What a great conference bringing the Office 365 community together. I really look forward to this event each year. For me, its a great time to take a moment away from the office and listen.
Its very easy to get caught up in the day to day of our busy jobs. I do my best to stay across where our customers (and potential customers) are at in the move toward a more digitally literate workplace, as well as trends across different industries as a whole. Then you’ve got the constant learning and being aware of where Microsoft is at with the technical products and feature sets.
For me the value of conferences is in being able just listen and hear a lot of this in a very condensed setting. You’ve got some of the best experts from around the globe giving their opinions on how they see things, best practices and how to get the most out of the products and tools. Often these presentations are looking to the future and helping educate and chart a course towards that future. Equally important for me is listening to those not on the stage, but sitting in the audience. For they are the ones that are living through the transformation and represent the reality of the technology and best practices being applied to real world.
Somewhere among all that listening is also the rich opportunity to ask questions. To question the experts, to question individuals and their situations, to question what’s working and what’s not, and most importantly to questioning yourself and re-assess what you can be doing to improve your own situation.
That’s a lot of listening. So what did I hear?
In short I can boil it down to this one thing – focus on people before products.
Technology, products, features don’t get things done in your business, people do. For the many that have already moved to Office 365, you’ve been exposed to an incredible rate of technological change that we haven’t seen before. So many new products, new tools, new features within existing products we thought we knew. At the same time there is also a big shift away from IT choosing the tools and setting things up for different areas of the business. This has moved to a model of “empowering the business users”, for users to have the power to choose the right tools, to largely create their own systems to match their requirements and ways of working.
That’s a lot of change, and it’s led to these two things becoming super hot topics:
Governance – things are no longer bottle necked on IT to be created/setup, but along with this is a loss of centralized control to ensure things are done in a consistent and scalable manner. So we hear a lot about emerging best practices on how we can give business users the freedom to created systems (Sites, Teams, Flows, PowerApps) that they need while still maintaining some high level control so things don’t get out of control!
User Training – figuring out how to initially educate the business users and then keep them up to date as these products rapidly change is an enormous challenge. Couple that with the fact that at the same time we are empowering them to provision and create systems that traditionally would have been accompanied by IT resources (such as Business Analysts and Developers)
What I’m hearing though is that there’s something sitting above the Governance and User Training. That’s to first focus on people to ensure they are in a position to navigate all this change and not only come out the other side, but come out in a better position than they are today.
It’s time for businesses to get back to the basics and make sure you’ve got these things in order so everyone is pulling in the same direction through transition.
- What are our core values and is everyone aligned to these?
- What are our goals and are we aligning what we do to these goals?
- Do people actually know what they are responsible for in their roles?
- With the shift away from centralized IT and more system ownership from within the business it’s time to get super clear on who is responsible for what
- Check your culture, people thrive when they feel supported and everyone is aligned with your values and goals.
I believe it’s an opportunity for a lot of businesses to have bit of a reset. By doing this, everyone becomes much more aware of what’s actually important and it’s at this stage we can start to look again at all this new technology. To educate our people, to empower our people and to chart a path into the future that’s going to take our businesses where they need to be. Don’t look to take your users on a pre-defined journey, empower them to build the journey themselves, and as this translates into tangible results you’ll be able to do something that technology, products and features never can, you can celebrate what you’ve managed to achieve. I’ve come to realize people are pretty good at that 😉