A couple of months ago, the Microsoft Office and SharePoint marketing folks contacted myself and a handful of others in the SharePoint community. They referred to us as “community influencers”, and invited us to their customer immersion experience at the Microsoft Technology Center in New York City for a day!
My fellow influencers in this experience were:
We all arrived in New York around noon on September 15th. Jennifer and I met at the airport and then had lunch with Dux, Marc and Geoff. Then, we were off to the Microsoft office for our “experience”.
We walked into a really big meeting room, where there were bright lights and cameras all around. The goal for the afternoon was to run us through an immersion experience as if we were business users with several Microsoft products, as a “day in the life”. They had also mentioned that they’d be interviewing each us in front of the camera, but we hadn’t fully grasped the scope of it. It was pretty interesting… the whole afternoon was recorded, with several cameras and microphones at different angles around us at a conference table.
The setting for the demo was a day in the life of a customer using multiple integrated Microsoft products, this being referred to as “Unified Communications”. There was a demo domain set up, and we each acted as fake user accounts. We started out with the Outlook inbox, and talked about “email triage”.
They showed us how the conversation view works, and how to clean up or ignore a conversation. Next, we got to try out the whole integration experience of OCS (instant messaging – which is now called Lync), with Outlook and even the phone system and web cams.
The next demo was of SharePoint, although there isn’t really a smooth transition between having an IM conversation and collaborating on documents or anything on a site in SharePoint. OCS does give you the ability to do desktop sharing, though. But I do see an opportunity here to have an obvious transition between a conversation and a collaboration. Unfortunately, hyperlinks in OCS do not come across as hyperlinks but plain text, which you then have to copy and paste into the browser.
The main parts of the SharePoint demonstration were the new 2010 social computing features, and the new BI features. We got to see a pretty cool demo of PerformancePoint, that we all got to interact with. Along the way, we discussed the differences and gave some feedback.
Along the way, they took each of us aside and interviewed us about the experience, and got our feedback. We have now each been given a personalized video of our MEC experience, that was professionally compiled and created by Microsoft.
The following is the link to my very own marketing video:
Thanks also to Microsoft for taking us out to an unforgettable dinner that night. I truly appreciate you including me in this experience, and for caring about our insight on the products that were demonstrated.
The next day, Jennifer and I did a bit of a tourist thing in New York.
More adventures ensued. I won’t bore you with all the details, but there were tornados, drenching rain, a canceled airline flight, and Mark Miller (@EUSP) has a very hospitable family, by the way!