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Talking with—and listening to—MVPs at Summit

Talking with—and listening to—MVPs at Summit

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By Toby Richards, general manager, Community and Online Support, Microsoft


Yesterday I had the privilege to speak to the MVPs here at the Summit as one of the keynote speakers.  Presenting at the MVP Global Summit is always an exhilarating experience, and having to speak right after Steve Ballmer definitely created some additional excitement, and anxiety. 

 My team, and customer support overall, is focused on reducing effort to improve people's experiences with Microsoft--for all customers, including MVPs. I think about this in three ways--community and online, continuous improvement, and automation and integration.  

 Yesterday during the keynote, I talked about community and online efforts—improvements in tools like MS Answers for our customers to find credible, helpful information and experts like MVPs. And I discussed tools that are coming to make it easier for MVPs to share their knowledge and expertise, including improvements in TechNet and MSDN.  

 Continuous improvement consists of two connected areas:  listening and product improvement.  Listening is a key way we can reduce effort and improve experiences.  We have to listen well to experts—like all the feedback MVPs provide to Microsoft product groups at the MVP Global Summit, in product group interactions throughout the year, and through the MVP email distribution lists that connect the community to product group teams. We also need to listen to communities of customers and experts together. Historically, we've acquired incredible amounts of data from areas like forums on TechNet and MSDN, but had a huge challenge in converting all that unstructured data into useful feedback for our product groups.  Now we can intelligently process those millions of bits of information—weighting what's important, associating similar issues, and ultimately making all the questions asked and knowledge shared more valuable by feeding it back into the product cycle.

 Automation and integration is one of the areas where we can really reduce effort. Over time, the goal is to fix issues before they ever become problems. The Microsoft project codenamed "Atlanta" is a great example of this—it's a secure configuration assessment service that can reduce troubleshooting time and effort for IT Pros. To get on the Atlanta beta go to

 I’m always seeking suggestions about ways we can reduce effort and improve experiences from the MVP community. One of the things I enjoy most about the MVP Summit is the opportunity to speak to this amazing community—during the keynote, but also one-on-one in conversations that continue to inform and inspire my work here at Microsoft. 

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