Wow, it's been a long time since the last time I blogged. Much has happened in my world in the intervening months... I left MSDN & TechNet several months ago and have been immersing myself in a new job and a new role. I'm now leading the Service Delivery team for the MSN Access group. "MSN Access? What's that?" you might ask. It's the dial-up internet access business. I can almost hear you thinking "But isn't that dead?" Nope, far from it -- dial-up is still an important part of our MSN offering, and is absolutely relevant in a world where DSL/Cable hasn't reached a significant number of homes in the US, where people travel and need reliable access from anywhere, or where folks have limited use for the internet (!) and want the value that dial-up service can provide.
My team does a variety of things including working with our telco partners, reporting, and managing traffic distribution. We also own the 800 service that is used not only by the internet access products (to get local #'s) but also by many groups within Microsoft for product registration and activation. So, as you can probably imagine, I've been learning all kinds of interesting things about the telco industry and technology, service monitoring & reporting, and the internet access landscape.
At about the same time I came on board, there was a significant change in the engineering management team -- a new PUM (think SaraW's role in the past at MSDN), and new Group Program Manager, Test Manager and Dev Manager. And I'm thrilled to be working with each of them -- it's surprising how similar we are in terms of approach. It's an exciting time for all of us as we are working with our teams to recreate a culture that is even more focused on the customer, and where we can take the product(s) to better meet our customers' needs, both today and in the future. The environment is highly collaborative and there are so many opportunities to make a difference. Nothing makes me happier than being part of an energized, high-caliber, collaborative team, intent on making a difference for our customers! And these days, I'm beyond happy!
One of the things that I relished about working at MSDN was the ability to really know our customers/users. I had meaningful, insightful conversations with more developers in the time I was at MSDN than I had with any users in the rest of my MS career. It was something that I had missed from my previous life at Borland (and before) -- connecting with customers, hearing their likes, dislikes, suggestions and big ideas -- and I was thrilled to have it again at MSDN. Now, though, it's something that I'm missing again*. If you're a dial-up user (or if your parents, grand parents, etc. are, and you end up doing support for them), I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback.
One of the many fun things about my new job is running what's called a QoS v-team. QoS stands for Quality of Service, and the v-team is all about improving the quality of the service that we provide to our customers. We have a number of key performance indicators (KPIs) specifically targeted at QoS -- this is a big part of how we manage our business. The QoS team works on initiatives to improve those KPIs and other measures. One of the things that we'll be driving to in the coming year is metrics that are more representative of the end-to-end customer experience. We see in our user satisfaction surveys that customers view the access service they are subscribing to in a more soup-to-nuts fashion that we tend to. For example, they consider using Hotmail, Messenger and surfing the web in general as part of the "access" experience. This means that we (MSN, not just Access) need to think beyond metrics like connection success rate (CSR). Don't get me wrong, CSR is important and we'll continue to measure, track and drive improvement there, but it's not enough. Some of the things that we want to improve are difficult to measure and/or aren't being measured today -- this means driving change into the product(s) or tools so that we can understand and improve the end-to-end customer experience. Luckily there are many QoS teams across MSN, so it's relatively easy to find like-minded folks on the different product teams to collaborate and engage with on the topic. And of course, our own engineering team is fully engaged and on board here. This is a big part of what I do, so I'm sure this will be an ongoing topic in my blog :)
I think I'll end my back-in-the-blogging-saddle post here. I'm looking forward to getting back in the blogging habit and sharing my new world with you!
*I still have my customer connections through the ISV Buddy program, and all the folks I met through my work at MSDN, but it's not the same as getting feedback from your users about your product.