Internalizing Feedback

As you’ve seen in some previous posts, I’ve been traveling around the world to listen and interact with our customers or potential customers. One thing (possibly two) became VERY clear to me!

  1. How do I use “your stuff”?
  2. How do we continue the dialog throughout the year (in addition to conferences and meet ups)

I’ve been a little bit quiet doing some research and sharing this feedback with our team. To that end, I’ve been looking at documentation, PowerPoint decks, YouTube content and anything else I can get my hands on! (Leave a comment if you’ve got a secret “go to” place) The next step is to do a classic gap analysis of core assets and what are customers asking for; is there a gap? In the end, I’ve come up with the consultative answer! It depends! 🙂

In all seriousness, it depends where you’re at on the spectrum of adoption and deployment. Our mission on the Microsoft Intune for Education CxE Customer Pursuit Team, is to accelerate adoption / deployment as well as improve our product. So, think of our team as prior to adoption or right at the point of making that decision. That’s the lens we’re looking through.

As I look through our collateral, I’ve found some good stuff out of the gate! I’d love to get feedback on who’s seen or used this site on Microsoft Education Documentation and Resources. For me, it captured the essence of the first point above. As seen below, there’s the “Why Microsoft 365 Education” as well as the Deployment Overview. Then we have the following steps:

  1. Cloud Deployment
  2. Device Management
  3. Tools for Teachers

MSEDUDeployDocs.png

However, in our typical fashion, I found these to be lengthy articles or “how to’s”. Granted, we’ve broken it down into five or so steps in each section. However, I’d like to take it one step further and create “workshop” based materials with corresponding videos breaking the steps down further. (Based off of the “tasked-based video” concept of I4ESnacks / http://aka.ms/I4ESnacks.) I believe this will further visualize and bring to life the docs which are out there.

Please leave feedback, thoughts or questions! There will be more regarding the second reflection point later!

Brainstorm Conference – Day 2 Recap

As in any good road trip, I need to get my exercise in! (Connect with me on Strava if you run, lift or bike!) Mondays are my lifting day however it’s difficult to get a decent one in with just dumbbells. Do what you can do is what my personal trainer would tell me. Before everyone makes a judgement on “…the Microsoft guy having a personal trainer”, must be nice! I have to frame out the day in the life of my role. As a Program Manager, my role is to be the glue between interacting with customers and translating those needs back to our product devs. In order to meet customers face to face, that means traveling all over the world (see below, right?). The years have been good but without the proper nutrition and exercise over the years, I’ve grown ‘robust’..shall we say? So, I’m actually on a weight management program which allows me to meet with a personal trainer and nutritionist to get my personal health back on track.

From a traveling perspective? Yes, it’s a ‘glam life’ traveling to all these places, right? No way in heck! I LOVE my role and interacting with customers, but it comes at a price. I remember my first years as a buck consultant and being married… my new wife thought I lived a glamorous life jet setting to new cities, staying in nice hotels and eating at great restaurants all the time. So, I decided to bring her on one of my engagements to see what it was like! I booked it in Peoria, IL making sure I stayed at a hotel which was behind a strip mall (bad view) and some of the worst restaurants around. She now respects my view of traveling! 😊

Yesterday evening at Brainstorm was the Welcome Reception. For those who REALLY know me, you know that I’m not a social person. Yep, seriously! A room full of strangers can be very overwhelming and intimidating to me. However, I put on my best game face and dove in! I was able to visit and sit in with two different tables during the time. Once that initial ice is broken, I ALWAYS love talking / discussing stuff! I leave that general because I try to mix work with personal things which I enjoy like fitness or coffee. In the end, I always loving hearing our customer’s perspectives! Believe it or not, most everyone is a Microsoft customer one way or another!

I believe that’s why I enjoy speaking. Today was not an exception. There were two Intune for Education sessions schedule. It was prearranged that I’d be in the room to give any support needed or assist with questions. Well, as life had it, I was ask 5 minutes ahead of time if I could cover the first session! Yep, no prep and no deck. Just talking off the top of my head about our product! So, if it seemed a little random or winding… well, that’s because it was! I apologize to the attendees but I was covering for a co-worker that got slammed into another meeting! To top it off, because I was unrehearsed, I was over on time! This left me in the middle of a topic with several still to cover. Bringing me into the second session! Yep… back to back, unrehearsed and unscripted sessions! This second session was even MORE challenging than the first because about half of the attendees were in the first session! So, I had to bridge the gap of bringing everyone along for the ride! I promise, next time I’ll sign up for my own sessions so it doesn’t come off so poorly! Needless to say, it was a stressful day!

Brainstorm Conference – Day 1 Recap

The start of Brainstorm (or any conference) always intrigues me. You never know if there will be patterns, trends or themes that emerge. I believe the Day 1 sessions always set the tone; however, I believe Day 1 of Brainstorm is actually a pre-day. None the less, we were in a packed room on Sunday afternoon to listen to a “Windows 10: Modern Device Management Workshop” by Doug Wilson.

One of Doug’s first slides was about community. This topic is near and dear to my heart since I was part of the systems management community way back in the Swynk.com (I believe that was the spelling!) days of SMS. Through the years, I grew up working in public schools doing edtech but actively participating on MyITForum.com. At the time, that was “THE place” where all the smart consultants and MVPs hung out. I remember being envious of the breadth of knowledge they had and their willingness to share it back to that community.

As I grew technically, it was my goal to be able to be at that level of knowledge as my peers had. After many hours and carving out my niche area on the Internet, I was able to return that knowledge back in the form of task-based videos in SMS / SCCM and MOM/SCOM. Those are the technologies which I’ve built my career on and allowed me to be in the ranks as a Microsoft MVP.

I find myself, years or even decades later, faced with the same situation with different challenges. As I’m sitting in the back of this session, I have a very different vantage point from when was first starting out my career. I look down at my conference badge which reminds me that I’m a Program Manager with Microsoft in the Intune for Education Product Group. How can I assist those around me and hopefully allow them to stand on my shoulders as those did for me in years past? I attempt to remain respectful to the presenter as he makes his way through his material but the same question keeps running through my mind: “Where do these peers go to gain that knowledge as I did in years past?”

I put it out there, but I really don’t get a clear sense of “a place” where my technical peers go. Sure, I get the feedback of going to the Microsoft documentation and such… but where do you REALLY go? Conferences are a GREAT place to make those connections with your peers but how do we keep that conversation going throughout the year? This is an open thread which I’m going to keep asking and digging into…

Flipgrid Community for Microsoft Intune for Education

Part of the “behind the scenes work” which I’ve been attempting to put together is an interactive way for our customers or potential customers, from around the world, a way to connect with our Microsoft Product Group.

Flipgrid seemed like a natural choice since we can share experience in many different ways! Either leave your comments here or join in on the conversation over on our Grid on Flipgrid!

Returning From BETT 2019

I attended my first BETT conference in London this past January. It was unlike any conference I had been to before from two perspectives:

  1. The sheer size and volume of vendors / booths which were there! My goodness!
  2. I was surprised that it was just one big vendor fair! Sure, there were sessions happening but it was inside each vendor’s booth. I can honestly say I’ve never been to a ‘conference’ where it’s really just a vendor fair!

As I stated in my previous post, I’ve started a Grid on FlipGrid. More specifically, I’ve thrown a question out there just WAITING for your response!! Let’s hear your feedback!

Click on this link and let us know! Lessons Learned fromBETT 2019

 

So much work, so little to show for…

Have you ever had one of those periods in your life where you’re going a million different directions but never accomplish anything? Well…I’m in one of those periods within my life! Since taking on my new role, there’s SO much to learn and do; I’m not sure which to tackle first! Thus, in my grand way that I always do, I attempt to tackle them all!

Allow me to give you a little background. I started my new role within Microsoft at the end of August 2018, right? Let’s just call it September for conversation’s sake! We’re now already in February 2019!! (I won’t bother to tell you that it’s taken me two weeks to draft and complete this post alone!) I went to Seattle to meet with my new manager in September and then did some onsite customer visits in Sept. / Oct. However, you KNOW that when Halloween hits, it’s just the tip of the iceberg for the holidays! I was back in Redmond in November again before ramping up for an almost two week trip in December to Copenhagen, Denmark, Amsterdam, Netherlands and then Madrid, Spain.

Yes, travel is in the new role! That’s for sure! I came back from Europe to spend time with the family before leaving for BETT 2019 in London, England. Before you say it; I know there’s a TON of air time to be able to work. Yep. I just slept!

Now we’re in mid-February… however, there’s some great projects I’m starting to spool back up! The first is this blog again! However, I’m going to use this as a launch page for some of my other projects! What could those be? I’m glad you asked! I’ve embarked on a few:

  1. I’m starting up my task-based learning videos again! For those of you who to not know, prior to my joining Microsoft, I was a consultant and I started a company called LearnSMS.com. The concept was to create short, task-based videos about SMS (product prior to SCCM). So, I’m back at that again! I’ll try to cross link the videos here as well… however, the YouTube channel link is can be found here or go to http://aka.ms/I4ESnacks. Once I get enough subscribers, I’ll change it to a vanity URL on YouTube directly!
  2. Part of a Program Manager’s role is to get feedback from our customers and understand how you use our products. So, I’ve created a Grid on FlipGrid which can be found here. The thought is that we can start a virtual dialog on various topics.
  3. In support of the prior two topics, I’ve had to get some new gear in order to vlog and create content for everyone! So, that’s been a learning curve as well!

So, you can see that there’s not a shortage of stuff to do on my plate! Now it’s time to start execution of the plan! Here we go! Let’s do this thing!

20181211_111816528_iOS

Coming to a Conference Near You!

I’ll make EVERY effort to remember the conferences where I’ll be attending so you have the possibility to meet in person! This month’s conference is BrainStorm 2019 being held in the Wisconsin Dells, WI starting on March 3rd through 5th, 2019.

I’m going to be bringing my new vlogging gear to capture some of the activities while there. Come up and say hello! You never know if you’ll make my next vlog entry!

A New Role Within Microsoft

For those of you who know me… or potentially those that do not, I work for Microsoft. I’ve worked there for over 12 years; five of which were supporting K-12, HighEd and some medical researching institutions in the United States. However, I’ve recently returned to the Education Vertical as a Senior Program Manager with the Intune For Education Team.

As a historical reference, my career was founded on asset management; both client and server. However, as my career progressed, it diverged deeper into server technologies and eventually helping partners building their own solutions within Microsoft Azure. I am SO fortunate to be returning to my passion areas of education and client management!

To that end, I’m going to start blogging again! Not only am I returning to an area which has changed dramatically, but I am in learning mode again. I though I would document my learning, trials and tribulations as I work with Microsoft Engineering Teams as well as customers! Beware… I may be coming to a town near you!

Making Sense of IT all with Operational Insights

Working in the datacenter arena, I’m trained to parse through logs, look at events and just making sense of it all. However, I tend to think of working smarter not harder. Thus, allow me to introduce Microsoft Azure – Operational Insights. It’s still in preview due to Microsoft wanting to nail the security and data privacy of their service. They’ve published a security PDF which contains the official statement that “…The Operational Insights software development and service team is actively working with the Microsoft Legal and Compliance teams and other industry partners to acquire a variety of certifications including ISO before general availability of the Operational Insights service”. You may also remember a vaguely similar service called System Center Advisor which was announced at the Microsoft Management Summit a few years back; that service has formed the foundation and rolled up the functionality into Operational Insights.

By now,  you may be asking yourself why I’m bringing up such a technical topic in a classroom or institutional context? Well, I believe that a LOT of hard work and insights have been digested down into a proactive dashboard with a TON of great data driving it. Such items as failed logons, log management (including IIS), capacity planning, patch state as well as a host of other data points which are important to an institution! Take a stroll over to the Microsoft Azure Operational Insights website and see what’s in store. You do NOT need to be running System Center Operations Manager to gain insights into your environment however you’ll get a ton of value when using them together! Take a quick look at my video introduction! Happy computing!