Seth Godin

Change

One of messages that has come from the recent Microsoft Partner Conference is that the world is changing for Microsoft and resellers (as if you didn’t know!). The article “Microsoft rubs Web 2.0 noses in SharePoint cash pile” shows how Microsoft believes the world is changing and how its resellers should also.

“Microsoft’s business applications chief Stephen Elop on Monday told Microsoft’s overwhelmingly desktop-and-server-oriented partner army that nine out of 10 of their customers want to transition a portion of their IT to the cloud.”

Which I believe is true, though perhaps not to that extent now but it many eventually reach that level. Interestingly,

“Elop didn’t reveal the source of the data behind his claim, but the message was blunt.

“My business is changing. Your business must change as well,” Elop told Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.”

So the message appears clear from Microsoft that traditional server and desktop hardware is going to be a declining source of opportunity for all. You would also have to agree that the message is very similar from Google who have perhaps been at this cloud computing thing longer than Microsoft.

To ignore two of the largest players in the market saying that online is the place to be would surely be folly for anyone providing technology solutions. Personally, I agree with this premise in principal but I believe it still must be tempered by some ‘non-sales’ reality here but the end result is that change is certainly upon us. Nothing could perhaps illustrate that better than a recent example of my own.

I was called in by a prospect who were interested in Windows SharePoint v3 as means to improve their collaboration and productivity. They had just recently purchased a new server running SBS 2003 (their existing IT people seemed uncomfortable with the move to SBS 2008 which, as an aside, I have noticed to be quite common), so they already have their infrastructure in place. Now, how do they go about implementing Windows SharePoint v3?

Option 1 – On the existing infrastructure

They need to install Windows SharePoint v3 on their SBS 2003 server which requires a bit of customizing since it is SBS. They’d probably also find that the SBS box is already pretty well loaded (being SBS 2003 it has a 4GB RAM limit) so maybe installing SharePoint v3 on SBS is not a good idea. Maybe then they could purchase an additional server, which means more hardware and Windows Server licenses even before the installation commences.

You can see how hard this is becoming can’t you.

Option 2 – Hosted

While at their offices I set up a 30 day free trial of hosted SharePoint with a single login. They can immediately start using the product to get a feel. They have remote access, don’t have to worry about additional servers, software etc. After 30 days they can simply convert that trial into a per monthly cost with an unlimited amount of users.

How easy was that?

Sure there are issues around both services and advantages and disadvantages but look at it from the customer’s perspective. Which involves less pain? If they like SharePoint and want to start using it in their business which is going to give them a result faster? The winner is Option 2 – Hosted.

This online concept also applies to other applications like email and even desktop applications such as word processors and spreadsheets. In the end I think we have finally crossed the threshold where technology is simply part of our day, like electricity or the car. It has become so ingrained in our society that the less we have to think about it the better. Clearly, things will not change overnight but they are changing and those who fail to make the transition will get left behind. If the business model and focus of players like Microsoft is changing then resellers need to start making similar adjustments. Now is the time to start making those adjustments in your own time rather than having little option or opportunity down the track.

Like it or not, change is here.

SharePoint Guide – August

So what’s coming in the August update of the Windows SharePoint Operations Guide? Firstly, there is information about how to index Outlook MSG files in SharePoint (which is not enabled by default). Next, there is information about a free web part that allows users to quickly post comments up to a SharePoint page and finally there are some troubleshooting tips around import data using Excel, which can be problematic at times.

 

The Guide is now rapidly approaching 1,500 pages of information and is expected to easily break that barrier when SharePoint 2010 beta is released in the near future. These and future updates will be available to subscribers so they can take their SharePoint installation beyond the default and really make them shine.

 

For more information about the Guide please visit www.wssops.com.

Power of an hour

I have just completed a document that provides 8 tips to improving your productivity with technology. By saving as little as 1 hour a work day you can end up generating over 240 hours a year. That works out to being more than a month of work time! Imagine what you could do with that extra time.

The document covers a range of suggestions including hardware, software and online solutions. It simply provides some quick suggestions about technology products and services that you maybe able to utilize to improve your working efficiency. Most of the suggestions can be implemented for free or very little cost which makes them even the more attractive.

Hopefully this document will prompt people into examining the options that are available with technology and look at ways they can do things better rather than simply allowing accepting the technology that you use. Successfully improving productivity comes down to two things I believe, the rights tools and the right application of those tools. Pretty much like most other successful things I suppose.

So please read the document, pass it along to other and let me know your feedback (director@ciaops.com). Don’t forget all the other documents that I also have on Slideshare including those on topics like SharePoint and Small Business Server (SBS). Stay posted to this blog for details of up coming documents.

Myth of Multitasking

I have not doubt covered this topic before in my postings but I have come across a swag of new articles that further confirm the fact that human beings are not designed to multi task. When we fool ourselves into believing we are multi tasking we are in fact simply task switching. As “Slow Down, Brave Multitasker, and Don’t Read This in Traffic” details:

“The researchers said that they did not see a delay if the participants were given the tasks one at a time. But the researchers found that response to the second task was delayed by up to a second when the study participants were given the two tasks at about the same time.

In many daily tasks, of course, a lost second is unimportant. But one implication of the Vanderbilt research, Mr. Marois said, is that talking on a cellphone while driving a car is dangerous. A one-second delay in response time at 60 miles an hour could be fatal, he noted.”

In “Why Multitasking Doesn’t Work” we find out how interruptions can be just as bad:

“We’ve already seen that multitasking on the road is the equivalent of drinking and driving. Other research cited by Medina shows that people who are interrupted – and therefore have to switch their attention back and forth – take 50% longer to accomplish a task, and make up to 50% more errors.”

Now translate that to the technology you are probably using now, such as email, and you may begin to appreciate why you are struggling to actually get any meaningful work done. By having your emails constantly open and allowing pop up notifications you are reducing the time you have because you are simply task switching (which requires recovery to refocus) and you are more likely to make mistakes. Tell me how that is being more productive?

The most amazing thing is that as a society we seem to believe that we all not only have the ability to multi task but that we should be doing it more often. We hold in high esteem those who appear to be good multi taskers, when in actual fact we are revering the most unproductive and error prone among us. How does that make sense? There is even a belief that kids of today are just natural multi taskers, but again as “Slow Down, Brave Multitasker, and Don’t Read This in Traffic” details:

“Recently completed research at the Institute for the Future of the Mind at Oxford University suggests the popular perception is open to question. A group of 18- to 21-year-olds and a group of 35- to 39-year-olds were given 90 seconds to translate images into numbers, using a simple code.

The younger group did 10 percent better when not interrupted. But when both groups were interrupted by a phone call, a cellphone short-text message or an instant message, the older group matched the younger group in speed and accuracy.”

So again we can see that most of our ideas about multi tasking are simply myths yet remain largely unchallenged.

Finally, here’s an article “Getting Things Done: How NOT to Multitask – Work Simpler and Saner” with some suggestion about how to avoid the traps of multi tasking and develop an environment where you can actually achieve some meaningful work.

For more information about getting assistance improving your productivity please visit our Smart Productivity site.

WiFi bounty hunter

After reading “The great WiFi robbery: police to patrol down your street” what I want to know is there some sort of bounty that I can claim if I find an open WiFi hotspot? It is interesting that police are now diverting resources to warn people about the issues of unprotected wireless.

 

“All unsecured WiFi networks out there are open for exploitation by the crooks and the average mum and dad don’t understand the vulnerabilities”

I have no argument with this statement but is it likely that others are going to appreciate the seriousness of the issue? As I mentioned in another recent post, most people still have no idea about the differences a digital world has created. An even earlier post I detailed how, on a recent visit to a friend, I found an unprotected WiFi hot spot in the street. This is not a new issue.

 

The article also says:

 

“He blamed computer equipment sellers for not doing enough to educate customers on the importance of security.”

 

Again no argument there. For my part I have created a YouTube video that highlights the issues with WiFi security. When I teach my Wireless Networking course at community college I ensure that I drum into attendees that wireless is ALWAYS more insecure that wired. It can be made more secure but it can never be made totally invulnerable to attack or compromise. The biggest problem is that generally out of the box most WiFi is totally insecure.

 

So where does the responsibility for WiFi security lie? With the user? With the equipment provider? With the installer? With the police? As the article highlights:

 

“The Queensland operation could attract criticism from those who believe police time would be better spent seeking out drug dealers and robbers, but Detective Superintendent Hay said the issue was just as important as any other.”

 

Which again harks back to my thoughts on how little most people really understand our digital world and the interaction it plays in the real world. The best advice I can give is to take responsibility for your own digital security. If you don’t understand then learn, otherwise sooner or later you’ll become a victim.

Big lights city

There is no place in the world like Las Vegas. If you have never been there and you get the opportunity I’d say go and take a look. Sure it can be tacky, sleazy and money grubbing but man you just gotta admire what they’ve managed to build in the desert there. If you can’t find something to enjoy about Las Vegas then you just ain’t trying.

This year the SMB Nation Fall 2009 has moved from Seattle to Las Vegas and I’m happy to say that I’ve been asked to make a return visit to speak on SharePoint again. The conference runs from Oct 2 to 4 at the Riviera Hotel and Casino. I appreciate the opportunity SMB Nation and Harry Brelsford has again given me to not only attend but also speak.

So what’s my topic? The title is “So you’ve got SharePoint now what?” and it is a look at how you can extend the capabilities and features of a plain vanilla SharePoint to maximize returns. The opportunity for resellers is that using the right tools you can extend SharePoint and really stand out from the crowd. It seems to me that everyone talks about the opportunities SharePoint provides but no one really seems to do anything about it. My presentation will show you how to make your SharePoint skills and installations a truly unique business selling proposition so you can take advantage of the huge opportunity there exists in the SharePoint space.

Since October is still a little way off I love to hear any feedback you may have on what you reckon should be or could be presented. I know what I want to present but I always find that any presentation improves when it receives input. So by all means feel free to get in contact with me (director@ciaops.com) and let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

The other thing that I am really looking forward to (apart from the other great content at SMB Nation) is catching up with many of the people I met last year. Even if we have never met and you’d like to catch up for a discussion on SharePoint or my opinion on the ‘new world order’ then again feel free to drop me an email (director@ciaops.com) and we can hook up. The first drink’s on me!

Like I did last year, I’ll be making all the information available on my presentation via slideshare so you can review it at your leisure. However, that won’t happen until well after the completion of the conference so if you have some input for me, now is the time.

Luckily, I have been to Vegas before but even then I know that will have changed significantly since my last visit. I can’t wait to check out all the new casinos and attractions that have gone up in this playground in the desert. If you are thinking about attending then I encourage you to do so because not only is the content fantastic but you’ll also meet some great people from all around the world who all have something to offer that can improve your business. When I look at my experiences from last year I know that it helped mine and I look forward to that even more so this year.

Come and join me at SMB Nation Fall 2009. As I said, the first drink’s on me.

OneNote news

A while back I was converted to the HUGE benefits of OneNote. Linked with SharePoint it is an absolutely awesome product. I recently published a document that shows you how to create a free shared OneNote notebook using Office Live Small Business. Now comes news of the soon to be released OneNote 2010 available with the new Office 2010. I’ve just been reading David Rasmussen’s blog and wanted to highlight these additions:

 

With OneNote 2010 we’ve added:

 

Sync to Cloud (Windows Live): Your notebooks sync and are available anywhere from any machine. Of course this is in addition to all the existing ways you can sync notebooks (file shares, SharePoint, USB drives etc.)

 

OneNote Web App: You can access and edit your entire notebook from a browser. Even on a machine that doesn’t have OneNote installed.

 

OneNote Mobile: A more complete OneNote version for Windows Mobile phones. Syncs whole notebooks. Syncs directly to the cloud. No need to tether your device. Richer editing support.

Note: The above are not yet available in the Tech Preview unfortunately. We’re still finishing some integration work for sync to Windows Live.

There are heaps of great improvements and I recommend that you take a look at this post from David to get the full run down.

 

I have also learnt that OneNote is going to available in EVERY version of Office 2010! This is absolutely BLOODY BRILLIANT in my opinion. My understanding of the upcoming versions of Office 2010 are:

 

Office Home and Student edition includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote.

 

Office Home and Business edition replaces the previous Office Small Business edition. It includes all the programs from the Home and Student edition and adds Outlook.

Office Standard is the entry-level enterprise edition; it includes the programs from the Home and Business edition and adds Publisher.

 

Office Professional continues to be the high-end package for consumers and small businesses. It includes the programs in Standard edition and adds the Access database management program.

 

Office Professional Plus is the high-end enterprise offering, adding SharePoint Workspace (formerly Groove Workspace) and InfoPath.

 

Much simpler than what we had before I reckon.

 

So with OneNote 2010 you are going to get the ability to sync with the cloud as well as viewing through a web browser. That alone is worth the upgrade to me but when you throw in everything else OneNote is now offering I reckon it is going to be THE product that drives adoption of Office 2010. If you haven’t looked at OneNote I’d suggest you get up to speed now because it is going to HUGE.