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Current Rants

Why the whole ‘Product X is dead’ story doesn’t make sense!

Ah, almost on a predictable cadence you will see the ‘Product X is dead, long live Product Y’ think piece. And to be completely honest, it is entertaining; you will see Microsoft experts and community leaders discuss and argue about which product to use and why.

To give just a few examples, in 2011 when Office 365 was officially launched, we had the discussion that Cloud technology would make On-Premises obsolete. And let’s not forget the end of email! A few years later when Microsoft acquired Yammer for $1.2B, those same people said that Yammer was going to completely eradicate email, both On-Premises and Cloud. Today we are having a similar discussion stating that Microsoft Teams succeeds where Yammer failed within the ecosystem.

And you know what? There are still On-Premises mail servers running Exchange so even 8 years after the launch of Office 365, the very first statement predicting that On-Premises email would be dead hasn’t even become a reality yet.

Why do we see statements like this? Easy: it draws attention, and like newspapers, technical blogs have the same drive to grow their reach every single day. And this is especially true for the Microsoft blogosphere. From Microsoft’s perspective, this tendency makes sense. Their marketing team has one goal: highlighting new products and making sure people are aware of it. And sales KPIs are highly based on adoption and activation of certain products.

Currently, when you look at the Microsoft Marketing Machine you will see that a lot of the marketing is focused on Teams. A lot of Microsoft expert will jump on that messaging and align their brand and messaging with Microsoft because it just makes sense from a business perspective FOR THEM.

But let’s get back to the root purpose of products and services. It is usage by paying customers. Microsoft platforms currently have over 130 million active users good for a revenue for over $9 billion. Something tells me that not every user is a Microsoft expert or evangelist. When I see a title ‘Product X is Dead’ or ‘Why Product Y is Failing’ I tend to think that this specific product will eventually go away and that the replacement is a must have for my organization. And this is one of the main reasons why titles like that don’t make sense. Microsoft itself will never make a bold statement like that, unless when it is ready to deprecate a product for good. But Microsoft just released Exchange 2019, so I guess On-Premises mail is not going anywhere. Yammer is still being worked on so that is not going anywhere as well.

The other thing these doomsday writers tend to forget is that there are also non-Microsoft products that potentially outrank their Microsoft competitor. When you look at which services organizations use when they get to pick, Microsoft OneDrive is not always on the top of their list – even when they have it in their available services. Box has been very successful in that battle. Their very intuitive way of doing things combined with a very easy and consistent sharing methodology makes them the top runner for external collaboration. I might even go as far as saying that if you compare OneDrive with Box when completely disconnected from the other services of Office 365, it might actually struggle in comparison with Box.

Finally, another problem with these narratives is that they could create unnecessary anxiety for organizations who might think they have to move to the new technology. It makes them feel like if they don’t, they will be in trouble and put their organization at risk. That is of course not the case but it can be perceived in this way, troubling their overall workplace modernization goals and objectives.

I think it is time to for our experts both within Microsoft and beyond to identify just which type of expert they really are. Are they an extension of the Microsoft Marketing Machine with insider knowledge of the future of the product, or are they just a technology fan with a lot to say? The next time you see another dramatic ‘Product X is dead!’ article, feel free to believe what you read or simply ignore it as a writer’s opinion (with an eyeroll for good measure).

My two cents on this phenomenon: Learn how to separate fact from fiction, and just use the tool that makes sense to you and your organization for the tasks that you are trying to tackle. When you stay focused on the tools that matter and continually deliver value to the organization, it doesn’t matter what any blogger says is on the way out.

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