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Callie Jones

My name is Callie and I'm the digital marketing manager at Perficient. I spend most of my days managing Perficient's online and social media presence, which includes Perficient's IBM, Microsoft and Oracle practices. I came to Perficient through the acquisition of PointBridge in February 2012, where I was the content marketing specialist. Prior to that, I spent three years at Hubbard One, a Thomson Reuters business, marketing software and services to law firms. I grew up in Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a degree in journalism and mass communications. Like most Minnesotans, I have an affinity for the state and it’s summers.

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SharePoint Fest Chicago 2012: Preparing for SharePoint 2013

Author: Amy Smith, Senior Project Manager, Perficient

Dynamic!  That is how I would describe Dan Holme, MVP.  Dan’s presentation at SharePoint Fest Chicago 2012 was, “Preparing for SharePoint 2013”.  Dan travels the world doing SharePoint projects, and his most recent was the Summer Olympics in London. 

During his presentation, Dan went through all of the changes in SharePoint 2013 and why Microsoft included them–something we had heard from other speakers too.  Then he detailed the preparations IT professionals need to make to ensure their environments and organizations are ready for SharePoint 2013.  See Dan’s presentation here for the details.

My takeaways were that while business drivers should make the case for moving to SharePoint 2013, there are plenty of technical components with respect to infrastructure, networks, storage, DNS, SSL, Services, IE, browsers, information management . . . you know, things that get technical folks excited, to keep IT very busy.  This means that organizations need to work with professionals who know the ins and outs and can guide them to the promised land of improved business performance for their organizations.  He also gave some best practice tips to IT pros to get ready for SharePoint 2013:

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SharePoint Fest 2012: Going Social

Author: Amy Smith, Senior Project Manager, Perficient

SharePoint Fest Chicago, held September 25-27, included sessions by industry experts and implementation leaders from the user community.  One of the user sessions was entitled, “Going Social – Nalco’s Journey”.  Daniel Flynn gave an excellent presentation on the process Nalco went through to define, plan and implement their social intranet project.  The goal of this project was to share expertise from highly mature markets/countries to associates in less mature markets, using social media tools. 

Like any organization, Nalco had a diverse user community; some of whom would embrace the technology quickly, and some of whom would resist it every step of the way.  This part of their project was the most interesting to me as a newcomer to social media.  Flynn highlighted some key points to involve, interest and turn naysayers into enthusiastic social users:

  • Plan for their negativity, right from the start. 
  • Make sure the solution does not add another thing they have to keep track of.  Instead, replace other tools.  If they can get by with less email or instant messaging, and gain greater reach, GREAT! 
  • Since this was a project about sharing expertise, show them, over time,  how they are becoming the “go to” person for their specialty, growing in stature in the community, adding value for the company, and improving their resumes. 
  • Finally, as these experts become more ingrained in the community, use them to help evangelize others. 

SharePoint Fest Chicago 2012: Empowering Reluctant Project Managers with SharePoint 2013

Author: Amy Smith, Senior Project Manager, Perficient

Well, I liked Dux Raymond Sy’s Keynote address so much at SharePoint Fest 2012 that I attended his session titled, “7 Ways to Empower Reluctant Project Managers with SharePoint 2013”.  Dux is the author of “SharePoint for Project Managers” and has a PMP certification.  But, most of the people who manage projects don’t have credentials like his.  This was the focus of his presentation.  He wanted to show how the features of SharePoint 2010 and 2013 help those who are not professional project managers.  Dux went through presentation slides to set the stage, but then moved into demonstration mode where we saw his concepts in action.  You can see his presentation here.

7 Ways to Empower Reluctant Project Managers with SharePoint 2013I was most impressed with the synchronization between Microsoft Project and  SharePoint.  You can move between the two, updating either or both and then synchronizing them.  Then, display your project plan contents in SharePoint in an easy-to-visualize manner, looking more like a checklist than a complicated project plan. 

Dux also showed the power of SharePoint metrics for dashboards by easily communicating your project progress to team members and senior managers.  So, click on the link to see his presentation video and learn more about these features and the other 5 ways to empower your reluctant project managers.

SharePoint Fest Chicago 2012: Keynote Recap

Author: Amy Smith, Senior Project Manager, Perficient

SharePoint Fest Chicago was held September 25-27.  I attended the keynote address, “Revolutionize Your Organization with SharePoint 2013”.  The speaker was the dynamic Dux Raymond Sy, an MVP/PMP and author of “SharePoint for Project Management.”  Dux walked us through how SharePoint 2013 provides organizations with answers for the four major technology drives today:SharePoint Fest Chicago 2012

  1. BYOD (bring your own device)
  2. The speed of business
  3. The need for IT to do more with less
  4. Social media 

He stressed that technology for technology’s sake is a non-starter.  Delivering business solutions that allow organizations to get work done are critical and get funded.  SharePoint 2013 delivers on these four drivers by providing tools to organize, discover, build and manage.  Dux went through a list of 2012 features for each of these tools.  The greatest take away from this session, aside from the obvious enthusiasm the speaker has for SharePoint 2013, was that while 2013 helps organizations provide tools for today, consultants must work the traditional path to understand client needs, determine the solutions that fit their needs, and facilitate their decision-making process . 

 The presentation and comments from the session can be found here.

SharePoint as a Platform in a Highly Regulated, Clinical Research Environment

Last week, Perficient presented a webinar on using SharePoint as a platform in a highly regulated environment. Tony Egl, consulting services director and Jason Bell, consulting services senior technical director—both at Perficient—presented a case study that leverages SharePoint 2010 to bring clinical processes out of a paper environment and into an electronic, auditable environment. This provided the client the ability to initiate and track clinical process workflow, including, documentation, events, data, adjudication results and more. Tony and Jason also covered other strategic and technology goals for the solution such as:

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Happy Birthday, Microsoft Lync 2010! A Year in Review

The beginning of December marks Microsoft Lync 2010′s first anniversary. Two thousand and eleven has been a successful year for Lync, so let’s take a look at some of the milestones Lync has accomplished in just 12 months.
  1. About 3 million enterprise users use Lync 2010 for their telephony needs versus a traditional PBX.
  2. Forrester research found the ROI on Lync is more than 300 percent, while companies could see a breakeven point as early as 7-8 months after deployment.
  3. Lync has grown 25 percent at Microsoft, and Derek Burney, corporate vice president for Microsoft Lync and Microsoft Office Data, credits much of Lync’s success to its relationship with Microsoft Office tools and Lync’s partner community.
  4. Clients are already reporting great success. Kirk Gregersen highlights much of this triumph in his blog post:
    1. LA Fitness reports saving more than $650,000 a year.
    2. Swisscom decommissioned 94 PBXs after deploying Lync to its 15,000 employees, saving $17 million.
    3. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia says Lync was the fastest product roll-out in company history. In just 24 hours, 60 percent of their workforce adopted Lync.
    4. …even the U.S. Army is using Lync to connect soldiers.
  5. And mobile is coming soon. The rumors are flying; the much anticipated release of Lync 2010 for smartphones and tablets is rumored to arrive before the end of the year. The same ease of connecting with colleagues and clients on your laptop will be available on-the-go.

Lync 2010 has certainly had an impressive first year on the market. It’s exciting to hear how a technology is truly changing business for the better. If you’re looking to hear more success stories and what Lync has accomplished this past year, I encourage you to check out the links highlighted above. Additionally, you can learn more about Lync’s capabilities here.

From the Eyes of a New User: How Microsoft Lync Benefits Business and Budget

My previous company was like many organizations; we battled time zone barriers and needed to communicate with a mobile workforce. I used 5 different tools on a daily basis to communicate with my colleagues. In hindsight, especially as a Lync user now, it’s easy to see how much productivity was lost in those 5 disparate technologies. Setup hassle aside, the time my team lost trying to connect with each other was frustrating and took away from the time we needed to be collaborating and working. It became the crutch we blamed when things didn’t get completed. “I’ve been having trouble connecting with the London office this week,” or “Jimmy couldn’t get the web conferencing to work on his mobile phone.” But Lync has changed all that for us at PointBridge.

And it’s not just PointBridge. Throughout the past year, businesses have begun to realize productivity benefits of a fully integrated communication platform, as well as savings to make any CIO’s heart skip a beat.
 

 

And although Microsoft Lync is less than a year old, it’s already made a strong impact in the UC market for those very reasons of productivity and cost savings. Gartner has rated Lync among the leaders in recent studies:


Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications August 2011

 



MarketScope for Enterprise Instant Messaging and Presence July 2011

 

What makes Lync the top solution within the UC market is it’s all-encompassing integration capabilities, low price-point, and subsequent return on investment. Here’s a breakdown of the four key areas where Lync comes out on top:

  1. A Mobile Workforce
    Today, businesses continue to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on in-house telephone systems. Yet employees are spending more time on the road – working at home, in a coffee shop or with a client – and less time in the office. While investing in a PBX phone for each employee used to make sense, buying a costly piece of technology that is expensive to upgrade and sits alone in a cubicle unused the majority of the time is no longer a smart model for today’s businesses.
    Instead, a true unified communications platform allows employees to communicate through a computer and a low-cost and more mobile headset.Employees can call each other with one click and instantly communicate.Forrester Research highlights the cost savings using Lync for a composite company below:

    Forrester Total Economic Impact Whitepaper

  2. Web Conferencing
    Web conferencing is a staple in how we at PointBridge do business on a daily basis. Share your desktop or host a webinar; not only are your travel costs reduced, but it’s become a mission-critical component in how we work with each other and our clients.
     Lync web conferencing capabilities make impromptu meetings seamless. Users on a voice call can easily decide to share their desktop, documents or collaborate on a white board; all from within a single interface. Additionally, Lync has been shown to yield up to $675,000 in cost savings at the end of year three versus using a third party web conferencing system.
    Forrester Total Economic Impact Whitepaper

  3. Audio Conferencing
    One of my favorite features about Lync is the ability to call a colleague or client through my computer just by clicking on his or her name. With presence, I can see if my colleagues are available to talk, in a meeting, or “away.” Furthermore, I can leave a voicemail that is transcribed directly to my recipient’s email. The process is so hassle-free, I’m more likely to call a colleague to discuss a problem than send an email. E-mail is nice, but not when it turns a simple question into a longer exchange and finding a conclusion or answer is a more extensive effort. It’s also much more seamless to conduct a call with multiple participants. Lync integrates with Outlook making it easy to include call-in details in a meeting invite. It’s not necessary to set up a separate meeting using a third party and copy and paste the log-in details to your meeting invite. With one click, unique audio (and web) conferencing details are added to my meeting. I don’t have to worry about sending the incorrect log-in details or updating the details should the meeting time change. 

     

  4. Increased Productivity and Efficiency
    Yes, hard ROI numbers are very compelling. But on top of the hard numbers, there are many soft ROI advantages to using Lync like increased productivity and efficiency. Does the date February 2, 2011 ring any bells to any Chicagoans? It was one of the biggest snow storms the city had ever seen. Businesses shut down, freeways closed and suddenly alley space was a commodity because there was nowhere to put the shoveled snow. Like many businesses, PointBridge closed it’s doors for the day and our employees worked from home. However, business continued as usual even though we were all at home or working elsewhere. Matt McGillen PointBridge’s Unified Communications Practice Manager, took a look at exactly how productive PointBridge was able to be and communication was up across the board thanks to Lync.
     This is just one example of how easy it is for employees to get work done using Lync. Every one of our employees was in a different location and our business didn’t miss a beat.

 

There are many other benefits of using a comprehensive unified communications platform, and certainly vary depending on your business. If you’re interested in seeing what kind of ROI your business can see from using Lync, let us know. We’ve created a calculator that can quickly and easily show you a snapshot of what life could be like with Lync.

 

Understanding How to Create a Successful Social Intranet: 3 Tips for Optimizing Collaboration

Intranets have long been the standard for sharing secure information within an organization, but they can be challenging to manage, especially when left to one person or group, and consequently, the information could become stale or employee involvement low.

So how do we make sure our intranet is valuable and the investment maximized? By adding a social layer to your intranet, you’re adding familiar communication tools – ones that your employees already use on a daily basis in their personal lives – to better connect employees so they can collaborate, share knowledge, be part of a community and go beyond a two-way conversation.

Here are 3 things you should know to optimize your social intranet:

  1. The Evolution of Email
    Organizations today run on email; it’s like fuel for employees. It’s the first thing we consume in the morning (often times still in bed) and most employees are entrenched in it all day long. While email is a business staple not likely to become obsolete any time soon, the way we use it is changing. 

    The introduction of social tools allows a level of connectivity and collaboration businesses have not seen before. Suddenly, the intranet is relevant; an organic environment where information goes to be shared and built upon. 

    With new and better ways to foster communication, knowledge sharing and employee connections, email is becoming less a content repository and more about notifications. Social intranets enable conversations between open groups of individuals, and provide durability to the dialog for others to discover later.

  2. Overcoming Fear of Change
    Although social media has been ingrained in our daily lives for quite some time now, making the transition to business can often stir up nervous feelings. Fear of change may be warranted, for executives and their employees, but it should not inhibit.
     

    One of the great benefits of social intranets is they break down the barrier between the C-suite and employees. Many executives preach transparency and open communication, but it’s difficult to accomplish; especially with a global business or one with employees spread out in numerous locations. With a social intranet, C-level executives are able to broadcast a message directly to employees, and – perhaps more importantly – solicit rapid feedback and dialog from employees. 

    Some best practices help to ensure that fear doesn’t torpedo the launch of a social intranet. For example, make sure your intranet has executive sponsorship and figure out who/which group is responsible. If you’re unsure about what is going to work best for your business, engage with someone who has done it before. The delegated group needs to think about:

    1. Launch and ongoing communication
    2. Governance
    3. Policies
    4. Training
  3. Social IS for Business
    Part of the employee appeal to social in the workplace is a familiar interface. With today’s mobile technology, people are connected to social sites 24/7. They’re steering away from email and using social sites such as Facebook as their primary communication tool. And guess what? They like it, it’s easy and effective. Why wouldn’t you want a tool like that in the workplace?
     

    Moreover, there are concrete business problems social intranets remedy. Does your business have a remote workforce? Do you have multiple offices in different time zones? Are you global? Or do you have a workforce that is working different shifts? Is your business organized in siloes? The social intranet makes collaborating and communicating across siloes, geographies and time zones easy, giving employees the opportunity to add more value to others and ultimately the business. 

    The employees at PointBridge are finding value in our social intranet every day. We recognize peers, ask questions and share resources. We’ve found that participating in these activities in a social space is more productive and employees are actually more willing to engage than they do via email or other mechanisms.

 

How is your organization using social? What kind of benefits have you seen?

 

Are you Ready to SharePoint? Tips for the 2011 Microsoft SharePoint Conference

In less than a week, Disneyland will be better suited to be called SharePointland.Technology gurus will descend upon Anaheim, Calif. October 3-6 to learn the latest and greatest from Microsoft SharePoint, network with colleagues at the larger-than-life social events and hopefully leave with more knowledge than they came with.

Although this will be my inaugural SharePoint Conference, PointBridge is in no shortage of veterans eager to advise and guide to optimize attendee experience. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up around the office:

  1. Create your Conference Blueprint
    Microsoft’s roster of
    break-out sessionsis big. Take some time between now and October 3 and strategize about what you would like to take away from the conference. Review the session descriptions and determine which will help you achieve your goal. And don’t send all your employees to the same session. Instead, note the sessions of interest to your organization that overlap; divide, conquer and take notes.
  2. Stay Caffeinated, Stay Involved
    Resist the urge to kick off your shoes at the end of the day and relax. Grab a coffee and take advantage of the social activities Microsoft and other sponsors have coordinated just for you. Besides being fun and highly entertaining, these events are great networking opportunities and time that can be spent getting to know clients, partners and co-workers. Here are a few events you won’t want to miss:
     10/3 – The Red Party
    8:00 pm – 12:00 am
    Heat Ultra Lounge
    Register10/4 –

    Disneyland Park Private Party
    7:30 pm
    Disneyland Park
    More information10/5 –

    Oktoberfiesta
    7:30 pm – 1:00 am
    Tortilla Jo’s Restaurant
    Register

  3. Who’s that Super Human SP Conference Attendee?
    While the laws of physics prevent us from being in two places at once and reading minds is not yet a trade taught at universities, social applications and mobile devices have helped us bridge the gap between super human and regular Joe. Keep a pulse of what’s going on at the conference by staying connected to social sites using your mobile phone. Are you on Twitter? Make sure to follow #SPC11 and other session hashtags. You can even create a profile on
    MySPC
    and connect with other attendees.
  4. Don’t be Shy
    You’ll be hard-pressed to find another opportunity to engage with so many SharePoint experts in one place. I’m always pleasantly surprised by how open and friendly conference-goers can be. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with your tablemate or let a speaker know how much you enjoyed their session. Make sure to bring business cards, update your Linkedin profile and make connections. You never know where they’ll take you…
  5. Win a Trip to SharePoint Saturday Honolulu!
    Stop by the PointBridge booth #742, fill out a 4-question survey to let us know how your organization is using SharePoint and you’ll be entered to win airfare for one and a 3-night hotel stay to SharePoint Saturday Honolulu on December 2. We’ll announce the winner Wednesday, October 5 at 4:45 pm at the PointBridge booth. You must be present to win. See you then!