Microsoft 365 in 365

MSInspire 2017.jpg

#Microsoft365Challenge – 365 Blogs in 365 Days about Microsoft 365.

For those unfamiliar with the challenge, my good friend and fellow Microsoft MVP Tracy van der Schyff completed her self-imposed challenge of writing 365 blog posts on Office 365 in 365 days, and then apparently went into blogging withdrawals, and had to do it over again. With the official launch of Microsoft 365, which is not a product but a SKU — which includes Office 365, the Office productivity suite, Windows 10, and security and mobility solutions — she decided to take on the challenge once again, writing 365 blog posts about Microsoft 365. I have never gotten close to that level of blog consistency, but since moving my 15-year old blog from Typepad to WordPress earlier this year, I had been thinking about doing something similar. After chatting with Tracy about her experience this past year, I am now officially accepting the challenge and will be writing about various aspects of Microsoft 365 over the next 365 days.

Microsoft 365 in 365 logo

For those who regularly blog, you are aware of how big a task this is to self-impose. Yes, it’s going to be difficult — not so much about finding topics to write about, but in finding the time to write it all. As someone who spends a good portion of his day working on content for clients, this will have an impact. But the benefit of having 365 articles written on various aspects of Microsoft’s technology will have a profound impact on my ability to delve into the details of most of the solutions discussed, helping both clients and the community.

Why put myself through it?

As Tracy so eloquently states in her initial blog in her own series, it’s not about having an addiction to blogging, nor is it narcissism. I enjoy being able to help people, especially in mapping technical capability to business value. Going through this exercise will allow me to:

  1. Better understand Microsoft’s road map, and help my clients and community members get the most out of the tools and services they use every day.
  2. Connect apples-to-oranges, showing people how otherwise disparate functionality can work together to solve common business problems.
  3. Expand my personal and professional network, allowing me to meet people outside of my primary network, which has been focused largely around SharePoint for the past decade.

I’ve always enjoyed writing, and have averaged 20 to 30 individual pieces per month for the past 7 or 8 years, as many of you know. For me, writing is as much about capturing my thoughts and merging ideas in a format that can be searched and retrieved again. In other words, my blog is one of my knowledge repositories, allowing me to share ideas and interact with peers — and leverage years of this content and these interactions for future content and projects.

Where I plan to focus

One of the first questions people ask is “If Tracy and others are doing the same thing, won’t you struggle to not simply overlap what others are doing?” The answer is simple: no

While Tracy and I are both Office Servers & Services MVPs, we have very different day jobs and backgrounds, and as such we bring very different perspectives to our blogs. Tracy is an amazing trainer, while my primary audience is the BDM (business decision-makers) and non-technical managers up to the CxO. Most of my topics cover the “Why” rather than the “How” that most MVPs focus on, which makes sense as most MVPs are developers and IT Pros, while my background is technical marketing, program management, and operations.

For the next 365 days, my focus for this series will be around certain themes within the Microsoft 365 offering. I’m not interested in writing about every product or feature within the SKU, but am staying true to my strengths and interests in collaboration, as follows:

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams takes the stageSoooo much happening around Teams, and for many organizations it will become their primary UX into Office 365 (and even SharePoint, I predict). I’ve already started writing about different aspects of the solution, but will be going into much more detail around its capabilities, talking about individual connectors and bots, and talking about the evolution of collaboration in the modern organization.

Since launching CollabTalk LLC in January of this year, I’ve run my business on Teams, and with the pending release of external user access features, will use it for customer and partner interactions, as well (I’m now using OneDrive and Yammer to accomplish most of this, as well as good old email).

Information Worker productivity

IW productivityFor many years now, I have written about and presented countless times on the productivity capabilities within SharePoint, Office 365, and the Office suite (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc). In fact, my most successful session ever has been around productivity features in SharePoint. Versions of that deck have had more than 500k views on Slideshare, with thousands of downloads.

With the focus on Microsoft 365…and dipping into Dynamics 365, as well (yes, I know its not in Microsoft 365 SKU, but who said I’d be limiting my content to Microsoft 365 alone?), I’m going to expand my footprint in this area and write about tools, features, and “hints and tips” for increasing team and personal productivity. A great example is the post I wrote earlier this year entitled 8 Best Practices for Leveraging OneNote. I have much more to say about OneNote, and many other great tools and capabilities.

The Intelligent Workplace

Microsoft 365 and how it fits with LinkedIn and Dynamics 365There’s been so much talk about AI and bots, but very little by comparison around the actual business application of these technologies within the enterprise. People like to give their future predictions, but people want to understand how these things impact their business today — and how they can leverage technology to get a better competitive footing. One of the Microsoft 365 areas I’ll be covering is the real-world impact of LinkedIn, Azure, and the Microsoft Graph.

Some of the most exciting advances in Microsoft’s road map these days is coming from this area, with the Common Data Service, Bots and Connectors in Teams and elsewhere, PowerApps and Flow, PowerBI, the integrations with LinkedIn, and the expansion of Dynamics 365 and everything under that umbrella. I start this blog almost 15 years ago to capture profiles and information around social networking technology companies and services, and we seem to finally be at a place in history where the visions of those early days of the internet are finally becoming a reality, and it’s an exciting time to be in tech!

Microsoft’s foray into MarTech

What is Microsoft doing in the area of marketing technology? Well, in many ways its an extension of the previous topic — a component of the intelligent workMicrosoft's marketing technology stackplace, the digital workplace, the modern workplace — whatever you want to call it. As a marketing guy who, years back, managed a number of enterprise project management and technical marketing systems, I am excited to see Microsoft venture into this space and start to offer solutions to partners, as well as customers. Things like their new email marketing solution within the Dynamics 365 space, which goes after the MailChimp and related solutions.

The global marketing team at Microsoft created a great visual that shows where Microsoft offers solutions within the digital marketing continuum, and where there are gaps that the company may or not choose to fill, but I do believe that Dynamics 365 is primed for a breakout year, with a lot of the growth potential coming through its MarTech and, specifically, LinkedIn offerings — as well as their relationship with Adobe and the Adobe Cloud. If it’s any indication, the lines at the LinkedIn booths at Inspire in DC last month were constantly long. Never had time to go stand in that line, alas. But I’ll definitely be digging into that category. And yes, I realize that this category is also not just about features available within the Microsoft 365 SKU — I’ll be calling out where and how the two are connected, and why you should care.

Partner success

Microsoft's partner success data points from Inspire 2017

And finally, I’ll be approaching all of these things from a business — and Microsoft partner — perspective since most of my customers are SIs and ISVs within the Microsoft ecosystem. I will be highlighting some partner successes with Microsoft 365, providing interviews and podcast, and writing short case studies to help illustrate how many of the capabilities within the SKU come together to solve real-world business problems.

Now….time to get started!

I’m looking forward to this year-long effort. As Tracy and I discussed, the goal is to post once a day, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be writing every day (well, not for the blog, at least). I have a backlog of content for this series, and for others, but it’ll be good to pursue a single focus and share what i learn about all-things Microsoft 365. If you have a topic that you’d like me to cover, please let me know. You can reach me, as always, via Twitter at @buckleyplanet or through my LinkedIn and Facebook pages. Thanks!


Also published on Medium.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Apps & Services MVP, and the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Lehi, Utah, through which he provides fractional-CMO for partners in the Microsoft ecosystem.