After talking with Christoph Schittko, he pointed out that I should tell this story.
As you have probably heard, Windows Vista has this cool feature called Gadgets, which are hosted in the Vista Sidebar. Nothing new in that communication. However, most people that I talk to only view these as consumer toys (games, sports, search, news, RSS, etc) and this is supported if you look at our gallery. But, I'm seeing a new trend - which is companies creating Vista Gadgets for their employees.
I was at a customer site last week on an overview day (where Microsoft employees pitch their respective product), and our Vista guy was talking. After the talk, an attendee asked "I don't get it, where is the value of Vista?". Well, I was shocked after a bunch of points were just given, but then the conversation turned to additional points that had not presented. So, I brought up gadgets, and the response was that this was just a play thing and there was no value to the business. Well! I was shocked again. So, after taking a breath to consider how I could articulate the value of Gadgets, I just showed him what I have installed.
I have several - one for watching my machine performance, tracking my beloved Cardinals, and the stock ticker (since I'd like to retire with Microsoft). This year, several new gadgets arrived related to the launch, for the public and even for partners. But, what I'm referring to in this post is internal corporate gadgets. Here's an example.
At Microsoft, we are in continual learning mode. Actually, Microsoft does a great job of providing internal learning resources. Sometimes, we have required training that everyone has to take, which is what this readiness gadget is about. The gadget does a good job of showing how I'm doing, how my team is doing, and how our organization is doing. Not only does it provide value with its dashboard view (i.e. intuitive at a glance), it also provides links to our internal learning and my development plan.
These are two important points that should be the core reasons for having a gadget. First, it should provide pertinent information in a quick glance style and also be visually appealing. Second, it should serve as a launch pad to more detailed related information.
So, Vista Gadgets don't have to be all about consumers. We have a variety of customers building internal gadgets, just as Microsoft is doing. It's just a way of helping employees be more productive - and everyone should be for that.