The New York Excursion

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In a rare visit to New York City this week, there was neither piles of snow forcing people into narrow lanes of slippery sidewalk, nor 100-degree weather amidst a garbage strike. My last trip to NY was not so pleasant — it was in February when I got stuck there for a night on my way back from Copenhagen, trying to find a path northward to Boston, with flights and trains being cancelled right and left. I was less than ecstatic to find myself in the city, even though I always enjoy my visits. This time the weather was amazing…and of course I was tied up inside of meetings and a conference the entire time. But those brief walks between the Hilton, the Microsoft building, and Keanu Reeve’s (er, I mean Johnny Utah’s) were beautiful. Oh, and I kept the windows down the entire cab ride to LaGuardia upon my departure, which wound through Central Park and the billion joggers who were also out taking advantage of the weather.

No, I didn’t intend to fill this entire post with talk about the weather. Sometimes it just works out that way. No, actually, I wanted to briefly share my topics and presentation links for the event at Microsoft NYC — which came on the heels of presenting at my second SharePoint Saturday Twin Cities just outside of Minneapolis.

#SPSTC is now officially the largest SharePoint Saturday event in the world. At one point, Houston was a contender, but Twin Cities has blown past them. I spent a couple days with the Best Buy team at their headquarters, presenting to their internal user group on the topic of governance, and then made my way over to Normandale College for another well-organized event where I talked about…governance again. While not the largest audience, there were great questions and feedback, and of course the stellar organizing committee with Sarah Haase, Wes Preston, Tamara Bredemus and others. A fun group, definitely worth coming out for.

I’ve been slow to post pictures on Facebook, but they get in there eventually. From Minneapolis, I made my way over to New York for 3.5 days. As I shared in my Axceler blog post entitled "The Problem with Search is Not Finding," I had two activities: the Enterprise Search Summit at the Hilton NY where I was an attendee (it was strange to be at an event and not part of the program), and on Tuesday I spoke at Microsoft across the street for an Axceler and Slalom Consulting event. I’ll write more about my thoughts on the search problem in future posts, but thought I’d focus here on the content I shared.

At both SPSTC and for my first presentation to the Axceler/Slalom audience, I presented on the practical application of SharePoint governance, which expands on the keynote presentation I gave at the European SharePoint Conference and tries to reinforce the importance of creating alignment between your technical requirements and your business objectives. My favorite slide was something Dan Holme and I included in our Copenhagen material, but which was created by Nick Kellett and myself for another presentation which attempts to simplify the governance planning process into 4 steps (albeit heavily weighted steps with multiple activities within each):

  • Document your requirements: retention, regulatory, reporting, compliance, and audit requirements. make them as complete as possible. Do it at the organizational level, and understand the nuances of each business unit and even each team. These are the boundaries of what you need to build.
  • Map your requirements to SharePoint’s functionality. Don’t start with the technology – doing so will limit your requirements-gathering process. You need to always begin with what the business needs. The technology can or cannot meet those requirements – but if you begin by looking through the lens of the technology, you will not create an accurate picture of what the business needs. Instead, you will consciously or subconsciously modify your requirement based on what you understand the technology can or cannot do.
  • Make some decisions. Now that you have your requirements documented and you’ve mapped them to SharePoint’s capabilities, you know what can and cannot be done with the platform – and you have to make some decisions. You can either reduce your requirements, customize SharePoint, or build or buy other tools to meet those business objectives. but at least you now have the data you need to make decisions.
  • Plan for optimizations. Understand that deployment is only the beginning, and plans must be put in place for ongoing management, to slowly roll out additional functionality based on your prioritizes and the difficult choices you had to make earlier. Listen to your end users about what works, and what doesn’t, and make adjustments as quickly as possible so that you can maximize their adoption and platform engagement.

After some product demos and a presentation by David Drinkwine on SharePoint analytics (I’ll share a link when I have it), I gave a second presentation on business value through the use of social. This deck is a mix of slides from a couple other presentations, but includes some great stats from this week’s Avanade survey results on what businesses are using for enterprise social. You can find the Avanade survey details here, there’s a great summary by Gary Flood in InformationWeek here, and my thoughts on the survey were quoted by Emily Poe here on FierceCM.

My core message was this: how you move forward with social depends entirely on what you are trying to achieve. A couple of the event participants were not impressed with some of the examples I gave of using gamification to encourage adoption and engagement, but upon cross-examination and a few uses of “it depends” logic, everyone agreed that not every social tool or tactic fits every organization, and that having a clear purpose in what you are trying to achieve (better team connectedness, richer metadata, deeper engagement by end users) can all benefit from social collaboration technology.

I flew out of NY late last night (Wednesday) and am now at Axceler HQ in Boston for two days before making my way back to Seattle. My next trip is to Chicago to participate in the 1st SPS Chicago Suburbs event (#SPSChicagoBurbs), followed by a presentation to the Chicago SPUG, a social technology event with Axceler partners Rightpoint, and then a couple days of AIIM.org activities. Looking forward to all of it. See you in Chicago!

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Servers and Services MVP, the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and CMO of revealit.io, a blockchain-based video technology company.