Earlier, I posted about five ideas on improving LinkedIn, and now I have come to Microsoft. I use their products every day privately and professionally, and here are some ideas that could make them even better from my perspective:
Guide us on how to use all your apps. Sometimes, it seems you launch a new 365 app every week, and then post about how awesome it is. But you forget to merge it into a context where all your other apps live. When I and others ask about what to use when, you only say it is up to me, but that is not enough. You launch your product for a distinct reason I hope. Tell us this reason, and which app to use for what, and then we have an easier time selling them to our colleagues. –>My suggestion: Gather a group of people who run 365 environments internally, and place them in a nice venue for a week. Let them design how to use your services based on real-world examples. Serve them double espressos during the day, and wine in the evening. You will come up with the best training material and guidance ever.
Build a better sync client for OneDrive. We all know that there is one company that leads here, and has been from the start, and it is Dropbox. I have never encountered problems with their sync app, but a multitude with yours. Yes, you ditched groove and rebuilt it, but still it is no way near Dropbox. Your client is far better than before, but it still complains about file types, creates unnecessary copies, and is slower. –>My suggestion: Set a team of sync experts to rebuild a new sync client. Don’t disturb them – just let them do their magic. Serve them Bulletproof Coffee during the day, and make sure they sleep well at night.
Open your mail and calendar to 3rd party apps. This is the main reason I use Google’s mail and calendar – it just works with any other Android app around. Adding the 365 mail and calendar to other apps can be done, but especially the calendar is too complicated and feels too proprietary. –>My suggestion: Be more open and inclusive regarding how other apps can connect to your services. By letting your customers choose which Android apps to use, you show you want them as customers. You know you don’t always build the best apps in all areas, but that is ok if you are open to other apps talking to your services.
Create a much smarter email handling. Email is still the big dark monster that eats away at people’s days and minds, and it is time you acted on it for real. You have started this work, especially in the excellent Outlook app you bought, but online is falling behind. You have also started to include data in 365 on how much time is spent on email, which only will be depressing for the majority. Yes, I know why you do it, but this is more like treating the symptoms more than the source of pain. –> My suggestion: Start to experiment more, and use an alternative UI which is based on AI and Graph. Google has its Inbox, and so should you. Tell people that it is an alternative way of using email, and make sure you treat the data will full respect regarding privacy even if you use AI.
Bring back the Sunrise Calendar. Sunrise Calendar was the most awesome calendar around and I loved how easy it was to use it. Then you bought it, promised that the calendar in Outlook would incorporate Sunrise functionality, and then… nothing happened. Don’t do things like this Microsoft. What if someone bought Excel, turned it off and then promised to incorporate it into the next version of the Supercalculator App (just choose a name), and never did. The bad will would be massive and no one would like it. –> My suggestion: Get the Sunrise functionality up and running right away. Their latest blog post was 9 months ago, and you had lots of time before that to start adjusting. If you acquire an app that millions love and use, then treat it and them with respect. Basically, it’s rather easy: If you just plan correctly, you can have parallel development teams while you acquire the company. This way, once you launch the press release that the app is yours, you also launch an updated calendar app that is awesome. People would love it!
I have no hopes that Satya Nadella will read this but maybe someone else at Microsoft will listen. Microsoft sure does a lot of awesome things, but here are some ways to become even better.
It is hard making sense of the Office 365 suite from Microsoft. Barely had we had time to grasp that they have included Yammer in all Office 365 tenants, and what that means. Then Microsoft threw their Teams app into the game, and it became even more challenging to understand which product does what.
To help us, they gave an excellent introduction to the product’s capabilities:
It is, however, not the product in itself that is hard to grasp. On the contrary, it seems straightforward and well-designed, and it is integrated with the rest of the 365 suite. The somewhat obscured path ahead is created when comparing Teams with Yammer and more. Here is where people like Naomi Moneypenny and Marc D Anderson come to the rescue.
What has me confused about Microsoft’s overlapping offerings in the communication spectrum is that they don’t come with guidance about which is good when or for what type of organizations. Instead we see a lot of talk about choice being good.
He also asks Microsoft to guide us much better:
Here’s hoping that the smart people in Redmond get on this soon. As the options keep piling up on us, it’s only getting harder to choose.
The solution: Highlighting what each app is good at
Yammer is the really the only app in O365 that allows you to have a conversation with the entire company. You can of course push an email or IM to the entire company, but that’s not the level of dialog we are looking for these days. Yammer is a great way to enable conversation across an entire organization. […] Once a project team has come together to work on a specific set of tasks and deliverables, that team should decide whether they want to use the Groups conversation experience primarily in Outlook, or Outlook then Teams, Teams or Yammer to get their specific work done.
Thank you Microsoft for wanting us to collaborate better. You could, however, reach even further by listening to Naomi, Marc, and more. Many of us take care of Office 365 environments, and our job is to alleviate collaboration pains. The better you at Microsoft describe what to use when, the smoother our ride becomes.