I'm going to take a Web 2.0 (read: collaborative, social-network based) approach to a business/marketing challenge.
What should Microsoft do to credibly make a case as a legitimate participant in a Web 2.0 for business conference?
Let's be honest, Microsoft doesn't have a ton of cred as a "player" in the Web 2.0 space (see some responses to this question on LinkedIn).
For the sake of argument, let's agree on the defining characteristics of Web 2.0 (from Wikipedia) as a platform and what makes up Web 2.0 applications.
In many respects, Web 2.0 is about free software (you make money off of data) and "Open-ness" either through source code, API, etc. Clearly, some (uh, much) of this is at odds with the MS M.O.!
Assets to Leverage
I've got the following to deploy at the conference
- one of the best field technologists throughout Microsoft
(not only does he know MS technology inside out, but he "gets" Web 2.0)
- local systems integrators with experience building highly collaborative solutions on top of SharePoint
- a worldwide installed base of over 200 million people who know how to use Microsoft Office and Windows (with varying degrees of skill 🙂 )
- hundreds of millions of users who use Windows Live, Hotmail, and MSN each month
- a lot of IT administrators whose careers are based on implementing and supporting Microsoft infrastructure
- gumption and a willingness (read: necessity) to break the mold (here's one tactic that worked well for Seth Godin)
- brand recognition 🙂 and 🙁
- a booth (yippee!) [It is just a 6 foot table. We have banners and Internet connectivity.]
With a marquee list of presenters and attendees, all I want to do is gain permission from booth visitors to a follow-on conversation with Microsoft or one of our partners for how we can help them.
Web 2.0 is not only about technology, but it's about sharing and communicating ideas in a new way.
It's about social networking, collaboration, user-generated content and in this respect, Microsoft does have a lot to offer.
SharePoint is a first-rate collaborative environment. There are 4,768 blogs (that's 6%) at Microsoft and a simple policy re: posting (and there's an article from a few months back-[link please!]- describing how MS bloggers have helped change perceptions of the company), and of course Scoble's book on Blogging ROI, based on MS experience.
This is where I am looking for community input. (Not going isn't an option 🙂 !)
I think SharePoint has got to be at the center of the story for enterprise customers and government.
I also think we have to be transparent about the relative position of weakness (at least in perception) that we have (for now) in this space. (e.g. How about a wiki where attendees can update/modify a document called "What Should Microsoft's Web 2.0 strategy be?"
It's three weeks away. What would you do?