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The Vision Surfaces

After the fact, after the event #IBVDay16, we had a lot of time to talk about it and also to talk about the strategy we where going to implement moving forward.

It’s a good exercise to do in teams: working together, brainstorming in my opinion is one of the most important things you have to do after you organize an event like that. And after you (me, in this case) have a clearer picture on were we are heading.

The great part of IBV is People. I found very energizing the fact that we always come up with great ideas to implement in our overall strategy. And it’s not that easy, considering all the differences people have in terms of background, education, past experiences, previous jobs, etc. Sometimes you need to come up with a single solution no matter what. Because the ideas are thousands but then someone has to take the risk to go for one instead of another. The mixture of cultures we have here definitely helps this a lot but, again, one person needs to lead, decide and take actions.

Even the smallest thing can be important. Content, for example. Content is big, huge, is THE topic that drives marketing and sales. But what kind of content? Which types? Considering that people have to do their jobs on top of this, this can become an issue, or at least can become complicated. Sometimes you feel like you are floating around this amount of content that you don’t know where to start. And sometimes Content drives even the business decisions and not viceversa which is kind of weird but often true.

If you consider the huge, monumental amount of content that is out there, you need to have a Vision. And thank goodness we have one 🙂

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Me and my counterpart Michael, we work everyday on this Vision. We have a clear picture on where we are heading to. Sometimes we need to “defend” our ideas, and that is normal for a Company that switched gears in a very short time-frame. We do brainstorming every single day, sometimes just for half an hour, but we are able to talk about the same things using different paths or languages (and I’m not talking about English VS Italian VS Swiss German :)). This is very reassuring to me, having the chance to confront my ideas with a person that really understands me and with whom I share the same Vision.

But, what is this Vision then? Well, of course we got some “hints” from our boss Andi who is really a visionary. But we change things, we move items a bit, we modernize them and often times we need to bring this high-level Vision into something tangible, something concrete and something we, the Company, need to work on. And this is not always easy. But we also add our shared vision, based on the different things we learnt on our paths that led us here together.

If I think about the things we want to achieve here I’m really impressed. We set ourselves a very high standard and we want to make this happen. And this doesn’t want to be an “apologia” of our ideas but rather a way for me to explain what you can encounter when you “fight” for your beliefs.

Again, the Vision. During our event we talked about the future of computing. We have this concept now of More Personal Computing which, to me, sometimes sounds like a cool keyword to use. And maybe it’s true but there’s more to that. We talk about inking, voice commands, mixed reality. How will the future of personal computing be in like 3 to 5 years? We’re going so fast every technology we embrace it becomes obsolete in no time. So, definitely you need to stay on top of these things, making sure you learn, listen and understand the markets. But you need to do a step forward, a small step and try to make your own prediction and invest in it. It is a big risk, that’s for sure, but if you want to be ahead of your competition you need to do this kind of exercise. This is, to me, the key to success.

Sometimes ideas come when you never expect and this is the beauty of it. This is because you Believe in the Company you represent, you have Passion for it, and the combination of all these things trigger new ideas. And new ideas come to action only when you have the right people in place.

I’m grateful for the opportunity I have here and I want to continue to learn and growth in this never-boring, sometimes-challenging and always-exciting path I’m in !

Our first Surface Hub Event !

Yes, the title says it itself, although it’s gonna be more than that. But yes, we are gonna host the first IBV event related to the #SurfaceHub (and the #HoloLens) here in Zurich next week. You can’t imagine the excitement I can feel around me! And the excitement is pretty high on my side too as it’s the first IBV event that I co-organize somehow. I wish it could all be perfect but, although we know we can’t hit the top (the 100% perfection), me and my “counterpart” Michi are very confident it’s gonna be successful and we’re gonna get close to that number!

But let me do a step back on: Why we are doing this? Well, since I joined IBV one of the things we started to do was to embrace new technologies, technologies you can bet they’re going to represent the future for all of us. No matter what the size or the weight they have right now, in just a few years we will see them getting better and better (as it always happens with technology, or at least most of the times). This concept perfectly applies to #virtualreality or #augmentedreality or better #mixedreality devices. We don’t know what will come up in the near future, we just know that some technologies will be more successful than others. That’s a fact, or at least this is what we believe as part of our Vision. That is why we are concentrating our efforts on two of the most exciting hardware devices Microsoft has built over the course of the last few years: the Surface Hub and the HoloLens. These 2 devices have a complete different story and of course some of you may wonder why we put them together. Well, first of all because they somehow represent, together with other things we do here, our playground for now and the future of IBV, then because it’s really clear Microsoft is betting a lot on these devices and third, well the 3rd one is more like a surprise if you’re gonna attend our event 🙂

Me and Michael today are gonna do some preparation because, hey, I forgot to tell you something important. The event is called “Surface Hub meets the HoloLens” and I told this has a meaning and it’s not just a marketing keyword to attract more people (or is it? :))

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The location is the Swisshotel in Zurich. It’s a location that is also very much used by large Corporations (including Microsoft Switzerland) to host their events as it’s close to the city center and the airport, very close to the train station, together with other amenities you can’t find in other places. I found in there well-prepared organizers and technicians so I think we’re safe on that side.

I’m also really excited as the “Crew” (this is how I like to call it) is formed by amazing and passionate people: Michael, Gian, Tamara, Livia, Marina, Nicole and Corrado and of course our CEO which I’ll try not to involve too much (you know, he’s the Big Boss, he might be busy :)). But I’m really confident, as I’ll be surrounded by these amazing people, that not only the event is gonna be successful but it will surely be repeated somewhere else in Europe soon.

I wish I could tell you more but the only thing you can do is to really immerse yourself in this journey together with us and to take a flight and be here on Wednesday, next week! Alternatively, you can still come back here or in our new website to get content and follow up of the event 🙂

Talk to you soon!

And the Journey continues, better than ever!

I finally got a chance to refresh my blog and also found some time to write something worthy and meaningful, at least for me.

I’ve been working for Microsoft for like 15 years (oh my!) and that was a really long time. I had amazing colleagues, friends, people I interacted with on a regular basis, in Italy, in Europe, in EMEA, in US, in Asia-Pacific, Worldwide.

It has been an incredible, amazing adventure to me and I’ll never forget that not only for the many things I learned there, but also for the broad network of people I had the privilege to meet and talk with. Including the Microsoft MVPs of course!

It came a time to me, few months back, to decide whether to continue this journey or put my skills and my learnings at a service to something else, something different, unique and incredibly exciting. And that actually happened when I came to Zurich, Switzerland, to visit a friend, Gian Paolo Santopaolo. Last time we met was at the MVP Global Summit, few years ago for the first time. He was showing me the Surface Hub (it had a different name at a time) and we had very pleasant conversations during those evenings in Bellevue.

With him, we drove to Zurich, specifically to Bonstetten, as he wanted to show me what he was working on, the workplace and everything surrounding it. And then, what happened completely, and positively, changed my professional life.

I met amazing people here, I had long chats with Michael, the COO of the Company, and with Andreas Gorog, the CEO. They showed me around, they introduced me to the other employees, they showed me what they were working on. In short, very enthusiastic, smart, kind and incredibly passionate people. Yes, Passion is something that keeps on driving me and I was really amazed to see what was happening there at that particular moment of time.

I gotta tell you, it was like a “snap”, something clicked on my mind and my first thought was “Yes, I want to work here!” and I was so excited about that.

After a few days I was already onboard and my journey started (and I was incredibly excited about it!).

I joined as the CDO of the Company, a Small/Medium Business specialized in customized solution, IT Security, Data Management, CRM Solutions etc. (with another Branch in Berlin, Germany). Not only that, IBV was on the point to embrace a new path and I really wanted to be part of it.

This new path has a name: a new business model. Specifically, we started working on the Microsoft Surface Hub and Microsoft HoloLens solutions. Really, REALLY exciting.

Gian was already working on it for some time, and at the same time another Microsoft MVP, and a friend, Corrado Cavalli, joined me at the same time. Later on, Livia Formisani, a Professional Content Manager and writer (and a great friend) who previously worked with me in Microsoft in the EMEA Community Team, joined us and I was really happy about that too.

Now, as I plan to share more about what we do, let me leave you with something: in less than 2 weeks, on September the 21st to be exact, we will host our first IBV event where we will showcase some of the things the Developer Team created on those two devices. I hope to see you there but if not, I’m sure we will meet somewhere else soon! 🙂

Brand your Business Effectively

Brand management was a chimera years ago. I had a lot of discussions over the course of several years about the importance of a Brand role and the impact it can have in the #socialmedia ecosystem with many people (and I bored them probably too much!). I also made a speech, during the Windows Professional Conference, organized by Overnet Education, about it. It was not my role at the time but the CEO of the Company was kind enough to let me do that speech. In that particular case, I talked more about #PersonalBranding but it fits the post anyway.

Brand is a necessity and it goes hand in hand with a good marketing strategy. Branding is everything in this digital connected world, and especially during this digital transformation we’re all part of it.

Continue reading….

How to build a successful Community

In my previous post, I talked about the Power of Communities. Now, I hope you digested this information (or you probably already knew about that) and made it yours because it opens up a world of opportunities.

As we now already covered the WHAT and the WHY, I would like to talk about the HOW, which is the most difficult part (at least for some people and some Companies as well). We all know that there are plenty of Communities out there, talking about different things: cars, travels, technology, apparel, houses, (even Banks!), you name it. And there are a myriad of articles related to this topic. I just want to give my contribution to it. And this time, I would primarily focus on the Technical Communities…

 

Continue reading…

WPC 2012: my personal summary (and slides)

I recently had the chance to participate to the latest WPC 2012 (local Windows Professional Conference) in Milano, Italy.

It was a terrific event: 27 Microsoft MVPs as speakers, an Ask The Expert Booth with +12 MVPs (+ a lot of friends and other Influencers) covering different technologies, together with the Microsoft Technical Support. Hundreds of technical sessions, giving full coverage of almost all the Microsoft Products and Technologies.

It was a great success in terms of Reach, Awareness and Support. Reach: almost 400 attendees, from ITPros to Developers to Consumers. More than 300 tweets around the Conference (#wpcit12).

In terms of awareness, the Microsoft MVP Award was highly valued during the conference: some minutes spent during the Keynote talking about it, the #Branding was everywhere, and MVPs often were wearing t-shirts with the MVP Logo on it. Recognition was another big part of it.

Just FYI, during the ATE the MVPs had around 250 technical discussions with the attendees. Divided per technology each day, attendees had the chance to interact not only with the speakers @ the Booth, but also with the other MVPs who voluntarily agreed to be part of the Conference supporting the attendees.

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So now you know the MVP Award was a big part of it. But what about the rest of it?

Well, I also delivered a session on #SocialMedia called “Social Media in the IT World” and I have to say it was really interesting for the attendees. It was Different, not the kind of presentation you normally expect during a technical event. It was Relevant, according to the numbers of feedback and questions I gathered after my session. And for me it was fun too!

Understanding that many people still don’t understand the Power of the Social Media, the World of Mouth, the “Unmarketing” concept, Crowdsourcing, Personal #Branding and many others was kind of unexpected. So that is probably why my session was really valuable for the attendees.

I share my slides here, in a pure community spirit (as the MVPs taught me :)), hoping that someone else will benefit from that:

I did not have the chance to show how I use my Windows Phone to “unleash” the Power of the Communities, but I’m sure I’ll have time to do that in my next talk.

And, by the way, we also had the chance to have some fun (in a pure community spirit :)):

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I need to thank a lot of people for a very successful event:

First and foremost, Barbara Palumbo, the “Puppet Master”, for his energy, proactive approach, driving the #wpcit12 team to Excellence. Claudio Salano, “The Boss” for having me @ the Conference. Nino Crudele, “Grinch” and #BizTalk Expert, for his tremendous valuable tips & tricks. And all others, all the MVPs, the Influencers, all the People I had the pleasure to meet for the first time, etc.

THANK YOU everyone for this wonderful experience !

Out Of Office (just for a while)

We have a lot of stuff coming up in FY13, lots of events (one above all, the Regional CEE & Italy MVP Summit during KulenDayz), Build, MVP Global Summit in US, and all the local events, MS and community events that will be held in the whole Region (and they are a lot, believe me..).
There are also lots and lots of online activities, from the forums posts to the webcasts/screencasts, from books and e-books to technical articles. Microsoft MVPs, the User Group Presidents, the Student Partners, the Regional Directors. In a word, the whole community ecosystem is already on track to deliver world-class technical activities f which thousands and thousands peers and users will benefit of.

I thought this was the best time to take some days off and make a blog post using my Windows Phone before the whole “community machine” will unleash its full power.

So now I’m taking a full break, relaxing a bit before the “unleash hell” command will be given 🙂

See you very soon!