Remarks by Doug Burgum, Senior Vice President, Microsoft Business Solutions Group
March 28, 2006
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, Senior Vice President, Microsoft Business Division, Doug Burgum. (Applause.)
DOUG BURGUM: Good morning Convergence. Welcome to day three. Wow, wasn’t that another amazing performance by Mass Ensemble? (Applause.) This is the third day I’ve had a chance to open up the keynote session, and each day I’ve started out with a thank you, and I want to have another one of those again this morning. I really appreciate you being here for today as we talk about community. I appreciate you being here at 8:00 in the morning after three days of intense social networking. You guys are becoming experts in that. But I think that if you’re here this morning, this is a very special group. I’m positive you are having success in your business, because you’re demonstrating that key for success, which is stamina. So, you’ve got your stamina gene going in high gear, and, again, just give yourselves a round of applause for actually being here in the morning on Day Three. So, way to go. (Applause.)
It’s so easy these days when we have the webcast, which you can go back and watch later, and effectively we are now Tivoing the entire conference, because you can time shift, and I think for some of those people that say, hey, I want to sleep in, I’ll watch it later, they can do that. That’s nice that we provide that for that portion of our community. But again, I really appreciate, because I think a key part of community is that live connection, that ability to interact with each other. This morning, we want to have that be the core of our discussion this morning is that interaction amongst ourselves, and how we can become a stronger community. So, I really appreciate you being here.
In terms of this morning, we kicked off again for the third day, I want to draw back on the powerful metaphor of music as delivered by the live performance that we again saw today. On the first day, before Jeff Raikes talked about people-ready business, the theme and the metaphor of that was the coming together of a series of unique instruments building a beat, and building upon each other, and achieving harmony and orchestration. And harmony and orchestration is part of what I think we all seek as business people in terms of what we want to happen in our businesses regardless of the size or scale of those organizations.
On the second day, yesterday, when we had the fantastic presentation by Bill Gates, the morning’s music was more of an improvisation, where we had a beat going one way, and then a counter beat that came in and set everything in a new direction, as often happens in innovation.
And today, we had a fantastic performance, and I think that one of the key words here is performance, because no matter how original, or how well composed a piece of music is, no matter from what era, what style, or what portion of history that music would come from, it takes performers to bring it to life and to make it real. And, as we saw again the creativity and the originality that’s expressed by Mass Ensemble, another one of their completely original instruments, the wing harp, you saw the golden drum, this is a beautiful music coming from the instrument, but today there was a new element, and that was an element that began coming right from you, the voice, a clear, strong voice, a voice absent of fear. And that’s, again, literally meant to symbolize and represent you, because your voice is such an important part, and so central to what we have in our community.
This year, as many of you know, as many of you have had a chance to interact with Matt in the morning, and one of his questions is, how many Convergences? This is, I guess, the 10th anniversary of Convergence. Ten years of ideas, of knowledge, people, 10 years of feedback, of suggestions, of recognition, inspiration, and, yes, 10 years of social networking before we knew what that term was. But your presence, and your voice over the years has made that possible.
So, before we spend today looking forward to where our community is going, I think it’s important to understand that this community began with very humble beginnings, and a very small group of people, but that’s grown, and grown, and grown to see where we are today. So, let’s take a look back at the first 10 years of Convergence.
That’s right, you should give yourselves a hand because it’s your participation and your involvement that has made this community so vibrant over the years.
I want to, again, as we conclude today, after for some of you who have been here five days, some four, some three, but you’ve made a big investment in your time away from your families, away from your businesses, away from your customers, to be here learning more, investing in yourselves, investing in your capabilities, and I want to again say, on behalf of all of us, and on behalf of all our partners to give you a big thank you and express our gratitude.
In the slide we have up as part of the thank you, I think you’ll see the visual representation that Convergence does contain not only lots of folks from lots of different product lines, and lots of different businesses, and industries, but this year we also hit a record where we have folks from 63 different countries here. So, again, give yourselves another hand for the great diversity. Thank you for everything you’ve done. (Applause.)
The place I want to start today and talk about community is starting with the point of intent. Intent meaning that communities sometimes are helped if there are some guiding light, or a North Star, a fixture that people can think about to help point folks in the right direction. When we began at our first Convergence 10 years ago, we had a phrase that we talked about all the time in terms of mission about improving the lives and the business success of our partners and customers. That evolved about five years ago to become the essentially to tie directly into the core mission of Microsoft, which is enabling people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential. And I think that the key of this mission statement which has been around five years, and then you think about the people-ready business direction that we’re communicating to the market today combines two key elements, and these have both been key since the beginning 10 years ago, which is people and business, and the important role that people drive business success.
Now, that may seem so self-evident that it seems crazy, but when you think back over the last 25 or 30 years, there has been such a focus on the technology that sometimes I think the central element of empowering people, and enabling people to do their best has been lost as we’ve been enamored by the technology itself. To me, rather than being some kind of advertising campaign, marketing messages, you know, words on a wall, the mission has always held deep meaning for me, and I think that part of the reason why it still holds meaning for me today is that I do believe, it’s one of my sort of core beliefs, that all the things that have been invented on the planet in the relatively short history that humans have been in charge, in that relatively short history, software has emerged in the last 30 to 40 years as this incredible tool, and maybe the most amazing tool yet, that can extend and enhance human potential. And human potential is, in some ways, really what our future is riding on.
I sometimes just like to do the exercise in myself and say, how high is up for humanity? I mean, is it possible, if not in my children’s lifetime, but maybe in my grandchildren’s, or great-grandchildren’s, or great-great-grandchildren’s, 2100, what will the world be? Will there be a world without the kind of horrific diseases that Bill was sharing about yesterday? Will there be a world where communication and collaboration is the standard and conflict has been minimized? Will our headlines be completely different in terms of the things that we see in terms of humanity’s inhumanity to each other? Will that really change? Is it possible to have a world without poverty, with peace? I believe that it is.
And I think all you have to do is look back at how much the world has changed, and sometimes I think it’s easy to fall into a spot, day to day, with the frustrations, where you run into particular individuals that may bring you down, that have some kind of quality that lacks optimism, or their own situation has caused them to be in a situation where they’re not uplifting you. But if you can sort of get passed all that, and think about humanity as a whole, think about the progress that we’ve made, think about the great ability that we have to invent and innovate, then I think that how high up for humanity is quite high. And I think that this mission of spending time every day getting up, because we all spend so much time at work, getting up and spending time working on big, tough, challenging, and sometimes frustrating issues, that at the core are about enabling people and businesses to realize their full potential is a great place for me to spend my time, me, personally. That’s why I feel connected to it. I feel good about it. And I feel like this is a worthwhile effort, because at the end of my life I’m going to look back and say, wow, I spent basically my whole life in the software industry, what was that all about?
I don’t want to have one of those things where you wake up and go, gee, did it really make a difference, was I part of something larger? I know that I am. I know from the stories that I hear back from people I’ve worked with over the years, I know that we’re in a position where we can impact lives, where we can improve business success, and where we can improve people’s lives.
And you say, well, why business? Aren’t other things more important than business, even education, healthcare, et cetera? To me, business is about sort of operationalizing the impact of the innovation and the ideas. Without business, we really don’t move forward. Without the economics that underlie what we sometimes call business, that’s really where the advancement is occurring. And in some cases, businesses are far more effective, and private organizations, far more effective in organizations, and I think you don’t even have to look any further than the Gates Foundation to see how being yes, it’s a foundation which maybe is not a business, but believe me Bill is running it like a business, and that business is having a tremendous impact, and is outpacing and setting the standard relative to other public service organizations. So, I do really believe in the power of people. I believe in the power of business. And I believe that there’s a lot of headroom in terms of where we can go in terms of how high is up for humanity.
If we take it and bring it a little bit more to you in terms of this idea of your organization, and your people, how high is up for your company, for your business? And, maybe, again, it sounds too much like a marketing thing to say, you know, are you a people-ready business? But I would ask it a different way, and maybe I don’t mean to come across in a challenging way, but I want to say, are you investing enough in your people? Are your people spending their days frustrated by their inability to have systems work together? Are they unable to find information? Are they spending too much time not collaborating because of the tools that they have at hand? I believe, again, there’s been all this debate about the ROI, and the ROE, and the TCO, and all that, and I think all of that we, as an industry, need to keep justifying, and working on, and explaining, and communicating the value of the products and the solutions that we deliver.
But, at the heart of it, I think that you have to sort of say to yourself, wow, if my people are more productive, wouldn’t they be happier, and if my people are happier, aren’t they going to do a better job of working with and retaining customers. If they’re happier, we have better collaboration, and we have improving operations. If they’re not spending time on the frustrating stuff that doesn’t work, will they have time to be more innovative, will they have time to build better relationships with your partners, your suppliers, and your other business partners?
Of course, all of that, so I think the heart of this thing is, again, focusing on the individual role, and making sure that they’ve got that role’s-based productivity. And that is, I guess, a question that I would want you to come back from this thing as not just a point solution, but as a leader. You are either a leader of your organization, or your company has believed in you to invest in you to come to this conference for a number of days, is to go back as a leader, with a voice, and say, are we investing enough? Are we doing enough to make sure that our people are empowered, are they happy, are they motivated? Can get they after these four key areas that have been described, because these are the four big key lever driver areas that business research has shown can improve business performance?
So, I think that one of the other things that is interesting in today’s multi-tasking world, it’s also been called the even the young people are called the M generation for all their multi-tasking, where lots of the interaction that occurs, and maybe this is the way it occurs in your home sometimes, it certainly occurs this way in business transactions, is that the interactions that you have between the customer and the business are often very short and very fast. And there was actually a book that I really enjoyed from 20 years ago, almost 20 years ago, 1987, written by Jan Carlzon, who at the time was the CEO of SAS the Scandinavian Airlines, and the book was called Moments of Truth. This was before the Internet, before lots of empowering systems to help people be successful in a business. And he talked about the fact that they’d done research, when someone flew on SAS that their interaction with SAS as an organization was a series of nine or more per flight interactions with an SAS employee, all of which lasted less than a minute, hopefully less than a minute, checking in, saying hi to a flight attendant, maybe being greeted by a pilot, perhaps having some other interaction with a flight attendant during the flight, but a series of small, little interactions. It was those moments of truth that really determined whether or not the perception of that organization was one that gave great service, one that should deserve to earn repeat customers, et cetera.
I think that’s probably more and more true, it might have just been true specifically for the airline business 20 years ago, but more and more all of our businesses are determined by these moments of truth, and those moments of truth may be an online moment, they may be a telephone call, they may not even be a personal face to face interaction. To have those moments of truth go well, that’s part of being people-ready, means again that we have to have the system so people can get the answers, yes, I’m empowered to take care of your problem, yes, I have the answer to your question. All of that is about, again, putting people in a position for their role to have those systems ready.
So let’s take a look at one company. I know there are hundreds, if not thousands, even here at this conference of organizations that have done a great job applying our systems to help themselves become more people ready, but this is a very fun success story. This is a small, little company, started out with four employees, they’ve grown to 70, and they’ve had success across all four of these key business driver areas. Let’s take a look.
DOUG BURGUM: I’d like to think that that’s a great example of a people-ready business, very fun, and I want to thank OCC, as they’re called on their cable show, for their help on that video. It’s great having them as a customer. So we not only want to help them realize their potential, but I don’t know, our systems are good, but I’m not sure if we’re going to be able to help them with their family dynamic. Maybe someday we can get that built into the software.
Next I want to really shift gears and I didn’t want to shift gears quite that far, but that’s fine. That can just stay there. I think I want to cross the boundary, if you will, and I want to just spend part of our time together sharing a story. Normally those of you that have heard me speak over here, this is when I would get into a thing where I would bring up some story from history that might be intriguing to some. But, I thought, I’ve been certainly not all. I’ve been encouraged that perhaps what I should do today is get out of my own comfort zone. I challenged you the other day about standing up, meeting something new, and spending your time at the conference asking the questions that you’re afraid to ask, and taking that next step.
I think on the one hand it’s easy for me, being part of the community, to get up here and share an abstract story from history, which hopefully would have some meaning to all of us, but I’ve been encouraged to get out of my own comfort zone and talk a little bit about my own history, my own example. And that’s hard for me, because I don’t think of myself as someone who should be the center of anybody’s attention. I don’t think of myself as someone that should be even worthy of maybe some examples. I think there are some people that played roles in my life, that have had a voice in my life, and I’ve grown up in a situation where I’ve had a chance to experience through my life an opportunity to see the power of community, and the power of voice, and the power of trust.
So I want to spend some time this morning really talking about values and community. That’s the piece I want to talk about. If this comes across as more free-form, and more unscripted, that’s because it is. And I think that part of that is what we’re trying to achieve in the community is that we’re seeking not a situation where we have again, people are smart, people can understand authenticity. Companies that have tried to create sort of corporate I’ll call it a corporate blog, where they use it just as an extension of a canned marketing message, have been appropriately, as the young people would say, dissed. Dissed in the sense that people just say they discount it, they disrespect it, they say, hey, we can see through that. People have an ability to do that.
I think the same thing here, where the original vision of Convergence was for us to really come together and share ideas, and if it meant for you to be critical to us, and to share views, that was part of it. I want to make sure that we don’t lose touch with our roots as a conference, and that we don’t become something that’s too corporate, and that we’re too much presenting and pitching. So I want to make sure that we connect with an element of authenticity, where I as a leader take some risks, and you’ve taken some risks by risking your time and your stuff to be here.
So in the sense of community, and the sense of values, I think at least if I’m going to talk to you as a business person to business person, that’s how I like to say it, not as a senior VP at Microsoft, I want to go back to the earliest a couple of primary examples in my life of where I was involved in smaller businesses. Of course, naturally one of those was when I had a chance to get involved with Great Plains when it was a very, very small company, 15 people. The thing which I think, when you look back and sort of say, hey, what was core there? I think one of the things that was core was that the community at Great Plains, and our ability to build a community of partners, and a community of customers from a very small customer, began with even a smaller community. That community was our team members.
When I think back, and someone was here interviewing me and said, hey, Doug, what were some of the secrets, I think one of the things that I and I’m not trying to say, oh, it was a brilliant vision or whatever, because as I’ll probably share later, I think some of this was just the good fortune of my upbringing that brought me to a set of values where I thought it was really important to focus on the people that were there, to create a culture that was deeply embedded around respect for individuals, respect for diversity, respect for other people’s lives, and with that, and a focus on the team members, and again it would be blasphemy at any business conference, or at a customer conference or whatever, to ever come up with a phrase in a business that says the customer comes second. That would be blasphemy.
Actually, there was a book written in the ’80s by someone who turned out to be a good friend of mine, Hal Rosenbluth, who wrote a book, and the whole premise of his book, The Customer Comes Second, was about the fact that you can never take a great you can never deliver great customer service, you can never have great innovation, you can never really be a tremendous company if you don’t have happy team members. If your employees aren’t happy with their situation and their ability to reach their potential, if they feel constrained, if they feel a lack of trust, if they feel controlled, certainly in the generation of people that are emerging into the workplace today, this is more important than it ever was to think about the culture and the environment that you’re creating that allows people to be themselves, to be authentic in their work, it allows them, again, to be able to achieve what they want to achieve in their life.
So early, early on at Great Plains we focused a lot on the team members, a lot, a lot, a lot on the team members. Part of what we did is we tried to lay a foundation that was about a set of values. We initially talked about three values, we talked about caring, we talked about commitment, and we talked about courage. And the three Cs carried us for most of the ’80s. And we tried, when we were doing the interviewing and the hiring, and I remember all the way up through from 15 to 150, no one had an opportunity to actually get hired, regardless of their role, unless I got a chance to spend a chunk of time with them.
I wouldn’t necessarily call it an interview, but it was a it might have been called an interview, but it was a time for me to get to know those people and understand how they might fit in, and how they would be in the organization. I think the key thing for me was less about their GPA, or where they lived, or where they worked, I always was searching to try to find out if there was some example from their past where they had demonstrated some of these core values, had they cared about the other people that they had worked with, had they worked in a team environment, had they been in team sports, had they demonstrated somewhere along the line, regardless of whether it was a job in high school, or something that their family expectations, is that they were put in a situation where somebody else had to be a higher priority than themselves.
Caring is about having an external approach to life, it is about having a sense that somebody else is more important than you are. It is about having a service orientation towards other people, in the sense that you live in some ways to serve, as opposed to be served. I would always be looking for this kind of caring element in there.
The second thing was commitment. Could people make a commitment and stick with it. Did they have the ability to ride through rough times and hardships, and overcome challenges, and were they willing to do that, because I knew that in the journey that we were on as a small business, and our aspirations about growth is that we were going to have lots of problems, it wasn’t going to be easy sailing.
We were never about, hey, come join us, and this is a rocket ship and everything is going to be easy. It was all about, we’re pioneers. We’re trying to do something that has never been done before. We’re doing it in a part of the world where people think it can’t be done. We have to overcome lots of hurdles that we have including for many years we were poorly capitalized. We were challenged by distance. There were a lot of things that we had to try to overcome in the ’80s as we were growing. There was enormous amounts of competition.
I remember the first COMDEX trade show I went to, after having literally bet the family farm in 1983 investing in Great Plains and thinking that I had come upon this unique idea that nobody else had thought of. And I go to COMDEX two weeks later and there are 63 other people in the brochure with exactly the same business model. I mean, it was like wow, that was great due diligence on my part. So I think that commitment to understanding, hey, this is going to be a long road, this is not going to be something quick.
The third thing that we talked about right from the front, and now I just saw it the other day in a bookstore, there’s a popular business title that’s out that talks about courage, the title of the book. One of the three Cs that we had in the early 1980s was caring, commitment, courage, and I guess I felt like it was a core value that was required if someone was going to be part of our organization, which is people had to have the courage to stand up, people had to have the courage to say, hey, this is not right, or we’re not taking care of this customer, or hey, we need to fix this bug, or we’ve got to stand up and own this problem. We’ve got to have the courage to be accountable to ourselves, and externally. And that courage element was, again, something that even at the beginning I knew it was important, I never realized how important it is.
If you look at the headlines over the past X number of years, which has, again, eroded people’s confidence in business as a segment, in spite of what I said earlier, that I think business even more so than government has the ability to shape the planet in the next 50 years. Unfortunately, broadly, in terms of the headlines, businesses are creeping down towards politicians in terms of the level of trust that the public has for them. Accountants used to be super-high on the trust level in terms of the public, they’ve fallen in the last five years, and many of you are from that field.
This is a sad thing, and it wouldn’t had to have happened, but somewhere along the line there were people involved in situations where they didn’t have the courage to stand up and say, hey, this doesn’t this doesn’t pass the smell test, this isn’t right, we shouldn’t be doing this, this is wrong. You have to have people who have the courage to stand up to you as the boss, or you as the leader, and present opposing views. I always loved having people around me who were courageous enough to tell me that I was wrong. I think it was one of the things that really helped us as a company as we were growing.
I was fortunate, and I had courageous people who were willing to do whatever it took to make things right for customers. We had people who were we had the courage to bet on a partner channel, when everybody said, it will never work, you’ll never be able to gain scale unless you have your own direct sales force. And we said, we believe in the model of partners, we have the courage to stick with it, and stick with it, and we’re going to make that better, as opposed to going with the traditional thinking.
So those are the four Cs. But, guess what happened around 1990? We added a fourth C, the fourth C was community, because we realized that there was power in the community that we needed to be able to tap into, third party solutions, to partners, we needed the intelligence of customers to come and participate in this.
That was at a time when I was at the time giving speeches which were lampooned later, but I was giving speeches on ant colonies, and flocks of birds, and bison herds, everything I could find biologically. The ‘net hadn’t come along yet to sort of demonstrate that when enabled humans will also start doing amazing, collective things when we have the chance. These stories and these metaphors from the land of biology and science, wherever, was to reflect the fact that, hey, we’re all mammals underneath, we’re still biological beings, and there are reasons and needs why we would form community, and that community, sometimes we’d call it the ecosystem back when I was using the biological metaphors, was an important part of our collective success.
Those were the sort of the underlying sort of values that we had. Then you might say, then again, understand when I was starting this, I was 26 years old when I got involved with Great Plains, where would some of that come from? I think the thing I’m most grateful for is that I had a chance, early, early in my life, to grow up in a really, really small down, let’s call it a community. The place that I grew up, 400 people, and that’s if we count the 110 that are in the (inaudible) okay. That’s how we get the 400. So it is a small, little town, out on the prairie, out in the middle of the great plains, not particularly there’s nothing particularly unusual or different. There’s hundreds of other little towns like it. I’d say if I was going to paint a picture, it’s as flat as the floor you’re sitting on, and virtually no trees. We’re talking prairie, a little prairie town, a little agricultural prairie town.
In that town was and I ended up there again, a lot of us end up by fate, by where our ancestors made choices on where they lived and where they worked, but this was a situation where my ancestors chose to homestead back when this part of the Dakotas was one of the more recently settled places on the planet, it was in the 1880s, when people started immigrating to this area in any kind of sense of population. Before that there really weren’t any villages, there was the, again, the great metaphor of community associated with the Native American tribes, which had in many cases no permanent villages, they would just move across themselves, as a very effective community, following the community of bison.
This is a place where there hadn’t been permanent human settlements. So it’s, again, sort of a fresh, clean slate in that sense, compared to a lot of other places on the planet, which have a rich history of human so you come to this barren place, some people might say, god forsaken, windswept, and cold. I’d say, this barren, beautiful place, and there’s no electricity, there’s a tremendous amount of hardship, people are trying to scratch a living out of the ground and that was, again, where it came from. But, there was still, even in that environment, a need to form communities. In this case, the communities, the small communities formed as a way for people to band together, to be able to trade and sell supplies, and buy and sell from each other, because communities at their heart are about information, information exchange, and they’re about markets. And even a small town on the prairie was about a marketplace that people needed, maybe no longer growing all their food, let’s buy some food, and, hey, I’m growing this crop, but I need to sell it.
So, my great-grandfather got involved in starting the grain elevator. The grain elevator business that buys the crops from farmers, that aggregates those crops, and then works on arranging transportation, and sending them off to some other market. You know, pretty basic little add value, being in the middle type things, very, very super low margins in the grain elevator business. Later on, the grain elevator business involved selling other inputs, like seeds, and fertilizer, and coal, the coal was for people to heat their homes in 1915.
I remember back in the 1980s, in the first documentation we sent out, I have a little story in the beginning of each book that went out with the general ledger that said, in 1915, my great-grandfather helped bring electricity to the town of Arthur, North Dakota. This is a technological advantage which transformed people’s lives in the same way the personal computer has got a chance to transform your lives in 1980. We made that link, if you will, to those other major technological transformation.
But I think the thing is, you might say, well, gee, what does this have to do with community, and how does this experience shape me? And I want to go to a single point in time, I haven’t shared this with people before, but this is when I was really trying to think, you know, back to a core moment in my life, and I have to go all the way back to when I was a little kid. I can’t remember how old I was. I can remember the incident. I was with my dad, we were at the grain elevator. My dad, after he came back from World War II, fortunately he survived several years in the Pacific in World War II, and he came back to the small town, and is there raising a family, and working. We’ve had a farm, and we involved in the farm, and in the grain elevator. At the grain elevator, this is where your neighbors come to bring their crops. This is where people’s income depends on the price you pay for their crops.
The transportation in those days doesn’t involve you being able to drive great distances, roads are not particularly as good as they are today. Trucks weren’t as good as they are today. And so, in some ways, the relationship between that land mass around a small town, and the farmers who bring their grain in, was a relationship that was quite lasting. It was a relationship where I’m sure there could have been someone might have said, hey, they really don’t have a choice, because it’s too difficult for them, and too costly for them to haul their grain 15 or 20 miles away to another town. Certainly in the early days, when people were hauling grain by horse, and before there was even road infrastructure or trucks, this was the case.
And so, there was a lot of grain elevators that never succeeded as private organizations because people basically said, we can’t trust the grain elevator person because it’s almost like they’ve got control over us, and we’d better band together. We had better form a cooperative, and we, as farmers, better own that elevator. And that was the evolutionary model for most grain elevators in the whole country.
But out there in this small town, in Arthur, there still is a private grain elevator. It still run by my family. I’ve got a cousin that is not a situation unlike what Jeff Raikes shared, where all of my cousins who are already working there, I was the youngest of the youngest, and my dad was the youngest brother. He had a brother and a sister who both worked there. So, it passed down through the generations. I was the guy who needed to go find and do something else. I had a chance to work there, you know, from sort of second grade up all the way through college. So, I’ve got 15-plus years working at this organization from when I was a kid doing filing in like second grade, sit down, penny a minute, and file stuff, to all the way up to when I was getting ready to go to graduate school I was still working at the elevator, at the family business, in the summer time.
When I was a kid, when I was probably I had to have been first grade or younger in this area where the farmers bring their trucks in, and there’s a thing called the pit, and the grain truck tips up, and the grain pours out.
And when people harvest their grain, it’s not pristine. If there’s weeds in the field, and this is back, again, if I’m that age, this is probably in the early ’60s. The ability to have a super clean field isn’t the way it is there today with all the advances in seed technology, and technology in farming, et cetera. You’ve got a truck that’s got grain, and it’s got stuff that’s not grain, call it chaff. Separate the wheat from the chaff. And within that mix, when the grain is coming out into the pit, someone from the elevator comes out, because you’re weighing the truck full of grain, and you’re going to weigh the truck empty. The farmer, the customer, is going to get paid for what’s in that truck. When the grain comes out, you have an opportunity to stand in the back with a little silver, almost like a gold panning type pan, and you get a chance to pull some grain out of this truck. And then you take that grain, and from that sample you go into a little small separating machine, and that becomes analogous, or a metaphor, or a measurement that says, this is what percent of that truck is grain, and this is what percent of that truck is chaff. And the chaff you don’t get paid for, it’s dockage. So, if you take a sample that’s 5 percent chaff, the farmer gets paid 5 percent less. If you take a sample that’s 1 percent, they get paid 1 percent less. Everybody understands there’s going to be some dockage.
I’m standing there with my dad as a little kid, he’s got the pan. You know what he’s teaching me? He’s teaching me how to take the cleanest possible sample. I didn’t get that out very well. He taught me how to take the cleanest possible sample. You know what, he understood, my dad was a great guy. He died when I was a freshman in high school. So, I apologize for the emotion, but the thing that he was teaching me about the relationship between a business and its customers is that it’s absolutely, positively based on trust. It’s based on trust.
They have to the farmer, even in those days, would often hire somebody else to drive the truck. That was one job that you could delegate. So, often the person in the truck wasn’t the actual customer. It was a hired man. So, you might say, well, the real customer is not here, he’s not going to know how dirty this truck was. I can go out there and take as much hey, I hold a little bit more because of chaff always is on the edge of the grain flow, not in the middle, you could get something that might have been 10 percent chaff, pay him 10 percent less. All of that is just pure profit margin for a grain elevator. My dad taught me how to take the cleanest possible sample.
That was about how to make sure, even if that truck had 5 percent chaff, you’d only come up with 2, and why was that? Part of that was, I think, this deep understanding about the trust relationship. The other part is, my dad, my uncle, my aunt, were smart business people. The understood that if they and part of being smart is thinking about the long-term, not the short-term. There was a phrase that I later, and it wasn’t very articulate, but it sort of came to me after my dad passed way that what he was teaching me, because these farm, all your customers, get passed from one generation to the next generation, the next generation, and this relationship between us and the grain elevator, and the farmers that we support. Today, my cousin is running that organization, his customers are the great-grandchildren of our great-grandfather’s original customers. You can look back on those invoices I was filing as a first grader and a second grader, the same family names are there. Those farms have stayed in the family for all of those years.
And so, if I was going to shorten this story up by about 15 minutes, I could just say something like, you screw grandpa, and his grandson will never bring you his grain 50 years later, because families (applause) because families remember that. Families pass on that kind of learning. Here is who you buy from, here is who you don’t buy from, here is who you can trust. And so I think about that trust example, and how important trust is in terms of that relationship between those two between the customer and the partner, and it’s such an important thing.
And so, one of the things that I, when I think about communities, and when I think about why we have communities, and why they’re there, part of it is an opportunity for us to establish long-term relationships. At Great Plains we talked about serving customers for a lifetime. But what that metaphor meant to me, lifetime to me meant, someone’s entire life, and then their kids’ life, and now their grandkids’ life, it was a multiple generation thing.
At Great Plains, we knew that the technology was changing faster, and so when we talked about serving people for multiple generations, we talked about establishing the trust that would allow people to believe, to stay with us over multiple generations of products. And if you think about what has been one of the fundamental questions that’s gone on in the community around Dynamics the last couple of years, it has been what is the product roadmap of Microsoft Dynamics. Can I trust the relationship with you, Microsoft, that the solution I’ve invested in will be there? At the heart and core of our Dynamics roadmap is that an effort to try to embody trust to all of you as customer, and all of you as our partners, and all of you as our solution providers in the ecosystem, that you can count on and trust in that roadmap, because without trust then there’s not the basis for a business relationship, without trust there’s not the basis for the tremendous innovation that’s going to be possible with the magic of software. So, that’s what we’re working so hard on is to lay that foundation of trust. Okay, that’s part of what we want to achieve in community.
But the other thing when I talk about why communities, I want to say historically, you know, groups come together to form communities, teams, organizations to accomplish something that they could have not done before. Here, again, history is replete with lots and lots of stories about great journeys, again, and whether that is Lewis and Clark, or whether it’s building the Transcontinental Railroad, whether it’s Captain Cook, or whether it’s the Polynesian sailors, all the different things that maybe have come up in previous dialogues, even the Oregon Trail, we’re going to all band together and go across the country. There was safety and power in numbers. But it wasn’t just safety and power, it was also when you had a larger group of people, like a wagon train, you had a mix of people. You had blacksmiths, you had people who understood livestock, you had people that cooked, you had role specialization. They didn’t have role-based software, but believe me they had roles that everybody was performing on those journeys. And the group’s problem solving abilities multiplied the larger the team was. And with that, when you’ve got a larger set of people, you can have diverse perspectives. You can have independent thought. You can have decentralization. These are all important tenets.
Diverse perspective, independent thought, and decentralization are an important element of now what is being sort of codified and proven through statistical work, and the best example is in this new book that’s out, Wisdom of the Crowds, which you maybe have seen also on the best sellers. Again, they talk about these elements, and they talk about how when you can tap into larger sets of people that are diverse, and have independence, make their judgments independently, and are decentralized, there is not one leader trying to influence the group, that you can actually come up with superior outcomes than you can when you talk to a particular expert.
I think one of the best and most fun examples they hit right away in this book was this big show that was out a few years ago about Who Wants to be a Millionaire? And people had an opportunity to call either an expert, or listen to the audience that was just a randomly selected group of people who probably didn’t have anything else to do that day but to go be a live audience. There’s not a bunch of Ph.D.s sitting up around there, and then Regis is asking people, do you want to call the expert, or do you want to go with the audience? It turns out when a social scientist went back and reviewed all the past episodes, experts did a pretty good job, under the pressure of I’ve got to come up with an answer, they were right 61 percent of the time. You know how often the audience, the untrained audience who is yelling out “pick D,” 91 percent of the time the audience was right.
Okay, how does that happen? It happens because, again, when you’ve got a large set, diverse perspective, independent thought, decentralized things, people can come up with the right answers. It’s a terrific book. I think if you want to spend some time learning more about, if you will, the Wisdom of Crowds, and how that feeds into the importance of what we’re going to talk about and demonstrate here in a couple of minutes about a community.
But I think the other thing is that communities come together and form because we’re bound by common interests that are stronger than any one of us might be. Again, the people get together in these bands to tackle challenges. Now, we’re not facing imminent death or starvation due to a long transcontinental journey without any kind of support, were not on some kind of moon mission, but today technology, if we’re trying to implement technology to become people-ready business, you know, it represents empowerment, but, wow, technology, the rate of change, the complexity, those two things alone, forget all the organizational challenges, forget the fact that people tend to like to use the stuff the used to have versus the new stuff, forget all the human elements of it, just the fact that technology itself is changing so fast and it’s so complex, that represents a challenge on our journey towards higher potential. So, it’s daunting to even understand all the choices that are available.
One of the reasons that we’ve been gathering at Convergence for 10 years is to help create clarity for you around the choices to help create this community where the wisdom of the crowd, if you will, can help all of us shape the direction we need to go, to shape what influences our products, what should we do next, to share and learn from our common experience. And, certainly, one of the things you’ve seen us talk about in the last couple of years, we’ve taken this idea that the products not only have to be vertical, but they have to be role-based, so we have to get down to the specific individual. If we’re really going to empower an individual, and we want to empower a business to be people-ready, we have to write software that works specifically for those roles, and supports them across both structured and unstructured data, the bringing together of those two roles in a way that really supports them and allows them to be successful. So, that’s what we’re doing, and we want to support that with a set of tools.
As I take a look at the next slide, here there’s a couple of themes we want to bring out. And I’m fortunate that our teams have done a lot of great work in trying to build one element of community. There’s lots of elements of community that relate to face-to-face, and the relationship that you build here, but there’s many things also we can support by creating an infrastructure, if you will, exchanges and markets for continuous collaboration, for enhancing and allowing you to connect with others in the same role, and making sure that all of that, with your feedback, delivers business relevance. We want to spend a few minutes today talking to you about the new tools, demonstrating some of them, showing to you, and then really ending with a challenge to have you get more involved in our community.
I’m pleased that I’m able to bring out today to join me on stage one of the key members of our community, someone who drives all of the R&D for Microsoft Dynamics across ERP and CRM. So, please help me welcome Satya Nadella. (Applause.)
SATYA NADELLA: Thanks, Doug. I want to talk about communities today, and really kind of anchor how one could participate in a community around our product line. Just to sort of really put this in perspective, you’ve talked a lot about people-ready at this conference, we’ve talked about the amplification, if you will, of any individual who is empowered through software. So, you can think of the community as really that amplification to the power. And I want to sort of talk about three specific trends which are, I think, software driven at its core, but really playing a huge part in how we can really express ourselves individually, but really benefit the entire community.
The one is user driven content. Perhaps the most used example that you all are probably familiar with is the Wikipedia, with 13,000 contributors. Can you imagine, 13,000 active contributors on a daily basis. It’s available in 100-plus languages. It’s the biggest encyclopedia out there. We have sort of taken some of the ideas from user-driven content and put it into our community.
The second trend is this notion of continuous improvement, or continuous publishing. Again, driven through the power of community, people who are creative and express themselves in the context of community said, how can we drive that.
The last piece is about how you could have social networking in the context of your professional life as well. So, we talked a lot about role-based software, so what does that mean for you to be able to connect based on your role and professional context, and really, again, help grow the community.
So, to sort of bring all of those concepts to life, what I’m logged in here is to our community site. So, this is the public part of our community site. As many of you are familiar, we’ve had always a great partner source, and customer source, that brought all the great content and software that we distribute, and those are sort of the more secured areas, and we’ll continue to maintain and enhance, and continuously improve those communities as well. But this is the public area, out here you have information based on industry, our product line, your business needs. On top of that, we have something that we something that we’ve talked a lot about at this conference, which is the Solution Finder. This is a place where you can go ahead and go to the Microsoft Solution Finder, and find over 5,000-plus solutions that have been catalogued. So, if you’re in a specific industry, and a specific geography, and you want to find a solution, you can go ahead and use this marketplace online to be able to connect with the right solution provider.
DOUG BURGUM: How many were here for Jeff Raikes’ on Sunday morning? Quite a few of you. Maybe you remember there was a question that came up from this aisle, a woman asked me, Doug, where do I find a solution? I’ve got 37
SATYA NADELLA: That’s the place.
DOUG BURGUM: I’ve got 37 companies, I want to do a better job of consolidation. I did what I’ve done for years and said, hey, you know, come after, here’s my e-mail address, we’ll connect you. Later, I had an opportunity to go to the Expo. I’d only made it down an aisle and a half, and I had three of our partners who were exhibiting at the Expo say, Doug, why didn’t you tell her about my solution. We have that solution.
So, again, hopefully, she made her way to the expo, or she made her way to Solution Finder, and found that we actually did, as part of our larger community, have a solution. She had choice, she had multiple choice about having something that could help her with that.
SATYA NADELLA: That’s right. Again, we would love to get your feedback on it, because we want to continue to improve Solution Finder.
The other thing I want to talk about, right here, in fact, you have a lot of highlights. So there’s very relevant content that you can go back and share with your broader community, as well, all the highlights from presentations from Bill and Jeff, and the blog we did on Channel 9 for developers, but I want to go to the Dynamics GP community, and the thing that I wanted to talk a little bit about is our MVP. MVPs are basically participants like you and me, in the community. It stands for most valuable professionals. These are the folks who are contributing very prolifically into the community. These are the folks who answer the questions in news groups, helping really spread that expertise throughout the community. So we really appreciate the work they do. MVPs, I think, are the heart and soul of how communities can thrive. In fact, I think last night we had a bunch of us having dinner with our MVPs and we kind of really look to the MVP community, and any one of you could be an MVP based on your contributions to the community.
DOUG BURGUM: And we’ve got these across CRM, across
SATYA NADELLA: All our product lines. They represent all product lines, all geographies, also all areas of the product in terms of expertise. There is not one expert who knows it all. So there’s a great coming together and sharing.
DOUG BURGUM: So this is a great example of a role that people can play in the community if they want to be a more active member of the community is to become an MVP.
SATYA NADELLA: That’s right. So the other thing is, we have these news groups, and newsgroups are fundamentally a great example of what I talked about as user generated content. At the core you can think of newsgroups perhaps as help, or extensions of the help we provide.
So in this case, for example, these are the active threads, by the way, right now on the Dynamics GP threads, work around the national accounts, feature requests, as well. There’s business portal, I don’t know what this bizarre issue is, but I’m probably not going to go there. But, let’s go ahead and take a look at this work around national accounts. So now you’re
DOUG BURGUM: I think it’s misspelled, I think they’re looking for software for bizarre
SATYA NADELLA: That must be a role. So here you have a newsgroup reader. One of the interesting things is you can look at any like here is, for example, that entire thread, and I think there are eight or nine posts here around national accounts. Somebody is asking about, hey, I get an invoice from a national account, how do I split it across a multiple of their subsidiaries, a sort of well-known issue, I guess. Then (Habib Salim?), who is one of our MVPs has an answer, or at least he’s trying to attempt an answer, and he went on, and there was a huge dialogue around trying to resolve that, if you will.
Let’s go ahead and actually take a look at all sorts of stores that are available. You could look at questions with answers, or questions without answers, if you’re one of those who wants to respond, you can come in here and respond. In fact, we have our every team member on my team spent approximately four hours, well, that’s kind of the commitment we have. Anybody can spend as much time as they want trying to respond to the questions which have no answers, if you will. So we ourselves on the development side are actively participating. Let’s go take a look at some answered questions to see how this is working.
If you go to the I’ll just go to the second thread. Here is Ashish asking about, whether Dynamics GP is being used for jewelry manufacturing by anybody. Here is an answer from Shelly, and Shelly not only says, look, there’s a solution out there on one of the products, but also there are case studies up on Microsoft.com, which are great examples on people using Dynamics in the jewelry industry. So that’s a great one. Here’s another one where you have somebody asking about what the heck are these table names and data fields in GP. So we’re fairly archived sometimes in development, so there’s Victoria, one of our MVPs, who explains zero stands for not void, one stands for void.
So this is the kind of help you can get by just connecting people and their ability to generate and share expertise, if you will.
DOUG BURGUM: Just to be real clear, for people who haven’t been here before, this is public and it’s free?
SATYA NADELLA: Absolutely, it is public, and free, and you can consume and contribute. And the other thing that’s really cool about this, which I love a lot, is the suggestions to Microsoft. You can go ahead and sort and look at all the suggestions that you have, I’m sure you’ve come and sort of heard us speak about a lot of features, but I’m positive we have a lot of things that you feel we should be doing, you were able to communicate it verbally, but at the same time you can go to the newsgroup on a continuous basis, give us suggestions, multiple people can go ahead and look at your suggestions and vote, or they agree or don’t agree with you.
So this is a great way for us to know the fidelity or the popularity of any given suggestion in terms of the number of people who sort of believe that that’s the thing that they want. And also we, from our own team, on a pretty much weekly basis, I know that the Dynamics SL team, for example, has a triage meeting once a week where all of the program managers get together with David Dennis, and they are all thinking about how to respond to these.
Sometimes they go ahead and respond, and talk about sort of maybe third party solutions that are actually already solved, some of these issues, perhaps some things that we are probably doing in a service pack, or we’re going to put in a regular product in an upcoming release. So this is something that the Dynamics GP, SL, and AX take as input, because the suggestions from newsgroups go straight into our product database, which is at some level our mission critical application, and we triage as a development team all those suggestions.
So in this case I’ll go ahead and look at suggestions with response. If you look at a smart list receiving transaction, so here is a suggestion from somebody saying, I want to be able to take receiving transactions, smart lists, and add an additional column, which is a very typical thing that you want to do with smart lists. And here is (Shara Goss?), who is one of our product planners on the Dynamics GP team who responded with a product which we already have, a smart list builder, that could be used to solve that problem. So this is the kind of feedback cycle we have that is really shaping how we build products. This is a point of fact a factoid out there. Dynamics GP 9.0, 70 percent of the features in that release have high votes from the suggestions database. So that kind of shows you the commitment database the team has, and also quite frankly, it makes our job so much easier when we can get this level of fidelity of feedback, when we know exactly what are the gaps, and what is the popularity of those gaps.
So then I want to move on to show you a little bit about the continuous publishing piece. So this is the
DOUG BURGUM: This is the last thing, but I’m going to wrap up here a little bit on the voting, and the contributing, whatever, it’s part of the self-interest for a customer is, the more they contribute the more likely it is that our next release is going to fit their particular needs. So there’s a positive win-win on both sides, makes our job easier, but gives them more of what they really want.
SATYA NADELLA: So I want to go to our Dynamics Snap sandbox. This is the code gallery out there that we have put up for Dynamics, both for CRM, and well as for the ERP product, as a way for us to distribute sample code to the community using, in the case of the Dynamics Snap, the Microsoft Shared Code program. In fact, we’re in good company. If you go to the featured groups you will see that there are many other Microsoft groups that are doing it, and Dynamics is one of the leading divisions of the leading groups, product groups participating in it, Visual Studio, there’s Microsoft Dynamics, and I think that we strongly believe that being able to share some of the enhancements as shared source in the community sites is a way for us to be able to really improve the total power, if you will, of our code.
So if you go ahead into the Dynamics sandbox you’ll see that there’s the Microsoft Dynamics Snap sandbox, as well as a CRM sandbox, and you’ll notice that there are close to 900 members on the Dynamics Snap, and then there are over 1,300 members of the CRM sandbox, and you’ll also notice that there is an indication of whether this particular community is hot, tepid, or cold. I’ve never heard of tepid associated with anything cold. Tepid, cold, and we clearly are on fire. We are hot, 98.98, or what have you, and I have no idea what that really indicates.
DOUG BURGUM: But, we’re precise to four digits, whatever it is. With this hot activity we have, and this is quite new
SATYA NADELLA: Snap is two months old, probably, and the CRM sandbox just got active since January. So it’s pretty amazing. If you go into the I’ll just go to the CRM sandbox to make one point which is, one of the things that we do in CRM help, and any of you who are CRM users, you know that in help you have suggestions, if you don’t find some topics, help that you are looking for, you can give us suggestions, and the team, our user experience team is more like editors on CNET now. So that is, they come in in the morning, they look at what are the suggestions they’ve got, they write up articles, and they publish and post back. So we have continuous updates to our help. So it’s no longer that you have to wait for the next release. So this has really changed the way our publishing teams work. I’m super-excited about it. We also released this week the RSS generator for CRM.
Going back to the sandbox, I wanted to go into Snap. So with Snap what we did was we effectively launched what Mendocino promises to do at some point this year. And we made it available as part of our community. So it’s available for free download. The sample code is there, and we think that anybody in the community who is a developer can extend it, take advantage of the sample code, and build many more. And I think James Schneider yesterday sort of announced that we were going to have 5,000 Snaps in the community, and I hope he is right, because he’s betting on the community to go ahead and extend what we have done with our Snaps.
DOUG BURGUM: I think it might have only been 2,000. Maybe you want to just spend 10 seconds to talk about the three examples of the Snap applications you’re doing right there.
SATYA NADELLA: Yes, I’m going to go right there. So what I want to show you is the kind of value that we want to make available as part of Shared Source. So here is one of the Snaps we released, it’s the ability for users from Outlook to enter time. So if you’re a consultant spending time, and you want to be able to sort of bill that, you want to have that entered into your back office from your Outlook.
So in this case I have I’m billing Doug for the time I’m spending doing this demo. I go ahead and bring up my Outlook calendar, and at this point if I want to create a time sheet at this point it’s going ahead and bringing all the data from my back office in terms of the specific journal I want to enter it in. I can go ahead and enter the project code. This is, again, coming back from your Dynamics, I can enter the department, let’s charge this to sales. And then I can go ahead and enter the center, and what have you, and hit save. At this point it goes back into your back office.
So this is a very simple application, using Visual Studio for Office, and then talking to the Web services being exposed by Dynamics. A lot of the technology we talked about throughout this conference, and again, we’re distributing this as sample code. The other example I have is you’re writing a letter in words, in response to a customer inquiry about a particular order, this is, again, a very, very typical scenario that many of you probably get into, and you want to be able to reference the actual business record.
In this case I want to be able to talk about the specific order, I also want to be able to insert order details. So we have a data lookup Snap which allows you to walk all the entities in your back office, and insert the data from there. So here I’ll go ahead and hit insert record, and this, in fact, brought in all the order details for this specific order, not only that, I can attach this document as a system of record into my Dynamics system, so I can go ahead and attach document, and you don’t lose the fact that you have written this document with reference to business data, and sent it to a customer.
DOUG BURGUM: Isn’t that just a fantastic example then of time saving, because of marrying this world of ad hoc and structured data back to the structured. It’s fantastic.
SATYA NADELLA: That’s right. This, by the way, this data lookup works in Word, it works in Excel, it works in Outlook. So anywhere in Office now you have the ability to get business data, which is the structured data, and combine it with the unstructured information, like Word documents or Excel spreadsheets, or Outlook e-mail messages. So these are just two examples of Snap, we have a couple more out there, and you can take them and extend them, and as I said, that was the entire idea, was to get the community to build around what we have done, and then contribute back, if you will, to the entire community.
So with that, what I wanted to do is move to bring all this together in terms of a user experience as we go forward. Maybe backstage you guys can help me. Okay.
You saw a video earlier of Orange County Choppers. Paul, Sr., what a guy, I learned something this week, I was culturally handicapped, I didn’t know what this entire thing was, but now I’m really but, I’m going to watch that cable show. So Orange County Choppers is an organization where you have multiple employees who are using our system. So I showed you a whole bunch of things, there’s community drops, sand boxes for code, there’s the open community, there’s custom stores.
So when we think about our next generation of user experience, we wanted to sort of take a look at how we can bring all of this into one, if you will, roles-based user experience. So here is the kind of screens that you saw when Darren showed, as part of his keynote, as the next generation of Dynamics UI. So you have the activity center, you have your home pages, and one of the things we’ve done is we’ve taken all the forums that I went to, the community, and build them right into your home page. Not only that, since I’m logged in here as an accounting manager, you specifically bring in the accounting manager forum. So it’s, again, role-centric. I can go ahead and search the community.
I want to go definitely answer the question that Paul, Sr., asked, he wants to know the cost, and when I ask questions I want answers. So if you’re working in that organization, you go straight to our forum and say, look, I want to understand our costs for every item that goes into an engine. I can go ahead and post that question out there. Then once I’m done here I can go back to my activity center, let’s go ahead and look at the community tab, if you will. And one of the things that we’re doing here is, based on your role, based on your product line, we will bring not only what you saw in the public communities, but also what is there in customer stores, and in a very modular fashion populate this home page. So on Vista, for example, you can take some of these modular parts and put them on your sidebar so that you can even watch, continuously track some of these communities, if you will.
So in this case I’ve already gotten a response, and as you see it’s highlighted on my sidebar. So if I go ahead and click I see that Heidi has responded to my questions, and she is saying that I can get in touch with her, and she will help me build this custom report with every item out there, so I can go ahead and add her to my buddy list, and at this point go back and you’ll see that Heidi is actually I have even her presence information. She is online, she is on my buddy list, and I can go ahead and click on it, and I’m getting notice because Darren is right next to me.
So in any case, what you just saw was an entire user experience of how Dynamics UX can incorporate everything that you saw in communities, not only the private, but also the public pieces, and really bring this all together in the context of your role. So that’s something that we were going to definitely work on over the course of the next 12 to 18 months, and make it part of the overall user experience.
DOUG BURGUM: Good morning, Darren.
DARREN: Good morning. Great job on the demo, Satya.
SATYA NADELLA: Thank you, Darren.
DARREN: Next year we might even let you do the Bill G. keynote.
SATYA NADELLA: Maybe.
DARREN: So I was really excited about the community stuff, so while you guys were doing this I built another little demo.
SATYA NADELLA: And for your sake, I hope it works.
DARREN: I hope so, too.
Okay. One of the things you can do is take the community here that you’ve become a part of as part of convergence, and take it back with you to the community of all the other team members in the organization. So I’m in the site settings area here, inside of the business portal, and if I want to just create a new site, I can say, manage sites in the workspaces, create. I’ve got a list, just start the wizard that will allow me to create the Web site. So, I’ve already built a little Web site. So, this is what I learned while I was at Convergence, and you can go build this Web site yourself. And you can create a whole set of Convergence highlights, all the highlights that you saw while you were here, day one, day two, day three highlights, any kind of links that you might want to create, all the presentations that are available so people can get that, pictures, the cool pictures that you brought up and saw. I particularly like this one picture of Matt Gustafson here. He’s never got his mouth shut. Anyway, it’s really cool.
The last thing I want to show you is, hey, you can build this cool Web site, we’ve got a lot of white paper on how to add content in. And so you can use SharePoint, integrate it in with the business portal, and you can extend the community that you’ve created.
DOUG BURGUM: Thanks a lot, guys. That’s awesome.
SATYA NADELLA: Darren, you get MVP.
DOUG BURGUM: Good stuff. (Applause.)
SATYA NADELLA: I just wanted to summarize the three key points. The communities are about your participation as much as about the community itself. It starts really with every individual contributing to it. So, the three ways you can think about it, user generated content, so even a question you ask in the newsgroup is really a start, so I would really encourage you to think about how you can contribute to user generated content. The second one is this continuous publishing. So, everything that we have released as sample code is something that you can take and enhance, and extend. And, lastly, it’s about sort of social networking brought to our professional lives, so you can think about roles-based connections that we can make in conferences like this, and in online communities.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
DOUG BURGUM: Thank you, Satya. Thank you, Darren.
I want to just briefly echo in some ways what was Darren’s challenge. Darren actually did do that demo just in the last few hours, since last night, and it was, again, as an example to say, wow, we have so many tools, it’s so easy to be able to go out. We’ve got all this online content, and you can access it through the communities that Satya described, or if you want to share it with your teams, to go back, again, build your own Convergence SharePoint Portal, pull down some data, and help spread the information and concerns out to a broader set of people. So, again, those examples will be out there if you’re interested in how you want to begin to take what you’ve learned here and have you bring that information to more people in your organization.
In closing thoughts here, I want to just sort of bring us back to the beginning. We started off today with a fantastic live performance from Mass Ensemble. We talked about the ten years of community at Convergence. I tried to share a little bit of how I feel connected to our mission, and how some examples that hopefully were helpful of what some of the values associated with community that had been important guideposts in my life. And then we brought that back and talked again about why communities, and why communities are important, the benefit of communities, the wisdom of crowds, and gave you some examples here of the work that we’re doing to create an infrastructure to allow and facilitate, if you will, the elements of Convergence to exist all year long. We haven’t branded it, but some people would even describe all of the great work that Satya is doing as Convergence 365. Again, a chance for you to keep alive the elements that you have here.
And one way to think about this thing, again, if you’re going to sort of jump in and do one thing when you leave here, another thing that you might want to do is just, if you’ve made a contact with one person, think back 10 years ago when we had less than 100 customers at our first Convergence, part of the reason why there was more at the second Convergence, and more at the third was that people connected and built relationships, maintained those relationships over the years. And sometimes in the early days that was by phone or maybe by e-mail, but now we have all of these mechanisms that allow you to build upon the relationships that you have maintained here. And those may not be, again, just customer to vendor relationships, they may be role-based to role-based. The example that we had of Phyllis and Heidi were two that wasn’t a vendor relationship, that was two people that are accounting managers, each trying to get the job done for their boss, but existing in an online community where maybe they met at Convergence, and maybe they didn’t, but they support each other, and they both end up doing their jobs better.
So, this is where, again, we have a mechanism for aggregating the collective wisdom of the group, and we can bind it together as we demoed, but we also, as our community gets larger, we can do it by role. And you can say, well, sitting in this audience today, if it was you, how many people were out there? We don’t have a completely precise number across all of our product lines, across all of our versions, but we know that the number is well north of a million people that every day are a user on a Dynamics system, over a million people that potentially could be participating today as people who interact regularly with Dynamics solutions.
So, anyway, that’s a large community. There’s a lot of people out there in your same role. If you reach out there and people start, in some ways, you’re all MVPs, because you can help be the catalyst that gets other people to be participating. Like-minded individuals pooling your experience and knowledge to help each other solve problems.
And you might say, well, gee, is this going to work, or what are the other examples of this? I think that we’ve seen right now that social networking is the hottest thing going on on the Net today, and many of you as parents are probably dealing with the whole sense of what kind of controls, what’s my role as a parent in dealing with, Facebook.com, or MySpaces, or Zanga, et cetera, but you have an opportunity to participate in your own way in an online community with relevance. I think the relevance for teenagers is sometimes around dating, and learning, and identity, but there is here also business relevance for you to participate with other people that are in the same role, and essentially get your own invest in yourself by learning from others that are doing the same thing.
Certainly, this idea of community sharing, and sharing knowledge is what Bill was talking about yesterday as the efforts and the research that the Gates Foundation is funding is all based on that premise, the open sharing of research, and the sharing of advancements that help many fields across many hosters, and many countries move ahead.
One of the things, again, which is sort of obvious, is the more people that are on the network, the more valuable that it is. I had an opportunity back in the ’80s on a number of times to be at the same conferences, and interact directly with Bob Metcalf, who was an inventor, a Ph.D., and was founder of 3Com and a number of other companies, but he spoke the first and earliest, so it became Metcalf’s law, but the value of a network grows exponentially with the number of nodes. Roughly the number of nodes squared is what makes the network more valuable. It was interesting when I was thinking about Metcalf’s law, one of the first times I heard that used and discussed was actually talking about fax machines. We don’t even think about that sometimes today, but whoever owned somebody had to own the first fax machine, just one. It wasn’t that valuable. Okay. It became more valuable when the second person had a fax machine, sort of an infinitely leap to, hey, now I can fax that person. But, then once it became universal, more universal then the value then we went through this phase, the pre-Internet phase, where everybody had to have a fax machine, because everybody else had one, and you couldn’t sort of note be on the network, if you will. And that was a precursor to what we’re seeing, a very crude precursor in some ways to what we’re seeing today with the enablement we have over broadband with Internet.
Today the technology is there that allows us to create these virtual communities. We’re investing in that, and we have an opportunity to, again, create a tremendous amount of value by your participation.
Knowledge, though, is different than many other commodities. It’s the I shared a story about a different commodity, grain. That’s a commodity that’s a physical commodity. It’s there, if you don’t take care of it can degrade over time. But, knowledge doesn’t have that characteristic. In some ways it’s even unfair to compare knowledge as a commodity, because knowledge doesn’t get used up when it’s consumed. It can be spread broadly without using its value, and in fact, sometimes the more a piece of knowledge becomes available, the more valuable it becomes, because of the wide array of possible uses and the interaction with that. So, again, if you want to have your investment, if you will, that you’ve made in your own business, in your own systems and around Dynamics improve, then knowledge, the wrapper that we surround that physical piece of software that you own, and evolve, we surround that with knowledge, it becomes more valuable.
Certainly in our industry there is a number of issues relative to social networking sites, and relative to communities that are challenges, and I’m not going to say we aren’t facing challenges. There are challenges to security, challenges of identity, challenges of privacy, but I’m confident that we will think and evolve ways as a community to overcome some of those. We can’t predict with certainty about how all this will evolve, in terms of the economic models, or the legal models. So I’m not trying to suggest that just everybody getting online is a panacea for all things, but there are some things that I believe in at the core of community.
One of those things, which I want to believe in is the set of core values that we talked about at the beginning, the caring, the commitment, the courage, that support community. I believe that with those values that we can overcome a lot of the other so-called issues that people see as we move towards physical communities to online communities. Some of the same values that were important to have, to create a vibrant, and energetic, and nurturing community in a small town like Arthur are the exact same values that we need as we continue online.
If I was going to add one little sort of the Paul Harvey rest of the story about the family business, and I don’t mean to do this out of being overly proud, because also one thing that my dad taught me was that’s not a good thing, to be overly proud, and I’m not trying to suggest that this was something that I had anything particularly to do with, other than shoveling a lot of grain when I was a kid. This past February 24th, the Arthur Farmer’s elevator celebrated its 100th birthday as a continuous business run by the same family. So I thought that was kind of cool. (Applause.)
We will in the tradition of my dad, and my uncle, and my aunt, and all those that have gone before us, we will next September, after harvest when it doesn’t get in the way of customer’s business, and probably not over a weekend, actually on a Wednesday, we’re going to have a celebration. My family has even approached there was a discussion among the family owners, of which I’m one, was, gee, would it be too much about us if we celebrated out 100th anniversary. That was what the topic was. We finally got together and said, hey, we could make it about the customers, and we could make it about their first 100 years. In some cases we’ve got customers whose families have been coming for 100 years, we’ll make it all about them. So we will celebrate 100 years in a customer-focused way next September.
Again, it’s these values that I values that are that I think are essential to that, that we want to bring to these online communities. And one of the things I guess I want to say is, while I don’t know where all it’s going to go, I don’t know what inventive extensions will come as Snap applications from our community, I don’t know all the ways it will get used, I don’t know all the composite applications that will get built, but I do know a few things. I do know that I believe in our partners, and in the relationship that we’ve had with many of them that go back several decades. I believe in our customers. I believe in all of you, and your abilities, and your wisdom, and your collective wisdom to help make us stronger. And I also believe in the Microsoft team members who are also key parts of this community, who have great passion in wanting you to succeed as customers, and wanting our partners to succeed.
So I believe in the people that together comprise this Dynamics community. I know that we’re growing. We’ve seen that through a lot of different metrics. We’re over 1 million strong, and I know we’re going to grow even stronger going forward. And I know that together we have an opportunity to really shape and change our own future. And I want to say that part of our future our future has to be full of aspirations, it has to be full of dreams, it has to be full of big, bold goals. We have a potential here, we have the ability through the community to help each other realize our potential, to help each other realize our dreams, and to help each other realize our goals.
To help each other, we need the thing that we started with this morning, the thing that came from the audience over here, it requires participation in the community, it requires a voice. It requires that clear, strong voice. And part of that clear, strong voice is a voice that has the courage to speak up, a voice that’s absent of fear, a voice that is full of respect for other people that have different opinions. Those are an element that I know we have, and I know that if we hang to that core value, if we use the clear, strong voice that we’ve been given, we have an opportunity to make a great business community, and in that sense we have a chance to enrich all of our lives.
I want to leave you with a closing quote. I want to thank you, again, for your attention. I want to thank you for your participation. I want to thank you for everything that you’ve already given to our community, but this quote, again, helps set us going forward. It’s from Margaret Mead, who was the famous anthropologist who spent her life studying groups of people, and I think it’s appropriate to close when we’re talking about wisdom of crowds or groups, collective wisdom, to have someone who spent their life really understanding the social societies and tribes, and groups, and people, and how these all interacted, again, essentially studying the human potential.
She said, “Never underestimate that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” I believe that you in your own way, in your organizations can be one of those people that will change your world. And I want to thank you for everything you’re doing to do that. Thank you very much.