A New Microsoft… and Teams (Part 1 of 3)

First things first…

Welcome to a new blog, a new Microsoft, and this little new product called Teams, but first! A re-introduction…

Some of you may already know me from stumbling across my previous blog (skypepro.co.uk). I used to talk about interesting and technical things. So, why have I started a new blog? Well, my old one slowly fell by the wayside over the years as my job changed, it was started in a time when I was young and eager and full of a willingness and enthusiasm to understand every technical aspect and enjoyed telling others about what I had discovered.

Well I’ve changed, mainly because my job has changed, because the technology I work with has changed, and the type of problems I’m facing have also changed. Less and less do I find myself opening up Snooper or Wireshark, and instead I find myself standing in front of a whiteboard or a PowerPoint presentation. And those types of problems are not so easy to package up in a generic informative blog post that will be of interest to others, but I have to say its far more rewarding to solve a business problem or a technology adoption problem for a customer, than to troubleshoot a misbehaving application.

So what do I have to offer in this blog…

Let’s begin with my opinion and perspective on a changing industry, and a changed Microsoft, as well as passing briefly by some experience I’ve had introducing Teams to customers, and then ending up? Where? Well, you’ll have to read to find out (because I sure as hell don’t know yet).

Old Microsoft

I’ve been in IT long enough to remember a different Microsoft than we have today, a computer-nerd glass-wearing Gates and a sweaty arm-pit excited Ballmer type of Microsoft. We all saw them and wanted a PC, but didn’t really know why.

Then we all got serious and needed servers to support our PCs, and then along came an enterprise focussed company, cleanly-shaven with a tidy new windows logo (i.e. not made to look like crumbling mismatched coloured LEGO) type of Microsoft. This is probably what most of you reading would remember Microsoft as, a big monolithic corporate entity that made software, expensive software, big software.

And everybody moaned…

Microsoft don’t understand how companies like ours work, they don’t listen to us, their software is too complex and has too many features that we have to pay for and will never use, they haven’t released an updated version of X in years, and then when they do we still won’t be happy and we’ll just wait till the first Service Pack before we upgrade.

Then the industry changed, and so Microsoft changed to a cloud first, mobile first, people first, technology last, marketing-savvy company that, to be fair to them, still made software, but it was software that you didn’t have to buy outright, imagine that, you could rent software, and they’ll even run it for you in ‘the cloud’, no hardware required. What a strange idea that would be, that’ll never take off – there were many vocal change-resistant sceptics at the time because it was different from the ‘norm’. I’m sure there are still a few around today, working 9-5 in dimly lit IT office basements who prop open the air-conditioned server-room door on hot days, that still don’t believe in ‘the cloud’.

If you’ll bear with me for a paragraph or so, I do have a point that I’ll get back to soon enough… But do you remember those TV adverts for new cars where they told you about the car, about the engine, about the lights, about the door locks, about the brakes – after-all you were buying a product and wanted to know all about it, it was a special and infrequent purchase. Microsoft used to do that. But now that cars are so common, people lease them, hire them, get them as a perk with their job, and can easily trade them in for a newer model. Soon, new models were less of an upgrade to the previous model, perhaps it had better seats, more speakers, intelligent headlights and that was basically it, and then all of a sudden buying a car was less of a ‘thing’, everybody in the family already had a car. And then some very clever (and manipulative) marketing people stepped in and worked out that they could sell more of the latest models if they didn’t tell you about the car at all, the car didn’t matter, what mattered was what you could do with the car, how the car made you ‘feel’ (pause for vomiting).

Basically – we used to be sold specific products for what they could do – now we are sold broad solutions for what they let us do.

Let’s try an experiment…

Who wants a product to control granular permissions for multiple users and store huge amounts of files for the cost of a car or small house, look at our product data sheet, it’s in Helvetica!
– erm, dunno, sounds complicated and needlessly expensive.

Or what about…

Who wants a service that makes you all collaborate better and therefore be more productive, also look at these people having fun in an open-plan office scene!
– erm, yeah collaboration is good, I hear that productivity is also good. They sure do look like they’re enjoying work doing whatever it is they’re doing, I guess I’d buy that. How much? Oh wait, I don’t need to pay up-front? I can just subscribe and give it a try, per user, per month? I’m sold.

Continue Reading…

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