Ryan Duguid, Chief Evangelist at the cloud data services firm Nintex, is a Microsoft alumnus and thus has the background to assess what directions Microsoft is likely to take with its Ignite announcements and predictions this year. He recently spoke with ITPro Today about where Microsoft's focusing its efforts and why.
Q. So what do you think we can expect from the keynote and product announcements?
A. Expect during the conference that Microsoft will roll out the latest and greatest with Office and Azure – with a big focus on Teams. Imagine we will hear a lot of noise around Teams’ growth and usage (to directly target Slack in an aggressive fashion) and highlights of the extensibility of the platform – more connectors, scenarios, etc. Also, expect Microsoft to make a big deal about Skype and Teams coming together (future of Skype for Business). This will set the stage for Teams as a hub – but doesn’t address the fact that most everyone starts their day in email (Outlook and Gmail being the dominant players).
Also, I suspect you will see messaging around how Outlook and Teams work together with more evidence that things are manifesting in Teams – client for SharePoint, can scale things up from chat, voice to video to group-based, and more.
Q. What's driving this?
Behind all of this is MSFT’s focus on productivity. The company is lining-up around its two biggest franchises – Office and Azure – with a clear focus on the information worker and developer. What the developer builds on Azure, benefits the information worker and so on.
Q. What's the business benefit to focusing on the information worker and developer?
A. Microsoft, in the last few years, has become obsessed with the SaaS industry and the daily use views. It offsets the criticism that Microsoft only sells the license to their software and people don't use it.
it really is critical now that Microsoft is helping the average user — it's about getting to the end user and showing them where they can benefit. it's never the big obvious things you think it will be — it's the little details. My favorite one —the conversation button in Outlook or threaded conversation in Outlook. These were game-changers. They were impactful! The company is beginning to understand that it's little details.
You can see now the two franchises in this company are Office and Azure. Microsoft is on the cusp of actually being able to deliver collaboration.
Q. Let's get back to something you said earlier -- everyone starts their day in email. What could Microsoft do to tie Outlook to Teams?
A. I look to Google for inspiration here, and I look to Google for how they screwed it up. They were arrogant enough to tell ppl how they think they should work. I should start my day, warm up my computer and stare at my information hub. Give me a holistic view of what my day's going to look like.
It's about creating a hub to communicate to get your work done to prioritize your effort. Stop fighting it out over who's the destination on the desktop.
Teams has a lot more potential than Slack. It has a vision that's bigger than Slack. I think Slack suffers from the arrogance of 'email's the devil's spawn and you should just chit-chat.' But what's the most requested feature — emojis? Yeah, that has business value.
We do use Slack internally for devops and it is phenomenal for [geographically far-flung workplaces] and to look back at the history of what we've tried. But is it how we communicate in every way? No.
If you look at Teams, that experience is part of what it is, but Teams is there to create a hub. I can bring in my product roadmap, I'm getting my Sharepoint files and locations and they're linked and connected.
If I was a betting man, I'd put a $1.25 on Slack and $1 on Teams.