Wednesday, 2 October 2013
Monday, 30 September 2013
From the Salem™ team at Morgan & Wolfe, thank you Disha for taking the time to write about the course.
Friday, 26 July 2013
What You will Need to Build Your Site
A computer, internet connection, a domain name, a template, host package, FTP software and some photo software. You will need a YouTube account if you want to add a published video to your site. Everything you need to know to get started is explained below.
Purchasing a Template
You do NOT need someone to design you a website and you do not need to be very technical or skilled. Unless you are a large commercial firm with a specific brand image it is a complete waste of time and money so forget it. You can purchase a professional template package with all the design work done and download it for around £40 ($75). Don't worry if the design of the template includes photos of other subjects as you are going to replace those with your own. Just choose a design that includes the services, structure and style that you want. Changing the background colours in a pre-built template however is not simple so be careful. A white background template works best of all. Use a website such as www.perfectory.com and look at all the professional templates that can simply be adapted by replacing the words and images and have your own text and photos and logo added by doing it yourself using an easy admin web console (like a big form where you fill in the options) .
Choosing a Template Type
What kind of website template should you choose? Some require specialist skills so go for one you have a chance of using easily. My advice is to choose WordPress as it is easy to manage and update and work with and caters for almost all the needs of someone building a bottle or pot lid site with galleries and widgets and contact forms and anything you can possibly need. Also consider buying a WordPress template that automatically expands to work with iPads and smartphones so that you cater for more visitor types (same price). Although WordPress was originally designed for blogs you can now use it for anything. By the way, unlike other websites, if later you get tired of your WordPress template you can install another one and change the look without losing any of your custom content and photos which is great for when you want a fresh new look sometime. By the way, never buy a template with music unless you want to drive everyone way!
Choosing a Domain Name
How will people find your website? Search engines rank websites primarily on relevance so you will need a domain name (e.g. www.myhobby.com) that will get you listed so people can find you. There is absolutely no point in buying a domain such as www.redhousecollection.co.uk as no one will ever find you. But if you buy www.mybottlecollection.com you will do far better. You can then buy a second domain name and make it point at your website for advertising purposes. So when someone types in www.redhousecollection.co.uk it takes you to www.mybottlecollection.com if you get my drift. A domain name costs around £5 a year and you buy it from a host company such as www.fasthosts.co.uk. You never actually own any domain name, you simply rent it for a period of time (1, 2, 5 or 10 years) but can always renew each year.
Choosing a Host Company
A host gives you your own secure place on a web server to put all the files that make up your website. You need to do this for your website to be accessible by others. You have a template and a domain name so now you need somewhere to put your new bottle website even if you haven't built it yet. So back to Fasthosts.co.uk or similar and buy an annual hosting package on Linux which costs about £6 a month or about £60 annually. You can buy your domain name and hosting at the same time and then it is a case of uploading your WordPress template that your purchased and downloaded earlier. You generally need a host package for each website you have as some people have many websites for different things.
You need the original (free and downloadable) WordPress software to make your new template work. Once you have your hosting sorted you should use the host option to create a new database (no skills needed) with an easy to remember name such as mybottles and then download the WordPress software for free and copy the files to your host. If this all sounds like too much of a problem do not worry as your host provider should provide you with a one-click service to install WordPress for you for free ! It takes about 10 minutes or less. Then you can install your template...
Installing your Website Template
You bought a template so now you need to install and activate it. You usually need to copy the files of your template to the host and you will use an FTP (File Transfer client). I use Core FTP LE as its really great to use but you also get one free from your host company. Once you have done this you simply activate your template and bingo there is your website ! For many templates it is even easier than that. Once you have installed WordPress you simply use the admin console to install and activate your template in a couple of clicks and follow the steps.
At this stage your website will be up and running but without your own custom content and photos.
Building and Customizing Your Website
This will depend what type of template you choose. (If you chose an HTML template then you need a web page designer and I would recommend that you download PageBreeze as its completely free and you simply download it off the web). If you need a photo editing software package then you can get this free too by looking for Paint.net which I have used for many years. Yes completely free.
However if you choose WordPress like I have recommended then you don't need anything as it is all built in for you (except maybe Paint.net for messing with photos). When you install WordPress on your host it also installs your secure admin console for you to manage your site with. It is accessed by typing something like www.mybottles.com/admin and then you login and you have a nice interface to change everything instantly with. The console is pretty easy to use and the more you use it of course the more you will change your website to meet your exact needs.
You will be able to update your template with an easy to use interface by changing everything from the logo to the menus to the photos and news and anything else you want to add. Keep things simple and do not be overly ambitious as the websites that fail are the ones that are not updated and quickly go out of date.
When adding photos of bottles try and keep the size relatively small as a GIF, JPG or PNG as this will affect the website performance for your visitors. Use Paint.Net to open then save each photo image and it will make it smaller in file size.
Adding a Payment Engine
If you want to sell something do it with PayPal unless you are willing to go through an entire process of gaining a merchant bank account. Unless you are a major trader then you can run a global business with PayPal and they even give you the code to copy in for your custom buttons. For PayPal make sure that you get your monthly limit raised by requesting verification which takes a week. You can get a monthly seller limit of £3,500 with almost no effort. People buying from you using PayPal do not need to have a PayPal account to make a purchase. If you want to be ambitious and build a web shop then you will need to look at something like OSCommerce which requires a far greater degree of knowledge and patience.
Adding Video to Your Website
You can create a video with our cell phone, a DSLR, a Flip camera or other digital device. Download it to your computer. If you want to edit it into a short presentation then you can use the free Windows MovieMaker software, add titles and music and save as a MP4 etc. but if you want to do some fancy editing and effects you might want to invest in something like Corel Video Studio and learn to use it (its not difficult). Once you have created your video you should then add it to YouTube. To do this you will need a Google Mail (Gmail) account and you can then upload your video to YouTube. If you don't want people commenting on the video then you can turn that off in the Advanced YouTube menu option. You can actually set your video to 'unlisted' so that it is only visible on your website and not in YouTube directly. Once your video is on YouTube you can then click Share and then Embed in the menu under your video and this allows you to copy a short amount of code and paste it into your WordPress page and there you are, your video is on your website !
Creating a Website Email Address
You will need to set one up for your website to stop receiving spam directly or if you want an address such as email@example.com or if you want to set up a website contact form. When you buy a domain name you will automatically get a service to set up email addresses and an online inbox. So if I buy mybottles.com I can set up firstname.lastname@example.org
Testing Your Website
There appear to be some strange glitches with Internet Explorer 10 right now . You should also download Google Chrome and maybe Firefox and see what your website looks like when using different browsers. I use Google Chrome as my benchmark at the moment.
Getting Listed in the Search Engines
If you choose a good domain name that is relevant and descriptive then Google and Bing and Yahoo will do it for you within around 6 weeks as they update their indexes. No one and I repeat NO ONE except the managers of these search engines can guarantee ANY form of listing but you will help yourself by getting someone else's website to add a link to your website. the more relevant websites that point to yours the better and the more relevant it will be seen.
How Much Does it All Cost?
There is no such thing as a free website but if we add everything together then we have a template that costs £40, a domain name at around £6, a host that £60 a year, the software is free so the rest of the cost is your time. Therefore a professional website will cost you around £110 in the first year and about £65 per year subsequently. Anything more than that and in my opinion unless you have a very good reason then you have been stung.
How Long Does it all Take?
For me to build a WordPress custom site is around a day start to finish with custom content and all custom photos working, custom menus etc. Sometimes 2 days if I am messing about. I can have a general WordPress website up and running in 30 minutes however. For someone who hasn't done it, take your time and learn to play with the WordPress content management centre but you can have a site up in a weekend for sure.
I have decided to build a website to show my bottles so I go to www.fasthosts.co.uk and register and then search for mybottles.com and buy it for the number of years I want. I add a hosting account on Linux. Once this is done I use fasthosts.co.uk to set up my FTP account so I can copy files and I create a database called mybottles. I also use www.fasthosts.co.uk one click service to install WordPress (it will ask for the name of my database). I then go to www.perfectory.com and search for an appropriate WordPress template which I purchase and I download as a ZIP file. I then go to mybottles.com/admin and I use the website console to install my template, following the necessary steps (each template comes with a step by step help file). Once this is done I then use the website admin console again to change the words and pictures and build the contents of my website. I may have to edit some of my photos using paint.net which I downloaded for free. Once finished I get a friend to create a link on their website to mybottles.com so that the search engines will find my site. I then tell the world about my website and wait for Google to list it in their search engine. Job done.
So if you are considering creating a website for your hobby or collection, displaying some hobby photos, adding some news and updating your friends then this is one way of how you can do it quite easily and without getting ripped off whilst learning something enjoyable and without the technical headache. Of course there are always other technologies to choose from but this is the one of the simplest for many people who want professional results and by building at home.
Oh and finally, if you end up building a WordPress website for yourself, don't be surprised if you also then start making lots of others too because your family and friends are your perfect customers, even as a hobby
Saturday, 29 June 2013
In particular, we enjoyed the author's writing style, extensive knowledge of the subject and informed views.
Discover how to:
- Align organizational goals and requirements
- Define the full scope of the project
- Set up a team to deliver a SharePoint solution
- Effectively communicate with and include your stakeholders
- Prepare for user feedback and adoption
- Establish and maintain governance through the entire project
- Use analytics to provide substance to governance
- Confirm readiness for delivery to the organization
Wednesday, 26 June 2013
For any organisation large or small seeking to grow their SharePoint business and build a successful consulting practice like Risual in the UK get in touch with us to discuss the Salem Engagement Matrix at email@example.com.
Saturday, 22 June 2013
1. The Rise and Fall of Social Volume: Many start out rapidly collecting personal connections to demonstrate esteem, appeal, importance and popularity (an audience) both to themselves and to others. This provides early involvement of course. Inevitably, just like at college, people eventually also spent an awful lot of time filtering and ‘defriending’ people they really had no desire to be connected to until they end with a smaller (higher-connection-value) number of connections they (hopefully) actually share a positive connection with.
2. The Rise of Social Status: Didn’t we compare our own connection numbers (she has 2000 friends, 1500 twitter followers and 1200 connections) with those who had thousands and accept that some people have used their personal audience number as a basis for a value judgement about both us and them? Likewise haven't people actively seeked to share specific connections with others because some names became synonymous with inclusion, acceptance, quality, one-upmanship and status. Getting a high-value connection tells everyone something about you no? (said with much irony of course).
One of the primary reasons why older groups of social network users have increasingly cut down their use of some social networks is simply that people have started to feel that their connections were beginning to know too much about their daily life without sharing anything in return or communicating (yes I knew you had been to Singapore, I read it on Facebook 6 months ago). Social networks are often therefore seen as becoming too voyeuristic to be comfortable over time which in turn decreases the desire to share.
22. The Rise of the Taker and Self-Educator: Many social networks have become increasingly unbalanced over time, with the most active contributors consistently providing the most content whilst the silent majority taking away the most information for the purposes of their own information-gathering and self-education agendas. Whilst this is frequently dressed as a 'community-approach' people have seen time and time again that the greatest contributors frequently drop away eventually due to gradual resentment that they have gained little overall from their contributions. Whilst it is certainly the case that communities can be powerful ways of gathering knowledge through unhindered contribution, indicators show there is a parallel risk that posted-opinion is viewed by bystanders as a quick route or short-cut to self-education without formal investment in time, effort and structured learning which can itself prove inadequate in the long term and gradually undermines the purpose of the social network itself.
These are just some of the more obvious lessons many have taken from the last decade or more. in using social networks. As new versions of what we think of as ‘social networks’ are released, so we are faced with numerous new dilemmas which we have to find corresponding answers to depending on the services they provide people with. Importantly, outside of work the way we choose to interact with social networks is a personal choice because, after all, these are services we personally choose to be involved with and there is probably something personally in it for us.
Wednesday, 5 June 2013
Interestingly this was Steve’s first SharePoint keynote. Now what Steve rightly stresses is that SharePoint™ is unique and this is extremely important for being able to describe what it might actually be. It comes as no surprise that almost everyone has tried to describe SharePoint by its technical attributes, components and features which is exactly why for as long as one can remember, Microsoft has described SharePoint via the famous segmented ‘pie’ which groups together categories of features. Various graphically-enterprising Microsoft Partners over the years have endeavoured to re-create the ‘pie’ to try and make it easier to understand by business audiences, but the real issue is that this problem exists exactly because SharePoint is being described by its technological features.
It is worth noting that further problems ensue when one tries to describe SharePoint by comparing it with other ‘competitive’ products in the market. The issue is that there is currently no truly ‘like-for-like’ comparison out there, and consequently comparing apples with pears becomes a futile task. For example why compare SharePoint Online or Office 365 with Google cloud offerings?
The comparison only really becomes valid when SharePoint is removed from Office 365 and the comparison with Google made again – then there is a closer feature set to compare – apples with apples if you like. Similarly how can one truly describe SharePoint by comparisons with Oracle Beehive or IBM Lotus Notes. They simply do not square up.
With the incorporation of Yammer™ into the Microsoft stack, confusion reigns supreme. Should a client define its strategy by choosing the social features of Yammer or the social features of SharePoint 2013 or seek to identify its plan via the integration roadmap of features into Office 365? What happened to business defining business requirements and then requesting a blend of technologies to facilitate?
Okay so back to describing SharePoint (or for that matter Yammer) for what it is, without comparative equal and required to be explained in isolation. Take a different view for one second. Let’s not describe SharePoint through its technological features at all, but instead through its business potential. The Salem (Sequenced & Logical Enterprise Methodology) Process business framework for SharePoint describes it as a sequential and logical group of modular, inter-related business services that describe any organisational ambitions with information, publication and collaboration. Image therefore that a business modular framework is used to describe SharePoint without ever referring to its technical capabilities and feature sets – what would be the benefits?
* Business understanding and interpretation of value
* Strategy beyond an ever changing technical feature set
* Strategy translates to a blend of both cloud and on-premise services
* Business program rather than IT project approach
* Business sponsorship that drives business adoption
* Sell Office 365 benefits through SharePoint business services
It was Mark Zuckerberg who noted that every new enterprise platform appears to be defined almost solely by its latest technical feature set and SharePoint is certainly no exception. In the 2007 release of MOSS much was made of new features such as blogs and presence via OCS integration. By 2010 it was the ribbon and easier user interface changes as well as FAST search. By 2013 it was unified search and community sites as well as social features. The SharePoint Business Strategist understands these features and comprehends the value they may bring, but only within the context of a wider business framework. In technological terms, SharePoint is increasingly an eclectic kit-bag of publication and collaborative tools, services and features that can be used somewhat like a Lego set to build technology solutions driven by business need.
Receiving SharePoint for the uninitiated is rather like being given a toolkit as a gift. The first question would be: what do I do with this? Build something is the answer. Build what? Whatever you want or need to build. I’m not sure what I want, is there a blueprint or plan? No. Can we build what someone else has built? Sure. Can you help us build something the same as someone else has? Sure yes. How much will it cost? It depends what you want, we will need to discover what your specific needs are. Yes but how much will it cost as a ball-park figure? It depends on what you want. I want what everyone else has! Ah but everyone else is different so we cannot tell you how much it will cost and how long it will take until we have defined your exact requirements. And so it continues… In other words, the SharePoint toolkit is powerful but without a logical, progressive business plan, blueprint or roadmap alongside SharePoint is extremely difficult for a business audience to imagine in terms of a future, valuable whole.
Business stakeholders have a requirement to describe SharePoint to their own internal audiences and this is frequently where initial problems occur. They call in a Partner to demonstrate the value of SharePoint in an hour. What is all too often described is a technical demonstration of a team site, or a workflow, or a form, or version control etc. SharePoint is being described both by some isolated features, and in isolation of a fuller business context. This issue regarding describing SharePoint is often anticipated by Partner Sales Managers prior to a client presentation by requesting some specific problems the business may be prioritizing and basing a pitch and demonstration regarding how SharePoint can solve these specific problems.
Therefore SharePoint, as an enterprise platform, is all too often described in these situations primarily as a project-specific technological solution. What happens when that problem is solved – where does the client go then, what does the business do next, what else can they build? And so we come back to the same dialogue as before. What other problems do you have? What other priorities can we assist you with? How much budget do you have? It is because of this scenario, played out hundreds of thousands of times globally that a number of things have occurred that have assisted in defining SharePoint in a specific way.
The first is the flexibility of solution design and delivery. This has led to SharePoint rather frequently being described as a ‘development platform’. ‘Tell us what you want and we will build it’. Ah, says the client, but we don’t know what we want. ‘It’s okay’ says the platform developer, SharePoint can be used to develop and provide you with anything and everything you want. Within a short space of time of the introduction of SharePoint solutions are being built without any form of business plan.
Another way of defining SharePoint has been through the project-centric approach of IT divisions as the primary purchasers of SharePoint. The software has become available as part of an Enterprise Agreement or other licensing service, been adopted by the IT department as it is software that has been bought, paid for and is otherwise sitting going to waste. IT uses it to create a demo, proof of concept or test platform for a business issue that lacks budget, that quickly moves from demo to business critical solution, often unwittingly and often in an unplanned or unintended way. Too late, SharePoint is therefore described in such circumstances as a project-centric solution platform driven and justified through organic growth. This description has in fact occurred because SharePoint was not understood as anything more, has no business roadmap or progressive blueprint and was not budgeted for as anything more than available software that could be deployed to provide rapid, disconnected solutions.
For many, SharePoint will be understood and described as software for building intranets. This description is frequent because of SharePoint’s presentation of services through a web browser and through its excellent ability for custom and fairly easily-provided custom user interface design. Similarly this has occurred due to ageing incumbent technologies such as HTML intranets that have long since been abandoned by the business or have fallen into disuse or decay for a wide variety of reasons and which can be migrated to SharePoint as a starting point. Indeed migrations from legacy systems which have run their course is often the basis for a business understanding of what SharePoint is. SharePoint can all too often be described as the ‘replacement’ for something else. You can spot evidence of this for yourself through the (often unnecessary) branding of things. For example, an intranet is called CorpWeb and the contents have been moved to SharePoint so now SharePoint is described to business audiences as CorpWeb 2. What happens when a different service is introduced onto the SharePoint platform? Does the business user describe SharePoint by multiple brand names or are they simply confused? Perhaps if a business user states that they have placed something on SharePoint that we are getting closer to being able to describe SharePoint as a business-ubiquitous set of eclectic services.
For many, SharePoint is understood and described as a document management system. We would need to break down the last decade or more to see what this is the case in some many instances but in part it was because the earlier free versions such as WSS and later SharePoint Foundation offered document management through team sites at no cost, fairly easily deployed and once again adopted by business users through various types of organic growth. Let’s take the issue of the cloud and Office 365. Is Office 365 SharePoint? No it is a collection of services including Lync and Exchange, Office and SharePoint (depending on the chosen licensing plan). Would we choose to describe SharePoint as Office 365? Perhaps not! Is Office 365 described by SharePoint? Generally no: So irrespective of cloud hosted services, SharePoint whether online or on-premise still needs a rational business-orientation description of what it is. If SharePoint should not be defined by its technological feature-set composition then what is SharePoint? On the one hand we may argue that it is whatever we want it to be, that is the raw beauty and power of such a flexible and richly extensive technology platform. However choice costs money and we currently live in a global economy where choice, though desirable is seen as increasingly expensive, if not out of reach.
The ‘app’ approach to commoditized technology is prime evidence to business seeking quick solutions that meet 80% rather than 100% of needs and that speed of access is more valuable than being truly fit for purpose. Let’s try to clear our minds and think of SharePoint not as one or more as its technical features past or present. In fact, let us not describe SharePoint through technology at all. Instead let us think of all the common things that organisations are trying to achieve, all the common things that businesses want to do with their information and all the common ways in which information is produced, stored and typically shared.
Let’s embrace how human beings work, what they like to do and what they avoid. Let’s remove technology words and replace them with business language. Let’s then take all these things and place them into a blueprint that has a logic and a sequence but which can be adapted to almost any eventuality. Is this possible – can SharePoint really be described this way? The answer is yes it can and not only that it is extremely sensible to do so. If you are to be successful in describing SharePoint then you must engage the minds of your audience and provide empathy and you can achieve that through common perceptions and understanding. You must describe SharePoint using business terms and business services and your description must show not only a flexible blueprint but also a roadmap. In doing so, the features and technical services of SharePoint will naturally slot into place.
Think of SharePoint as a comprehensible, modular set of business services that are themselves composed of business sub services. Think of these business services has having a logical sequence of release, of having a relationship with each other that determines the most effective business adoption sequence. Think of SharePoint as a set of business services that encapsulate anything the business may be aiming to achieve and which can adapt to cope with new and future business challenges. Place all these business services within a framework which visually describes the entire business enterprise within minutes. Use such a business framework to provide a cohesive vision of the entire business enterprise to the extent that other technologies are aligned with SharePoint in context so that SharePoint, as the business framework, provides both a business and an IT roadmap. Does this mean that SharePoint, through its definition as the enterprise business framework sits at the centre of the business vision? The answer has to be ‘yes’.
Applied to Office 365 in future SharePoint Online as a progressive enterprise business framework will be critical in defining cloud strategy, rather than simply via Exchange and Lync as things have stood to date, just as the same framework is critical to onsite strategy. Those who wish to rally against describing SharePoint from a business context may simply be those who are working in a haphazard, unplanned way for a wide variety of reasons, or are fearful that they do not have the business backing and budget to progress successfully but hope to gain it through stealth.
Alternatively it may simply be a question of strategic training and learning, which is one of the purposes of the WASBS. You may have encountered those who are vehement that unstructured or organic growth are the best mechanisms for business adoption or that business frameworks are too ‘inflexible’. If so, consider for yourself why some make these cases and whether in fact there is something else really underpinning this viewpoint. It is true that most have not yet been trained in a SharePoint business framework but in most cases it is a complete revelation when the business framework approach is described fully.
So is SharePoint best described as an ECM and EDRMS platform with social and community and search functionality or is it better to describe SharePoint as a progressive business program of inter-related and inter-linked business services (and composite business sub services) which may be sequenced to fit specific organizational priorities and yet ultimately achieve the same enterprise goals as a different organisation following the same blueprint that has been sequenced for them? The role of the formally-trained SharePoint Business Strategist is to describe and sequence the business blueprint and roadmap for SharePoint for any organisation by using a framework, methodology approach. In turn this will describe what SharePoint really is, through its business value and its progressive logic.
The primary reason the business strategist role is able to achieve this task whether it be cloud or in-premise is because part of the strategist training is to understand why this approach is achievable, how it is achieved and what are the outcomes and next steps that naturally follow. As we saw at the beginning with Steve’s keynote in 2009, SharePoint is difficult to describe through technology features alone and anyone who has really tried will accept this as fact. SharePoint can be many things to many people but it is certainly not all things to all people. Its diversity can also be its undoing at times and all too often its description through technical features leaves many business audiences cold and many others detached or dis-engaged. Yet business needs often remain the same decade after decade. Consider for yourself the entire concept of describing SharePoint or comparative and companion platforms not as technology at all but instead as a structured business framework with Salem™ and you will be far better placed to succeed in describing what SharePoint is to anyone you encounter along the way.
There are many current debates regarding whether to take a SharePoint-social route which includes its own social tools or the Yammer-social route due to the overlap in features and functionality but be careful of defining the business strategy through technology function alone. The Salem™ framework is the perfect strategic companion and overlay to any business strategy program that seeks to integrate social and therefore assists in defining and aligning a cohesive strategic approach with both the social enterprise and the more formal, traditional ECM and EDRMS environments. For those seeking a truly cohesive strategic business approach that can encompass, transcend and yet combine the benefits of the social enterprise with the power of the SharePoint enterprise platform, Salem™ is the business framework for the professional strategist.
Wednesday, 8 May 2013
Add to the mix the problems of mixing collaborative services with published content and an audience is all too often confused as to the services it provides as much as they are negative to the connotations of the word 'intranet' and any brand name associated with it. (a name all too often forced on an audience through a 'competition' filtered through executive governance).
What the word 'SharePoint' can powerfully do is act as a unifier as one pulls disparate technologies gradually together onto the same unified platform. It also allows you to distance yourself from the negative connotations of earlier legacy platforms and services that defined the historical intranet and that were seen to have failed. If an aging intranet is replaced with a new intranet, it doesn't matter about the power of SharePoint as the audience has already started to think its more of the same due to the name connotations.
Now lets expand the problem in the direction you suggest. So its not a SharePoint intranet, its AcmeWeb with a new shiny brand name. Cool. But as you expand out the platform and scale to other related services what do you start to call them? So do we brand search as AcmeFind and User profiles(AcME) and My Sites (AcmeMyWeb) and Knowledge communities and extranets and what happens if we have 200 brand retail sites like I have seen in a single global company. Lets add in the huge numbers of collaborative communities with thousands of team sites in hundreds of site collections, do we brand them all separately too? And then scale out to 15 languages and regional content centres and more names?
That's an extreme example but the point to be made is that once you start to brand content areas it may never end (how do you manage the brand name governance and who owns it?) and soon it is more confusing than had you never tried to brand the intranet as a starting point. "Where did you put that file? It's on AcmeExtraWeb". Large corporations can have huge information superstructures and to brand each element may simply become unmanageable, particularly when each business area names their own and we suddenly gain brand wars (which I have witnessed).
Having worked with SharePoint implementations in global corporations what I have seen is the positive step where people state that their information is now on 'SharePoint' and whereabouts in SharePoint is more to do with the logical placement of information using business-centric structures rather than un-related branding. In some ways what the name 'SharePoint' achieves is not just act as a unifier but also as a corporate political pacifier.
Features and functions span brand names as its the same platform. So do we train people to use the intranet or do we train them to use the features and functions of SharePoint that may crop up repeatedly within other business service areas?
One can (and should) separate 'SharePoint' as a business program split into related business services (i.e. Salem™), from SharePoint as a technology. Its a conceptual point which makes it easier to gain heavy adoption using the 'SharePoint' brand name rather than the variety of corporate names. Business audiences seek and crave cohesion & simplicity and the singular name 'SharePoint' can frequently offer this at the enterprise level. Branding may perpetuate the problems seen previously with lots of technologies mixed together, simply too many things to remember for the info worker.
Do you know who Lady Gaga spends all her time supporting? She actively supports her most loyal 1% of followers. You will find that many successful musicians and bands have supported their most loyal followers and fan club owners and members over the decades. Have you ever stopped and asked yourself why?
It is based intentionally or otherwise on the First Follower principle which I will explain in a minute. When people create something new, they see the value in their creation, they develop it, they give it a name and an identity and then they bravely release their child to the world to let others adore it, and no one comes.
So it is in the world of SharePoint creativity. In these days of packaged, commoditized applications, solutions and packages the trend is to define a new product for SharePoint, define its value, give it a name, build a website and then offer it for sale. And no one comes.
So the question arises, what do we need to do to sell our SharePoint products in a global market? How do we get people to see what we have got, what we have made, how they will benefit? So we package and brand and market and market some more. And no one comes.
We have built it, we know its value, we know how great it is and we have paid our money and told our world that we exist so why does no one come and buy? In defining the problem we return to the First Follower principle. You see far too many creators sell directly to a global audience and we are all very aware that no one likes being sold to. Well we do really, in a subtle way, but not in an overt way. We want to be left to make the choice ourselves after becoming informed.
Here is the issue. We tend not to buy from a seller. We tend to buy the value of something from the people who have already bought and can vouch independently that the product is actually pretty good. Think about it, you see three flat screen TVs in a shop but are not sure which to buy but one of your friends has one of them and you have seen it in action in their house and it sways you that that is the one for you. Or you meet someone who has been to a particular place on holiday and confirms it is a great place to relax. Or you know someone who works in a company and provides great feedback that it is a good place to work.
Intrinsically we trust our friends, workmates, family and colleagues more than we trust a stranger. It is a natural human condition. We mistrust sales jargon because it does not sound real, it has slogans, it sounds far too unreal, too artificial, it is trying too hard. We tend not to buy from people who try too hard. Yet when we are selling something we do try too hard because we think we must try harder and harder to convince people how great our creation is.
If we accept this is true, or even partly true then as the creators we also have to accept a certain truth. People do not buy from the creator/leader/market leader directly; they buy from the people who first bought, the first follower. If you go to a dating website you will find lots of pretty pictures of people providing testimonials as to how great the site is. If they are too pretty it’s too good to be true right? Yes that’s usually the case. Yet if your average friend has used the dating site to meet their Mr or Miss average/perfect then wow maybe this site is okay. In other words we have a local and real reference point. So we do not buy from the seller, we buy from a buyer.
When you create something new in SharePoint, your task is to create an audience of first followers. In many religions you will find reference to apostles, disciples, followers, believers; the people who become the evangelists for a belief. So it is with product marketing, it is your first followers, your product disciples who will go and spread the good work and word. They will speak on your behalf, they will sell your product to the wider community. So it is for this very reason that when marketing your own SharePoint product or application or package or service, the key to your success lays not in selling to your end client audience but to those who first come to endorse your product.
Think of it this way. You create a SharePoint application and you know it is brilliant and you know it really fills a business need. Now you need to spend your time on finding your first follower, your first follower will eventually attract other first followers and these first followers are the people you will look after, cherish, support, take in and encourage. How many you need will depend on how good they are at spreading the great word about your product. Therefore bloggers and speakers are naturally your first port of call as they are trusted in the community. If you become a speaker yourself great, but you become the direct seller again you see and are less trusted.
So over time your first followers will attract second followers who will buy not from you but from them and then more will join the second followers until a crowd starts to emerge. There will be a lot of bystanders at this stage observing and watching. They want to buy but they seek affirmation and confirmation that it is alright, it’s the right thing to do; it’s about wanting to be part of something new but unable to take the lead until someone else you look up to shows you the way. You will find as 'follower-packs' start to emerge that new leaders within the followers-pack (2nd generation evangelists if you like) will emerge who are the leaders of the second generation of followers of your product. But you must still look after and support your first followers.
People talk about a tipping point. A tipping point occurs when it becomes uncomfortable not to join in and use a product because so many have already. So consequently a product becomes a norm or a viral sensation when more people have bought into something (or appear to have had) than not, and by sitting it out you may think you are perceived as an oddball, missing out in some way. Just think what happened with the iPhone. You don’t need to sell millions of a product to become a standard, you simply need your product to be seen as the de facto for that subject matter though your first followers.
So in marketing a new SharePoint product what you should be concerned about is not selling your product to everyone on day one, but building momentum through those who first value your product and who are capable, willing and able to tell the world, hand on heart, as independently, honestly and truthfully as possible whether they think your product is valuable to their own audiences and why. If you do that and do it well, your product stands a chance.
For those of you who are heavily involved in SharePoint service implementation and adoption the exact same principles apply. People adopt (buy in) through their peers the people sat at the next desk, the people who are real, who are using something that seems great. Consequently as an implementer, people will not buy in from you, they will buy in from their own, the people who were the first followers, the first adopters. The ones they can and will trust. This is exactly why you must identify your business champions, the most effective ones, the most positive and vocal ones early in the delivery cycle and the ones you must support and tend to the most.
There is a video of a man dancing on a hill which describes the entire principle of the first follower in just a few minutes and I firmly recommend it to everyone who seeks to take their SharePoint product to market whether it be an app a product or a service. It may not sell as many songs as Lady Gaga but you never know!
Sunday, 5 May 2013
On the other hand, we have a well-established global eco-system of accredited technology partners, varied in size, scope, bias, viewpoint, method, technique, ambition and price-point. This is what defines global capitalism, supply and demand. Let the buyer decide and set the market.
Make no mistake however, other industries have learned over decades, if not centuries, that if they are to survive intact they must establish their Guilds, independent trade bodies, professional trade associations and professional certification tracks with membership requirements (professional indemnity and charters and ethics) to protect the integrity of their industries from the ever-present charlatans, rogue traders and 'have-a-go' merchants. The results is that these bodies give newcomer-clients a starting point, benchmark, reference point and the industry its cohesive voice to the market. Protectionism? Of course, that's how established professions work.
There will always be the backstreet body-shops in any industry, together with the bandwagon-jumpers and opportunists and sadly there will always be those who choose to cut corners and take the risks that come with it. Yet there will be the many more who choose the old, trusted professionals, or those they believe to be professionals.. However, if the industry makes it far too hard to spot the real professionals and understand their true value then you can't blame the buyers for being confused as to where to turn and who or what to avoid.
So the SharePoint industry and indeed the larger IT industry in general needs to make up its mind (fast) after decades of accelerated growth whether it wishes to become more professional, accredited, certified and trusted. If it does, it needs to prove its credentials. In turn we should ask the industry whether it wishes to be viewed like other very established and skilled professions with extensive, mature training and association membership across a wider landscape and portfolio of associated skillsets? The very nature of what we do often has a major effect on the businesses we engage with, just like an attorney, accountant or financier does.
Or perhaps we need to ask instead whether the industry wishes to align itself with a more open, freestyle community of 'anyone can have a go and join in' approach, because you certainly cannot have both and solve the problems of diversity. We either support the progressive 'professionalization' of our industry or we remain in the wild west and live with the creative consequences.
A final thought. In the 17th century rich people had black teeth due to eating a new thing called sugar. Sugar, and therefore black teeth became an aspiration of the poor and they subsequently blackened their own teeth with coal as a fashion. People don't necessarily choose to go to a backstreet dentist to get their teeth fixed or indeed cleaned. They do it largely out of simple necessity where the larger, more established profession has become too exclusive, too out of reach, too slow and simply too expensive for a rapidly expanding market. Whilst the professionalism of the SharePoint industry seriously matters to us all, established delivery firms (onshore or otherwise) now do need to reassess how they are approaching the competitive marketplace and therefore what their true market-differentiation propositions are. Otherwise everyone has black teeth.
Friday, 3 May 2013
Wednesday, 24 April 2013
Monday, 22 April 2013
3. Point solution
11. Office 365 (or 'Cloud')