Jan 09 2018 06:31 AM
Jan 09 2018 06:31 AM
Back in November 2016, I was headed for the annual MVP summit in Redmond with my head filled with questions. Microsoft had just released Microsoft Teams, and it just didn't make sense to me. Looking back at it I must honestly say I was pretty negative to the way the new application was introduced, and how it was positioned. I vividly remember all the sessions and discussions, as it dawned on me how this new product would mark an end to my work as I knew it, I became more and more negative.
Back home in the beginning of 2017, it was back to "normal" really. New releases don't always hit a home run right away or causes major disruptions immediately. Working with customers deploying unified solutions in their own environment, I still saw the new visions from Microsoft as a "threat" to my way of working and my career. At this point an opportunity in management came along, and I didn't hesitate to move on, leaving Skype for Business and Teams behind.
When I said I left things behind, that isn't entirely true of course. I moved on to manage a department in charge of deploying hosted unified solutions for customers. During some of my discussions with some of the customers, many of them questioned me about my decision to move on, if I didn't enjoy working with customers and deployments. One customer confronted my views by calling me a dinosaur. And this I remember quite well;
Me: “Wait, what? Are you calling me a dinosaur, about to be extinct?”
Customer: “Yes. Just like you called everyone holding on to legacy PBXs dinosaurs, you are now one of them. I remember you embracing the "new" technology a few years ago, why the change?”
That conversation was a wakeup call for me. I had based most of my career the past 10 years on the evolution of how we communicate. And now it seems I was so attached to the product I was working with, I was not able to see the natural move forward to the next thing. And instead of embracing and driving the change that is bound to happen, I had suddenly decided to leave the train and become grumpy? I took a new look at why I had decided Teams was such a disaster. I knew it wasn't because of the application. It had to do something about myself.
I started conversations with others in the UC community, both close and far. And to my surprise, I was not the only one with the same reactions and afterthoughts. So, we challenged each other to start looking for opportunities instead of drawbacks. Sure, Teams will never have a set of servers installed locally to work, but does that really matter? Not really. When I think about it, I believe the time spent installing and configuring on-premises equipment only make up about 20-30% of any deployment project. The hardest and most challenging tasks are preparing an organization for the change, driving adoption, and helping the customers get great value for their investments. And the introduction of Teams didn't change that picture. In fact, all the integrations and capabilities of Teams, both existing and those to come, would only increase the need for a good adoption plan.
Once back on the track of positive thinking, I was quick to reengage with the MVP community and with the program group for both Teams and Skype for Business. And sure enough, along came the customers and the good old feeling of working with THE new way of working, changing the way we work and communicate. Engaging even closer with the program managers than before, I have gained insight into how quickly things change these days. And realizing the power of driving change in the cloud makes sense compared to an on-premises world.
Instead of waiting for major releases and the time it actually takes to deploy this to thousands of customers, new features are released continuously in the cloud as soon as they are ready. And can reach millions of users at the same time.
Why am I telling you this story, and posting it on this blog? I wanted to share my experience and process I went through, realizing that looking back is not the way forward. I have been eager to point out how others don't realize cloud is here to stay and is the future we all need to include in our visions and solutions. I just didn't realize I was becoming one of those I criticized, just because change had challenged my "turf".
I want to challenge others in my position to seize the opportunities the cloud is presenting, instead of fighting them. But to do so, you might have to change the way you approach the technology and customers who use it. And as the technology is changing constantly and at an increasing pace, we need to adapt accordingly. This can be a "tough" process to start, but once you embark on that journey it gets easier over time.
Change is here to stay, so don't get too comfortable with what, and how you do it today, because tomorrow you might be obsolete. My participation in the community and with my MVP peers helped me see this, and to turn what I saw as a challenge into an opportunity to evolve and grow both personally and professionally. There really is power and opportunities in this community. I am here to stay, but in order to stay I need to change, constantly.
Do you have a similar story, or memory of when you reacted strongly to new tech? Where are you in your journey with acceptance or change? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic, either in a post of your own in the Teams community or in the comments below.
Jan 09 2018 07:27 AM
Well said Lasse.. We are definitely at a major juncture in the way people will work and communicate. Having been in the same room with you back in 2016, I too shared some of the same sentiments as you did. But we must move forward and continue to drive innovation or technologies/organizations risk becoming obsolete. Do I think Teams is better than Skype for Business is today? Far from it. However, I do expect that it will evolve and mature into a tool that compliments and improves the way people and organizations communication and collaborate. What we are seeing today is just the preverbal 'tip of the iceberg'. There is so much more potential to be unleashed.
Jan 09 2018 08:50 AM
This is great Lasse. I hope it helps give people that moment of reflection that you describe so well.
Speaking in general here...
I've done my share of calling people dinosaurs in one way or another. While I could certainly soften my approach sometimes, it is important for those on the other side of that discussion to realize that whoever is calling you a dinosaur is taking that risk because they value your relationship and knowledge and don't want to see you fall behind.
When you should be really worried about your choices and career is when everyone stops giving you feedback completely. You are no longer just a dinosaur at that point, but have actually gone extinct.
Jan 09 2018 12:52 PM
glad to hear your thoughts.
I've come to conclude: Every transition is an opportunity.
Jan 11 2018 06:33 PM
I read this as someone reading my mind!!!
Of course it was a real shake of boat for us all when that all had settled around SfB paradigm. Somehow, I managed to overcome the odds by convincing myself to redefine my career from technical to a Cloud Communication Transitioning Adviser role in next 5 years...hoping to see me getting there :)
Jan 12 2018 11:02 AM
Yes indeed. I have already told the customer I appreciated the wake-up call.
Jan 12 2018 11:06 AM
All it takes, Lakmal, is a little dedication!
I'm sure you'll get there. Realizing the change is already here, is the biggest step. And well done!
Once you have embraced that thought, you'll pick up speed in whatever direction you want to go.
Apr 25 2018 02:11 PM
Good reading Lasse!
Totally agree with you. The only thing that is certain in the future is that the focus you have today is not the focus you should have tomorrow. Either one chooses to be smooth as a T-rex or you choose to be smooth as a cat. :)
Teams are hot now and offer many opportunities today and one is wondering what to focus on next.