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Microsoft IT Pro Townhall Event: State of the IT Pro Community

by Harley Stagner on April 21, 2007

This 2nd panel discussion of the day (April 18th) was the most open and positive.  However, as always, there is some room for improvement on the part of large corporations like Microsoft when it comes to meeting the needs of the IT Pro Community.  This discussion was led by Dave Sanders: CEO, Culminis Inc., Elizabeth Quinlan: Trainer/Consultant, BQ, Kevin Kline: President, Professional Association for SQL Server, and Lee Benjamin: Advisor, Exchange Guy Consulting.  What each of these individuals is doing for the IT Pro Community as educators and facilitators is appreciated.

The main points taken from this discussion were not earth-shattering, but some good ideas and suggestions came out of the discussion.

  • The IT Pro Community is large and complex.  Of course it is.  The diversity of the people involved and the varying technologies involved are what make this field so great.
  • Better tools and processes are needed in order to communicate effectively with vendors.  We are still having trouble reaching some large vendors in order to voice opinions, receive training, and instantiate change.
  • It was suggested that there needs to be a curriculum for IT Professionals on new technologies that prepare them to deploy, support, and use the new technology.  This curriculum should focus on a pre-determined education path with prerequisites.
  • Don’t forget personal communication.  It was discussed that while vendors often provide technology to IT Professionals to learn with, the vendors often forget what a remarkable experience it is to actually interact with people face to face as part of the learning process.  This event is a good example of the learning experience that can occur with face to face conversations.

Since there was nobody from Microsoft in this panel discussion, I cannot really criticize them for any of the conversation that took place.  However, one of the overriding themes of this panel discussion was inconsistent community support from Microsoft.  Some of its divisions were going above and beyond for the IT Pro Community and some divisions were hardly responding at all to the community.  It was discussed that this could be caused by those responsible for making and sustaining community relationships within the divisions being promoted or leaving the division.  When the replacement employee comes in, they may not have the level of enthusiasm that the previous person did.  So, building relationships with the IT Pro Community is in a constant state of flux.  Steve Ballmer did recognize in his Q&A session later that if inconsistency of the response to the IT Pro Community from the different technology divisions was found to be a problem then Microsoft would work to fix the problem.  Hopefully, things will continue to improve and become more consistent.

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