End the Paper Trail

One of my LinkedIn Connections, an old high school friend, works for one of the largest printer manufacturers in the world. And she posts quite frequently on the developments going on in that space. Those developments are great looking at it from a purely technical perspective. We can print from mobile devices, print from the Cloud, print from space, in full color, double sided, in bulk, parallel, secure, fast, reliable.

In 1989 I started my own little accountant business, doing the bookkeeping for some small entrepreneurs. On a PC. Paperless. I used a black and white hand scanner to scan the invoices, receipts and bank statements, and then gave the shoebox back to my customer. Yes, I had some trouble with Tax authorities, it took them some 15 years to allow me to digitally do my stuff. In 1993 I worked for a company that printed some 250,000 invoices yearly, five-fold. One for the Customer and 4 for internal usage. It took me a year to go back to just printing one for the Customer and one for internal/external compliance (if someone needed a copy they could just print that 1 copy).

Yesterday my LinkedIn Connection posted something that really got my attention: “Enterprises spend 3% of their gross margin on printing”.

So, in the age of Digital Transformation, we spend 3% of our margins on un-digitalizing the digitalized?

That is a gigantic amount of money. Probably a substantial portion of that output will be scanned on the receiving side to digitalize it again and then ends up in the shredder. Not to mention the enormous impact this has on the environment.

Wouldn’t it be a quick and very big WIN to include “End the paper Trail, Go Paperless” in every conversation we have on Digital Transformation? Law makers, Compliance Officers, Marketeers, please come into the 21st Century, you’re welcome here.

Paper is just so B.G. (Before Google)

Some Email Etiquette, maybe I can start liking email again?

We need agreement on an “email etiquette” document, so we can hold each other accountable. Without agreement nobody is accountable. And that just doesn’t work. Here are some thoughts of what should be in such a document.

Email has a couple of drawbacks in modern organizations. A lot of corporate information sits isolated in user mailboxes and is not accessible for the organization. The speed at which we currently work, dropping emails all day, without wondering how it will be received at any point in time by the recipient(s). The push mechanism of email maybe good in some situations, when it comes to sharing information a pull mechanism would be way more effective. The tools are available for that. We just need to be aware of the ineffectiveness of email for the sole purpose of sharing information. People tend to hide behind email, avoiding responsibility. The email is sent, it is of my plate. Disastrous for Organizations. Furthermore, emails are often not written (or read for that matter) with the necessary attention. Resulting in unnecessary back and forth (group) emails.

The primary accountability lies with the sender, including replying, of any email. The sender must be aware of several things when composing a message, filling out the “To” and “CC” fields, including the “Reply/Reply All” button, applying other marks like “High Priority” or “Ask for Read Conformation”, using Distribution Lists and determining the Subject line. While filling out the: “To” and “CC” Fields, so called MailTips can appear. They have an important function. If someone is on vacation maybe it is not such a great idea to send that person this email right now. We all know what our mailboxes look like when we return from vacation. Some common sense in timing is also appreciated by your customers, partners and colleagues. Friday afternoon is not an elegant time to put people to work. It may be nice to have it of your weekly plate, for the organization it doesn’t work. Senders must realize they consume time of the recipients. So far, not even mentioned the content of the body.

Let’s start with the last, the body. The intention of communication must be clear. It starts with relating to the common interest and understanding you and your recipient(s) have. When steps in a process go as expected is there any need to confirm these steps? Maybe only just the last one? Email by exception or of course, when agreed upon or requested. In general, the results of a completed process should be visible in one of the systems we all have access to (pull information).

Most emails are about a request, you want somebody to do something. Be specific and to the point. Can you please do this by then. Maybe you could add you need a confirmation by a specific time. Not by default though. Even on complex matters or questions, the finishing lines of an email contain a request, also as recap. Announcements should not be made over email, we have better platforms for that. Emails are conversations and you always want to forward the conversation. In a reply, just a “no” is not good enough, it does not forward the conversation. No, I cannot do it at the requested time or as requested, but I can do it by then or I can do it like this or let’s ask another colleague to handle it. This applies to Meeting Requests as well. Being specific becomes even more important when emailing to multiple persons. Who is going to do what by when? Make clear who is responsible for what by when. Be to the Point, stick to that Point, be accurate, precise and complete. Make sure the conversation moves forward, the sender is largely responsible for that. Or, the sender can stop the conversation mentioning something like “replies not necessary”.

The Fields of an email: To, CC, Subject. Again, the sender is responsible for avoiding unnecessary emails. The “To” field should only contain those persons to whom you have a request to make. No more. Putting in others for “For your Information” purposes just means you are not relating to the common interest you have with those persons. Try to minimize on the number of persons in the “To” Field, it also has a great impact on the possible mail storm when people start hitting “Reply All”.

The CC field is probably the most outdated option since working with computers. In the type-writer era we made Carbon Copies to file somewhere in a cabinet so one could look them up afterwards. Pull information in the old glory paper days. Folks, in any email application a copy is filed in the Sent Items folder. Absolutely no need to stash that Carbon Copy in other people’s Inboxes too. It’s also kind of degrading the position of the person in the CC Field, ah, well, you’re just not important enough to be in the “To” field, but I think maybe you want to know about this, but please note you’re at the side line so stay out of the conversation. Plenty of people made themselves email rules for incoming emails when they are in the CC Field. Try to eliminate that Field, you know you can hide it in Outlook? Oh, ah, you CC the Manager! Hoping that that will make your request more important for the actual recipients. That is just covering up, clearing yourself from all responsibility if things do not move forward. It’s also damaging the trust relationship you should have with the recipient, you’d better do it, the Manager already knows you should. Keep the managers out of it. When escalating something, the Manager should be in the “To” field. Last thing on the “CC” Field, all recipients in there are included when someone hits “Reply All”. I’m not even going into the BCC Filed, I hope you get that.

The Subject line is the first thing recipients see when they receive an email. So, it better makes sense, right? It creates the listening of and the context for the recipient. People who receive (large amounts of) emails will select the order of opening emails based on what’s in the Subject. Or even apply rules based on the Subject. Recipients expect the body of an email to have something to do with the Subject, use it wisely. If, while moving forward the conversation, the topic changes slightly, you can append something to the Subject of the original thread. Senders should realize that.

Special Markups. Request a Delivery Receipt is an old remnant of the ages when connectivity was unreliable and slow. It only states that the receiving servers have put the email in the appropriate mailbox(es). Don’t use it. Request a Read Receipt. There is a huge difference between opening an email, glancing at it, reading it or acting on it. The Sender will never know which one it is when receiving such a confirmation. So, what’s the point Sender? Wishful thinking that recipients will actually read your message? High Priority. Senders, please be careful here, your High Priority is likely not the High Priority of the recipient(s). What intention does that red flag fulfil in your communication? What is your expectation? Is it in your common interest or just yours?

Finally, we get to the “Send” button. Did you know you can schedule emails? Again, sending out a bunch of requests on Friday afternoon after 4 PM will probably not yield much result. On the contrary, you might spoil the recipients’ weekends. Well done. Effective emailers will not push the send button immediately. Go over your own writing at least once. A good practice is to just close it and re-open it 30 minutes later from your drafts Folder. Read it again, maybe adjust something and then send it out. Do not call or message recipients telling them you are going to send them an email. Do not call or message recipients telling them you have just send them an email. People live in their Inbox, popups, phone notifications, smart watch notification; don’t you think they’ll know?

Receiving and replying to emails. There must be agreement on a timeframe. We reply within 24 hours or something like that. Of course, a reply can also say, I am not able to do that now, but I will take care if it by then. But let the sender know so she or he can forward other relating conversations and actions. A first reaction response is by default a defensive one. That is the nature of people. It also tends to be emotional. We all know this “What!!!??? Reply All, type like crazy, Send!!! Do not hit the “Reply” or “Reply All” button too quickly. Give it 30 minutes or so. When the sender has stated by when an answer is expected you should respect that timeframe. When replying you become a Sender so all the above applies. Forward the conversations, relate to the common interest, be specific in answering the question(s) or following up on the communicated action(s). People tend to use the “Reply All” button automatically. For the Organization or the issue at hand, that is probably not the best option. Take the extra couple of mouse clicks, just hit “Reply” and add just a couple of those from the initial email. Have some consideration and compassion for your recipients. Please note that email is not a suitable medium for discussion. Murphy’s law applies and someone will not reply to the last email in the thread ….. and then there were two. There are better platforms to have discussions. As mentioned before, email should not be used for announcements. But if a sender did that anyway, you should refrain from the “Reply All” button period. A good exercise would be to hide the “Reply All” button for a while, after some time you won’t even miss it. Or you can send emails on which the “Reply All” button becomes greyed out for recipients.

Last but not least, always, always be respectful and polite. Not in the last place because we all know that emails could end up anywhere, in anyone’s mailbox.

Alternatives:

  • Announcements should be made on Yammer
  • Discussions belong in Teams
  • Information sits in SharePoint/Teams/CRM/LOB/ERP where it belongs
  • Quick Questions sit in Skype/IM
  • How about picking up the Phone
  • How about walking up to a colleague

So, let’s do ourselves, our colleagues, our customers, our partners a huge favor and take some of these points.

Maybe we can start liking email again, if and when effectively used. Just saying……

Good Fun with Surface Pro3, Nested Hyper-V, Nano Server and Azure Site Recovery

For a Microsoft event on Jamaica I was asked to deliver a session on Azure DR. I believe that seeing is believing so I always tend to use as little slides as possible and just demo the Solution. On a Saturday morning, I started out thinking and drawing out the Infrastructure I would need to pull that off.

I have a SOHO environment, and for Inova Solutions, my employer, I moved everything to the Microsoft Cloud. My Surface Pro3 (i5, 8 GB RAM) will just have to do as my “local datacenter”.

The steps for the Azure Site Recovery are very well explained here https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/site-recovery/site-recovery-hyper-v-site-to-azure including the screenshots so I will not copy that into this blog. For my “Onprem Datacenter I need a Hyper-V machine, well, Windows 10 has Hyper-V. Download the Azure Site Recovery Provider from the Azure Portal and run it. Bummer.

Apparently, the installer does not see Hyper-V on Windows 10 as Valid to install the ASR Provider. I need a Server 2016 or Server 2012R2 Hyper-V. Lucky for me, both Windows10 Hyper-V and Server 2016 Hyper-V support Nested Hyper-V. To enable Nested Hyper-V you need to download and run a PowerShell script called Enable-NestedVm.ps1 from https://github.com/Microsoft/Virtualization-Documentation/tree/master/hyperv-tools/Nested after which you can test by running Get-NestedVirtStatus.ps1 downloaded from the same repository. In the 1st script I had to confirm that I’d be running the Nested Hyper-V Server with less than 4 GB of memory.

My Nested Hyper-V Server running with 3 GB of memory I need to create some seriously small servers. And, another reason for creating small servers is that I want small disks to replicate. Thanks again Server 2016, we now have Nano Server! Here is a Quick Start Guide for Nano Server https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server-docs/get-started/nano-server-quick-start . In no time, I created 2 Nano Servers, Nano1 and Nano 2, each assigned 128 MB of RAM and a 1 GB OS Disk. I successfully installed the ASR Provider and registered the Nested Hyper-V Server with the downloaded Registration file. Within 5 minutes my Server popped up in the Azure Portal and I could select my Nano1 and Nano2 Server to start replicating. And here they go:

And here they are:

I ran a Test Failover just to see if I could complete the whole exercise within 45 minutes, the length of my presentation. The test failover only took about 2 minutes.

Just to demonstrate that with minimal equipment you can demo an Enterprise grade feature like Azure Site Recovery using some neat Technologies. The first build took a bit longer than 45 minutes to figure it all out. Ran the whole thing 3 times now to get comfortable with it doing it on stage, well within 45 minutes J.

 

Happy demoing!!!

MCT Adventures

In 1996 I started as a Trainer: end user training in moving form DOS and WordPerfect to Windows95 and Office. During those first years I earned my MCSE on NT4 and as SICA, my employer had the C-TEC status, I was allowed to train the MCSE Tracks. I had a total of 6 Groups for the complete MCSE Track in first NT4, later on Server 2000.

That was Adventure #1. We decided one week before the Track started to do Server 2000 instead of NT4! I was exactly 1 week ahead of my participants! Raising the bar, stretching myself. If you are able to explain stuff to your grandmother you master your stuff. I took each exam one week before my participants….

Unfortunately, SICA (being a non-profit organization) went bankrupt in 2004. Time for me to become a “real” MCT. Adventure #2. The last requirement was to attend a Training led by an official MCT. So I looked around for the cheapest 3-day Course that would meet the requirement and I called that company, Fulcire. The owner/trainer called me back. Yes, you may attend, and even for free, if you allow me to make you a job offer if we like each other after 3 days of Training J. Cool! I got TWO for the price of none! I earned my MCT Status AND got myself a new job! I had a fabulous time there, learning a lot, a lot of new Certifications (Exchange, SharePoint, Server 2003), becoming also a “senior” consultant, doing great migration projects and what have you.

I decided to quit and take a 6 months’ sabbatical and my wife and I shipped our BMW Motorcycles to the US and cruised and camped for half a year. After which came MCT Adventure #3, a new job, Qwise, 100 engineers, Microsoft and Citrix. In the 2nd round of the application I was asked 3 questions by my to-be colleague MCT Remco: “Are you stubborn? Do you ride a motorcycle? Do you play bass guitar?” Yes, yes and yes. “You are hired”. At Qwise I became “Mr. Microsoft”. Going faster with Hyper-V, System Center, BPOS (later Office365) and Azure than the company or our customers could go. Earned some 20 certifications and had at least 4 MCT Adventures.

MCT Adventure #4. Worldwide I was the first to deliver the public Office365 training (Wave14). With a lot of help from Redmond and my colleagues Michael (who I mentored in becoming MCT) and Erik. History is repeating, MCT Adventure #5. Worldwide I was the first to deliver the public Office365 training (Wave15) some 2 years later. How cool was that! In the meantime, I trained the entire Dutch Partner channel in Office365 and delivered a lot of session on behalf of Microsoft. I co-founded the Dutch Office365 User Group (now some 600 members) together with Danny and Albert-Jan.

MCT Adventure #5 and #6. I got nominated twice as Office365 MVP. Unfortunately, I did not get that “reward” but the journey was awesome. And, who knows….

As I move to maybe not so much an MCT Adventure but a more personal one, we moved from Amsterdam to Aruba in The Caribbean! And I found myself a real cool job as a Solutions Architect @ Inova Solutions. Microsoft Partner LSP, CPLS, and since almost a year CSP. I either work from home or I travel The Caribbean, could be worse, no? We also have an office in Ecuador and I am writing this sitting in Quito where I deliver an Azure Training this week, including experiencing some earth quakes!

MCT Adventure #7. Throughout The Caribbean we organize a lot of “Events” for our Customers, sometimes by ourselves, sometimes with Microsoft. I created an “Office365 Theatre Play” to avoid the format of death-by-PowerPoint presentation style. We did performances on Curacao (twice), Jamaica, Trinidad and Aruba (which was a real blast, thanks to my colleague Ad, have a peak at https://www.magisto.com/video/P1EHPVgWGjs9Q0JnCzE?l=vsm&o=i&c=w )

Servicing customers in The Caribbean gave me the opportunity to deliver Training (Server 2012, Exchange, SharePoint, Office365, Azure) in the following countries (MCT Adventure #8 through #18):

  • Aruba
  • Curacao
  • Bonaire
  • Trinidad
  • Jamaica
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Turks & Caicos Islands
  • The Bahamas
  • Belize
  • Ecuador
  • Barbados

People tend to say I’m lucky. Well, let me give you all some advice. Luck has nothing to do with it. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Preparation requires passion and sometimes hard work. Look for the opportunities and seize them. I work 70-80 hours a week and I never work. The Training (p)Art is my favorite portion of the job: being able to make a difference for my participants and their employers (and mine) by sharing as much of my knowledge and experience as I can.

Aruba is One Happy Island!

I am One Happy Adventurous Microsoft Certified Trainer!

 

Be Inspired, Prepared, Able and Willing

 

 

 

 

 

Windows Phone Dead because of Lack of Apps – Really?

Yes, I am biased, I am a Microsoftie. That being said, I think it is a pity that people write off Windows Phone, especially if it’s for the wrong, or even non-existent, reason.

My Windows Phone does everything I need it to do and even more. I have my Office365 accounts on it, my Microsoft Band App, my Dash, my music, camera, Twitter, what have you. I’m not here to crunch numbers on how many apps are out there on the different platforms. Although that is the main thing people hold against Windows Phone: there is just not enough apps. Now, I just found a decent article on what we actually DO on our devices using ComScore “The 2015 U.S. Mobile App Report” as a source. The article is in Dutch. Sorry for that, the article came from a Belgian site. But here are some of the numbers.

We spend 89% of our time on a smartphone in apps, 11% goes to the Mobile Web. We spend 80% of our time on only 3 apps! Only 3 apps! With Facebook being nr.1 by far. Followed by YouTube, all flavors of “Chatter and Social” apps and Games. 65% of people hardly download any apps after buying their device. Those main apps come with the device Out-Of-The-Box. We install apps that come with some specific hardware like GoPro camera’s, health devices, smartwatches and we install apps for Banking, Starbucks and Dunkin-Donuts. In the ComScore report there is no app mentioned that does not run on Windows Phone. Funny detail in the article and the report: no mention on usage of the “phone-app”. Time to get rid  of the Phone-App?

So the general opinion “Windows Phone lacks apps” is not consistent with what we actually DO on our devices. Windows Phone is dead, must be the Conspiracy …. What say you?

Nevertheless, I will bring only my Windows Phone to deliver my presentations and demo’s on Azure Disaster Recovery during our events in Bermuda and Belize next week. Hello iOS, hello Android…. anybody out there?

Happy Apping to you all!

My IT year 2015

Following a great example from my former colleague Bas van Kaam, today, December 31st 2015, seems like the ultimate day of the year to acknowledge this year’s accomplishments.

Looking back on the year I realize the list is longer than I firstly imagined, already gone to oblivion…. So let’s go.

  • I was invited by Microsoft Academy to create two sets of exam questions on Office 365 for their People Readiness Health Check program. So the good old Dutch Microsoft Office 365 and Learning communities still knew where to find me on Aruba!
  • Microsoft Trinidad (MS HQ for Caribbean) invited me to become one of their “P-Sellers”, P-Technical Sales Professional, quit an honor! Even got myself an @microsoft.com mail address J.
  • I founded the Caribbean Office 365 User Group @o365caribug together with Trinidad based Akinola McLean and Jamaica based Roland Lattery.
  • With the team of Inova Solutions, my current employer, we delivered my creation “The Office 365 Theatre Play” for the 4th time. Location: Courtleigh Auditorium, Kingston, Jamaica. Yah Man! Positive vibes!
  • Time to take on some newly released exams as Microsoft published the Azure Infrastructure exams “Implementing” and “Architecting” Azure Infrastructure Solutions. Pass on both occasions.
  • Maybe the highlight of the year was the organizing of the Trinidad TechDays 2015. Thanks you Inova Solutions for making it possible to do a 3-day event:
  • On the first day we did once again our “Office 365 Theatre Play”.
  • Followed by the first official meeting of the Caribbean Office365 User Group.
  • The second day was all about moving away from Windows Server 2003 as the product ended life on July 14th (R.I.P.). Thanks to Darren Mohammed, Stephen Agard and Akinola McLean for doing your sessions.
  • Global AZURE Bootcamp on Day 3! Actually the whole 3-day event came to life out of this worldwide event. We hosted one of the over 140 locations in world where people were doing a whole Saturday of Azure, Azure, Azure. Thanks Basil Sands (flew in from the Bahamas where we did a huge Azure Project together), Yanek, Daryl, Stephen, Akinola for doing your sessions.
  • Microsoft Ignite, Chicago. Although no role this year as MCT Ambassador of MCT Proctor, it was great to be there and meet all of you who I met there. Thanks for being there!
  • In my role as Microsoft P-TSP and as MCT I delivered MS Cloud Training for the Caribbean Partner Channel. Thanks Microsoft Trinidad for the opportunity.
  • Inova Solutions became Cloud Solution Provider in July 2015, thanks Inova Solutions (specifically Hans Kruithof, CEO) for enabling me to drive that with you. LSP bye bye, hello CSP!
  • With the Inova team we did a “Cloud…what else?” Roadshow on Antigua and St. Maarten. We chose to do only sessions from the user and business perspective and not technical. The audience had a ball, as if they were watching the best Fireworks show!
  • Took the beta-exam 70-697 Devices & Deployment. Great content with lots of Office 365, Intune, Azure, Onprem, Windows 10, Windows Phone, iOS stuff covered. Have it on your resume, I say.
  • Throughout the year I delivered the complete Server 2012 MCSA Track two times, on the British Virgin Islands and in Belize. A PowerShell training on Bonaire, an Azure Training and an Office365 Training on Curacao. A total of 10 trainings this year, all of them successful. Love being a MCT.

So, now this will be saved for the next generations, ha-ha! And, the only way is up so this is all very promising for 2016. I already know some cool stuff ahead of me but I’ll keep it up my sleeve for now. May your way be up as well, carve out your future, starting tomorrow, January 1st 2016!

Knowledge is Key – Learning is crucial

“You can’t do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and be in business tomorrow”.

 

 

When it comes to IT in Organizations something must shift, if not, it will be like the quote. In my opinion the main source lies with learning, or better said, the lack of learning. There is no organizational conversation on learning as an ongoing process. Best efforts get stuck at the level of “training as needed” and way too often even that gets stuck on the “no time” and/or “no budget” argument.

I pointed out in several other blogposts that the state of current IT is the biggest stop for leveraging modern technologies in organizations. And by that we create so called “shadow IT”, employees will find their own way of trying to do their job, with or without Company IT: Gmail, drop box, WhatsApp, Facebook, flash drives, byod. And, we can do nothing about it on the short term. But we know, lessons learned (?), what the source is. IT is not up to it. IT has barely the knowledge to keep yesterday’s systems running (as we were not learning 5 years ago either) so embracing new technologies while juggling with 7 old balls already? Right, I don’t think so. By the way, when I say “IT”, I do not specifically mean IT Department or IT People, I mean all people and processes that work with and through computers. Managers using a pocket calculator while working in Excel? C’mon!

What will happen if we do nothing? Well, the probable almost certain future is that is stays like this. We came up to here and now like this, it will probably get us through the next 5 years as well (hopefully). So organizations will just keep throwing away money because, hey, hardware and software must be paid. And we’ll just keep on not using what we paid for. Now that’s fine economics, isn’t it? And the only reason that that might work out is that the competition is in exactly the same position. Having the tools while nobody knows how to use them because nobody told them.

Or, we can transform the conversations on the place of IT within the organization. The relevance of IT and how to finally get to the point where IT is a business enabler (Gartner). A good starting point for shifting that conversation is asking the question “What happens with our business when we unplug everything for 72 hours”? Suddenly everybody realizes the relevance of IT for the organization. Now the time has come to take that on seriously.

We’ll have to start creating learning plans. Long term learning plans in a way that ongoing learning will be the standard conversation. Long term learning plans, 3 to 5 years, get less specific as they sit further into the future, we do not know what the future beholds. But by making them nevertheless, time and budget can be allocated and more important, it’s all about transforming that conversation throughout the organization, all layers and all departments deeply involved.

Imagine what would be possible then. On collaboration, communication, productivity, total cost of ownership, return on investment, security, personal development, employee loyalty, customer service and efficiency. The list is endless. Put it in like specific measurable results and you’ll be sorry you did not think of this 10 years ago.

 

Happy learning!

Cloud Adoption, where to start: CEO

This is the third blog in a series on Cloud Adoption and Cloud Migration. Previously I wrote “The GAP between Cloud Migration and Cloud Adoption” and “Office 365 and Bandwidth – Adoption to Cloud Computing“. This one is on Ownership of Cloud Adoption and Ownership of Cloud Migration. As explained in previous mentioned posts Adoption and Migration are two totally different things.

IT Departments are responsible for Cloud Migration(s). It’s about the technical challenges of moving workloads to the Cloud. Ownership of Migration lies with the IT Department, somewhat automatically delegated by the Organization. Not much to discuss here.

Now Cloud Adoption, who has Ownership of that? I have seen a lot of Migrations not yielding the expected results, not because it was a bad Migration but because the Organization did not benefit from it, or even worse, continued “business as usual”. Didn’t even have to do with Cloud Migrations; could be Onprem Exchange, SharePoint, Desktop OS or Office migrations as well. A lot of Organizations run the latest versions of those but still live in the dark ages when it comes to using them. Because nobody in the Organization took Ownership of the Adoption. Mostly that was left to IT Managers. But who listens to IT Managers, not the Sales and Marketing Managers for sure. They are busy. And so any free 1996 Pegasus mail server and mail client could actually do the job. IT should not be owner of the Adoption of features made possible by the Migration. It should work the other way around. First there is a Feature Requirement list made by the Business. Out of that an IT Project/Migration may get started.

That being said, Adoption first, leaves the question of who must be the Owner if not IT. The answer to that is very simple: the CEO. If the CEO is not the Owner of Adoption every IT Manager will set himself up for failure when engaging in whatever Migration. Adoption touches the very heart and nature of the way people work and thus the Organization. If that is not endorsed, empowered and owned by the CEO, well, good luck. All will trickle down into the Organization from the highest management making sure all is in place when the stages of Migration arrive. I have very good experiences with Migrating higher Management first. Let them “Walk the Talk” and show that “all is well”.

Also, when progress stops because of CEO’s are not taking Ownership, Shadow-IT becomes a painful reality. Percentages of users finding their own way to do their job are rising, IT loses yet more control as will the Organization itself. Mobile Devices, Tablets, Notebooks, Drop Box, Skype, OneDrive, unmanaged devices, unmanaged storage, where is the corporate content going? That makes any’s Organizations fear of safety in the Cloud a bit ridiculous, doesn’t it?

To set up that CEO’s come back in control IT Management needs to have good connections with the higher Management. As a Consultant I can’t do much if I’m stuck on the level of IT. IT may understand what direction to go or not, but if higher management speaks a different language then IT is also stuck. This morning I had a one hour conversation on this with the IT Manager of one of my customers. He’s stuck in that exact situation. I could only listen to him and coach him on how to repair the damages of the past in those lines of communication in order for his CEO to get aligned again and put his fist on the table to move forward. I asked him to keep me posted on how that will go.

Another Customer sits at the other side of this. His CEO is enrolled in Azure and they are really moving forward FAST now. The CEO knows nothing about Technology but he was informed in such a way he could endorse and empower the Organization to move in that direction.

Conclusion: Cloud Adoption starts at the CEO!

 

CEO’s, Happy Adopting!!! You really should!

Office 365 and Bandwidth – Adoption to Cloud Computing

Where I live, in The Caribbean, Office 365 is available in most countries, on most islands. However, customers have concerns about bandwidth. So this is my second Blog Post in the context of Adopting to Cloud Computing.

There are some really great options to reduce bandwidth usage but that touches strongly on end user behavior (not that I mind, I’m a huge advocate of serious end user training before moving to the cloud). Of course, working with Office 365 requires a decent Internet Connection at the workplace and maybe even decent 4G (LTE) coverage for the road warriors. You do not need huge speed to be able to do your work. Let’s have a look at what users can do to work effectively in the Cloud without consuming too much bandwidth.

Mail: the first thing people do when coming into the office is check their email (actually, it’s even worse, the first thing people do when they wake up is check their email on their Mobile device to see if there was someone who mailed in the middle of the night). Outlook Web App is so powerful nowadays, I tend to say “who needs Outlook”. There is even an “offline availability” feature. Outlook has the option to not cache emails on the local computer. In either case there is hardly any data flowing over the network. And of course all tips and tricks I wrote down in my Blog post “Mail Senders, Stop doing that” are valid to reduce bandwidth through email.

Lync: now that people are already pretty familiar with the possibility of Video Calls, in a lot of Business conversations the video bit has hardly any contribution. It’s really about awareness and education to make users understand how to use Lync/Skype wisely for conferencing. In Desktop or Application sharing beware what and how to share. It’s better to stage PowerPoint presentations, it is better if participants in the call use Office Online to be on the same page in any Office document during the call. Prepare a Lync meeting like you prepare a real meeting. IM and Presence do not require a great deal of bandwidth.

Yammer: when wisely used, Yammer can eliminate lots of email and even lots of Lync calls. It’s a perfect platform for discussion and information sharing.

SharePoint: for me, SharePoint is the equivalent of Office Online. Work in the browser whenever I can. Using Office Online means no data flows over the network. No downloading and uploading of Office files, they stay put on SharePoint. This is really something users need to get used to. We are all SO used to working in the local installed Office versions. Deadly for working effectively with SharePoint is the use of Windows Explorer: use the browser!!!

OneDrive for Business: of course it’s great we have unlimited storage in OneDrive for Business now but be very careful on Syncing all that content, you do not have unlimited storage on your NotebookJ. And of course Syncing uses Bandwidth…..and it uses Windows Explorer. Luckily in the very near future we can setup “selective syncing”. Personally, I sync nothing. I am always online, if I’m not, I don’t even bother to switch on my PC. I am a road warrior, I travel 50% of my time, spending a lot of time on airports and airplanes and even without syncing I can always do some work when offline. Just a matter of planning.

Office Online: use it! Office Online is THE best thing when it comes to reducing usage of bandwidth. Put your stuff in SharePoint Online and edit/view in Office Online. Brilliant!

 

All of this is no IT Pro Rocket science, it has nothing to do with Migrating to the Cloud. This is all about adoption of end users to use the rich features of The Online Collaboration Suite wisely. That takes time so organizations looking to moving to the Cloud should start at least the awareness process and start planning the necessary Training. Manage expectations when moving to the Cloud.