Microsoft Experience Center (MEC) Visit Last Month

Boy, I feel sort of ungrateful for not having blogged about this already. Last month, the good folks at Microsoft invited me to New York City to participate in an afternoon session to “showcase the end-to-end value proposition across the information worker (IW) solution set. In a nutshell, this will be a half day summit to give you a glimpse into how our enterprise customers (i.e. “Day in the life”) experience the entire IW solution.”

I was included with an impressive bunch of folks classed as ‘influencers” in the SharePoint world: Dux Raymond Sy of Innovative-e, Jeff Willinger of RightPoint, Laura Rogers of SharePoint911, Melissa Webster of IDC, Jennifer Mason of SharePoint911, Paul Swider of (where do you do stuff, Paul?), Geoff Varosky of Grace-Hunt, and me.  How I got into that group, I have no idea, but one of the best things about the day was getting to spend it with these bright people. (I’m looking forward to seeing them again tomorrow at SPTechCon right here in Boston.)

They even made a cool video for each of us, showing our reactions and thoughts about what we saw.



Note that Microsoft covered my expenses to go to NYC to see their latest technology. I also got a copy Microsoft Office 2010 and this video of my experience in return. (There’s the disclaimer bit.)

We spent the afternoon with Jennifer Kim (Sr. Product Manager) and Justin Chandoo (Group Manager – Enterprise Solutions) from the Office group taking us through the truly amazing things you can do when you have the entire, integrated Microsoft Office stack in place.  When you have Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, and Office Communication Server 2010 together, you get to do some really neato things. (The video actually captures my reactions better than what I might type here.)

In retrospect, that was sort of my beef with the whole thing. This fabulous stuff is possible in a perfectly Microsoftian world, but in my experience, that world doesn’t exist in reality. All of the enterprise-level (read: big) companies that I’ve ever been in have such a hodge-podge of software, versions, capabilities, and policies that they will probably *never* be able to take advantage of this amazing stuff.

The true market for these capabilities, in my mind, is the small to medium sized business (SMB in Microsoft parlance). It has never seemed that Microsoft spends anywhere enough energy showing these capabilities to the lower end of the market and helping them to take advantage of them. Undoubtedly due to the incentives offered to their sales and marketing folks, it’s always about that next big enterprise-class win. (I saw a great quote on Twitter about this yesterday from W. Edwards Deming: “If you give a manager a numerical target, he’ll make it even if he has to destroy the company in the process.” It was on Twitter, so it’s not clear if it’s exactly right, but you get the idea.)  The rest of the world gets a pass from the Microsoft attention machine.

Showing the CIOs and CFOs and such from Megalotron this stuff means that they will get really jazzed up, go back to tell their minions to make it so, and then maybe realize one tenth of the benefit five or ten fiscal quarters from now, the rest never.

Think about the effort that goes into selling the big guys and the likelihood that they will ever realize the benefits. It’s seems truly misplaced to me. Show the littler guys what they can do, help them do it, and then listen to the marketplace accolades. It truly is amazing stuff.

Dinner that night was at Buddakan, and that in itself was worth the trip. If you ever are in NYC and get the chance, definitely give it a try.

Thanks to Rebecca Anthony for putting everything together and making sure it all ran smoothly!