The digital transformation reaches the heart of Microsoft

Recently I was part of a 15-member team that represented Campana & Schott at the Microsoft Ignite technology conference in Chicago.

The future is digital - and Microsoft can meet this demand.

Every evening, the team met to discuss the day's events over a glass of beer. A very clear picture emerges once all of the individual impressions are put together: the digital transformation has reached Microsoft. And the surprising part - at the center of this transformation is the organization and human collaboration at Microsoft. How is that expressed? While earlier conferences used to be dominated by single large release or product introductions, this conference brought a series of smaller surprises. And that is not a coincidence or lack of innovation, but rather the new normal.

Most far-reaching change in 20 years

We believe that Microsoft is changing into an increasingly agile company. Even pivoting - hence the willingness to drastically alter business models based on changing customer requirements - is no longer a foreign concept for Microsoft. It has resulted in a company that values internal competition. Different teams and product groups compete to find the best solution for a particular problem. And the customer will decide.

And internal competition is not the end of it. Just recently, Microsoft purchased a Berlin start-up company when it acquired the Wunderlist app. Why? Microsoft has been trying to bring work management solutions to the market for some time, at the lower level of project management so to speak. In our opinion, with this purchase Microsoft has extended its range and added a new player from the outside to save valuable time for its internal development activities. The primary focus may be on a new solution. But on closer look, it also becomes clear that Microsoft has gained innovations, employees and the work style of Generation Y, and injected it into its own company. This will certainly have an effect on the company's own work style ...

What new trends did we see?

But in the end, Microsoft is about software solutions. In this context, we have identified the following trends in terms of social collaboration:

  • The Cloud forms the innovation motor - Microsoft is increasingly moving towards a model whereby new functionalities are initially made available through the Cloud only, and only become available on premise at a later date, and not always at same scope - such as the new Microsoft Project 2016
  • But Microsoft also realizes that hybrid solutions will make up the lion share of implementation projects in the near future.
  • And even though Salesforce.com has rejected Microsoft's first takeover offer, it was likely not the last word on this subject ...
  • Infopedia provides a new option for internal knowledge management
  • There is an interesting variant for creating internal links between employees: Delve and the so-called People Page (as alternative to MySite in SharePoint)
  • The Office 365 Groups are beginning to show another very promising option for social collaboration. Choices must be made: SharePoint, Yammer, Office 365 Groups or Outlook + Skype - which solution is the right one for a particular need?
  • 'External Sharing' as a combination of SharePoint and OneDrive can be a good model for collaboration that spans across organizations.

And finally a comment that pertains to our own activities: we believe that in light of the aforementioned developments, the understanding of consulting must also change. Of course there will always be a need for selected consulting and introduction projects. What is new is that companies will also acquire consulting advice as an on-going service. The age of the Cloud requires that services are provided to customers on a continuous and on-going basis: What new functions make sense for the customer? What new solutions should the customer be evaluating or implementing? I am looking forward to that change.