Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Why don’t we have any Baby Bills

image That fateful day … Nov 5 1999.

That was the day, according to this article, that Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson had declared that Microsoft was a monopoly. I remember that day. I was just getting ready to start my career at Microsoft. It made me wonder what I might be wading into. As the ruling came down and as the options were being considered it didn’t change my thoughts on joining Microsoft. And, I’d do the same thing all over again. Albeit, with a bit more wisdom now.

The reality is … Not much actually happened on this day. The impact was felt in the ensuing weeks and months.

There were a lot of hallway conversations about what this meant and what it could mean. There were mostly conversations, at least the ones I remember, about keeping it all together. There were also conversations about what it would mean, could mean and become if the company was forced to break up ala Ma Bell in the 80’s.

In retrospect it could have been a great thing.

It could have been a great thing for consumers, but really it could have been a great thing for Microsoft. From a Freedom of Choice and Revenue perspective, respectively. Think about it. If a company wants to continue running Windows 95 forever … they can. Just pay the man.

If the Operating System division was broken way from the Desktop Applications (Office) division and if the Server & Tools division was spun off there could be three distinct revenue engines. When someone wants to run Windows 95 well past it’s prime they can. Just pay for the privilege. Someone may be willing to pay for the security, networking and other technology upgrades. Whether this is right or wrong is irrelevant. Let the customer decide. At some point the Law of Diminishing Returns will kick in. The customer can make that decision. A similar bit of logic can be applied to the Office Suite of products as well as the Server & Tools offerings.

Is this logical? Not to me, but I don’t represent every customer.

Someone would likely pay for the privilege of doing nothing. Meaning, not having to make a change. Eventually, this would come back to haunt them and it would change the way vendors behave, but it possibly could have been a viable model. Of course, we’ll never know now.

The Convicted Monopolist

SNAGHTML234717fI suppose there could be worse things that could be said about someone … even if they are a corporation.Which, as we now know since this historic ruling came down, corporations are people.

Of course, this wasn’t all just one person. Sure, Bill Gates ran the company, but there were over 33,000 employees at the time. Sure, Bill Gates was the very public face of the company and some of the more egregious comments about how to deal with the competition were attributed to him. But, in the end it takes a group of people to run a company and to make decisions. Even though Bill Gates was wildly wealthy at this point and a lot of people seemed to revel in trying to knock him down a peg or two (including a certain judge).

My Thoughts on BillG

Bill Gates, or BillG as everyone on campus knows him, was and is an amazing guy. He worked hard. He took the company in directions that caused heartache and grief. But in the end he built an amazing cash flow machine. One that is still going quite strong as it enters it’s 5th decade.

Let that sink in … it’s 5th decade in business.

There aren’t too many companies that make it this far. There aren’t too many companies that have done so much for the world. Whether you are a Microsoft fan or foe I think you can agree that the work Microsoft as a company has changed our lives. In my case for the better.

Are Baby Bill’s in Microsoft’s Future?

I hope the new Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, is given enough time to let his ideas run their course. I think Microsoft is on a pretty good path these days. The stock is up. The product mix is stabilizing (for the most part). Sure, there have been a few hiccups, but that is to be expected. It will be interesting to see what he might spin off in the coming years. He has the chance to make some Baby Bills now … or perhaps they will be called Baby Satya’s. We shall see.

What do you think?

  • Was the judge wrong?
  • Did Microsoft miss an opportunity to create a new stream of revenue?
  • Were consumers actually harmed?

I know lots of people that I worked with at Microsoft may disagree with my thinking. And, I’m OK with that. I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments.


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Jeff is an expert in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, and is currently the Chief Evangelist at K2. Tweet him @jshuey or connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+ He is active in the Microsoft Partner Community and is the co-founder and President of the IAMCP Seattle chapter.

He is a contributing author to Entrepreneur, Elite Daily, Yahoo, US News and to the Personal Branding Blog.

 

Image Credit: Time Magazine, andrechinn

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

We can say the H word now

image It’s true … We can say the H word now. (Tweet This!)

We have been given permission.

We can say <wait for it> … Hybrid.

At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, DC last July the word was used over and over again. Microsoft execs repeated it and they want partners to repeat it too. Reality Check: Microsoft wants and needs partners to help get their customers in the cloud.

Part of going “To the Cloud” may involve a stepping back and forth between traditional On-Premise systems and Cloud based systems … hence the need for a Hybrid Model to span the gap.  And the need to Mind the Gap is critical for successful deployments.

But, the question remains ---

How much Hybrid'ness can your customers take?

imageIs there some sort of chart or quiz we can give our customers? Of course, the simple answer is no.

This is where Microsoft needs to rely upon the tried and true and trusty Partner Ecosystem. The partners KNOW their customers. The partners KNOW what the customers are asking for. The partners KNOW (for the most part) that they want to play in this Cloud First strategy Microsoft is embracing.

What do Partners Need to Know? (Tweet This)

Partners are interested in helping their customers. Since their customers are asking about cloud based solutions they want to know what Microsoft has to say and how they can play.

Partners want to know and are expecting Microsoft to help here with definitions, revenue, recognition and transparency. So, the request to Microsoft is … please help partners understand the following:

  • What Microsoft means by hybrid (Definitions)
  • How Partners generate revenue and get recognition from Microsoft for hybrid deployments (Revenue & Recognition)
  • How their local Microsoft reps are being paid and recognized (Transparency)

image The Good News is … You can say the H word now

Say it with me … Hybrid. Hybrid. Hybrid.

More Good News

Microsoft IS getting the word out.

If you want to know more go to the Microsoft Partner Network site. If you happen to be in the Seattle area on October 16th you are cordially invited to the IAMCP Seattle event with Microsoft’s Gavriella Schuster. Click on this link here and register so we know you are coming. Send me any questions you have. We hope you can join us!

What Do You Think?

  • Are your customers asking for Hybrid Deployments?
  • Is Microsoft providing the information you need?
  • How much Hybrid'ness can your customers take?

Drop a comment here or in the social channels below. Inquiring minds want to know.

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Jeff is an expert in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, and is currently the Chief Evangelist at K2. Tweet him @jshuey or connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+ He is active in the Microsoft Partner Community and is the co-founder and President of the IAMCP Seattle chapter.

He is a contributing author to Entrepreneur, Elite Daily, Yahoo, US News and to the Personal Branding Blog.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Collab-a-lytics - The Sweet Spot for SharePoint

imageI was chatting with my friend Mack Sigman of FEDSPUG and Avanade today and we got to talking about SharePoint, Collaboration and Data Analytics.

These are two of the sweet spots for SharePoint.

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Well, with me being me, Iimage had to create a portmanteau from that and I came up with Collab-a-Lytics

Collabalytics
The conflagration of two of the best features of Microsoft SharePoint --- Collaboration and Data Analytics

SharePoint is a Lot of Things

For those that have been watching SharePoint has been around for about 15 years. The current incarnation is effectively Version 5. Or, more accurately, with Microsoft’s changes related to more rapid shipping schedules and with the rise of SharePoint Online (aka SPO) as part of the Office 365 suite it’s more like it’s version 5 Plus

The Growth of a Dynasty
What started with SharePoint Team Services back in the 2000 time frame has morphed through 2003, 2007, 2010 and is currently on the 2013 version.

The SharePoint Wheel

imageMany people are familiar with the “Workloads” SharePoint 2003 and beyond morphed into. These have been slightly updated, but they have effectively stayed the same. Where the core capabilities are driven around Sharing / Collaboration.

SharePoint is a great place to collect, gather and collate information. SharePoint hasn’t always made it easy to build solutions, but partners (and Microsoft) continue to improve upon this effort and the capabilities and the markets SharePoint can impact is effectively limitless now.

This is what got Mack and I talking earlier --- How partners can continue to extend and enhance the SharePoint Ecosystem

Data Priests, SharePoint and the Big Data Conundrum

SharePoint has become a great place to Surface Data. There are still silos of information in every business. Everything from ERP, CRM, SCM, and every other Three Letter Acronym (TLA) application and service out there. In fact, there are countless other streams of information being created everyday --- from User Generated Content (UGC) to Social Networking generated content to data that is offered up for fee or for free by governments. There is a lot of data out there.

Big Data is a Big Buzzword

Big Data goes well beyond Microsoft and SharePoint. However, SharePoint can and will play a big role in Big Data. As those disparate silos of information are tapped for their riches we can expect SharePoint solutions will be built to be the gathering spot to highlight and showcase the gems that are extracted.

As I wrote in Big Data --- From Priests to Data Scientists and Back there are jobs to be had in the Big Data space. Many of these jobs will likely be created by partners and individuals that will leverage the Microsoft SharePoint platform.

Will they call it Collabalytics?
I doubt it. (but, if they do I’m sure they’ll credit me)

SharePoint is a ubiquitous platform for gathering, collating, analyzing, synthesizing and outputting information that matters to the business and to the individual. There is a lot more headroom to grow … both for Microsoft and for the partner ecosystem.

As I wrote a few years ago …

The Future of SharePoint is here and it’s all about Data!

Updating this slightly for 2014 …

Collab-a-lytics  - The Sweet Spot for SharePoint

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Jeff is an expert in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, K2 and Gimmal. Tweet him @jshuey or connect on LinkedIn,Facebook, or Google+

He is a contributing author to Entrepreneur, Elite Daily, Yahoo, US News and to the Personal Branding Blog.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Keeping Microsoft in the Mobile Game

STOP - Making ExcusesThe numbers look pretty dim for the Windows Phone platform. Perhaps that’s one reason why Microsoft recently decided to roll all the “Windows” properties into one name. There will be no more Windows Phone, but I’m still going to call it that.

Windows Phone’s Q2 2014 market share dropped from 3.4 percent to 2.5 percent year-over-year. Source: IDC

What Could Bring Windows Back?

There are a few things that could help Windows Phones make a come back, but both will require a leap of faith and perhaps a leap in technology. There are likely many more, but II

New Gardens & Dual Boot --- With the advances in processor power and ease of access to memory I’d like to see Microsoft make the Windows Phones “Dual Boot” capable. Microsoft already makes something like $5 for every Android device. Why not work out a licensing arrangement where Windows Phone users can have access to the Google Play library.

I’m not sure why Microsoft, Google, or even VM hasn’t done this yet. I can envision an upstart player creating a Virtual Machine that enables multiple operating systems to boot up simultaneously. Blackberry and Samsung had a feature for a “Work” and a “Personal” boot option. I don’t think they literally rebooted to a new partition, but the work, tasks and actions could be separated. The same thing could be applied to the Windows Phone platform.

  • Reality Check 1: I’m sure there are scads of technical reasons why this is not possible and/or would be hard to manage. But, if Microsoft wants to kick start it’s mojo what better way than by making it possible to run Android or Apple on a Windows Phone device.

  • Reality Check 2: Would the licensing be a nightmare? Yes. Would the other vendors balk? Probably. Would it help Microsoft regain a seat at the adults table? I think the answer is a definitive yes.

The risk of not seeking a way to do this is related to the size of the app market place. The Microsoft Windows Phone platform has around 300,000 apps today. That’s a respectable number. But, it pales in comparison to the 1 million apps for Apple and Android, respectively. Sure, we’ve heard that Microsoft is focused on getting the popular apps out there. That’s great PR fodder. But, if the devices support dual boot or multi-boot this becomes irrelevant.

If Microsoft can't convince users that it has the best apps, the best productivity software, or the best array of devices, than what does it have? Source: Motley Fool

Low End Phones --- which Nokia is exceptionally good at making en masse. Now that the $7.2B acquisition of Nokia is complete they need to get busy making money. The US and Europe may be the low hanging fruit for smart phones, but it’s also where all the competition is making huge strides. Think Bigger! Go Global.

The Rest of the World may be ready for a new phone. It might be just a feature phone, but I suspect as Internet access becomes more prevalent they will be Smart Phones. As the low end smart phones start to make their way around the world Microsoft may find themselves on the winning side of a nascent phone market.

I Want to Believe

I’ve said it many times and in too many places to count. I want to believe. I want Microsoft to succeed. However, from my perspective it seems there is still not enough listening going on with the people that use the Windows Phones and want to see them continue to improve.

Case in Point:
The Windows Phone 8.1 upgrade, aka Cyan. I have a Windows Phone 920 and AT&T pushed the Cyan upgrade out a few weeks ago. My experience has not been pleasant. I’m not impressed. Sure, Cortana is now available and it’s a cool app / feature. But, from my point of view the Windows Phone development team took away too much just to add one cool feature. Most notably for me was the Social Media capabilities – these have been severely crippled.

Call me crazy. I’m sure there are a few that do already. But, I think Microsoft and the Windows Phones have a new chance at surviving. With the new CEO, Satya Nadella, at the helm there is hope. Microsoft has regularly been able to Tilt the Tables. This might be the next iteration of Table Tilting or perhaps a bit of Ballmer’esque Table Hurling.

What do you think?

  • Is it game over?
  • Is it possible for a resurgence?
  • Is the a game changing scenario on the horizon?

Drop a note in the comments or on the Social Media channels.

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Jeff is an expert in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, K2 and Gimmal. Tweet him @jshuey or connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+

He is a contributing author to Entrepreneur, Elite Daily, Yahoo, US News and to the Personal Branding Blog.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thinking about the Partner of the Future

imageThe Partner of the Future will be different than the partners we know today.

The Partner of the Future will be focused on Solutions. Both point solutions and full blown deployments and everything in-between. This is not to say partners haven’t always focused on solutions. However, in the past there was not always an easy way for Microsoft partners to get their solutions message across. That is changing.

This post started with a focus on the Microsoft Partner Ecosystem and it is primarily still addressing that market. To that end Microsoft has a need to extend, embrace and enhance the partner model and the ecosystem as a whole.

Note: This is not the “typical” 3 E’s associated with Microsoft and partnering. Those that know the three E’s will be smiling about now.

Some of Partner of the Future efforts will come from organic growth, but a lot will come from acquisitions. As I have posted about many times over the past few years … Consolidation Continues.

Why Consolidation will Continue

Because there are a lot of point solutions that have grown up quite nicely. Thank you very much. Many of the big platform players have continued to snap up these smaller players to put them into their stable of companies. Some of these “smaller” players have thousands of employees, millions of customers (or at least users) and sometimes millions in revenue.

For Microsoft specifically the Partner of the Future (PotF) can also be called the Partner of our Future (POOF).

I break the Partner of the Future into 4 big buckets:

  • 1. MSP's
  • 2. C2 partners
  • 3. Traditional Partners
  • 4. Combined Partners

What are these 4 PotF Types?

First, there is no wrong answer or wrong path here. As people decide they are done with the rat race and they want to put their specific skills to use they may decide to create a new breed of MSP. Where MSP means Managed Services Provider. By the very definition of an MSP they deliver point solutions.

I expect there will be a lot people that decide to create an MSP to leverage their skills and the now relatively easily deployable Microsoft technologies … notably Microsoft Azure and Office 365.

  • Call to Action for Microsoft: Embrace Them. Help them understand the products and the way they can generate revenue. Microsoft’s Burke Fewel is doing a great job with his blog posts on how partners can “Enter the Cloud Business

The C2 Partners

This is what I call the partners that have found their 2nd Customer. Of course, every business needs to start with their first customer. They may be able to keep and live on the business generated by that first customer for many years. There is nothing wrong with that. However, eventually they will need to find that 2nd customer.

  • Call to Action for Microsoft: Extend Them. These are the sweet spot for Microsoft (and every other platform provider will be going after them too). These are businesses that have proven themselves and they likely at the stage where there business needs help to go to the next level. Help them!

Traditional Partners

These are the companies that have bet huge hunks of their business on Microsoft. These are the ISV’s, SI’s and Learning Partners that have spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours learning, understanding and building on the Microsoft platform.

  • Call to Action for Microsoft: Enhance Them. Let them know their investment is appreciated. Let them know their investment is not wasted. Let them know that Microsoft will work with them to create next generation solutions. Let them know where the Microsoft product stack is going. In the absence of actionable information they will seek other alternatives. They have no choice. They need to continue growing their business too.

Combined Partners

This should be pretty obvious. This can be a mashup of the MSP’s, the C2’s and the Traditional Partners. Each can bring something unique to the table. Microsoft can be that facilitating engine to make it all possible.

  • Call to Action for Microsoft: Extend, Embrace and Enhance Them! Create a place for them to work together. Create a rationalized Azure/Windows/Office Gallery for them to post their offerings. Make it easier for customers to find them through the Galleries and other means.

What is the purpose of having any kind of partner?

To be blunt … to drive more Awareness, Adoption and Revenue for Microsoft.

Working Hard to Make it Real

As the 16,000 people that attended the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) and all those that watched the livestream during or after the event learned ... Microsoft is working hard to create the right environment to enable, engage and support the Partner of the Future.

What if they get it Wrong?

Well, like with all new plans there is a risk that things do not go as planned. Also, the competition is not standing still. Much like Microsoft's need to develop a runway for small and early stage companies to build their business the other platform players are also building their own runways and ecosystems.

Of course, there are quite a few small players looking to build the next great software platform. A few that have had initial success are looking at their next trigger for growth. Think Facebook as they expand beyond a Social Media website. Think Concur as companies realize there is a better way to manage expenses. Think Infusionsoft for the way they are building business automation for the small business market.

Note: Each of the companies mentioned are not necessarily wedded to the Microsoft platform for development, collaboration, or cloud services. Therein lies the rub.

So … What if they Get it Wrong? Well, it’s quite possible that the dream of a Partner of our Future (POOF) with go up in smoke with nothing much more than a poof.

There is a lot of work ahead. As the Former CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer said about “The Cloud” three long years ago … “I’m all In” and as the current CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, reinforced at this years WPC … Microsoft is all in for Partners.

What do you think?

  • Is the Microsoft Partner Ecosystem ready for a change?
  • Will Partners embrace the Partner of our Future model?
  • Will Customers embrace the model too?

Drop a comment here on on the social media channels below.

Image Credit: Space Odyssey 2001

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Jeff is an expert in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, K2 and Gimmal. Tweet him @jshuey or connect on LinkedIn,Facebook, or Google+

He is a contributing author to Entrepreneur, Elite Daily, Yahoo, US News and to the Personal Branding Blog.

How is your “IF” Button working these days?

IF Button (Jonathan Coleman) Imagine a button that whenever you pushed it you got your IF.

Where an IF is just like a WISH.

What will you “IF” for today?

IF you can imagine it … it can happen.

So many IF’s … so little time.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

What's Wrong with Roll Your Own?

imageIn my various roles over the years I often encounter people that say "We can build that" when asked about a particular project. While this answer is probably technically true ... assuming they have the skills ... the reality is that they may not have the time or money.

But wait .. there’s more …

There are a few other factors that need to be considered too. Read on.

There is an old saying ...

"Anything is possible ... if you have enough time & money"

This is especially true with Roll Your Own solutions.

So, the answer to the question is ... There is Nothing wrong with a Roll Your Ownsolution mentality. However, make sure you have enough Time and Money to do it right. Also, make sure you consider the "other" factors.

The Other Factors

There is nothing wrong with a Roll Your Own mentality as long as you realize that you have to consider the Lifecycle of the Project. While this is completely doable and happens every day in countless businesses ... just be aware. You will be responsible for at least the following factors. Probably a lot more than this. (Drop your favorite "other" factors in the comments).

  • Training - Surprise! Most people will need to be trained.
  • Support - Who's going to take all those calls and emails?
  • Maintenance - Who's going to fix the bugs? (there WILL be bugs!)
  • v.next - What's the first thing that happens when a solution is rolled out? Someone wants to change it.

Who will own the change management efforts? Who will own the Lifecycle of the Project?

These challenges are met every day - directly and with partners. The question you need to ask yourself is ... Can we Roll Our Own or should we work with a partner?

What "other" factors have you seen when people have tried to Roll Their Own?

Drop a note in the comments and share your experiences with Roll Your Own.

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This was originally posted on LinkedIn here.

Image Credit: Wikimedia (Fair Use)

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Jeff is an expert in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, K2 and Gimmal. Tweet him @jshuey or connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+

He is a contributing author to Entrepreneur, Elite Daily, Yahoo, US News and to the Personal Branding Blog.