagement.

 

Danny:Right.

 

Sam:So to answer your question about what makes it good, in a box vendor, it’s the ones who’ve really, I think, segregated their business so they have a team that’s dedicated to look after the product and just thinking about the product roadmap, irrespective of there necessarily being a sale behind every feature that they add. So it’s not like they’re saying “Oh we’re going to do this because a big client has asked for it,” they’re doing it cause it’s the right thing to do and they’ve got that vision of where they want to set the product, as a way to generate the sales.

 

Tommy:What you see is a sampling of companies that haven’t made that segregation, is that maybe the guy that developed a feature that you’ve raised a ticket on cause it’s not working right, is pulled off from a client project for the next three months, and that poor guy’s going to have a real tension in terms of how does he allocate his time to looking after the conflicting needs.

 

Danny:Interesting.

 

Sam:If I can share a little secret on the podcast, and everybody listening has got to promise not to repeat it. I’m joking. There are a few companies that got in touch saying “Please can we be in your report,” and they couldn’t even provide a website link cause they hadn’t got the website live, you know, the product was that fresh. We’ve had a little chat with them, said “Come back next year when there’s more to show,” because I think part of what people investigating this area need to be aware of, is some of these products, I don’t think, will last, and that’s part of what we’re trying to help do, is understand how robust is this offering. Cause if you back a product where the vendor walks away from the market in 18 months, then you’re no better off than if you built it in house, you got that same headache, in terms of upgrade groups.

 

Danny:Yeah, that’s an interesting thing, and as I was looking through the report, I see when the company was founded, it’s so and so IT consultancy. Is there any measures around, say, maturity and, let’s say, process product capabilities that can give a client a certain sense of assurance that they’re going to be around two years from now versus they’re just kind of dipping their toe in the water. How do companies sort that out and do you help them with that?

 

Sam:We do and there’s a couple of checkpoints within that. So one is how committed is this company to the product roots, and the other one is how stable is the company itself. So, you know, the company might live on, but they might say “Yeah, we’re walking away from looking at this product anymore,” and you’re still high and dry.

 

Danny:Right.

 

Sam:In terms of the company stability, I always say to clients, just make sure your procurement is doing it’s due diligence in terms of looking at the vendor financials, the Number of employees they’ve got, and the track record of companies of a similar scale to yourself. The usual revenue credit check-type stuff you do.

 

Danny:Right, right.

 

Sam:In terms of the product maturity, in the report we list when the first release of the product was, we list how often they release it. In the new version, we’ve asked what’s the typical customer size, and also what’s your largest customer size, and most of them have also given us the names of reference companies. And all of those are good reflections of a healthy product, I think.

 

Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative), mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s good. It’s interesting your answer to the profile of a company that it’s, you know, primarily consultancies, you wonder is there the market there for it where product companies maybe do a market-level research versus saying “Oh we’ve got code for this,” it’s more of is there a market established that we know we can invest so many dollars in product to convert so much business. Do you think … do you have a sense of why traditional product companies are not entering this market?

 

Sam:Well, it’s a busy market, isn’t it.

 

Danny:Yeah, yeah, maybe they see it’s too packed.

 

Sam:Not necessarily, the SharePoint space has traditionally been dominated by the partner model, and there aren’t so many companies that have got established SharePoint products who, perhaps, understand the intranet world, you know, that whole publishing model. They’re much more on things like the transactional BI or the back [inaudible 00:17:31] tools.

 

Danny:Right.

 

Sam:You know, you think about metalogix or K2 on Intact, I don’t think any of those have anything else that’s similar to what an intranet would do. I mean what are your guys’ thoughts on this cause you’ve, I know, have been exploring this space as well.

 

Danny:I can maybe say a little bit about that Tommy and I are very interested to learn sort of about … and this is probably because we’ve been in business for quite a while and have tried launching a couple products of our own, we’re not planning on launching nay intranets in a box or anything along that/ those lines. I think one of the things that Tommy and I have recognized that it is truly a different type of business, and in order to be successful, we’re at the point where we say it’s got to be a separate company doing a product, it can’t be us. So we’ve recognized that and so we’ve been very cautious about entering into any sort of product type of business. In fact, I’ve got up on our website, we’ve recently … we did some integration products with Salesforce, and we’ve recently retired those because it’s just … we just don’t … we can’t … it’s not the right business for us.

 

What I’m interested … if I can … I’m interested right now because of traditionally the … number one the SIs, how would they handle … cause typically with these different intranet and box products, they’re selling both the product and the services along with it, what are … cause we’re an SI that doesn’t have this, are they typically just building? Are you seeing them build on top of SharePoint or are they … and we’ve partnered with … there’s been some companies that we’ve worked with that, in particular, where they’re moving from Jive, which is a social platform, to Office 365, we have some expertise where we’ve been pulled in to do the migration where we’ve got some expertise in several of these products.

 

But how are SIs … what are they … are they deciding I’m just gonna build on or how are they handling this whole situation?

 

Sam:I see a big growth in the more established in a box products, setting up partner and resell and networks. So I’m guessing these guys are aligning themselves to specialize in one or two in a box products and saying “Yeah, we can meet 80% of a client’s requirements by adopting this product,” and then we’ll fulfill the other 20% as bespoke. But it allows them to deliver a solution way quicker than they could have done before. So some of the in a box vendors, in particular Powell 365 and Kamina, are really geared up to deliver through SIs, rather than you would go directly to them for the solution.

 

Danny:Gotcha, gotcha.

 

Sam:And again, I see that as an encouraging sign of maturity, that the product is something they can build out a partner network through. The less mature ones, you could argue it’s not really a product because it’s actually a set of code libraries and you always need the in-house consults and the expertise to turn it into a delivered intranet solution.

 

Danny:Yup. Tommy, were you gonna say something? I think I cut you off a little earlier, I’m sorry.

 

Tommy:I want to say Sam was asking what do we see as that marketplace and why are there intranet in the box solutions out there. We started in the SharePoint space back in 2006/2007, and it’s when Microsoft really touted SharePoint as a platform, a customizable platform, and gave a lot of knobs to turn as developers, and as SharePoint is maturing, and as Microsoft is going to the cloud, you can see SharePoint becoming more commoditized and going into the cloud, being in a multi-tenant environment, it’s really not suited well for some of the customizations you would do in the past. So you have organizations that want those better look than feels and they can’t work within the constraints of what Office 365 puts in place, so they want to extend that capability and have more control, and that’s working with these companies that are providing more the functionality that might not ever get there in Office 365 or maybe doesn’t get there soon enough, where they’d rather get there sooner by buying it than building it, knowing that things might change underneath them with Office 365.

 

And I think also, it’s been the space around Microsoft where Microsoft kinda put out share point and said “It’s here, it’s got some core capabilities, do with it what you want and think about the possibilities of what you can do with the intranet.” That can be paralyzing to a lot of organizations, and buying something out of the box, like what we experienced with people buying Jive, is it’s a polished product versus a platform play, and a lot of organizations kind of like that and went in that direction. I think these intranet in a box companies are seeing that people want the reliability of having SharePoint storing the data, being that backend, and then have the nice shiny upfront with something that Microsoft is not necessarily known for, but getting better at. You’re seeing things that are coming out that make you about Microsoft. It’s becoming “more modern” in their UIs, but with a company that size, they’re always going to be probably a step or step and a half behind what these smaller companies are able to do with web technologies.

 

Danny:Yeah.

 

Tommy:And that’s just my kind of high-level view of, you know, why is this space being created, and it’s not totally surprising that it’s coming primarily from SIs doing this. But it is, I think, a sign of, like you said Sam, maturity, the market, where it is coming from, shared code libraries, that are coming from projects, from SIs versus you have a product company saying “There’s an addressable market, there’s a gap here, we want to address it and we feel confident that people are going to spend the money here.” We’re surprised … it might because we’re doing a lot of Jive to Sharepoint point migrations, but we’re surprised in the number of companies that are choosing the intranet in a box option, because it will put your data inside other CMS systems. We’ve seen with some of these systems, they’re not just storing everything in SharePoint, they have to have their own CMS to give the kind of capabilities that they add on top of SharePoint, then maybe they just store the file in SharePoint but the blogs are sitting in their own CMS system inside of SharePoint.

 

Sam:I mean I absolutely agree with your analysis, Tommy, but that point about where your data sits … there’s only three or four where it resides in a separate CMS. So we’re working with a client at the moment where it’s an absolute prerequisite that the data stays entirely within the Office 365 tenant.

 

Tommy:Right.

 

Sam:There’s about 20 options where that’s definitely the case, they … some of them it’s really just web parts and styling that they’re adding, they’re not taking the data outside of your own client at all.

 

Tommy:Yeah. That’s what I would want as a customer, but also some of the sexier ones are not necessarily using SharePoint as a store cause it complicates things. A blog in SharePoint, that data structure’s totally different than what you would want to do from scratch to create a blog interface.

 

Sam:Yeah. It’s understandable cause often the brief from the client is can you make SharePoint look not like SharePoint?

 

Tommy:Right.

 

Sam:So what you’ve do is get another CMS and patch it in the [inaudible 00:26:20]. When you do that-

 

Danny:Sometimes-

 

Sam:The big trade off is that it becomes an uncomfortable hop back into anything Office 365. So if you look at something like flow and say “Ah it’s great, can’t we use flow as part of what we’re doing with this separate CMS?” The answer’s always gonna be no because the CMS won’t have that level of integration.

 

Tommy:Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Danny:So I would be remiss if we didn’t talk about … sort of the hot topic and the elephant in the room, which is communication sites. Sam, I was fortunate enough to listen in on a webinar, and I think this is an interesting thing cause as a feature … sort of as maybe a feature set, this is one of the things that SharePoint and box companies were addressing, which was the modern experience working well on mobile devices, and we’ve seen this year, Microsoft release this. What … give me … what does that mean to folks, how does that … what’s your general take on what’s happening right now, in particular with communication sites?

 

Sam:Yeah, so communication site’s really interesting, really good to see because, I think, it reflects that Microsoft is definitely getting the UX message that it’s so important, and they frankly just haven’t got it right for many years. Communication sites are fantastic when you need to create something that’s attractive, around a single topic. But it is still a micro-site, in effect. So, right now, we shouldn’t pre-judge cause we know this is just like the first release, and there’s probably lot more to come from Microsoft.

 

Right now, it looks like an intranet homepage, but it really isn’t. And what I mean by that is that it has the hero images, but they’re just images with links behind them, it’s not actually you click on it and you’re taken into a news article unless you manually tie that hero image into a news article. There’s no cross-site publishing, so we find once you get up to 500 employees, or two or three countries, or two or three business sectors that your company operates in, it’s not enough to have separate sites for everything. You want to be able to create a news story and say “Here’s a news story, now zing it out so we can target it to everybody in Canada, but not in the U.S., or everybody who worked in sales, but not in marketing.” And for that, you still need the idea of a news center, a repository of news, and some kind of metadata and personalization, which then does a search, call and pulls them back to show people.

 

That’s not something that I can see coming in comp sites anytime soon. In terms of the in a box marketplace though, Microsoft is definitely gonna make the sales guys work harder cause comp sites look great. Getting from ResX saying “We really need an intranet in a box,” when they can see a comp site becomes harder, it probably means that some of the in a box vendors who were targeting companies of 50 to 200 employees, somewhere like the small to medium enterprise business, they might pull out of this market in time, unless they are really focusing on doing non-communication stuff like transactions, which some of them do very well, indeed.

 

Danny:Interesting.

 

Sam:Yeah. I mean what your take? Do you see your clients excited by communication sites?

 

Danny:From my experience, Sam, I think it’s early on and they’re so buried in everything else that they haven’t fully explored that at this point.

 

Sam:So now it’s class, we’ve got actual lives and actual businesses rather-

 

Danny:Yeah. Definitely. It’s something that makes you pause to say “Okay how does that play into the equation?” The thing that I think Microsoft’s doing well with, but developers in the Microsoft ecosystem might get frustrated, is they’re trying to narrow down the lane a bit, and get more focused around areas in SharePoint to be very good at. I like the concept of segregating into teams and communication sites, and that I think is the 80/20 versus the traditional Microsoft is we’ll try to cover 100% of the space versus honing in and doing very well on the majority. They can go across platforms and devices to expose that in a polished way. I just love seeing teams and that visual overlay on top of a SharePoint team site or Office 365 group.

 

That’s exciting for us to really have a customer go a long way because they’ve gone deep on that topic of a team site versus before, in 2007 and 13, you had 20/ 30 different things to choose from as a starting template. I think that’s different for Microsoft, I think it is speaking to we’re all busy people and we need less choices. It’s interesting that you say there’s 50 intranet in a box selections. I think that’s good news for your company because that just makes that equation even more complicated of okay, am I picking the right one? I don’t have time to evaluate 50 different options. Then you feel at the mercy of which one has the best marketing program to touch me, is the one I’m gonna choose, and maybe that’s not the right selection criteria. I need to make sure I’m thorough and picking the company that best aligns with our needs and our direction.

 

Sam:Yeah. That is so important because once you’ve made that choice, once you’ve committed to it, you really have narrowed down the scope of what you can do. So these in a box products, they make things easier to use by, in effect, reducing some of the choices that you would have if you were On a bare bones SharePoint and could develop anything. I always say to people, “Don’t pick a product and think that you can just tweak this and tweak that,” because you won’t be able to if you want to stay faithful to the vendor’s own roadmap.

 

Danny:Yeah, definitely.

 

Sam:If they become tomorrow a formal requirements gathering exercise, and we’re helping quite a few clients through this at the moment, just to go through an RSP that gets you in the right place to come up with a short list and then choose between them.

 

Danny:Very good.

 

Tommy:Sam, I think we could talk to you for hours here, so I know you’ve got a hard stop. So before we wrap-up, if you don’t mind, I know you mentioned that you might have a discount code for listeners, can you give us a little bit more … some more details on that?

 

Sam:Yeah, sure. So if you head over to our website, which is clearbox.co.uk, I know I’ve got a funny accent, so let me spell that out, that’s c-l-e-a-r-b-o-x, opposite of black box, .co.uk. You will see, right there on our own hero image, a link to the SharePoint intranet in a box reports, and when you go to check out, use the code t-w-o-b-b 20, so that’s t-w-o-b-b, for bald brothers, and 20, cause. T-w-o-b-b 20, and you get 20% off, so the full price is $495 dollars, you’ll get $99 off, making it $398.

 

Danny:That’s awesome.

 

Tommy:Super.

 

Danny:That’s awesome.

 

Tommy:That’s great.

 

Sam:[crosstalk] Right until the end of August so if you’d like, on your summer holiday reading by the pool, the report will certainly help with your siestas. I mean it will certainly give you plenty to read.

 

Danny:That’s wonderful. And maybe, Sam, we can have you back after the next version is out. Tommy and I’d be interested to hear some of the details on that, so that’d be wonderful to have you back.

 

Sam:I’d love to. Once I’ve had a big lie down, I’d love to come back and talk to you more about this topic since you’re really into it.

 

Danny:Super. Well thank you, Sam, thank you Tommy, and thank you, everybody, for listening. Yeah, thanks so much.

 

Sam:Pleasure, thanks very much, guys, for inviting me on. It’s been great.

 

Danny:Alright, cheers.

 

Tommy:Absolutely, take care now.

 

Sam:Bye.

 

Tommy:Thank you, buh-bye.

 

Additional Credits

Podcast Producer – Oliver Penegar
Intro/Outro Music – Daniel Bassett

Remember to use discount code “twobb20” for 20% off!

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empty.authorThe SharePoint Intranet-in-a-Box Market – Interview with Sam Marshall
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Planning and Building The Hub, a Modern Digital Workspace, on SharePoint and Office 365

Danny serves as Vice President of Business Development 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.

Shire, a recognized leader in rare diseases, has a passion to improve the quality of life of their patients. A core component of their business strategy is to plan for rapid growth, both organically and through acquisition. They just completed their largest acquisition to-date, quadrupling the size of their global workforce.

During this expansion, change management was significant to keep everyone informed and engaged. With Office 365 and SharePoint, Shire could:

  • Build & host their digital workspace with a strong rigor on content governance
  • Secure the content being produced
  • Ensure that content is curated in a consistent, compelling way, that’s also easy to find

Join our panel discussion with leaders from Shire and our SharePoint MVPs as they share their requirements and best practices to plan, build and use a functional, beautiful, engaging digital workspace, The Hub, that helps inform and engage everyone throughout the company.

They will highlight the use of innovations including SharePoint communication sites, the SharePoint Framework (SPFx), multi-column page support, new web parts and page capabilities – all used to create rich and compelling sites that meet and pass business and technical requirements.

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Danny RyanPlanning and Building The Hub, a Modern Digital Workspace, on SharePoint and Office 365
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Summary of Day 3 of #MSInspire 2017

Danny serves as Vice President of Business Development 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.
  1. Today’s buzzword of the day (I should have done this for Day 1/2 as well) – Single Pane of Glass.  I think I heard it five times today.  BTW, you’re reading this blog post on a single pane of glass.   😆
  2. Yes, as suspected, the attendance at the Vision Keynote was down.  They closed off many sections of the Verizon Center.
  3. Keynote was covered by Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Counsel.   Strong emphasis on  European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will take effect May 2018 and “will significantly raise the bar for data privacy protection.”  More info – blog post and partner resources.
  4. Gavriella Schuster, CVP, Worldwide Channels and Programs, covered changes to the partner program – focus will be on growing partners for one role and role a for a person acting more as a “connector.”
  5. Discussion with Ian Bremmer about the current state of the world politics.  I’m a bit tired of politics so I would have preferred someone more inspirational (core message was basically that US is no longer leading the free world).  The conference is called Inspire – maybe next year they can book someone like Tony Robbins to get us all pumped up.
  6. Enjoyed meeting some folks from a partner from Portugal called BindTuning – UX for Office 365 that will definitely be a part of upcoming projects.
  7. Talked with Microsoft rep for the p-seller program – with all the talk about how the partner model is changing it sounds like things are status quo so not sure if it’s worth the investment of time.  Time will tell.
  8. I had two awesome sessions from Mike Gannotti – he had some killer takeaways (sorry, first two are for Windows only – a benefit of moving from Mac to a PC):
  9. Attended a session on the partnership with Adobe (integration with Dynamics and LinkedIn).  It’s a solution for larger companies (for now).  Keeping my eye on this since some companies have asked us about migrations from Salesforce to Dynamics.
  10. Great session from Dan Holme on SharePoint and what’s coming – can’t wait to use Communication Sites (still not available on our tenant) and new web parts (like the news web part).  Discussed difference between Yammer and Teams.  Yammer is a cross-company discussions (large groups) based on interest/topic and Teams are for, well, teams (smaller groups).  He confirmed the model is one Team per company/client that you work with (we came to the same conclusion).  Confirmed that they are building in many of the features that companies want in a modern Intranet – it just may take some time.  This puts “SharePoint in a Box” products in a foot-race to outpace Microsoft (maybe one of them will be bought by Microsoft – just guessing).  Talk of further integration with workflow (Flow) and building apps (PowerApps).
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Danny RyanSummary of Day 3 of #MSInspire 2017
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Summary of Day 2 of #MSInspire 2017

Danny serves as Vice President of Business Development 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.
  1. Wish I had a dollar for each time this was covered today – four pillars of digital transformation that empower organizations to re-envision their business: engage customers, empower employees, optimize operations, and transform products.  Thinking about how this fits into how we categorize solutions (improve bottom line, drive efficiency, satisfy end users, and manage risks).
  2. The final mile in solutions – Industry focus.  Microsoft focusing on these industries: Financial Services, Manufacturing, Retail, Education, Health and Government.  Everyone in Microsoft organized into these verticals.  We actually cover more industries (from our menu, select SUCCESS -> FOR YOUR INDUSTRY lists them all).  Should we narrow ours down?  Just to Microsoft’s list to help us focus and partner better?
  3. Had a conversation with the leader of Go To Market Campaigns – they are going to need to catch up to this messaging and focus with the microsoft.com site.
  4. At FastTrack booth – we are on the same page with messaging (using FastTrack as a part of a migration, but we need to own the outcome relationship with the client).
  5. Attended a really great presentation by another partner about co-marketing/selling with Microsoft.  Key points – understand account team motivations and fears, bringing Microsoft into a large account helped them sell a solution for one department to other departments, ask for Account List and target only a handful of companies.
  6. Favorite session of the day was one that was scheduled last minute about transforming marketing by Chris Capossela (CMO of Microsoft).  Practical examples of how their marketing department is using the four pillars of digital transformation.  Was great to get the explanation behind the move to brand everything to Microsoft – example – https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/education  First time I saw this ad – so well done and just as good/better than Apple – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzMLA8YIgG0
  7. Fun times at night at the Metalogix party – any party with branded maracas is a party for me!  Great seeing the team from Metalogix…
  8. Lots of links to resources:
  9. Lines into Verizon Center were so much better today.  Crowd not as big (lots of folks sleeping in?).  My guess is this trend will continue tomorrow.
  10. Got some great socks for Tommy and me from FastTrack booth…I’m sure we’ll showcase this in the podcast.

Microsoft Socks

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Danny RyanSummary of Day 2 of #MSInspire 2017
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Summary of Day 1 of #MSInspire 2017

Danny serves as Vice President of Business Development 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.
  1. Next year’s conference will be at Las Vegas – https://twitter.com/maryjofoley/status/884394386330718208. Loved bringing the family to this year’s conference – may just be my wife to next year’s conference because Vegas is not so family friendly.
  2. Office 365 + Windows + Enterprise Mobility and Security = Microsoft 365 – https://www.theverge.com/2017/7/10/15946450/microsoft-365-office-windows-ignite-launch We moved from SharePoint to Office 365 and now I’ll have to add a Microsoft 365 tag to our blog.
  3. Love that Ron Huddleston is the new Channel Chief – he’s the person behind the AppExchange – we’ve created apps for both the AppExchange and the Office Store and trust me when I say that he can make a huge impact.
  4. Out with PAM, in with Channel Manager.
  5. Great to see integration with LinkedIn happening – attended a couple of sessions and this will give Salesforce a run for their money…
  6. Four Solution Areas – Modern Workplace, Business Applications, Applications and Infrastructure, and Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
  7. 4.5 Trillion Dollar Opportunity – favorite meme – https://twitter.com/meetdux/status/884406836287479809
  8. Mobile First, Cloud First now Intelligent Cloud, Intelligent Edge – https://twitter.com/Microsoft/status/884404594943590400
  9. Loved seeing women leading the demos – https://twitter.com/mrstotten/status/884419820233666560
  10. Feedback from the day – waited over an hour to get into Verizon Center (they weren’t letting people in until 9 am for some reason) – will be showing up early tomorrow to avoid the lines.

verizon center waiting

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Danny RyanSummary of Day 1 of #MSInspire 2017
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Microsoft Inspire 2017

Danny serves as Vice President of Business Development 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.

Connect with Microsoft employees, industry experts and partners as we host Microsoft Inspire, formerly known as the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. It’s the great event our partners know and love, with a brand new name. Join us in Washington, D.C. to build connections, increase engagement with Microsoft, and transform your business with innovative sessions and experiences.

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Danny RyanMicrosoft Inspire 2017
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Find Anything in SharePoint with Amazon-Like Faceted Search Webinar

Bo is a Principal Consultant for ThreeWill. He has 18 years of full lifecycle software development experience.

 

Danny:

 

Hello everyone, and welcome to this webinar on finding anything in SharePoint with Amazon-Like faceted search, wow I got that out.

 

This is Danny Ryan, I’ll be your host for today, and I am the co-founder and VP of Business Development for ThreeWill. I have here with me a partner, Ross Leher, he’s the CEO and chairman of WAND INC. I’ve also included in on this conversation as well Bo George. Bo is a principal consultant for ThreeWill. He leads up our portals practice lead. I wanted him in on the conversation as well.

 

The way this is set up today is, it’s set up as a conversation. I wanted to have Bo just be able to chime in, maybe on some recent project experience, or some things that we’ve seen, and have him chime in that way, and look forward to showing this to you guys today.

 

Thank you everybody for joining. A couple of logistical things, before we jump into the content … we will be recording the webinar, so you can share it with colleagues. We’ll send a link out to it, so look for a followup next week, with the link. I think we might also be putting this on the podcast as well.

 

The deck for the webinar is available, it’s in the downloads panel … let’s make sure we’re all set there. You should be able to see … actually, it’s in the handouts. You can see in the handouts panel, you can download it from there, a PDF of the presentation.

 

If you’ve got any questions at all, I’ve got our producer here, Oliver is behind me. Today’s Oliver’s birthday, it’s his 21st birthday, happy birthday Oliver. He’ll be handling your questions, or if you have anything you’d like to chat about as well, he’ll keep an eye on that.

 

You’re not drinking yet, are you? You’re 21 years old … not til tonight. Okay, he’s going to wait til tonight.

 

So if you’ve got anything there, just let us know, and we’ll respond to the questions towards the end of the webinar. So that gets us kicked off with a little bit of logistics.

 

The agenda for today … what we wanted to start off with is our perspective and the backstory on this, which is why we wanted to share more information about what Ross and his company does, and why we think this is so important to our customers and to people in general who are using SharePoint and things. So I wanted to give a little bit of a backstory to get us started out with the webinar today. The next part, I’ll let Ross take over, and he’ll help define for us what the enterprise need is, around findability. I also want him to give a little bit of a background on sort of how WAND fits into the picture, what they do. And then, for some people this might be a new topic for them, as far as what taxonomy is, so I just want to give sort of an overview of what that is, and really just be able to make sure that we’re all using the same vocabulary when we’re talking. And then, sort of looking at what this overall webinar’s about, we’re looking at trying to create something, like Amazon-like faceted search.

 

We all know, the net time you go look for a new pair of shoes within Amazon, it’s amazing how quickly you can narrow it down to the correct ones. So we wanted to say, “How can we do something similar with the content that we have on our intranets, inside of SharePoint?” And then he’s going to go through and just share a little bit about the business functions in industries, the different taxonomies for those, and then I’ll ask him to do a demonstration of their taxonomy portal.

 

And then from there, sort of like, “How do you get started with all this stuff?” There’s a two-to-three week quick-start project, which we’ll talk a little bit about, and what does that look like, and how do you get this whole thing started out in the right way?

 

And then we’ve got a case study that we’d like to review about Goodwill industries, and review what some of the things were that we found out from that case study.

 

Then we’ll wrap it up with, I’ve just got some conclusions, just some things, what do I want everybody to walk away with from this webinar, and just some of the conclusions. At that point in time, we’ll go through and see if there’s any questions that folks have, and we’ll answer the questions at that time.

 

I’ve got it open right now. I like sort of conversational. I’ll hand it over, after I’m done with the backstory, over to Ross. But Ross or Bo, feel free to jump in, if there’s anything that you’d like to add to the conversation.

 

Hey Bo, how’s it going?

 

Bo:Good, good. How are you, Danny?

 

Danny:Good, good, good. And Ross, you’re there?

 

Ross:We are here in the mile-high city of Denver, Colorado. It’s a beautiful day.

 

Danny:It is? Okay, awesome. Great to have you guys here.

 

Let’s get started with the backstory. For folks who are on the line, I ended up inviting a lot of people to this who are current client, or folks that we have interacted with through the years. Most people know we’ve been working with clients on building intranets and extranets on SharePoint for a while now. It’s been a while.

 

One of the most common complaints that we hear from people is, “I can’t find anything in SharePoint.” Bo, you hear that quite a bit?

 

Bo:Yeah, for sure. I was thinking, as soon as you have two people working on a single document, you’re going to have the, “I can’t find anything in SharePoint.” That’s how simple it is, is two people working on something in SharePoint.

 

Danny:Never mind an organization with thousands or hundreds of thousands of people.

 

Bo:Right.

 

Danny:So the taxonomy is going to enable ways for us to present and find content. Bo, I know you wanted to specifically call out these things: search, navigation, automatic tagging, and document routing.

 

Bo:Yeah. When people talk about, “findability,” immediately you gravitate towards, “search,” and that’s kind of the most obvious thing … conversational search, your Amazon scenario, is clicking things and refining your results. So that one’s a huge one with taxonomy. The other thing that I think taxonomy enables in SharePoint that people don’t think about as much is navigation, which could be search, or it could be other things. And then automatic tagging, so where I put a document, it could be automatically tagged with terms and taxonomy stuff, which reduces the need for people to fill out metadata, because it’s done for them, auto-magically.

 

And even document routing features in SharePoint, which I think are awesome, like … I upload it, I tag it with something, and it puts it in specific places, so that it’s organized based on how I tag it.

 

So it’s not just search, but that’s a huge part, but it also enables all kinds of other features in SharePoint.

 

Danny:And all this is going to be missing if you don’t have a common taxonomy that’s been defined.

 

Bo:Exactly, yep.

 

Danny:You seem as though this is a daunting task, ’cause this is not typically something that we learned in school, or people taking this on. I just wanted to mention, I know a recent example where you were working with a client and asking for, “Give us your top 20 document types,” and even that was a difficult thing for them to go through.

 

Bo:Yeah, and it’s been my experience, not many of us have graduate school with a degree in Information Sciences, that talk about classification systems and things like that, that’s just not our day job. So when you say, “Give me your top 10 document types,” on the surface it sounds like an easy question, but it may not be.

 

Some customers will just punt on it and not do anything, which is maybe the worst thing to do. The other flip side is, I’ve worked with customers that, they’ve taken on that daunting task, and it’s taken them years, potentially, to define a taxonomy, because they started with a blank slate and di all that work.

 

So it can be daunting to the point where you just don’t do anything, or it just takes forever. I’ve seen both sides for sure.

 

Danny:And Ross, not everyone’s like you, where they eat taxonomy for breakfast.

 

Ross:Well, it’s not that difficult, but we’ll have some fun today. Look forward to it.

 

Danny:Awesome, appreciate it.

 

So starting with what we found, and this is a ley thing from meeting up with Ross, is really understanding … if we can start with a pre-defined taxonomy, a lot of … you just do this in general, consulting-wise, instead of starting with a blank slate, having something that is in initial skeleton for you to work with, or a straw-man that’s out there, it’s really a way to make this a reality.

 

This is why we wanted to … we didn’t have this webinar initially scheduled for this year, but as soon as Bo and I met up with Ross a couple times, I was like, “We’ve really got to share this with folks in the ThreeWill community.” That sort of brings us to where we are today, and why we wanted to share what Ross has for you.

 

Ross, I’m going to go ahead and switch over and make you the presenter. I’ll give you control, and if you want to turn on your webcam, that’s fine as well. It’s up to you.

 

Ross:Sounds good, I hope I’m not dominating the screen too much.

 

Danny:No, you look great.

 

Ross:Well, thank you.

 

Danny:You don’t look that great. Wait a minute.

 

Ross:Listen, first things first. I want to thank Danny and his team for organizing everything today. It’s terrific. Hopefully we’ll have a little bit of fun today.

 

The Enterprise Need – The Pain Point. What the heck are taxonomies, and what does it mean to all of us? The problem, I think as Danny just talked about, is search. We can’t find stuff. If we think about the physical assets of an enterprise, we have inventory control systems for all of our physical assets, we know where every component is, if we’ve got a manufacturing line … all of the physical assets, they’re on our ballot sheet, real estate, equipment, so on and so forth.

 

All the physical assets of an enterprise have been tagged and classified. Why? So we can find them. The macro-problem, 75% … and this is probably understated, 75% of information workers say that finding the right information, not the physical assets, but the intellectual, the information assets, is critical to the organization’s success. We would suggest taxonomies as one of the key success factors for effective search and findability.

 

What are the obstacles to finding our information, our intellectual assets well, everyone knows poor search functionality, inconsistency in how we tag content. Lack of adequate tags. We waste a lot of time when we can’t find the documents we’re looking for, and we get very, very frustrated. When we can’t find the documents that we’re looking for, we either do without them, or we try and recreate them. But in every case, it’s extraordinarily frustrating. So how do we solve this problem?

 

Little bit of background about our company first. WAND has been building taxonomies since 1983. We began to build taxonomies a long time ago, because we had large insurance companies here in the United States that we provided software programs to, that required taxonomies. Taxonomy libraries that we’re going to look at today, there’s 128,000 curated terms, address virtually every industry vertical and all of the operational areas of an organization. For some of our clients, we’re necessary. We provide taxonomy professional services. Our client base all over the world, taxonomies can be used in SharePoint, but they can be used in big data applications, eCommerce cataloging … search, as we’ve discuss, BI analytics, the list goes on and on and on.

 

Out of the box, the taxonomy term store in SharePoint is empty. There’s nothing in it. WAND provides taxonomies that are formatted for direct input into that empty term store. But the enterprise may have many, many applications into which taxonomies can be imported, BI analytics, big data, the list goes on and on and on. We format the taxonomies for direct import into those various applications.

 

Taxonomy is a mystery for most people. I think most of the folks on this call know what they are. I hope I do, but we all face the burden of explaining to people in our companies what the heck that word, “taxonomies,” means, and what difference it makes to what we’re doing.

 

Say, for the sake of argument, we’ve got a company that’s got 2,000 employees. I’m going to put those 2,000 employees into a room, and I’m going to ask them the question, “Everybody that knows what a taxonomy is, raise your hand.” Not too many hands go up.

 

Then I’m going to say to those folks, “Everybody that’s used Amazon.com, raise your hand.” Now everybody raises their hand.

 

I’m going to say to the people, “When you do a search for the word, ‘shoes,’ on Amazon, you’re going to get 550,000 results. On the left-hand side of the screen, are taxonomies. A taxonomy of size, I want a size 11. Taxonomy of colors, I choose black. Type of shoe, I select men’s dress shoe. Taxonomy of brands, I choose Allen Edmonds. 550,000 results, narrowed down to the five that are relevant to the user.”

 

I say to those 2,000 people, “As long as you’ve been using Amazon, you’ve been using taxonomy. You’ve just never put that word to it before. It didn’t matter whether you were searching for a pair of shoes, a computer, a television … the taxonomy’s always on the left-hand side of the screen, to enable you to find the results that are relevant for you.”

 

I’d say to the folks, “Think about the feeling of control we have over our search when we use Amazon. We know we’re going to find what we’re looking for, because those taxonomies are there to help us navigate the result sets. Imagine having the same feeling of control over the search for our enterprise documents.” This is what the WAND taxonomies, in conjunction with SharePoint, enable.

 

The analogy is a very good one, and if you think about the problem that Amazon had when they started, they had stacks of shoes, stacks of computers, libraries of televisions, so on and so forth, and they needed taxonomies to be able to tag those various libraries of merchandise to enable that taxonomy-driven search.

 

The enterprise has the same problem. Instead of libraries of shoes, computers, televisions, the enterprise has libraries of HR documents, accounting documents, IT documents. If you’re in the building and construction business, building and construction documents, so on and so forth. And WAND provides taxonomies to tag those various libraries of documents.

 

The analogy is another good one if we think about a content type. We might think that, “shoes,” is a content type. If we have a library of HR documents, let’s say they’re compensation documents. We may say, “HR compensation documents.” That’s a content type.

 

So, remember that analogy. It explains everything.

 

One slide we like to show folks, you can show this to the business side, the technical side, and people immediately get it. Everybody knows what the Amazon experience looks like. Do a search, you’ve got refiners … let’s see what this actually looks like.

 

In this case, Amazon decide they’re going to have a library of shoes. What we decided is, we’re going to have a library of HR documents. A library of documents, nothing confidential, just documents, insurance plans, company handbooks, time off forms, so on and so forth. And when we check documents into that library, we tag them with the appropriate taxonomy terms. The same terms that we use to tag the documents, navigation trees, in the search process.

 

When we do a search for the term, “HR,” in that library, you can imagine we’re going to get everything on the left-hand side of the screen, just like Amazon. There’s the refiners … and I need an expense form. Instead of calling my manager, instead of calling HR, I can now find all of the documents that are relevant, open-source documents for employees.

 

The reason we always like to start with a library like this is because it’s a success story, and it’s relevant to every individual in your company. We like to break taxonomies down even further to their absolute basic levels.

 

We would suggest taxonomies are the data model for unstructured text. Now I’m going to say to everyone, there’s no such thing as unstructured text. If I put a ThreeWill brochure on the table, if I put a Wall Street Journal article on the desk, everybody’s saying to me, “Ross, two perfect examples of unstructured text, what ar you talking about?”

 

And I’d say to everybody on the call, “Every one of us can read the ThreeWill brochure, we understand it perfectly. We can all read the Wall Street Journal article. It’s not unstructured text for the human brain.”

 

So make a small modification to this first statement. Taxonomies are the data model for unstructured text that we can use in computer programs like SharePoint, to tag documents in a structure that replicates how the human brain organizes the domain of information.

 

We would suggest implicit taxonomies are how the human brain organizes information. These implicit taxonomies have been developed ever since the day we were born.

 

I have a five year old granddaughter. The first terms she knew were the terms, “wet,” and “dry.” The terms, “hungry,” me stomach is full. She didn’t put words to those concepts, but from the day she was born, she started organizing her knowledge base.

 

She’s five years old. She knows there’s a top-level term of, “food,” a narrower term, “fruit … apples, oranges, bananas … ” Narrower term to food, “Baked goods, cookies, brownies.” She’s organized that domain of information, “food,” into logical, broader, narrower, narrower, narrower terms.

 

We do the same thing with geography. Continents, countries, states, cities, districts. And we do the same thing with all the enterprise domains of information. The explicit taxonomies that WAND has developed are simply representations of how the human brain and enterprises organize information. These explicit taxonomies are used with enterprise applications like SharePoint for tagging documents, for taxonomy-driven search and libraries, and of many, many other applications for text-to-knowledge purposes.

 

We want those 2,000 people to say to themselves, “Boy, four or five minutes ago, I had no idea what the heck a taxonomy was. But I’ve been using the all my life. Been using them when I use Amazon. Heck, I’m going to the grocery store after work tonight, there’s taxonomies everywhere … meat department, dairy department, milk, cheese … different types of cheese. There’s no mystery about that word, ‘taxonomies,’ except one … why have I never used it before, to describe how information’s organized?”

 

The reason I spend time on this, four or five minutes, is because we find, within our clients, when everybody understands, it eliminated the mystery of that word, they see, “Boy, we’re going to a great search, it’s going to be just like Amazon.” It creates a tremendous amount of momentum, and it makes your jobs a lot easier to implement a great search, and to implement these types of processes within SharePoint.

 

We take every document, we’ll say [inaudible 00:28:09] your telecommunications company. If we take every document in your telecommunications company, we say, “We’re going to put al those documents, we’re going to put them into one room, just like Amazon did. They decided, ‘We’re going to put those into stacks, we’re going to put them into libraries.’ We’re going to have libraries of accounting, environmental, HR, IT, libraries of documents, every organization has, WAND provides taxonomies that address all those libraries of documents.

 

Also going to have to have libraries of documents that address the business activities of your organization. Telecommunication documents, a lot of telecommunications companies have retail store, sell retail stores. Going to have real estate documents, going to have building and construction documents, every company build and constructs assembly lines, remodels, whatever it might be.

 

In a nutshell, WAND provides taxonomies that address all of the domains of knowledge for an organization.

 

With that, we’re going to go to a demonstration of our WAND Taxonomy Library Portal. What this provides is online access to all of our WAND taxonomies, our client can browse, download the taxonomies in formats that can be directly imported into SharePoint. We provide regular updates, release new taxonomies on an ongoing basis, and the library can be licensed for a single application, or it can be licensed for any, many applications that the enterprise might have.

 

I’m assuming that everyone on this call has an understanding of where taxonomies reside within SharePoint, and that’s the taxonomy term store. We’ll go to the taxonomy library. Each one of our clients gets a username and a passcode. This particular user, Ross Leher, is licensed to download taxonomies that can be imported into these various SharePoint applications. Just for context, we format the taxonomies for about 100 different enterprise applications, BI analytics, big data, the list goes on and on and on and on.

 

We partner with many of these application providers, probably our highest-profile partner, WAND provides taxonomies that can be imported into the [inaudible 00:30:34] engine applications.

 

Taxonomies improve the performance of many, many enterprise applications, and they’re a very, very necessary ingredient. What our users are able to do is, go to the taxonomy library and browse the various taxonomy titles.

 

Because there’s so many of them, we’ve grouped them into industry verticals. We’ll take financial banking organization, investment bank organization … we’ll say to them, “This is a list of all of the domains of knowledge within your organization. You’re going to have real estate documents, libraries of procurement documents, libraries of finance and investment banking documents, customer service … every organization provides health insurance, life insurance have to have casualty insurance, accounting documents, libraries or facilities management.”

 

These represent all of the libraries, all the domains of knowledge. And always start with IT for the demonstration. I’ll explain to you why in a moment.

 

User is able to click into any one of the taxonomy titles and explore the various taxonomy trees. Numbers of terms in a taxonomy hierarchy on the right hand side, in parentheses.

 

We’ll drill down on IT administration. Many of our clients are using the second and the third-level terms as a basis for setting up libraries. I want to set up a library for all of my IT policies, make sure we’ve got them all. When we set that library up, these are the terms that we’ll be able to tag documents with, when they’re checked in. And just like that HR search we were looking at, these are the terms that will be used as the refiners on the search process in SharePoint.

 

Some of our clients will come back and say, “Ross, we didn’t have a smartphone policy, we didn’t have some of the access control policies,” soon and so forth. We began to checklist, because in a lot of cases, they had a lot of these policies, but they were in this file share, they were over here, they were someplace else, or they hadn’t formalized them, or they hadn’t updated them. So a great byproduct, it became a wonderful checklist to make sure that they did have everything.

 

The reason I always start with IT, I make the argument, and every day when you read the newspapers, IT security, most important taxonomy for any organization. We don’t have documents, we don’t have workflows … if we don’t have expertise within the organization that we can tag with these terms, we may want to take a second look at our IT security policies.

 

What the user is able to do is explore the various taxonomy titles. We can then highlight at any level, and whatever we highlight, we can click on Download. Or, if I want to take all of IT administration at one time, I highlight that, click on Download … select the application into which it’s going to be imported. I confirm it.

 

Starting to add multiple languages select our language. Click on Continue To Download, and what’s taking place now, IT administration is being formatted for SharePoint. It takes three or four minutes for the formatting to take place. The user can continue browsing, or we can go to our delivery page.

 

We formatted this just yesterday, IT administration formatted for SharePoint. We can download the file directly to our desktop, and then proceed to import that term set directly into the taxonomy term store in SharePoint, and proceed to use it in our SharePoint implementation.

 

You kind of want to think about, the taxonomy portal represents like a grocery store. Everything’s there, you can pick and choose what you need, and if you want to think about … go back to that Amazon analogy, each one of these represents … shoes, computers and this and that, all the different domains of knowledge, and I may want to have a library for … just like we look at, employee benefits, and the library for company policies.

 

This is kind of our menu. What libraries do we want to set up? I want to set up an IT policy library, I want to set up a library for all of our IT infrastructure, all of the different components within that infrastructure, the documents, so on and so forth.

 

Danny:Ross, quick question as we’re looking at this. From your experience, is there a specific executive inside of larger companies that owns the overall taxonomy of the company? I know there’s certain departments, like an HR department where they can sort of define their own. Who’s the person responsible, overall in these large organizations, who’s responsible for defining the taxonomy? Is there typically an executive?

 

Ross:It’s not a matter of defining the taxonomy per se, but it’s a matter of realizing, recognizing, we have intellectual assets. We have knowledge within the organization. I don’t think it’s the IT department. What we’re seeing more and more, there’s an increasing … frankly, increasing sales, because there’s a recognition of, Chief Information Officer, we’re seeing new officers, Chief Knowledge Officers, Chief Innovation Officers … and they look at the requirement and say, “We’ve got all this information, and no one can find it.” It’s crazy.

 

Danny:And then they would work with the different departments, or they would work with their industry specialist to go out and define these taxonomies.

 

Ross:That’s it. What we’re seeing is … and we call these, “foundation taxonomies,” our clients tell us, it gets the 85%, 90% of the way there. Our client are telling us, it literally saves them months and month and months and months. They’re able to customize the HR taxonomy list in a day. Our clients tell us, “It gets us 85%, 90% of the way there.” Some of our clients tell us, “It’s got us 140% of the way there,” because there’s terms and phrases they would have never thought about, had they built it from scratch.

 

This is the key point: people are expert at what they do, not experts in taxonomy building, editing … the pre-built taxonomies provides an easy, contextual reference.

 

Danny:It’s almost like when you hear, “I know it when I’ll see it.” Like you have to see it first. And as I mentioned earlier, it’s commonly. From a consulting standpoint, “Never show up with a blank slate.” Show up with something that you can at last work with, and take apart and build up. This provides that to you.

 

Ross:I’m going to do, cause we’re in the finance area, “I need a taxonomy for risk.” Huh. Risk. Risk can have many, many meanings. The search result on the left-hand side of the screen, the terms and phrases. On the right-hand side of the screen, the taxonomy they’re located in, from a contextual point of view.

 

I don’t care about insurance, I can are about credit risk in context of banking. I click on that term, and it takes me directly to that term, “credit risk,” in the banking taxonomy.

 

Some probably need to have a library for risk management processes. And a library for internal process, and so on and so forth. A library for the various bank regulations, so we don’t have to go searching for them, so on and so forth. A library for the different bank products.

 

Remember, we can tag a document with more than one taxonomy term. We can have a mortgage product, and a brochure about that mortgage product.

 

I’m going to show you one other search. This is an example or a multi-faceted search. What we’ve one here is, we’ve indexed a number of SharePoint conferences. When we were looking at the HR library, we just had one refiner. Now, when we tagged the documents that went into this library, we tagged them with the type of document, the conference locations, and the event.

 

And now I want to find document, conferences in Chicago. I don’t care about SharePoint Fest, I care about Microsoft Ignite. And I don’t care about sponsor schedules, I need to get my registration form.

 

So if we think about this we have a mortgage product … and we have different types of mortgage products, credit cards, so on and so forth. We may want to tag the various products that we have, and because we’ve got a great sales and marketing team, but they can’t find stuff … when we check that document in, it’s about a mortgage, and the document could be a case study, it could be a data sheet, it could be a sales brochure, it could be a testimonial.

 

When a salesperson is looking, “I’m trying to sell this product to my client … ” Well, here’s the product, here’s all the documents for the product, and here’s the lead-behinds, and here’s the product data sheets, and so on and so forth. It could be the price list, the price list exist in here, so on and so forth.

 

And the marketing people … I’m focused on marketing mortgages in the Georgia area. I probably want to be able to find my research, demand forecasting. Or maybe I’ve got the international, I want to see demand forecasting for the UK marketing, so on and so forth.

 

You want to think about, “How do I organize information?” At the grocery store, how do they organize stuff? They’ve got meat in one area …

 

Think about your house. You’ve got a kitchen. We’ve got different things in the kitchen. We’ve got a place where we put our spices. We’ve got a place in SharePoint where we put our sales collateral documents. It’s the same kind of a concept.

 

It’s not difficult because we do it every day. We just have not thought about it, in these types of a context.

 

Danny:What if your house is not that organized? You see how you could benefit from it.

 

Ross:This is where you have to start. You’ve got to recognize … and I say this to people, if you’ve been living in your house for 20 years … and this is a great time for a migration strategy, and you’re moving. When you move from House A to House B, you make an evaluation on House A, “What don’t I want to move? What have I not used?” And then, “Where do I want to put it in House B?”

 

I want to be very straightforward. WAND is a company, we provide great taxonomies. But experts like ThreeWill, they provide the How. Our clients, they want to have great search? Why? “Because we’re wasting a lot of time, a lot of frustration.” But every environment is different, every organization is different.

 

I don’t know how many engagements, hundreds if not thousands of engagements ThreeWill has been involved in, they’ve done it a bunch of times. Hundreds of times, so this is the expertise, and this is how we integrate with folks like Danny and his team.

 

Danny:A couple of other things Ross. You just mentioned migrations, and that’s probably a good time … when I think about organizing. We’ve been doing the latest, everybody’s moving typically to SharePoint Online, so I think that’s a great time for you to … a lot of customers want to do cleanup at that time, probably reorganizing, and it’s probably really a good time for you to introduce that taxonomy to the company.

 

Ross:Absolutely. At the end of the day, we want to be able to find stuff.

 

Danny:The other thing is, I noticed … if you go back to that search page that you were on, is that Microsoft is starting to, based upon things like the document type and the author and created date, they’re trying to implicitly start to create some facets for you. If you look at the bottom of it, it’s almost like there’s certain things that Microsoft can do like the author and modified date. I think this is something relatively new to SharePoint Online.

 

There’s been some things that have been around for a while, but there are some new stuff. I find this incredibly helpful, to have that modified date, ’cause I’m looking for a document I know I worked on last week, and it’s not even fining things that other people have created, it’s my own stuff. It’s a huge help.

 

Ross:I think what you want to think about, when we think about metadata or taxonomy is, we could call this, “administrative metadata.” It tells us that it is an Excel document, it tells us who the author is, and it tells us when it was modified. But it doesn’t tell us what the document is about. This is what we would call, “descriptive metadata.”

 

When we go back to our slide on the shoes, this is the descriptive metadata. It tells us the size, the color. It tells us what’s in that box of shoes. This is telling us, what’s in that Excel document that Danny authored on June 26th. This describes what it is. Or if it’s a specification sheet on XYZ computer that I’m a salesman for. So this is the descriptive metadata versus the so-called administrative metadata.

 

Danny:And that administrative data, although helpful, it’s definitely helpful in that, along with sort of a free-text search is helpful … it just doesn’t get people to where they really need to be. It’s like one of those things, if you don’t take that last step, the experience is just … commonly what we’re running into, which is, there’s and time spent towards this, and they’re trying to use that administrative metadata, and they’re trying to use what’s inside the content of the document, but it just doesn’t get them to a place where they can easily find things.

 

Ross:Another aspect of search … and the guys at ThreeWill, they know I’m not a SharePoint specialist. That’s the first thing I tell people. But in the term store, we call these foundation taxonomies, and in your company, you may have a special location, Georgia, rule and regulations. So you can add terms, you can delete terms, so on and so forth.

 

Another important point is … we may think of the concept, “leave and time off.” Or, HR. I call it HR, Danny calls is Human Resources, Bo calls is Personnel. So, within SharePoint, we can add synonyms. Retirement plans, whatever the synonyms …

 

Danny:A real word, for reference, is we would call it, “People.” We sort of call our HR, “People.”

 

Ross:There you go. But this is where the customizations, the adding of additional terms, adding vocabulary that’s used within the organization. Call it Information Technology, call it IT, so on and so forth. You simply add synonyms.

 

Bo:Ross and Danny, I wanted to jump in on, when you guys were talking about the administrative taxonomy versus the descriptive taxonomy. Another thing that it made me think, where we help a lot is, taking WAND’s taxonomy and, like Ross said, you apply it to a company, and every company is different in terms of what they call stuff. But they’re also different in terms of their people and their people’s willingness to tag things with the descriptive metadata part.

 

Administrative metadata, I also, internally, call it the, “free metadata,” the stuff that it doesn’t require a used to anything other than upload it. One of those areas when I was talking earlier is, simply by virtue of where you put something, that could give you the ability for more free metadata, i.e., if you uploaded a document to an HR document library, we might automatically tag it with some level of that HR taxonomy, versus if you had uploaded it to an IT one. So your SharePoint site-structure, document libraries and so on can enable getting some free descriptive metadata, I think is what that kind of boils down to.

 

Ross:I think that’s a great point, Bo. If we think about our houses … again, I use this metaphor, the house. I use this analogy, here’s the spice rack, and in the garage we’ve got our tools. We’ve got wrenches, screwdrivers, so on. It’s a pain to tag things, it’s a real pain when I do some work in the basement on the water heater, to get all the tools back and put them back where they belong. It’s not a lot of fun, but at the end of the day, if I don’t put those tools where they belong, if my wife doesn’t put the spices where … we can’t find them.

 

When people realize, “This isn’t that difficult, and I’m going to be able to find my stuff, I’m going to be able to find document that Bo checked in, that Danny checked in, we’re all going to be able to find … we’re going to start to eliminate this frustration.” Then, there’s a lot momentum, because it dues alleviate a lot of frustration, and it enables us to do our work a lot better.

 

Overview For a Successful Managed Metadata Project. We always tell folks, “Get a quick win.” And what we want to be able to say to our organizations, “We’re not going to have deliverable results in two to three years, not two to three months … two to three weeks is what we’re looking for.”

 

Danny:Now you’re talking.

 

Ross:And our goal is findability. We want to tag our documents. Why? So we can quickly find them in search. How do we get that started?

 

And if we go back to this financial organization, the folks do a library on banking, the banking folks are going to be interested in that. The procurement people ae going to be interested in the procurement libraries, the accounting people the accounting libraries. So there’s going to be a limited group of people interested in these various libraries … with that one exception. Every employee at the bank, from the CEO to the latest new hire, wants to quickly be able to find their policy documents, benefit documents … again, nothing confidential.

 

So, that’s the group we start with. We download the HR taxonomy, get somebody from Human Resources to help customize it, generally that takes three to four hours. You’ve got a limited number of terms there. Takes 30 minutes to configure the SharePoint taxonomy columns and libraries, search refiners. Have that same person from HR assist in the tagging of the documents. Generally, there’s 250, 300 documents of that character, three or four hours to do that, maybe a little longer.

 

Then we announce to every employee in the company, “Library’s open.” And they see that search works, and they look at this and they say, “My goodness. If search can work for this library, why can’t they do that for my sales documents?” And the IT people the IT documents, and everybody starts to project what this is going to look like in their day-to-day world, within the organization.

 

It’s not an IT project anymore, it’s not a SharePoint project. It’s a project that everybody sees, “What’s in it for me?” It generates a huge amount of enterprise momentum … and then your problem is going to be, everybody’s going to be tugging on your shirt, prioritizing additional groups for implementation. Deliverable results, two to three weeks, and now we want to replicate it enterprise-wide.

 

Nice case study, and there’s a link to this … I’ll see if I can find it here. Nielsen Norman selected the 10 best intranets every year, and Goodwill Industries International was selected as one of those. In the real world, we all know this, we want to be able to find our stuff, we want to be able to find our documents, we want to be able to find the things we have in our houses. Search, findability, findability, search … it’s part of what living is all about, and SharePoint’s a great environment for that. We think we’ve got wonderful taxonomies. The folks that organized this, ThreeWill, Danny and his team, they’ve got the expertise to show you how to get it done.

 

Danny, I’m going to turn it back to you. I think I’ve talked enough.

 

Danny:That was great Ross, thank you so much. I’m sure everybody got … it’s such a great presentation that you do, and I really wanted to share that with everyone else.

 

Just to get us wrapped up here, we’ve got about 10 minutes left before the start of the hour. I wanted to just go through some of what I sort of took away as the conclusions, when listening to Ross and to Bo, and talking with Bo about this.

 

The key component to addressing a findability or search problem is to define a common taxonomy for organizing information inside your company. We have to do that. Taxonomy enables … and I pulled this from Bo, Bo ha pointed this put before the webinar, which was, it provides powerful ways to present and find content, including not just search, it’s also navigation, it’s also automatic tagging and the document routing.

 

Coming back to the overall webinar and what we were trying to present in this webinar, which was, how do you turn SharePoint and how this Amazon-like faceted search available to you? It’s there so that your users can find a document the same way they find their next pair of new shoes.

 

As part of that defining that custom taxonomy from scratch, we’ve just found, is a really daunting task for most companies. The companies who do go after it, as Bo mentioned earlier, they might spend a couple of years doing that. So it’s really a daunting task, and from a lot of what we’ve seen, it’s just commonly not done, and all they’re using is the administrative taxonomy.

 

Starting with a pre-built taxonomy, it’s an effective way to jumpstart this process, and to get to the point where, if you’ve got 75%, 80% of the way there and you’re going there, and you’re culling and you’re adding, and you’re just making it your own, is really the route that we would recommend doing.

 

Also, one of the things that’s sort of the last point here is, taxonomies do change over time, and one of the neat things that I saw about Ross’s product is, it will also, over time, as industries update and business changes come, you can keep those taxonomies up-to-date, which is really important, because the business changes.

 

Anything else to add to that, Ross or Bo?

 

Ross:I think the updates, we have six masters of library information science taxonomists that review each of the taxonomies on a quarterly or semi-annual basis, deepening on the volatility. If we just think about, 20 years ago, the vocabulary that we were using. We weren’t talking about, “online,” we weren’t talking about, “internet.” Al the vocabulary that didn’t exist. Today, machine learning, artificial intelligence, internet of things, so on and so forth, it’s just all new technologies that we keep an eye on, and we add them to our vocabulary sets.

 

As you can tell, I’m an older guy, and you can think about … when I was going to high school, they had computer card. You think about your kids, the technology you grew up with, and then think about the technology your kids are growing up with. It’s really remarkable, the changes that take pace. Sorry for pontificating. Back to you, Danny.

 

Danny:That’s great anything else that you’d add, Bo?

 

Bo:No, the only thing I was thinking is, for those who are on the fence about pursuing a taxonomy, I would say go for it. I think the worst thing you can do is be complacent and do nothing, and somewhere down the road have hundreds or tens of thousands of documents that aren’t tagged, and then you want to do the taxonomy, it’s probably harder. The sooner you start with something, the sooner you’ll get benefits from it.

 

Danny:One of the great points … in the chat window, I shared one of the neat things that Ross and his company does is, they do make available to everyone a general business taxonomy. It’s sort of a starting place that has general business terms, and a taxonomy for that. So if you wanted to download that there, as an example, I think that’s a great place for people to start as well.

 

Ross:If I can just expand on that a bit … Microsoft announced SharePoint 2010 in 2010. We developed the genesis of this general business taxonomy, it’s also available on three blog postings on the Microsoft site. We developed it in conjunction with Microsoft, as a partner. What they wanted to do is, they wanted to provide their client base something for their clients to download to put in that empty term tore for this new feature that they just developed. We’ve actually had about 8,500 downloads over the last five, six years. Danny, that’s a great idea. That gives you a start, give you a flavor of what you can do.

 

Danny:Awesome. Any questions that folks have? And if you’ve been waiting until now, feel free to ask them now. I don’t think … what do you have, Oliver?

 

Oliver:Can it help fine-tune an existing taxonomy?

 

Danny:Ross?

 

Bo:I was going to jump in and answer. I saw the question in the window, too. I don’t know if it would necessarily help you fine-tune an existing taxonomy. I think it might show you a general taxonomy for your particular needs and user input, but I think the tuning of your taxonomy is probably going to be more closely-aligned with your specific company and needs. But I don’t know what your thoughts are, Ross.

 

Ross:What I would say is, companies that have developed taxonomies, there’s not very many of them. They generally develop them based upon file plans, the terms that they use for file plans. If we think about a file plan, a file plan is an analog way or organizing information. So, while those exiting taxonomies can be interesting, the formal curated taxonomy that’s designed for digital tagging of documents is much more effective, but you can fold the terms in as synonyms, and that can be helpful in the transition.

 

Danny:Awesome. Anything else? I think that’s it. I appreciate the question, that was great. It looks like we are getting to the end of the hour here, so again, we’ll send this deck out next week. If you want more information, feel free to follow up with myself or Ross. Here’s our websites.

 

Ross, thank you so much. It was really informative. I really appreciate you taking the time to do this.

 

Ross:It’s a pleasure. Thank you, and thanks to all the people that have attended, and to Bo as well.

 

Danny:Absolutely. Thanks, Bo. Thank you everybody for attending, look for an email next week, and have a wonderful weekend, everyone. Take care.

 

Ross:Have a great Fourth of July. Bye bye now.

 

Danny:Absolutely. Bye bye.

 

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Bo GeorgeFind Anything in SharePoint with Amazon-Like Faceted Search Webinar
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Topics Covered for Upcoming Podcast Interviews

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.
Danny:Hello, and welcome to the Two Bald Brothers and a Microphone podcast. How’s that feel Tommy?

 

Tommy:Yeah. Here we go. Let’s do it.

 

Danny:Let’s rock this thing buddy. It’s June 29th.

 

Tommy:Okay

 

Danny:We’re reaching the end of the quarter and we wanted to talk in this podcast about, for the upcoming interviews that we have, what sort of questions do we want to go over? And where our overall theme for the podcast has been, you know, focusing in particularly on people at Three Will-

 

Tommy:Being bald.

 

Danny:Being bald, socks, those types of things. And I know in general, we play around with … What’s the word of what we do? And it keeps coming back to collaboration.

 

Tommy:Right.

 

Danny:And so I think that’s the overarching theme of the podcast, has been collaboration. What I’m excited about with the podcast is that we’re going to open it up, we’re going to interview some folks and we’re going to invite them in.

 

What I wanted to talk to you today about was some of the topics. What do we want to talk to folks about? And why are we going to talk to them about it? And just sort of what some of the goals are. I think as we branch out and give a new name and start meeting up with new folks. I’ve got a list, you know, we met up and talked through some of the things that we might want to cover as a list. And how do you like-

 

Tommy:It looks pretty fancy there!

 

Danny:I know.

 

Tommy:Holding your surface book.

 

Danny:I know, isn’t that nice?

 

Tommy:Tablet.

 

Danny:Detached

 

Tommy:Disconnected from your machine thing.

 

Danny:Call it the clipboard.

 

Tommy:The clipboard.

 

Danny:This is the clipboard. And this is OneNote. You’ve seen OneNote before.

 

Tommy:Yes.

 

Danny:Spent plenty of time in that.

 

Tommy:Way too much time.

 

Danny:So the first one, obviously I’ll get, we want to keep them to a length of 15 minutes, maybe, or so. Just something that’s edible. That’s not too long. That you can listen to between meetings.

 

Tommy:You can listen to three of these in general traffic in Atlanta.

 

Danny:Listen to four of ’em driving home. No, actually two of them, it’s not that bad. So I’ll get us kicked off. You and I will do a little intro to the person, and who they are and sort of, “Why do we have them on the podcast?” So maybe introduce them, and their title, and their company if they want to let us say what company they work for.

 

So really we’ll ask them about their role, back to, “What is it that you do? What’s your role within your organization? And how does collaboration fit into that role?” And so trying to find out from them, sort of where’s this whole theme of working with large groups of people, working together to accomplish goals.

 

Tommy:Right, because I think there’s different roles that play into collaboration in an organization. It’s not just the director of collaboration.

 

Danny:Yep.

 

Tommy:It would be good to get aspects from different points of view, that make it work.

 

Danny:Yep. It would be nice too, I think in general … We will have some clients that will come on. I also want to have some partners that we work with as well. We may go through this set of questions too. Maybe, just thinking of what folks would add some value to this conversation. And what people may have maybe a unique perspective on collaboration and working together. What works for collaboration inside your organization?

 

This will be interesting, just to see maybe the different types of companies that are out there, the different industries. You know, you have some folks you are really innovative and some industries who are a bit of a laggard. How do they deal with that when it comes to collaboration?

 

Tommy:Right, yeah. When are they ready for certain types of tools and certain types of approaches?

 

Danny:Absolutely. What’s the most difficult thing about collaboration? It would be great to hear some stories about maybe something they tried and it ended up not working. What did they learn from that? Hearing those stories, I think, those are incredibly valuable.

 

Tommy:Oh yeah, definitely.

 

Danny:To hear that sort of thing. What collaboration technologies, you and I are geeks, so every once in a while we have to talk about technology, so we might talk a little technology talk here.

 

Tommy:Of course.

 

Danny:Obviously this is more into-

 

Tommy:So when are we going to talk about process?

 

Danny:Oh geez.

 

Tommy:I don’t see that on the list!

 

Danny:We talk plenty about process on the podcast.

 

Tommy:Yes.

 

Danny:We have. We’ve lost a lot of listeners because of the talk. What technologies get the most traction within your organization? Obviously we’re working with customers and we’re very Microsoft-centric. We’ll probably end up, with some folks, geeking out a little bit about what works within Office 365 within organizations for collaboration. Like it or not, people process technology. So, you know, you’ve got the technology piece of this that I think we would like to understand from people. But, we don’t want to lose people either. We don’t want to get too much into the nuts and bolts.

 

What’s the best business advice someone has given you about collaboration or you have given? So let’s see if we can get any nuggets of wisdom from folks about collaboration. And what’s your favorite collaboration related book? And see if they’ve got one there. So maybe it’s something we can add to our list or maybe if they want to share a little bit about what they got out of that book.

 

And then just wrap up and thank you. So overarching theme for this is really is just something where you and I … Maybe from our unique backgrounds and wanting to learn more about collaboration, just having some people onto the podcast. Really I love the conversational format of things with the podcast. It would be great if some of the folks were able to come here in the office. That would be great. It would give our producer a new challenge to set it up for three people instead of two, which is always a good thing. But some of them will also be remote. We’ll setup either Skype or GoToMeeting or whatever ends up working out for us to interview folks.

 

Tommy:Yeah, it would be good to get different perspectives. I think you get, kind of, stuck in your own world of what you think is collaboration and what’s effective. It’s always good to get other people’s point of view. And you’ve done a great job at talking to people within Three Will. I think we’re ready, at this point, to start broadening that view to see what other people think about collaboration and what works.

 

Danny:Awesome. Anything else before we wrap up here?

 

Tommy:No, I think that’s it. Ready to do it! Let’s do it!

 

Danny:Alright, let’s do it. We’ll invite some people on. Look for upcoming podcasts where we have some interesting folks on. Where we can talk through the world of collaboration and look forward to learning with you guys. This will be a lot of fun.

 

Tommy:Definitely.

 

Danny:Thank you, buh-bye.

 

Tommy:Adios!

 

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Tommy RyanTopics Covered for Upcoming Podcast Interviews
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ThreeWill Named Finalist for 2017 Nintex Partner Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALPHARETTA, GA—June 28, 2017—ThreeWill announced it is a finalist in the 6th annual Nintex Partner Awards.

The 2017 awards recognize the valuable contributions channel partners like ThreeWill have made in helping organizations of all sizes, in every industry, improve the automation of business processes with Nintex technology.

“Nintex partners are instrumental to driving the rapid adoption of the Nintex Workflow platform across enterprise organizations,” said Nintex CEO John Burton. “We look forward to recognizing top Nintex partners for their workflow and content automation success during our Partner Appreciation Party on July 10 in Washington, D.C.”

“Partnerships are central to ThreeWill’s success,” said ThreeWill President Tommy Ryan. “We see Nintex as the key solution for customers looking for better workflow options in Office 365. We look forward to the party in Washington, D.C. and a great upcoming year of working with Nintex.”

Nintex will announce the winners of the 2017 Nintex Partner Awards on Thursday, July 6. The company will also celebrate the winning partners at the Nintex Partner Appreciation Party on Monday, July 10 in Washington, D.C.

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About ThreeWill

Ranked in the top five percent of Microsoft partners based on four independent surveys, ThreeWill helps teams work together better by building solutions on SharePoint using agile processes. Established in 2001 and based in Alpharetta, Ga., the company is a Microsoft Partner with Gold Application Development and Gold Collaboration & Content competencies. For more information, please visit www.threewill.com.

About Nintex

Nintex is the recognized global leader in workflow and content automation (WCA) with more than 7,000 enterprise clients and 1,700 partners in 90 countries who have built and published millions of workflow applications. With its unmatched breadth of capability and platform support delivered by unique architectural capabilities, Nintex empowers the line of business and IT departments to quickly automate hundreds of manual processes to progress on the journey to digital transformation. Nintex Workflow Cloud™, the company’s cloud platform, connects with all content repositories, systems of record, and people to consistently fuel successful business outcomes. Visit www.nintex.com to learn more.

Product or service names mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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empty.authorThreeWill Named Finalist for 2017 Nintex Partner Award
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How to Assign ThreeWill as Your Office 365 Partner of Record

Danny serves as Vice President of Business Development 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.

Over the last 15 years we’ve been fortunate to help hundreds of customers.  If you’re a customer of ThreeWill and you want to do us a huge favor, please assign us as your Partner of Record.  This enables us to keep our Gold Certification and to serve you better because we have more resources from Microsoft to help you on projects.

Step-by-Step Instructions to Add ThreeWill as Your Partner of Record

  1. Go to the Office Customer Portal at https://portal.office.com/adminportal/home#/homepage.
  2. Log into your account using your user name and password.
  3. In the left navigation pane, select Billing, then Subscriptions (screenshot).
  4. Select your subscription and click on More actions in the bottom right corner under the price per user/month.
  5. In the More actions drop down menu, click on Add Partner of Record. This is where you will attach their Partner of Record (screenshot)
  6. Enter 566560 for the Microsoft Partner ID.
  7. Click Check ID to verify ThreeWill and Click Add this partner to all of your subscriptions without an associated partner.
  8. Click Submit to complete assigning their Partner of Record (screenshot).
  9. After you customer assign us as your Partner of Record, we will receive an email notification that lets us know that we have been assigned as the Partner of Record.

To Change or Remove Your Partner of Record

  1. Follow steps 1 to 5 outlined above.
  2. In the More actions drop down menu, click on Edit Partner of Record.
  3. On the Partner information local pane, the Partner of Record ID assigned to the subscription will be shown. Click the “X” inside of the field to remove it.
  4. Click Submit. The Partner of Record has now been removed for this account and the subscription no longer has a Partner of Record.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is a Partner of Record?

The Partner of Record for an Office 365, CRM Online, or Azure subscription is the partner who is helping the customer design, build, deploy or manage a solution that they’ve built on the service. It is not the partner who sold the subscription.

What are the benefits of specifying a Partner of Record?

Customers benefit because it provides the partner access to usage and consumption data, so they can provide better service and help customers optimize their usage for their desired business outcomes.

Who can attach a Digital Partner of Record?

The administrator role, also known as the owner, is the only role within the customer’s tenant or account that can attach a Digital Partner of Record. Service admins, co-admins, and partners designated as delegated admins do not have the ability to change the Partner of Record.

When should a Partner of Record be added to a for Office 365, CRM Online, or Azure subscription?

Microsoft recommends a Partner of Record be assigned to subscriptions right away. Partners of Record can also be assigned for Azure subscriptions in the admin portal for that service.

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Danny RyanHow to Assign ThreeWill as Your Office 365 Partner of Record
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How to Assign ThreeWill as Your Azure Partner of Record

Danny serves as Vice President of Business Development 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.

Over the last 15 years we’ve been fortunate to help hundreds of customers.  If you’re a customer of ThreeWill and you want to do us a huge favor, please assign us as your Partner of Record.  This enables us to keep our Gold Certification and to serve you better because we have more resources from Microsoft to help you on projects.

Step-by-Step Instructions to Add ThreeWill as Your Partner of Record

  1. Go to the Microsoft Azure Portal at http://azure.microsoft.com/.
  2. Click on the My Account icon on the upper middle of the screen.
  3. Click on Usage and Billing.
  4. Log into your account using your user name and password.
  5. In the left navigation pane, select Subscriptions.
  6. On the Summary Subscription Page, click on Partner Information on the right navigation. This is where you will attach your Partner of Record.
  7. Enter 566560 for the Partner ID.
  8. Click Check ID to verify ThreeWill.
  9. Click Submit to complete assigning their Partner of Record.
  10. After you customer assign us as your Partner of Record, we will receive an email notification that lets us know that we have been assigned as the Partner of Record.

To Change or Remove Your Partner of Record

  1. Following the steps outlined above, log into the Microsoft Azure Portal.
  2. On the Summary Subscription Page, click on Partner Information on the right navigation.
  3. Highlight the Partner of Record field and delete the Partner of Record shown in that field.
  4. Click the check box. You have now removed the Partner of Record for this account and your subscription no longer has a Partner of Record.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is a Partner of Record?

The Partner of Record for an Office 365, CRM Online, or Azure subscription is the partner who is helping the customer design, build, deploy or manage a solution that they’ve built on the service. It is not the partner who sold the subscription.

What are the benefits of specifying a Partner of Record?

Customers benefit because it provides the partner access to usage and consumption data, so they can provide better service and help customers optimize their usage for their desired business outcomes.

Who can attach a Digital Partner of Record?

The administrator role, also known as the owner, is the only role within the customer’s tenant or account that can attach a Partner of Record. Service admins, co-admins, and partners designated as delegated admins do not have the ability to change the Partner of Record.

When should a Partner of Record be added to a for Office 365, CRM Online, or Azure subscription?

Microsoft recommends a Partner of Record be assigned to subscriptions right away. Partners of Record can also be assigned for Office 365 subscriptions in the admin portal for that service.

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Danny RyanHow to Assign ThreeWill as Your Azure Partner of Record
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ThreeWill is a MetaFest Silver Sponsor at Microsoft Ignite

Danny serves as Vice President of Business Development 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.

ThreeWill to Join with Metalogix as MetaFest and MetaHero Awards Silver Sponsor at Microsoft Ignite

Awards to Celebrate Innovative Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365 Superstars

Alpharetta, Georgia – September 6, 2016 ThreeWill, a leading SharePoint partner, today announced that it will join together with Metalogix®, the premier provider of unified software to migrate, manage and secure content across enterprise collaboration platforms, to celebrate the superstars of the collaboration industry, as a Metalogix MetaFest and MetaHero Awards Silver sponsor during Microsoft Ignite.

The annual Metalogix MetaHero Awards recognizes the teams and individuals who stand as true leaders in innovative and effective Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365 deployments. The MetaHero Awards winners will be announced on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 during Metalogix’s highly anticipated MetaFest 2016 bash, taking place at the Centennial Park District in Atlanta, GA from 6:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., featuring thirst-quenching beverages, lively games and a broad range of entertainers – like the Blackfoot Gypsies, The Yawpers, and Jared and the Mill (with more to be announced soon).

ThreeWill will also be an Exhibitor at the Ignite Conference (Booth #472). They will be located close o the Sweetwater Beer Garden and have a special gift for people dropping by the booth. “ThreeWill is excited to join with Metalogix at one of the industry’s premier events,” said Danny Ryan, VP Business Development and Co-Founder for ThreeWill. “It’s great that Metalogix is recognizing individuals in the community who are excelling at supporting SharePoint communities with the MetaHero Awards Ceremony.”

“We are delighted to welcome ThreeWill to our world-class roster of strategic partners joining us for MetaFest and the MetaHero Awards ceremony,” said Mike Lees, CMO, Metalogix. “Their sponsorship helps celebrate the amazing men and women working tirelessly to ensure that their collaboration environments meet today’s business requirement.”

Want to attend the hottest party at Ignite 2016? Request your MetaFest 2016 invitation here: http://www.metalogix.com/Events/ignite16/party.

Tweet this: .@MS_Ignite News: @Metalogix welcomes ThreeWill as Silver Sponsor of MetaHero Awards – https://threewill.com/threewill-is-a-metafest-silver-sponsor-microsoft-ignite/

About Metalogix

Metalogix is the premier provider of unified management software to migrate, manage and secure content across enterprise collaboration platforms. Over 20,000 clients trust Metalogix to optimize the availability, performance, and security of their content across the collaboration lifecycle. For more information visit us at www.metalogix.com or call us at +1 202.609.9100.

About ThreeWill

ThreeWill helps teams work together better by building solutions on SharePoint using an agile process. We are ranked in the top 5% of Microsoft partners based on four independent surveys. For more information visit us at www.threewill.com or call us at +1 678.513.6930.

ThreeWill is a registered trademark of ThreeWill, LLC. Metalogix is a registered trademark of Metalogix, Inc. All other trademarks used are the property of the respective trademark owners.

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Media Contacts:

Danny Ryan
ThreeWill
[email protected]
(678) 513-6930

Sabrina Sanchez
The Ventana Group, for Metalogix
[email protected]
(925) 785-3014

Nicole Gorman
The Ventana Group, for Metalogix
[email protected]
(508) 397-0131

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Danny RyanThreeWill is a MetaFest Silver Sponsor at Microsoft Ignite
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2016 Ignite Conference

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.
Danny Ryan:Hello and welcome to the ThreeWill Podcast. This is your host Danny Ryan, I have Tommy here with me for our weekly get together. Hello Tommy.

 

Tommy Ryan:Good morning, Danny.

 

Danny Ryan:How’s it going?

 

Tommy Ryan:It’s a good day.

 

Danny Ryan:It is a good day, so let’s get us kicked off quickly, let me see your socks here.

 

Tommy Ryan:I’m just kind of rotating.

 

Danny Ryan:You are rotating. I know what you need for Christmas, huh?

 

Tommy Ryan:Yeah, the pressure’s on.

 

Danny Ryan:Still, it’s nicer than my black socks. We’ll take them. I have asked for some crazy socks for my birthday which is on Monday, so let’s see if that ends up happening. We’ll see. I’ve asked for that from the kiddos, so let’s see if they come through for me.

 

What I wanted to do was maybe just have a quick conversation today. I know we’ve been doing a lot of planning for an important conference coming up which is Ignite, which is coming up in September, sort of sneaking up on us here, and fortunate that it’s here in Atlanta, so they moved it from Chicago here to Atlanta. What’s the thought behind us going to this? I’m going to ask you some marketing questions just so you-

 

Tommy Ryan:Oh boy.

 

Danny Ryan:Why are we going to this conference? Besides it’s in our back yard.

 

Tommy Ryan:I think Ignite is that conference that used to be the SharePoint conference. They combined several conferences into one so if there is one conference we go to that’s related to SharePoint, that is it. There are the build conferences, more technical, but to reach our customers and to have conversations around the solutions that we provide, that’s the best venue we see for the Microsoft conferences is the Ignite conference.

 

Danny Ryan:Very nice. We were looking at sort of who are the sponsors, who are the other exhibitors, those types of things, and really you do have people from all sorts of backgrounds. You and I were talking about this before the podcast, which is there’s not a whole lot of who we are, which is more of a SharePoint consultancy that are going to be there, but a lot of ISVs, a lot around the different Office 365 products which are now probably over a dozen products, but they keep adding one on each week it seems like.

 

A lot of pretty- a diverse group of people or diverse group of products in the first place that’ll be there. I looked at it, and a lot of people I think who are going to this conference are interested in hearing from Microsoft what’s the roadmap for these things, where are they going, what’s the evolution of Office 365, which I know we’re all sort of interested in hearing about.

 

Tommy Ryan:Yeah, it’s going to be a diverse story. I think we’re having some of our technical folks go there to go to the Azure and SharePoint related topics. It’s a good time to refresh around the concept of what is the roadmap, we get to have more visibility into that these days, but this is where hopefully you hear some of the things that get you excited about the next year with the platform.

 

Danny Ryan:We’re going to have 4 people there, we have a smaller booth, a 10-by-10 booth, we’ve got you, myself, Bruce, and Bob going. That’ll be at the booth, so if you’re going to be there plan to come and drop by and see us.

 

Tommy Ryan:Where are we located?

 

Danny Ryan:If you pick one- Oh jeez. Go look at my OneNote Notebook. Really, go look at it right now. If you pick one of the bald guys it’s Tommy or I, pick one of the non bald guys- Unless Pete’s in the booth. That throws us off. Although he’s probably going to be at most of the sessions. He and Kirk will be there so start talking so I can go look up the booth number.

 

Tommy Ryan:Not the booth number, where’s the booth located next to.

 

Danny Ryan:Oh, that’s a easy one. Easy one. Right next to SweetWater. There’s a big brewing beer garden thing, so if you happen to go, you don’t even need to know. See Tommy, you don’t even need to know the booth number.

 

Tommy Ryan:That’s right.

 

Danny Ryan:You just need to know we’re going to be by the SweetWater Brewing BrewHaha, and come and drop by. We will have a special gift for you that related to what they’re handing out there.

 

Tommy Ryan:Some nice goodies, planning on that. I think when you come in you go to the right and keep on going down the side of the booth area towards SweetWater and there she is right across from SweetWater.

 

Danny Ryan:Go grab something, come by, come chat with us for a while. It would be great to see you. We’re working right now on … I know we’re putting a couple of brochures together. Just one that’s sort of an overall one of what ThreeWill does and then some of the other sort of focus areas for us. I know some of the stuff with Salesforce will be there, so we’ve got a couple of integrations between Salesforce and Office 365, so if you’re interested in that topic come by and see us and we’ve got some interesting things to show you there.

 

I know we also want to focus on as well is the complex SharePoint migrations, so another partner, great partner of ours. Metalogix will be there and we can talk a little bit about the more complex migrations that we’ve done, may even be able to pick some time off Kirk of Pete if they’re round as well.

 

Tommy Ryan:There’s a special event from Metalogix too.

 

Danny Ryan:Yes, MetaFest on Wednesday night. I’m crossing my fingers, I hope I got that right, but if not you can go to Metalogix site and go register there to go to a great event from them, and we’re hoping to sponsor that as well. It’s too early in the morning for me to remember dates, Tommy. I need my second cup of coffee. Yes, it should be a really fun event from Metalogix, hope you’re able to make that. I think they’re planning on like 3,500 folks going. Great entertainment, a real good time, just time to decompress after a long day of learning all these new things about Microsoft products. It’ll be fun.

 

For folks if you’ve never been to Atlanta, we use the work y’all a lot. Don’t let that throw you off. We’re generally very kind. People say hello to each other on the street. It’s kind of a nice thing, and in general most of the folks down here in Atlanta are very easy to get along with, very nice folks, so hopefully they’ll be very hospitable, hopefully they won’t send you to the hospital. I know we’re all looking forward to everybody coming down and seeing us here in Atlanta.

 

Any other things as we prepare here for Ignite to come?

 

Tommy Ryan:It’s just going to be interesting to see the type of conversations and people that drop by the booth. Before being at the SharePoint conference, you’re seeing a lot of conversation and focus around it’s SharePoint, but now that it’s more Office 365. There’ll be some interesting conversations. Really looking forward to seeing what strikes a cord with people in terms of the problems they’re trying to solve as they look at through the lens of what Microsoft has to offer today, so it will be different. When we’re looking at the booths and we’re looking for some familiar faces or names and didn’t see a lot of those names, some are competitors for say. We did not see some of those names there, so it’s going to be a place that I think we’ll explore, is it where we have those conversations and I think it is the right place so I’m excited to see the people that we meet and the conversations that we have.

 

Danny Ryan:472 is our booth number, but yeah. I think looking for the SweetWater sign is probably the easier route.

 

Tommy Ryan:Yeah, I’ll forget 472, I’ll remember SweetWater.

 

Danny Ryan:The party is on Wednesday night, so it is in the dress casual centennial park district. It starts at 6:30 so look forward to seeing people there. Again, you can preregister for it off of, just go to Metalogix site and follow the links there and register there. For everybody who’s coming down, definitely come by and see us at the booth. Look forward to meeting you, look forward to having everyone in Atlanta, and thanks for doing this Tom.

 

Tommy Ryan:All right.

 

Danny Ryan:Everybody have a wonderful day. Take care, bye bye.

 

Tommy Ryan:Bye.

 

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Tommy Ryan2016 Ignite Conference
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ThreeWill Supports Complex Office 365 Migrations w/ Metalogix

Danny serves as Vice President of Business Development 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.

SharePoint Solutions Expert Delivers Customized Cloud Migration and Sustainment Services With Confidence Using the Metalogix Software Development Kit

(cross posted with http://www.metalogix.com/News-Detail/2016/07/11/threewill-supports-complex-migrations-to-microsoft-office-365-with-metalogix )

Atlanta, GA and Washington, DC – July 11, 2016

ThreeWill, an Atlanta-based SharePoint expert, and Metalogix, the premier provider of unified software to migrate, manage and secure content across enterprise collaboration platforms, today announced that ThreeWill is a founding member of the recently expanded Metalogix Advantage Partner Program (MAPP). Using Metalogix solutions at the core of its SharePoint practice, ThreeWill can deliver customized cloud migration and sustainment services by building customized solutions on top of Metalogix Content Matrix using the newly launched Metalogix Software Development Kit (SDK).

“Over and again customers ask us to evaluate products to support very complex SharePoint migration projects and every time we find Metalogix on top,” said Danny Ryan, Vice President Business Development, ThreeWill. “No other product can do what Content Matrix from Metalogix does. What’s equally important is that by using Content Matrix, we are able to support customers with sustainment services to maintain what we build. Metalogix has a tool to help us with this along with a flexible platform we can build on top of to provide customized solutions to meet even the most complex customer requirements.”    (Hear it in his own words – please visit: http://www.metalogix.com/Partners/Partner-Program-Overview.aspx to watch Danny Ryan’s video commentary.)

“ThreeWill takes an innovative approach to meeting customer requirements,” said  Joe Sullivan, Director Global SIs, Cloud Alliances, Metalogix “Their expertise and hands-on know how make them an ideal solution partner for large organizations with demanding SharePoint requirements. We are pleased to welcome ThreeWill as a founding partner of our expanded SharePoint migration ecosystem.”

The newly expanded MAPP enables partner-powered migration services with a comprehensive package of critical information, training and content to quickly create a repeatable and profitable migration practice. Members of the program also gain access to the Metalogix Content Matrix SDK to simplify complex customization and migration projects. The packaged program also includes access to Metalogix Content Matrix through the Metalogix Learning Management System, a sample statement of work, a sample project plan and pre-migration assessment and analysis tools and guidelines as well as sample code and scripts.

The newly enhanced MAPP is available now to qualified partners. For more information, visit http://www.metalogix.com/Partners/Partner-Program-Overview.aspx.

Tweet this: .@ThreeWill supports complex migrations to @Microsoft #Office 365 with @Metalogix http://www.metalogix.com/About/News.aspx/2016

About Content Matrix

Metalogix Content Matrix simplifies the planning, migration and management process for SharePoint and Office 365 while enhancing their permissions, auditing, and reporting for assured security and compliance. Content Matrix offers expert pre-migration planning, assures zero downtime with unlimited movement and management and even migrates everything, in one hop, eliminating the need for intermediate SharePoint versions or on-premises staging. With Content Matrix and the Metalogix SDK, solution providers can benefit from the following features:

  • Simplified setup which easily connects to SharePoint farms, sites, or databases based on each project’s migration scope
  • No server-site installation for direct connection to SharePoint 2013 and 2016 on-premises farm or SharePoint Online site collection using Microsoft’s API
  • Multiple migration options to provide flexibility and granularity of control
  • Ability to migrate while keeping current SharePoint farm running to minimize user impact

About ThreeWill

Ranked in the top five percent of Microsoft partners based on four independent surveys, ThreeWill helps teams work together better by building solutions on SharePoint using agile processes. Established in 2001 and based in Alpharetta, Ga., the company is a Microsoft Partner with Gold Application Development and Gold Collaboration & Content competencies. For more information, please visit www.threewill.com.

About Metalogix

Metalogix is the premier provider of unified management software to migrate, manage and secure content across enterprise collaboration platforms in the cloud and on-premises. Over 20,000 clients trust Metalogix to optimize the availability, performance and security of their content across the collaboration lifecycle. For more information visit us at www.metalogix.com or call us at +1 202.609.9100.

Metalogix is a registered trademark of Metalogix, Inc. All other trademarks used are the property of the respective trademark owners.
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Media Contact:

Sabrina Sanchez
The Ventana Group
[email protected]
(925) 785-3014

Nicole Gorman
The Ventana Group
[email protected]
(508) 397-0131

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Danny RyanThreeWill Supports Complex Office 365 Migrations w/ Metalogix
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A Partner’s View of “The Future of SharePoint”

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.
Danny:Hello and welcome to the ThreeWill Podcast. This is your host Danny Ryan and I’ve got Tommy here with me as well. Hey, Tommy.

 

Tommy:Good morning, Danny. How you doing?

 

Danny:I’m doing wonderful. I wanted to take today and go through what we heard about yesterday with the future of SharePoint. First of, it’s wonderful that SharePoint does have a future.

 

Tommy:It’s very bright. It’s very bright. I’m excited.

 

Danny:When I started seeing the little S in the Office 365 menu changed over to Sites, I was worried about SharePoint for a little while there. It’s going to be in the background and it’s just another commodity service. It looks they’re going to actually call it SharePoint and then in the menu as well. I saw that yesterday. That’s good to see. Man, there was a lot of stuff introduced. At a high level, what were some of the big takeaways that you got from yesterday’s event?

 

Tommy:What I saw is there’s been a lot of experimentation in Office 365 where you see things like Delve, and your personal profile in Delve, the cards in Delve, the blog capability for your personal blog in Delve. It seems like they were experimenting with that, and getting people’s feedback, and getting the usage of that and testing it out there. That’s starting to move over to the mainstream within SharePoint. For me, that’s exciting to see that they’re making investments trying to improve it, innovating quickly and then incorporating that into SharePoint, not just putting it in SharePoint, but making it extensible in SharePoint.

 

I saw two sides of the coin. One is let’s make the user experience as simple as possible. Let’s bring the best of re-concepts that are outside of SharePoint and other platforms that have been helpful, test that out and then we’re going to get into the fold. Then give the developers the capability to do it as well as the SharePoint development team at Microsoft. We’re working off the same framework and using the standard technologies and tools out there like Gulp, and Git, and Node.js, and Angular to take those things where those have matured over time and not come up with something different but embrace what’s out there that is in the mainstream. As that continues to get better and innovate on its own cycle, we’re not left in the SharePoint world building on five-year-old tools and technologies, but we’re using the latest and greatest.

 

Some great things on both fronts. I think from the user front in terms of cleaner, better UI that’s mobile responsive that takes into account some more advanced features that are simplified in the user experience to the extensibility and the development capabilities that you have today and moving into the future.

 

Danny:One of the parts that I like is where they were talking about the different types of Sites that SharePoint is addressing like team sites, publishing, recognizing that some people are using it for more general get the message out types of sites for team collaboration and then for apps. It was kind of neat to see them recognizing how different folks are using SharePoint.

 

Tommy:Right. I think they’ve simplified that for the user where there’s two templates. There’s the team site template and there’s the publishing versus having 52 templates to deal with or to choose from. They’re looking at what’s that 80-20 rule. What are people really using SharePoint for? They’re using it for team site. We’re using it for landing page where they want to control the content there. I think that’s a good thing.

 

Also, what I saw … I don’t know if you noticed this is I’ve seen a lot of innovation in the Office 365 groups. As they were showing team sites, I said, “I wonder if they’re going to bring into the fold groups as a part of that team site experience.” They provisioned a group when they create that team site which I thought was awesome because that ends up giving you a really rich experience that you can follow that team site across the whole Office 365 platform. That this team site is not just a separate thing that just sits in SharePoint, but it blows out the infrastructure across the board on Office 365 to allow that team to collaborate, and discover other people, and discover content.

 

Danny:You sounded pretty excited by that.

 

Tommy:Yeah.

 

Danny:You sounded like you were glad to see that they had made that connection which was cool. Some other things, what’s the deal with … I guess, what we’re seeing with PowerApps. I mean, we’ve heard of PowerApps before yesterday. Then this new … What showed up this morning in my Office 365 menu, I saw Flow. That was, for me, a new thing. What’s with some of these new apps that … I’m not even sure what I should call them, but these new features that are coming out.

 

Tommy:I’m not the most well-versed on those but the way I look at it in my initial understanding is when you look at Flow, Flow has some aspects of it like IFTTT, if this then that, where you can take an event that ends up kicking off another action. It’s very similar, to me, from a workflow perspective where you can allow something to happen when a new document is added. What are the common things that I would do manually post adding a new document? What notifications will I want? Some of that capability that you saw in SharePoint, designer workflows, now you’re getting capability on the multi-tenant Office 365 environment to do some light weight workflow and integration with other platforms and making that a little bit more point and click, and WYSIWYG-like.

 

Then I see the PowerApps is a way to launch over into Azure and have some customizations there that you can hook into. That’s kind of the story I see as it relates to some of the custom applications that we build can be as PowerApps.

 

Then the SharePoint framework is where it gets exciting. Now, that’s where we can do what have been web part development in the past customizations to the SharePoint user experience versus something that’s sideloaded to SharePoint. That framework is something that we’ve been looking for. We’ve anticipated in some sense that had to come sooner or later. Now, that is out there publicly, there’s a roadmap. There’s a vision there that we know that it’s going to be in place. As we build things, we can fit into that future of building things that will easily adapt to the SharePoint framework.

 

Danny:It’s not out yet but the SharePoint app, how excited are you about that?

 

Tommy:I think that’s nice. I think one of the things when you would go browse SharePoint within a mobile responsive UI that comes with SharePoint or you’d use some of the apps that are out there, it’s just over complicated. It didn’t lend itself to a good user experience.

 

There is a sense at SharePoint, some commoditization of that where you’re trying to make it a simple basic experience, having a team site and a publishing site versus having 30 templates. If that is simplified and shrunk down than some of your standard consumption of SharePoint, you can have richer apps that allow you to get to the content that you have there.

 

As you can see, the ability to go in and drive down to your content or that content to discover you, the whole Office craft, where I’m interacting with you, I’m viewing certain documents and, all of a sudden, it says, “Base on this relationship and the content you have, let’s show you something else that might be of interest to you.”

 

With organizations, content is just … You just think about how much electronic documentation that goes on in organization. Just even the organization our size that have a technology and machine learning that goes into building something like Delve where that’s getting integrated into your SharePoint experience versus going off to Delve. I’ve been a big Delve proponent. Then our morning brews, I’ve been showing that every once in a while. It’s separate. Now, they’re taking some of those rich experiences, making those into the SharePoint experience and then allowing the surface all the way up to their native apps that you take on the go.

 

I think it becomes a good balance of what the things that are held in tension which is making it simple for the user, predictable for the user, easy to get going with it, point and click and run. You can use the platform with an extensibility story. When you get into other products that are out there, SharePoint hasn’t been as polished as other collaborative platforms. Now you’re seeing that polished on the UI but they’re not abandoning the developer capabilities. That’s tough to do. I’m excited to see how Microsoft is doing well and holding those two things in tension.

 

Danny:It was funny. You and I talking this morning about the mobile app experience and how this is quite similar to some of the things that we saw like from Jive several years ago with internet on your mobile device. I think it’s one of those things I know we hear time and time again for the projects that we do. We cover what’s sort of mobile access do you have to this content because it has become one of the most, arguably, more important than your desktop. How are people accessing this information?

 

For them to see it … I think we’re seeing it a couple of ways. One is the recent improvements to the OneDrive app and accessing site content from that app, which you’re showing me this morning, to just being able to go browse your intranet through your mobile device and having a really nice experience with doing that. That’s really important to people.

 

Tommy:Right. Yeah. To take it on the go. We’re in that mobile era. That everything you want to do, you want to be able access it from your mobile device. I’m looking at my son last night. Alex is sitting there. We’ve got the TV on but he’s spending all of his time on this small, say, five-inch screen consuming everything on the internet. I’ve got this large TV and I’ve got a laptop in my lap. The next generation consumes things on the go. They want this one device to do everything from taking pictures and video to being their phone to being their internet device.

 

Danny:It sounds like some good quality family time, too.

 

Tommy:How many screens has everybody have up in their room? We have got more screens than people. That’s awesome.

 

Danny:Right, right, right right. That’s a different podcast.

 

Tommy:That’s a whole-

 

Danny:We shouldn’t go down that path.

 

Tommy:I’m sorry. I’ll leave that one alone. Before we wrap up here, any other things that you took away from yesterday’s announcements at all?

 

Danny:A lot of exciting things. I think, at the end of the day, all of the background that we have with SharePoint is so relevant to continue to build into that investment in SharePoint that has that bright future. Our challenge is holding the ability to grow into all those new tools and apply the right technology at the right time along that roadmap. We’ve got some folks who are very excited and very champing at the bit for all these new tools.

 

We’ve been talking about Gulp, and Yeoman, and all of those kind of buzzwords that you saw in the presentation two and three years ago. With our ThreeWill Labs effort, we’re building things that look like Delve backed with Popcorn. We’ve been hungry for it. Now, it’s becoming a reality. That’s very exciting. I think it’s going to re-energize us as a company to see there’s a bright future in SharePoint.

 

There were times that you wonder, “Are we totally kicked out of building anything that’s a custom experience on SharePoint or is it becoming email?” It’s never going to be touch. It’s going to be very plain Jane. That’s all you get: SharePoint, a document library and that’s it. We’re excited. I think our customers are going to see so much more value out of their collaboration experience because there’s so much that’s coming with the platform as a starting point and you’re not stuck with what you get. It’s extensible and that’s a great story.

 

Tommy:I love any device, I love the fact that they’re embracing other services as we all. They’re not just saying, “Hey, you need a pure Microsoft experience.” Actually, I think that puts them in a better position for companies who might want to consolidate services where they feel like they have the option of using other … It’s one of those things. It’s going to say, “Are you going to go to the world and say, ‘Consumer, you have to use all Microsoft services to play in our platform.'” You’re going to say-

 

Danny:It’s amazing.

 

Tommy:Just by taking that approach, it’s almost like you’re more open to their services because of that. I’m glad to see them do that.

 

Danny:I think Microsoft has swung that pendulum and swung it well. I don’t think they’re too far in the other direction. I think they got a right balance of providing strong capabilities for their platform, but also going out there and building the best iOS apps out there and allowing developers to use Mac OS and Visual Studio code to build solutions and provisioning Linux environments. They’re very open so they’re really focusing on cloud first and services. I think Microsoft is heading in a great direction and showing that they can reinvent themselves. That’s hard to do for a company of that size. It’s amazing to see.

 

Tommy:I even see it with the services, such a great support for Salesforce where you can tie into it and they’re not treating it like you can’t access that data. It’s a more mature view of the world, I think.

 

Danny:It is. It is.

 

Tommy:It’s saying, “You know what? In a typical large enterprise, you’re not going to have a pure environment. People are going to be … You have different departments. You have different teams. You have different reasons for using different products and services out there. Can we make all of these things work better together better?” What a great-

 

Danny:Yeah. It’s all mindset, right? We’ve created 12 different commercial integrations with SharePoint because we believe it needs to be an integrated world. You need to be able to take best of breed and make it work well together.

 

Tommy:Awesome.

 

Danny:Well, this is great. Thank you for taking the time to do this. We definitely have some good material for followup podcast as well as we jump into some of the new products that are coming out. Anybody from Microsoft listening to this, you did a good job yesterday. Overall, you got us as excited as a partner. It was great to see that SharePoint really does have a future. Thank you for listening in. Thank you, Tommy for being here.

 

Tommy:Sure, Danny.

 

Danny:Absolutely. Everybody have a great day. Take care now. Bye bye.

 

Tommy:Bye.

 

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Tommy RyanA Partner’s View of “The Future of SharePoint”