I went to a conference at Microsoft’s offices in Victoria yesterday. I went with an open mind, hoping that all my preconceptions about Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud offering were going to be shattered, that I would find out that Microsoft are a cool bunch of guys after all, and that this would be a viable option for Chance UK as well as other small charities.
One of the presentations was excellent, that by Henry Stewart from Happy People. He got everyone on their feet, and engaged us with discussions about what methods of learning were most popular on the Internet. Surprisingly to me, Twitter was at number one.
The rest of the presentations were more miss than hit for me, with the worst of being that from Dell. Rather than telling us all about to the best cloud offerings for small charities (who made up most of the audience), he instead went into a techno heavy diatribe about Dell’s new servers. Slide after slide of big silver boxes, jargon the soundtrack to each. Wasn’t this supposed to be a cloud seminar? Doesn’t that mean losing the boxes?
Dr Peter Gee from the Overseas Development Institute then talked about his experiences of implementing SharePoint for his organisation, worryingly over several years. I was really looking forward to this – like millions of others, we’re used to the Microsoft interface, so maybe this is what we need. I left feeling pretty scared about the what would happen if we got it – years of meetings, functionality that doesn’t really work and cramming square pegs into round holes.
While it might be one option as an intranet and way of storing files for organisations, the complications of setting it up, of maintaining it, and the various little glitches that seem to stop people making the most of it really put me off. We’re in a difficult economic environment – we need to be out there raising money, not trying to copy files.
This stuff should be simple, and Microsoft don’t follow that, they’ll fail.