Mar 24, 2019
Fresh from a week of "drinking from the firehose" at the Microsoft MVP Summit, several things became quite apparent to me. MVPs like to drink, and the Common Data Service, is anything but "Common".
It seems that whenever Microsoft announces a "new" way to do something, they are hesitant to say the the "old" way will be eliminated. "We have no plans to deprecate the old way in the foreseeable future". In reality, they can't wait to pull the plug on a whole slew of inefficient, or misaligned things; but they can't grab their customers' legs and swing them back and forth like rag-dolls either. Or can they?
It's no secret that Microsoft is the final stages of snapping all online customers onto a single version of the product. With rare exception, most of us are already there, whether you knew that or not. This is the best place for Microsoft to have us, and for 99.9% of us, it is the best place for us to be. Why is that not as scary as it sounds to people who are slow movers? Because the old things, that have been replaced by new things, are still there. When will they be removed?
It can't remember exactly how long ago it was, that I heard Ryan Cunningham say in response to a question from an audience, that something will happen "In the Fullness of Time". I can distinctly remember trying to deconstruct that phrase; was it a month, year, decade? It was such a brilliant response, I adopted it for use with my wife and kids. When my wife asked when we could get a puppy, I replied "In the Fullness of Time", with a wry smile. Turns out, it equals exactly three days.
One of the awesome things about being an MVP, that I share with my fellow MVPs, is the ability to see into the future... in chunks. The fuzziest chunk is the 2-5 years out chunk. As MVPs, there is an expectation that we are all smart enough to "get it", so of course we all nod knowingly as we are being exposed to the distant future state. In reality, our brains are all scrambling between excited and terrified as we try to wrap our heads around things we never thought about. I'm pretty sure the team knows this, as there seems to be the occasional unnecessarily long pause for effect. I did take a look around the room for a two-way mirror that the team might be cracking up behind, but did not see one. It is reassuring as a partner, to know that the team is thinking that far out, but in today's world... 2 years is a long damn time.
The upcoming release vs. the one after that. Let's face it, at any point of time, there is an upcoming release. As soon as it lands, the next release is now the "upcoming" release.. every six months. As a partner, your highest focus is always on the upcoming release. As a partner you are, or should be, in a continuous state of preparation. If you are not, you will be replaced by one who is... it seems Darwin was correct. As we are being presented with things that will be in the upcoming release, vs. what got pushed to the next one, it is an odd mix of "Awws" and "Yays". Since the release notes are now released 90 days before the release, there is a 3 month window for surprises. The best surprise is that stretch goal, that was not listed in the notes, that suddenly appears. Of course there is also that occasional listed item that lands, but not exactly as we had hoped. Yet, all clearly within the doctrine of ITFOT.
The most critical chunk, is actually the present, which, not that long ago was a future chunk also. But now that chunk has landed. If it was a new "way", then it landed next to the historical "way" chunk... if it was a new "thing", it landed by itself. Even though we may have known it was coming, and had time to test, play and prepare for it, often we are still caught unaware... like we forgot. It's like sobering up real fast, when the blue lights flash behind you, when your customer asks, "Hey, what's this new button do?".
I wrote a ISV focused post a while back on Ryan's Five Things. This was based on a response from the Business Applications Chief Traffic cop, Ryan Jones when asked about what ISVs should focus on. Turns out it was from his own playbook for how Microsoft is running the Platform today. Ryan and his team may be the most important cog in the entire Business Applications team. Their job is not coming up with the newest whiz-bang feature, rather their job is making sure it will work efficiently, and reliably for end customers once it launches. I get the feeling that Ryan says "No"... a lot. This was not the case in the not too distant past. Less than two years ago I wrote about what seemed like a strategy of punching customers in the face... a strategy Ryan has clearly obliterated.
Okay, so I know I veered off of the topic quite a bit, and I don't want to be accused of link-baiting. So this Common Data Service thing... yeah, it's pretty big. I will unpack it in a future post, but now I need to prepare for another week of firehose drinking at the Partner Advisory Council meetings... then can I go home?