I ran across Ian's site and his comments about working for Microsoft via Scoble, and it reminded me that my first month at Microsoft came to a close last Wednesday. I'm due for another post. Some readers probably expect that I'll go on and on about how great it is to work here and about how excited I am to be part of the company. Well, it is a great place to work and I'm excited to be part of the company, but I'd like to focus more on substantive issues and avoid the cheerleading. To that end, let me focus on a few of my observations about the organization that at times present a challenge.
Information Overload- I touched on this in a previous post, but there is a ton of information available internally. This is better than no information at all, but still leads to problems of redundant sources of information and varying degrees of relevance. For example, if I want to find a whitepaper related to a specific feature in Sharepoint Portal Server, it can be challenging to find exactly what I need. Often I'll find whitepapers based on beta versions of Sharepoint, or other documents that focus more on WSS, or something on Sharepoint that doesn't cover the features I'm looking for and the level of depth I need. Search really isn't the problem here either- I can narrow down result sets but there is often no way I can review all of the material that I need to choose the best information sources.
NIR (Not In Redmond) - I don't work in Redmond. And while Microsoft makes a lot of resources and information available to people that work in the various regions and districts, there is a sense that everything is happening and Redmond and I'm not part of it the way that I would like to be. To make matters more difficult, Microsoft is a very cost-conscious culture. While that's great for shareholders and for the health of the company, it makes it hard for many people to travel as much as they'd like to. While many people like me might like to travel to Redmond on a regular basis, it probably doesn't make fiscal sense to do so.
Product Groups Are King- This one is pretty obvious right? Microsoft is a company that sells software products. The work of the product groups drives our business. So they should be considered our greatest assets, right? I'm not arguing the point. The challenge for me is that I don't work in a product group. I don't even work in Redmond for a group that has direct ties to supporting product groups. I work in Microsoft's Mid America district as part of the Microsoft enterprise sales organization. My job is to make sure that our customers are successfully implementing our products and that they'll invest in more of our products in the future. I work with account managers, product specialist, and evangelists to support our most important customers. I talk to people about how our products can support them, how they can use the products, and engage in discussions with customers to talk about how they can better use our technologies. It is fun, rewarding, and provides a great mix of people and technology. But it is a long way from a product group.
Over time, I think that all of these issues or concerns will be addressed. Some are not even issues- they're just observations about how things work here, and to some extent the “grass appears greener“ on the other side of the fence. For now, I'm still focusing on learning and being the best employee that I can be in support of the organization's goals.