Introducing Christian Buckley– Microsoft Ignite Community Reporter
I’m Christian Buckley, Founder & CEO of CollabTalk, an independent research and technical marketing services company, and an Office Servers & Services MVP since 2012.
Christian Buckley - MVP and Microsoft Ignite Community Reporter
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, I lived in the Seattle area for 12 years, but moved my family to Salt Lake City in 2016. I got into portals and collaboration in the mid-1990’s, and started and sold a couple companies, but most people know me from my time at Microsoft at the start of what is now Office 365, and as Chief Evangelist and Chief Marketing Officer for several large SharePoint ISVs.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting their career in IT, what would you tell them? C: No matter what your role or skill level, start writing. Document the things you’re working on, the new technologies you’re implementing, and the process you go through to solve common customer problems. I know it seems like we are bogged down with too much content – but it simply isn’t true. We need more voices, more perspectives, and at all different skill levels – for most topics. Developing this one healthy habit will impact your career more than any technical skill.
Tech communities are incredibly active. What role do these communities play in your career?
C: They play a tremendous role. I actively keep up with 4 or 5 primary communities each day. They’ve become part of my daily information consumption, before I get started on calls, or even email. I have a number of RSS feeds and custom searches that help me discover this content much more quickly, to figure out what is new, and to see how people are responding to the big questions of the day.
You also have technical experience in a number of industries. How has your experience differed across industries?
C: There are many parallels between this Microsoft ecosystem and what I experienced years back when I was writing, speaking, and building tools within the Rational Software space, and after that, working with the IBM community. But they were both much more formal – some of that due to the more top-down model of those communities, but more of it driven by the technology available to us. From 1996 to 2002 we had chat tools, but social platforms were still too new (or not yet imagined). The SharePoint community, for example, hit just at the right time, embracing all of this new social networking capability, allowing it to grow at an incredible rate. It has also afforded us with so many different channels for adding our voices – and the number of channels only continues to grow.
How do you convince cloud skeptics of the value and benefit of the cloud?
C: I think the number of pure skeptics has already dramatically dropped off. There will always be a small group of people who believe in a flat earth, but there will also be customers (at least into the foreseeable future) who are consciously remaining on-premises, in whole or in part, not because they don’t see the value and benefit of the cloud, but because they have not yet realized the financial return of their existing infrastructure. Still others have determined that the costs are still too high and benefits not yet there for moving their custom solutions. I think these organizations get lumped in with the skeptics, when the reality is that they have valid strategies – and hybrid may be a better path for them. I’m happy to see that Microsoft has changed its tune around hybrid over the past two years, working with this large subset of users and encouraging them to leverage cloud experiences with their on-prem environments, rather than push them to the cloud before they are ready.
When were you first introduced to SharePoint/Yammer/etc.? When did you realize just how powerful the tool could be?
I was introduced to SharePoint back in 2004, and was invited to Redmond to see some of what the team was working on – but I was not impressed. At the time, I had been working with some very high-end product lifecycle management (PLM) collaboration platforms and custom solutions that blew SharePoint away, but began working with SharePoint and Project Server in 2005, at which point I caught the vision. A little more than a year later, there I was joining the team at Microsoft that would become Office 365.
Could you share a little about the path you took to get to your current role?
C: I started off as an industrial design major, and thought I’d go into either product or automobile design, but decided to move into more of a business focus when I saw my friends graduating and unable to find jobs in the late 80’s. I ended up with a Bachelors in marketing -- and then took my first tech company job, first as a business analyst, and then as a technical project manager. While going to school at night for my MBA in Technology Management, I started a software company with two classmates, which we went on to sell to Rational Software. I’ve always been very entrepreneurial, and gravitate toward opportunities to build things. Being a collaboration SME and entrepreneur gives me a strong advantage within my current company, working with ISVs and SIs to develop and execute their marketing strategies, because I’ve lived through all of it.
What advice would you give to a first-time Ignite attendee?
C: I know that the tendency is to attend as many sessions as you can, but the value of attending, IMHO, is not the content but the networking with exhibitors and attendees. Talk to people, find out what the vendors are doing and the product gaps they fill, and meet as many people as possible. I talk almost daily with people that I met from the community at the SharePoint Conference back in 2009, after I left Microsoft. It was very impactful. The content will be made available (through videos and slides) within 24 hours – but you’ll never make up for the contacts you didn’t make.
What session are you most looking forward to this year?
C: I really want to dig into the sessions, and get to know the product and marketing team members, around Microsoft Teams extensibility, as well as the Dynamics folks who own the MarTech space. That’s where I am focusing my attention these days.
What are you packing for Ignite? As little as possible. I always pack way too much, and need to plan better for all the swag I bring back.
Why should people follow you for Ignite coverage?
C: I have a slightly different perspective than most MVPs, is that I focus largely on the business value questions. I’m also very active within the partner community (I’m an IAMCP.org member, and co-founded the Seattle chapter) and look at / talk about technology from the partner perspective.