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Rich Wood

Rich Wood has been planning, designing and building enterprise solutions for intranets, extranets, and public internet sites since 1997. Rich is the Director of Perficient's Web and Social Collaboration Practice (Microsoft), with a focus on the SharePoint and Sitecore platforms. He is a keen advocate for and frequent speaker/writer on information architecture, social business, user experience and web content management. Married and a father of four, Rich enjoys spending time with his wife and family. He is a native of South Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a graduate of Marquette University.

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Four Microsoft Platforms and Products for Digital Transformation

When we talk about Digital Transformation, the first thing most people tend to think about is digital marketing—and that means consumer-facing technology. Your public website, how it’s delivered to various form factors, how you integrate an app strategy for B2C commerce or the engine driving your B2B transactions, how you track consumers’ interaction with you and interact with them, serving recommendations based on that tracking data… it’s all about the outside.

A lot of readers will ask why we’d talk about these topics on a Microsoft blog. It’s a darn good question—after all, Microsoft’s focus these past few years has, as ever, been firmly behind the proverbial firewall. Productivity and (and in) the enterprise is Microsoft’s sweet spot—not consumers—and that assessment remains true. Sort of. In point of fact, Microsoft technologies do a lot of heavy lifting in that space, even if Microsoft’s products there are less obvious.

Meanwhile, Digital Transformation taken as a whole is about more than just outreach and interaction. It’s about embracing new ways of working—working social, working mobile, powered by the cloud and not inhibited by archaic notions of a firewall—that’s how you enable your own users to move faster, work smarter, and just be more effective versions of themselves. And Microsoft is all about that. Let’s take a quick look at four key planks in the Microsoft stack that have a lot to say about how Redmond gets involved in the Digital Transformation conversation.


It all begins from the ground up, with the baseline infrastructure. Azure is Microsoft’s infrastructure in the cloud, allowing you to build server farms, develop and host business applications, and even migrate entire datacenters into a highly-available infrastructure living within Microsoft’s cloud. Whether you want to enable mobility and a broader reach, become more flexible and scalable in how you respond to business needs, or simply operationalize your hardware expenses, getting your servers out from behind your own firewall and into the Microsoft cloud is a good start.

Office 365 and Yammer

Enabling your own users to work faster and more effectively, communicating and collaborating across boundaries on devices as diverse as old Windows PCs and the latest version of iOS? That’s a concept at the core of Digital Transformation, and that’s what Office 365 and Yammer are all about.

Dynamics CRM

I read somewhere that another CRM-focused software company has “defined the customer journey”. I’d like to call shenanigans on that. Software doesn’t define anything; it supports and enables it. Dynamics CRM—integrated as it is with Yammer and Office 365, and far less expensive to license than its primary competition—can do a surprisingly thorough job of supporting and enabling how you interact with your customers. If you haven’t given it a hard look before, you might want to think about it now.


It’s not a Microsoft product, but Sitecore’s CMS, DMS and Customer Experience Platform are built on the .NET Framework, run on Microsoft infrastructure and are produced by last year’s Microsoft ISV Partner of the Year, so they’re about as close as you get without being shipped from Redmond. I’ve avoided writing about this in other outlets lately because third-party publishers always ask me to be objective, but the bottom line is, there’s not much point to doing a public-facing website on Microsoft’s platform with the likes of Ektron or Umbraco when Sitecore is available. Their many integrations—including with Dynamics AX, Microsoft’s ERP platform—and incredibly rich platform for digital marketing and customer experience (which enables things like email marketing, persona development and personalized content, and more) make them a no-brainer in reaching consumers in the digital age.

These four pillars are just the foundation of how Microsoft contributes to what we’re calling Digital Transformation. As ever, what you can build with .NET and Windows is only limited by your imagination—but now, both for your own internal users and your external consumers—they’ve got the goods to really go digital. If you should decide you want to move into that space with confidence, check out my colleague Michael Porter’s webinar on Wednesday, February 11.

Dream Team 2014: Connecting Salesforce and SharePoint

By now, it’s old news that Salesforce is connecting to files stored in Microsoft’s SharePoint Online service, the portals-and-collaboration piece of Office 365.  The official announcement may have been made this morning, but it hit the channel months ago and was unveiled with much fanfare when  it was previewed at Dreamforce 2014 this fall.  Since then, our Perficient team has been doing a lot of thinking about this integration, how and when to use it, and what it means.

Configuring Files Connect to Use Documents From SharePoint

One of the values of having award-winning national practices for both the Salesforce and Microsoft platforms is the chance to work with talented colleagues across technology stacks.  The result was this case study by Bob Graham, which gives a great overview of how we used Files Connect from Salesforce to access documents stored in SharePoint Online.  After collaborating with peers in our Salesforce team, Bob took the time to write this helpful piece up.  In it, he walks you through the steps he took to plan, connect, and ultimately leverage files stored in SharePoint within the Salesforce user experience.  It really is as easy as it looks.

The Greater Implications

“Okay, Perficient,” you might say now, “that’s how you make it work– but what does it mean?”  The obvious answer is the surprising amount of collaboration being shown between the direct actors engaged here– Microsoft and Salesforce– and that’s covered well over at TechCrunch.  It’s fascinating that of all the cloud-based file systems Salesforce could have partnered with for this, the first one in the line was actually Microsoft.

In a macro sense, it’s perfectly rational– the world is growing smaller and more connected, and the days of the one-vendor ecosystem are long dead.  Sure, Microsoft has a competing CRM platform (Dynamics) and Salesforce has its own portal solution (Communities), but as much as anything, this announcement is an acknowledgement that neither company is the market leader in those secondary spaces.  This is two giants connecting like to like– the dominant platforms for CRM and file-sharing, respectively– and making it easier for customers to choose best-of-breed cloud solutions over monolithic enterprise architectures focused on vendor rationalization.

That’s kind of a big deal, wouldn’t you say?

Could Yammer Supplant Your Intranet?

We see a lot of scenarios where clients are moving their intranets successfully to the Office 365 cloud with SharePoint Online.  This is the easiest, smoothest path to an social intranet on the Microsoft platform, due largely to the ever-closer relationship between Yammer and the rest of the services in Office 365.

That said,there are still plenty of enterprises out there who prefer to either keep their intranet on-premises, or not upgrade / migrate just yet.  Many of those organizations would still like to get their bang for the buck with Yammer, however, and need to figure out a solution for integrating those social features into their on-premises solution.

By far the most common way to accomplish this right now is through the use of the Yammer Embed functionality (or specifically for SharePoint, the Yammer app for SharePoint) to embed specific news feeds on specific sites.  This is easily the most obvious way to “socialize” an on-premises SharePoint intranet with Yammer.

That works, sure.  But it’s not all that elegant.  Too, if you’re using the Yammer app for SharePoint, this approach forces you to go in and update every Yammer feed when they update the app (which is a pain).

A more forward-thinking, less common but emerging approach to a social intranet is to actually use Yammer as the intranet home.

This is an example of truly embracing enterprise social and may require a complete rethink from a lot of organizations as to how they approach an intranet, but it’s the direction things seem to be going.  You make the social network your home, and instead of augmenting informational sites with social feeds, you augment social groups with links to informational sites using Pins and the Info window’s rich text / HTML editor feature.












Think about it.  Here at Perficient, we’re in the midst of rolling out a new platform for time tracking, financials, and other fun line-of-business activity and reporting.  We have both a Yammer group stood up to support that rollout, and a more traditional SharePoint intranet site.

What we’ve found in this scenario is that the Yammer feed has actually supplanted the informational site because it’s a much faster and more responsive way for people to get answers and collaborate.  Links embedded in the Yammer page direct users back to SharePoint for the informational / non-collaborative content they need, but the social discussion and interaction is now the focus.

Of course, Yammer in general resists (i.e., doesn’t allow) any but the most basic customization.  Fonts, styles, navigation etc., are all locked in “as is”.  The only thing you can really change in Yammer is the header atop your page.  That means we lose some control over branding, but gain quite a bit in interaction and employee engagement.  For this use case, it’s a smashing success.

The question then becomes, “Can this approach work for an entire intranet, and not just one use case?”

To some extent, that depends on the users.  At the end of the day, it all depends on where they go when they log on in the morning.  Email?  The intranet?  Or their social network?  Get the ball rolling with enterprise social and people will start skipping over the intranet– it’s almost a given.  Use social to surface intranet content and the line starts to blur… which is a lot closer to where things are going in the cloud than it is to a hodgepodge of on-prem intranet sites with embedded social feeds.

Enterprise Social and its Three Most Dangerous Myths

Enterprise social.  It’s not the greatest thing since sliced bread (The Beatles, frozen custard and computer-generated animation all make stronger cases for that title) but lately it seems like it’s close.  That said, for all of its growing popularity, our experience tells us that a good deal of what people believe about social networks– and how to get users engaged on them– is flat-out wrong.

sliced_breadAfter a summer so busy that I missed my July deadline, this morning I published a new article on CMSWire addressing three of enterprise social’s most dangerous myths head-on.  Check it out and learn why…

  • A single network might not be your best bet for adoption…
  • #ESN rollouts aren’t like any other new application, and…
  • Some users will simply never adopt them, no matter what you do.

Interested in continuing the conversation?  I’ll be unofficially representing Perficient (which cannot be held responsible for any comparisons I make between Yammer and Game of Thrones) in CMSWire’s upcoming TweetJam (yes, that’s a thing) on this month’s editorial focus “What does working like a network look like in practice?” The Tweet Jam will take place on Wednesday, August 20 at 1pm ET/ 10am PT.  You can find me on Twitter at @richOthewood; follow @CMSWire for TweetJam details and the #official #hashtag to follow.

Roundup: Enterprise Social ROI, External Governance in Yammer

It’s been a busy couple of weeks here at the office.  Besides hopping from LA to NYC to Chicago to work with various and sundry eye-catching clients, we’ve been turning out essays on a couple of hot topics:

  • Roundup: Enterprise Social ROI, External Governance in YammerROI (Return On Investment) as provided by Enterprise Social Networks
  • Governance in Yammer, specifically External Networks

In the first instance, we’ve got an article up over at CMSWire discussing the futility of using ROI as a case for investing in enterprise social.  The wiser course by far is to leverage one of the freemium networks available (and of course, I’m personally partial to Yammer– the best one out there) and let it build value within your organization first.  That basically makes the case for you.

The second piece covers Yammer directly, and specifically goes into the design of Usage Policies for Yammer’s External Networks.  These are a great tool for communicating and collaborating with clients, vendors and partners– so long as you design a binding Usage Policy with several key guidelines in mind.  In our post on ViewDo Labs’ enterprise social blog, we tell you what those guidelines are.

Curious?  I hope so!  Check out the latest and let us know what you think.

The Cloud Don’t Care About Your Grammar Police, Y’all

I’ve been seeing a lot of hubbub lately around the proper phrasing for applications an organization hosts itself– in other words, anything that isn’t in the cloud.  People are cringing when the phrase “on-premise” is used in lieu of the grammatically correct “on-premises”.  I’ve seen self-appointed grammar police weigh in from any number of directions– blogs, Yammer conversations, even an audience member shout-out during my presentation at SharePoint Conference 2014 earlier this spring.  And you know what?  None of it matters.

The Cloud Don't Care About Your Grammar Police Y'allLet me repeat: None of it matters.  The Cloud doesn’t care.

The bottom line is, people are having this conversation as an offshoot of something far more important– we are in the midst of an historic shift in application architecture.  The movement toward the Cloud is well-documented and I needn’t elaborate further on it, other than to say that it’s not “on its way” anymore– it is finally here, and here in a big way.

People can debate the use of “on-premise” versus “on-premises” all they like (or even the presence of that little hyphen in the middle) but the only reason they’re discussing it is this one: The market for it is shrinking.  The Cloud is increasingly becoming a part of how we do business in IT.  Eventually, it’ll pass a tipping point where we stop thinking of it as something separate and simply accept it as status quo.  Curiously, linguistics gives us a very close parallel to illustrate the point.

The English language evolves based on usage. It’s a living thing. That’s why terms like “ain’t” and “y’all” can now be found in even the most distinguished dictionaries and why, with continued (mis)use, “on-premise” will go from being colloquially accepted to formally official.   Much like the Cloud will go from where it is today– a more and more common means of hosting applications and data– to the ubiquitous status quo.  Stand down, then, all y’all grammar police.  You may as well try and stop the flow of time.

Yammer External Networks – Your Extranet Made Social

After meeting them at SharePoint Conference 2014, I recently accepted an invitation from ViewDo Labs to publish the occasional musing on their enterprise social blog. ViewDo is a company formed by the former Axceler braintrust to focus on enterprise social analytics, and they have a great and growing product already out there for Yammer.

This is a something I jumped at, because it’s a community blog featuring some of the people I personally read regularly; being included in their number is an honor.

My first post for them came out yesterday, and is focused on a familiar topic: Yammer External Networks. This introductory post makes the same case I’m making in a webinar this afternoon– that Yammer External networks (I’m torn on whether or not to call them “YEN”) elevate the formerly staid concept of the Extranet into a social, more truly collaborative space. Check it out and let us know what you think!

Microsoft’s Roadmap for Social: Detailed Analysis from SPC14

“Work like a network.”  Spend just a few minutes at SharePoint Conference 2014 and you’re bound to hear or see this phrase sooner than later. It’s here in the keynote and it’s here in the signage.  It’s here on the lips of the Yammer and Social product marketing people I had the good fortune to spend some time with early Monday afternoon, and it was here loud and clear in the jam-packed session on Microsoft’s Roadmap for Enterprise Social later that same day.  It’s central to the short-term improvements that answer questions about Yammer and SharePoint, and even more central to new investments that Microsoft calls Inline Social, Groups and Office Graph—already the darling of Day One.

Microsoft’s Roadmap for Social: Detailed Analysis from SPC14What does it mean?  It means leveraging the power of enterprise social tools to actually behave in connected ways, and get value out of it.  The presenters, Christophe Fiessinger and Juliet Wei, made it very clear that while Microsoft still believes the best pure social experience is Yammer in the browser—they called it the “hero” version of social—that the future of work is social, and the future of social is in its ability to socially connect people within and around the documents, data and applications they care about.  Much of the message here was focused on enterprise tools better reflecting what is available to people in the consumer market—a message stressed here in this space just last month.

This was the core message of the Roadmap presented on Monday at SPC2014. While it’s an ambitious one, it must be said that Microsoft’s track record of hitting their enterprise social goals since the Yammer acquisition nearly two years ago has been a very solid one.  Though many questions have been asked, when they’ve said they will deliver something by a certain date, they’ve done it—and now they’re starting to answer those questions.

Some of those answers were addressed on Monday, along with three core innovation tracks that go beyond the SharePoint-heavy tone of those early concerns.  Those three tracks— “Inline Social”, “Groups”, and “Office Graph”—position Microsoft’s approach to Enterprise Social as something that includes SharePoint but extends well beyond it.

To analyze the Roadmap, then, let’s take a look at the short term items, the implications for the present—the questions people have been asking almost since the Yammer acquisition—and then take a look toward the far more interesting items promised, and in many cases demoed, for the near future.  That’s where the tools really begin to make “working like a network” look like an achievable dream.

What’s Coming Just Around the Corner…

One might as well call the short-term Roadmap items the SharePoint roadmap items.  It’s been a common fallacy for people in the SharePoint world (and beyond) to look at Microsoft’s acquisition of Yammer as a simple one-for-one swap with the old SharePoint social features, but they’ve been clear for over a year now that this sort of view is limited and more than slightly reductionist. (more…)

SharePoint Conference 2014 – Rocket Fuel for a SharePoint Career!

I’ve been going to SharePoint Conference since the 2009 iteration,  but I’ve never been so excited for an SPC as I am for this year’s version!  SPC 2014 has a lot to recommend it for anyone– from roadmap news on Yammer and Social, to a renewed content focus for on-premise and hybrid architectures, to the new venue provided by The Venetian (so alas, cooking with coconut oil will never again remind me of SharePoint)– but for me personally, I already know this is going to be a crazy week.

SharePoint Conference 2014 - Rocket Fuel for a SharePoint CareerWhat I’ve always loved about SPC is the way it brings everyone in the SharePoint world together, and the sheer possibilities of knowledge, learning and connecting that come from that!  It seems that every SPC has either brought about, or confirmed, another major step in my career.  I think it can do the same for anyone else in attendance, and I encourage other attendees to think the same way.  SharePoint Conference is a lot like rocket fuel for a SharePoint career.

Seriously–for proof, let me quickly tell you my own SPC story!

It’s hard to believe that only five years ago, I was attending my first SharePoint Conference as one of two representatives sent by a small, regional Microsoft partner.  It was SPC that opened my eyes to a wider world, and helped me realize that the horizons available in this business were far grander than I could imagine while working for a tiny, Wisconsin-based systems integrator.  It was SPC that started me down the road to working for Microsoft itself.  Then, three years ago, I was in Anaheim for SPC11 as a SharePoint SSP with Microsoft’s EPG team, but realizing I was still a consultant at heart.

That particular conference solidified my hunch that I should return to consulting, this time with the Pointbridge gang– a sharp, talented group of architects, many of whom remain together as just one core constituency of our Perficient team.  And last time around, at SPC12, I was able to make the sort of deep dive into a specific content track– in my case, Yammer and Social– that anyone can use as a launching pad for their own path into a more fulfilling role.

This year… who knows?  2014 feels a bit like a culmination of sorts– which means it’s the starting point for another five years of awesomeness.  For the first time, I’m crashing the MVP party as an invited speaker (come check out my session on Yammer External Networks!)!  I can’t find adequate words to say just how humbling and exciting that is.  Of course, we have a Perficient booth to man with some amazingly talented colleagues, and if I’m not there you will find me working in the Microsoft Pavilion as an invited SME for Social and an “Expert” (I’m flabbergasted by the characterization) at the Ask the Experts session on Wednesday night.

All of that when just five years ago, I was Joe Architect from Wisconsin walking the halls of the Mandalay Bay and wondering how I could become one of the people presenting those sessions.  Well, SPC has a way of fulfilling those sort of wishes if you use it to make them happen, and of course, if you understand hard work.

Come on down and meet us at the Perficient booth, and I can tell you about it.  I might even be able to find you a place in our team– Microsoft’s 2013 United States Partner of the Year!

Will the real SharePoint Influencers please stand up?

Last week, an initial field of one-hundred was published by Scratch Media for’s “Top 25 SharePoint Influencers”.  Since my team and I are regularly asked to consult with some of the world’s most successful organizations on the what, why and how of their SharePoint use, I thought it might be fun to share my own personal list of SharePoint Influencers and compare the two.

audienceWho influences me?  Who does my team read in our spare time?  What kind of publications impact the advice we give our clients?

I guess it all depends on how you define “influence”.  It doesn’t take a data scientist to realize that the Scratch Media definition looks to be heavily dependent on social media statistics (specifically Twitter).  But to me, someone with meaningful “influence” in SharePoint is someone whose opinions—through some assortment of published content, speaking engagements, organizational ties and/or product development—can (and occasionally do) serve as an impetus for the evolution of the product and how it is perceived.

These are the people I look to when I’m figuring out where SharePoint might (or should) go next.  These are people who know more than I do on various topics, and are always worth listening to—people who create and publish actual, meaningful content that can influence how you, I, and anyone else can think about and position SharePoint.

These are people who think, and that’s why I read/listen to them.  These, in my mind, are my favorite thought leaders in the SharePoint world.  I divide them up into four categories:

  • Behind the Curtain (Microsoft)
  • The Extended Family (ISV Partners and Other Smart People)
  • The Fourth Estate (Analysts)
  • The Godfather

We all benefit from these people and their engagement in public discourse.  Some of them make the Scratch Media / list.  Others do not.  Again, this is a purely subjective list, but it’s not a media stunt, and you won’t get a prize at our Perficient booth during SharePoint Conference for mentioning it.  You might get a name or three worth following or listening to, though—and if that proves helpful to anyone reading, I’ve done my job for the day.

Behind the Curtain (Microsoft)

Sure, this one is kind of self-explanatory, but while every SharePoint product manager and development lead at Microsoft is definitely worth hearing out, there are certain names that should catch your attention every time.  When an announcement comes from Jeff Teper or Jared Spataro, of course, it’s an announcement you should listen to.  If Bill Baer is giving a demo or writing a blog entry, it’s probably a technology with a ton of upside and something to embrace.  Christophe Fiessinger deftly rides herd over the SharePoint/Yammer workstream and where Social is going, while I learned more about SharePoint in a day with Richard Riley and his old team back in 2010 than I have in the four years since.  There are others, to be sure, but if I had to pick five Softies I’m always listening to, it’d be these five.

The Extended Family (ISV Partners and Other Smart People)

One of the benefits of being a leading partner is sitting on the Partner Advisory Board and getting to know people like Jeremy Thake, who not only represents AvePoint and all of the outstanding extensions they make to the SharePoint platform, but clearly thinks a lot about where SharePoint should go next.  Similarly, Christian Buckley at Metalogix (formerly Axceler) always provides sound insight over at but doesn’t limit his writing or his thinking to products.  Chris Johnson at Provoke Solutions is a former SharePoint PM at Microsoft who might speak quietly but is worth bending an ear to listen to.  What separates these three from the usual suspects, for me, is that they clearly take a strategic view of where this platform can go and how it might get there.

The Fourth Estate (Analysts)

I really don’t understand how anyone can compose a list of “SharePoint Influencers” and leave out the guy who leads most of Forrester Research’s SharePoint publication.  I’d be willing to wager that more CIO’s and senior directors read the reports produced by Rob Koplowitz and his team than read 95% of the Twitter feeds that Scratch Media apparently weighs so heavily.   There is an army of good folks at Gartner as well—I think very highly of Larry Cannell’s work on SharePoint and Yammer.

The Godfather

No list of SharePoint influencers is complete without Joel Oleson.  Mr. Oleson may have left Microsoft years ago but he stays relevant by updating core concepts of his work for the modern era.  The simplicity of his updated governance pyramid model, for instance, presents a straightforward, easily digestible take on how to apply governance to a far-more-social SharePoint world than the one that existed back in the days of MOSS 2007.  It’s a brilliantly easy way to talk about governance with stakeholders, and I’m in his debt for its publication and sharing.

There you go—I’ve named eleven people whose thinking and publishing on and about SharePoint directly influences my own, and that of thousands of others.

Who are yours?