Exchange and Outlook Blog

Even IT Experts Need a Second Opinion

I'm at Microsoft Exchange Connections this week in Orlando, and so far I'm having some great conversations about Exchange Server and deployment and the cloud, and so forth. Not to mention the after-hours conversations that have ranged from snail farming and haggis to whether lightning can come up through your toilet. Some real head-scracthers.

The sessions and keynotes have had a lot of great information as well (and more practical information than some of those after-hours convos). As I've written about before, conference sessions can be a great learning experience, something you might want to consider putting into your budget. But in one of the more coherent late conversations last night, with Tony Redmond, Michael B. Smith, and several other authors from Windows IT Pro, the topic came up about how you judge the content of a given session. That is, do you take every presentation as gospel just because the speaker has been selected to be on the agenda?

Naturally, conference speakers are chosen based on their level of experience and demonstrated ability. Nonetheless, that doesn't mean they'll always have the best or even the right answer in every situation. Some speakers will be better at acknowledging what they don't know—when asked a question outside their specialty, they refer you to someone else or suggest somewhere else you can find the answer. Others, however, might feel self-conscious about giving an "I don't know" answer when they're standing in front of a room where they're supposed to be the expert; such speakers might either deflect the question, or give erroneous answers.

So whether the message is coming from a Microsoft spokesperson on a Microsoft product, or a top expert in a given field, it certainly doesn't hurt to cast about for other opinions, particularly from those IT pros or consultants that have actual field experience with the given problem in question. As Tony pointed out, it's no less than you'd do before you took professional medical advice; is performing surgery on your IT infrastructure not equally important to the health of your company? Don't be afraid to get a second opinion.


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