Craig Roth

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Craig Roth
Managing Vice President: Communication, Collaboration, and Content
4 years at Gartner
25 years IT industry

Craig Roth is a vice president and service director for Gartner Research, in Burton Group's Collaboration and Content Strategies service. Mr. Roth covers a wide range of knowledge and Web-related topics at the intersection of collaboration, content… Read Full Bio

SharePoint Resume Advice: From a Hiring Manager

by Craig Roth  |  September 18, 2014  |  Submit a Comment

I’ve been scanning a lot of profiles and resumes for my opening for a SharePoint industry analyst. Unfortunately, I often have to read between the lines to figure out exactly what someone’s experience is. So I thought I’d provide my view on how SharePoint practitioners can improve their profiles to help with whatever professional experiences they may seek in the future.

There is a wide spectrum of SharePoint experience, so it pays to be clear about exactly which facets of SharePoint you touched on. Otherwise a good opportunity for a job, speaking opportunity, or community connection could pass you by. Here are some tips on how to state your type experience on your resume or profile in order to target the right kind of opportunities:

  • 50,000 foot or ground level: Be specific about where on the technical to business spectrum your SharePoint experience has been and where you’d like to go. There is a range of valuable SharePoint work from deeply technical (coding, complex administration, deep levels of security knowledge) to high level (strategy, planning, governance, evangelism, financial management). Sometimes an altitude metaphor is used informally, such as “he was at the 50,000 foot level (business case, people-related governance)”, “5,000 foot level (supervisory, tactical direction, technical governance)”, or “ground level” (worker bee doing all the work). Or a college class metaphor (100-level, 300-level). I see many resumes that blur the lines and leave the reader wondering exactly what altitude each job listed was at. I’ve seen this a lot with project managers, architects, and “lead”s – depending on the situation these people may be at 1,000 feet or 50,000 feet. Hiring managers will prioritize candidates that have specified their experience over ones where we have to guess.
  • Speaking and writing: Speaking and writing experience is important even for technical jobs since it shows deep interest, an ability to organize and convey thoughts, and openness. SharePoint has a vibrant community with plenty of opportunities to get involved. Writers can do their own blogging, contribute to other blogs or magazines, or contribute chapters to books. Speakers can speak at users’ groups, SharePoint conferences, or as case studies at events like our Catalyst conference. These activities show an interest in helping others in the community and hint at some deeper experience as well. If possible, I’d like to see a speaker or writer provide evidence of doing a high quality job, such as “rated in the top 10% at SPC12″ or “the best selling book in Wrox’s SharePoint 2013 lineup”. If you have evidence like that, provide it.
  • Versions: While I certainly want to know the type of work you did, I also need to know if most of the work was on 2007, 2010, 2013 Servers or SharePoint Online. And if you helped migrate from one version to the other, that’s worth noting as well.
  • What type of architect? The word “architect” has been watered down over the past decade. Sometimes it is even awarded to denote “senior” status. Architecture has so many flavors you need to be specific: logical, physical, enterprise, information, etc. Were you in Word writing architectural principles or Visio laying out the topology? Or did you do information architecture?
  • Resume vs. profile: Mostly I’ve been looking at LinkedIn profiles, although I’ve seen resumes too. I expect a resume to be someone who is more actively looking for opportunities, where a profile has to also serve the purpose of forming social connections, perhaps to help answer questions or speak at an event. Profiles are more likely to fall out of date. That’s too bad, since SharePoint moves so quickly that it’s important to set aside time each year to update it.

I hope these tips help you freshen your SharePoint resume or profile and enable you to lend a hand in whatever direction you’d like to go.

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Category: Microsoft SharePoint     Tags:

The Hidden Gotchas of Office 365 – 16-18 Sept, Expert Days

by Craig Roth  |  September 15, 2014  |  Submit a Comment

One of the most common questions we get when talking about Office 365 is “what are other companies doing?” Most companies don’t want to be left behind, but they don’t want to be on the bleeding edge either.

Office 365 is one of those topics where it’s especially useful to speak to peers who have looked at it, since there are a lot of vagaries to it. What kind of downtime or slowdowns have you seen? What “gotchas” did you figure out after implementing but wouldn’t have thought to ask beforehand? What contractural elements were you able to change? Or get private assurances to commitments not made publicly like recovery time objectives? Did functionality limitations cause any real problems migrating from on-premise to SharePoint Online, or was it a simple push-button success?

The best way to find out what your peers are up to from the comfort of your office chair (or home sofa) is to check out the Peer Connect Expert Days that Bill Pray will be hosting this week. It’s a great chance to engage in a conversation with your peers and Gartner for Technical Profressionals Office 365 expert Bill Pray. See details below. I hope to see you there!

The Hidden Gotchas of Office 365 – 16-18 Sept, Expert Days

Many Gartner clients are asking if they should move to Office 365. The short answer is “Not completely; it’s not fully baked. However, parts of it are quite good.” There are many aspects of Office 365 to be wary of, join Gartner for Technical Professionals Analyst Bill Pray and your peers to ask your questions, share your success stories and discuss the hidden gotchas of Office 365.

What are Expert Days?

Virtual events run over 3 days in the Peer Connect forums with community members responding/submitting answers/ideas to a number of questions/problems.

When? – 16-18 September

There are no timezones with members and experts responding anytime during the course of the event.

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Category: Microsoft Office Microsoft SharePoint     Tags:

Auto-Delete Emails Received While On Vacation? Not Without Knowing Their Lifespan

by Craig Roth  |  September 2, 2014  |  Comments Off

I’m back from summer vacation with the kids and getting back into the swing of work. I didn’t check email at all during the vacation, so there’s quite a pile of it I’m working through.

Ironically, one of those emails was a pointer to a New York Times editorial called “Giving Email a Holiday“. It seems the nice folks at Daimler have provided workers an option to auto-delete any emails received during vacation with a nice response that it was deleted and who else to contact for immediate response. They say it relates to a trend called “data detox”, although some quick searching found that term used more for data cleansing.

First, let’s state the obvious. I find that interesting, and if I had that feature in place I’d never have seen this article (although, in that alternate universe, I wouldn’t need to…).

Next, this gets to the issue of email lifespan. Clearly, there are some emails with short lifespans that would best be deleted. For example “I changed the conference room for the meeting tomorrow” or “Cinnamon rolls in the break room!”. There are others that have a longer lifespan, such as “Forms for Healthcare Plan Renewal” or “New CEO” or “your system is throwing out errors right and left and I’d look at if if I were you”.

I’ve seen many attempts to determine importance, from Outlooks “sort by importance” to Gmail’s Priority Inbox. But I don’t recall one that attempts to determine lifespan. I think it’s an idea worth considering. Not only could it help tweak the auto-delete during vacation feature, but it could be useful anytime to move messages to a “read later” folder or archive based on the message’s lifespan. “Aged messages” is like another type of spam folder.

How would you do that? It requires some rules and AI, just like importance rating does. If it’s a calendar invite or change to a meeting in the past, it’s probably beyond its lifespan. Senders and subjects give clues as well. Manual hinting could be allowed, like the “!” or chili pepper on emails (and wind up ignored due to abuse just like those are).

The combination of lifespan and importance would be especially useful. High importance, short lifespan may pop up first. Low importance, long lifespan could go to a “read at leisure” folder.

Well, I’d better get back to that email pile. I’ve already deleted the short lifespan and spam ones. Now the real work begins, and no automated agent can help me with that.

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Category: Attention Management Communication     Tags:

Confused by Office 365? Gartner for Tech Professionals to the Rescue!

by Craig Roth  |  May 20, 2014  |  4 Comments

If you’re confused by Office 365, you’re not alone. Many organizations are now exploring it and have questions about features, infrastructure (such as how secure it is or service levels), and architecting hybrid solutions. Today I just want to outline some of the great materials we’ve got for you in Gartner for Technical Professionals.

A good place to start is the webinar Guy Creese just did called “The Hidden Gotchas of Office 365.” The replay link is here.

We’ll be covering Office 365 in depth at our upcoming Catalyst Conference (August 11-14 in Los Angeles). These sessions will be helpful for anyone considering or implementing Office 365:

  • Which Is Better for Our Organization: Google Apps or Office 365?
  • Does Office 365 Meet Production-Grade Enterprise Requirements?
  • IAM Guide to Office 365
  • Office 365 Versus Mobile Productivity: Gaps, Issues and Work-Arounds
  • SaaS SLAs, Support, Pricing and Licensing: The IT Professional’s Role and Challenges
  • Securing Sensitive SaaS With Cloud Access Security Brokers
  • Should You Leverage Exchange, Lync or Both in the Cloud?
  • How to Plan and Implement a Hybrid Exchange Solution

And, of course, we have lots of the in depth research we’re known for. Clients can check out:

  • Microsoft’s Changing Social Software Strategy: Yammer, SharePoint and the Role of Cloud Services Within Office
  • What IT Needs to Know About Office 365: In-Depth Assessment
  • What IT Needs to Know About Office 365: Features and Functionality
  • Cloud Suites for Collaboration: Assessing Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps and IBM SmartCloud for Social Business
  • Preparing Your IAM Environment for Working With Azure AD and Office 365

And if all that doesn’t answer your question, please call client services and set up a call! We’re here to help.

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Category: CatalystNA14 Cloud GartnerCAT Google Microsoft Office Microsoft SharePoint     Tags:

Being Digitally Smart in a Digitally Impaired Organization

by Craig Roth  |  April 11, 2014  |  4 Comments

PwC just released its 6th Annual Digital IQ Survey. In it they define 5 behaviors of high-performing organizations and state:

If you want to boost your company’s performance, raise your Digital IQ by developing these five behaviors.

That’s great advice for the executives that can “create a common talent framework to manage and develop those in digital roles” or help their CEO become “an active champion in the use of IT to achieve business strategy”.

But what about the poor folks in the trenches that know the smart thing to do, but don’t have the ability to raise “Digital IQ” (to borrow their term)? You can pester the executives about it, but trying more than once is a career limiting move.

You can aim for their hearts by pointing out that “those businesses … that have a strong Digital IQ … were 2.2 times more likely to be top-performers in revenue growth, profitability, and innovation.” but don’t be surprised if the causality is turned around. Sure, if your company was swimming in growth, profit, and innovation it would be easier to make IT platform investments, raise the priority of digital projects, and risk jumping onto leading-edge outside-in approaches. But most organizations aren’t doing so well (or don’t let on that they are). As one client worded it to me “We’re in HD: hunker down mode”.

So, to be a bit crass, how do you accomplish digitally smart things in a digitally impaired company? According to the study, 80% of companies rated themselves as having a less than “excellent” Digital IQ. Siginificantly increasing an organization’s ability to understand, value, and embed technology in critical business processes takes a long time. In the meantime there are major trends that need to be addressed in 2014 to stay competitive – cloud, mobile, social, and the leveraging of information.

I wish I had a step-by-step list on how to get past this conundrum, but that’s more an art than a science. It is painful to act in a high digital IQ way in a low digital IQ organization.

As an analyst I don’t get to pick just the most advanced clients, nor do I get to just say their problem is low digital IQ and raising it would help them with their collaboration system rollout or mobile UC project. The approach (“answer” is too strong) is to adjust the “best practices” approaches for the environment. That may mean extending timelines, dividing the project into smaller steps (by technology or by group), and reducing scope/expectations. Success measurements may have to be more pedestrian (such as number of users, amount of usage, time saved in one inefficient process) rather than lofty measures that require a high Digitial IQ such as engagement.

And, above all, patience. A single project of advanced sophistication can act as a beacon for others in a company whose executives think “we’re not Google”. When it becomes clear that the right people can apply wonderful technology to their problems using existing skills and staff, the wheels of progress can start to turn and a vision of a smarter company can result.

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Category: Business cases Organization     Tags:

Should Smartphones Have Home/Work Switch on the Side?

by Craig Roth  |  April 3, 2014  |  7 Comments

Yes, smartphones should have a home/work switch on the side.

Just thought I’d get to the point quickly in case you’re reading this at work. According to the Wall St. Journal in “People for Whom One Cellphone Isn’t Enough“, many people carry two devices to avoid getting distracted. Consider a few examples from the article:

“I would pick up the phone for something else and I would see a work email, and I would feel the temptation to get involved,” says the 28-year-old Encinitas, Calif., resident.

Erica Robbins, a 33-year-old production manager in Los Angeles, says … “I don’t want to be distracted by anything that’s not work-related,” Ms. Robbins says.

I’ve got a better idea – work a home/work switch into the phone. I’m picturing a physical toggle switch. Then you would tag contacts as personal or work. Most contact lists let you do this already. If the switch is in “home” mode, it uses the “home” notification profile which by default has a ringtone for personal contacts and a ringtone of “silent” for work. Vice-versa for work.

This can go further. The home/work switch would change:

  • Background image and theme: There is a psychological benefit to resonating with the user’s “home” or “work” modality and the look of the phone can help
  • Presence status: In “home” mode I show as green/available to personal contacts and red/unavailable to work)
  • Icons: While in “work” mode the apps shown are, perhaps, access to SAP, a few apps my employer created for customers, Salesforce.com, some custom apps. In “home” mode I see Candy Crush Saga, Angry Birds, Vine, Instagram. Twitter may appear in both since I use it for both
  • Geolocation: I may want to be locatable in one mode and go dark in the other
  • Passcode: Perhaps having a different passcode for home and work could alleviate some concern about someone causing mischief at a party doing something to embarass you at work when your phone is on the table. And someone peeking at your phone at work if it’s active and you’re not looking couldn’t peek at your personal info. This one’s a stretch and would take more work to flesh out, if it’s doable at all
  • Email accounts: Email accounts are designated as personal or work and show up in their respective modes
  • Voicemail: Calls would be partitioned to home or work based upon the caller’s profile (or in both if it’s an unprofiled caller) and would only show as red when in their matching mode.
  • Exceptions: There would be a third “both” category for those deemed important enough, like a spouse or the boss if desired.

Many elements of the phone would need to be re-architected. But if users are actually maintaining two sets of physical devices, there seems to be enough need to consider it. Imagine seeing people going down the elevator at the end of the day and happily flipping that switch to home, seeing their child’s face switch as the background with all the personal apps they now want, and knowing they won’t be bothered by work until flipping the switch back in the morning. Ahhh!

The home/work toggle switch could help the people that are avoiding distractions, like the two examples above. It wouldn’t help if you have diffferent needs (keyboard, screen size), like the redundancy of two devices, or have a work/life division that’s too murky to trust to metadata.

As an attention management tool, our smartphones could use a little hinting about what is important or distracts us, and the simple home/work division is common enough that there could be many people that would benefit.

What do you think? If the kinks could be worked out, would you push your IT department to include this phone on their approved list?

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Category: Attention Management Information work Mobile     Tags:

SharePoint Conference 2014: Attention Management

by Craig Roth  |  March 20, 2014  |  3 Comments

One pleasant surprise in the SharePoint keynotes was a recognition of the issue of attention management. Jeff Teper said one of his passions is “information overload,” the topic that eventually leads one to attention management once they’ve calmed down from the hysteria of “overload.” I found a bit more on the Office Blog, where Jeff Teper wrote:

“we believe personalized and proactive insights are required to cut through the noise. As humans, we have an incredible ability to achieve—but only if we can focus. And we need technology to help us, so that we can focus our energies on accomplishing big things.”

Jared Spetaro, GM of Office product marketing, said “We believe in personal insights that can be heard when you cut through the noise.”

Well, Mr. Teper and Mr. Spetaro, we share this passion. SharePoint has great promise to alleviate the overload of email, but also threatens to make a bad situation worse when no one can find anything in a sprawling SharePoint mess. Yes, SharePoint can get so bad its users long for the days when everything was sent around in email – at least that way the information was targeted at you!

If you really want to help attention management in SharePoint, how about:

  • An Attention API . Change operations include tweaking of relative importance, whitelists and blacklists, privacy requests, trust/access settings, timeframe resets (such as taking a new role). Query operations include different wants of retrieving relevance rankings.
  • An open XML format for exchanging attention information to make it easier for the full set of applications in a user’s worklife to participate in utilizing and refining the user’s profile. This would be an updated version of the dormant APML (Attention Profiling Mark-up Language). This is needed since an attention profile that only includes a subset of the user’s activities based on market boundaries, and it only usable from within one interface will always be hamstrung.
  • Apply my Attention Management System Conceptual Architecture to look across all inputs, processing, and outputs instead of relying on architects of small parts of the system to build their own ideas in without a view of the overall attentional system. As an example, see how the EAM was applied to email. I think that when enhancing SharePoint, Microsoft tends to see each button and field as a feature request to be prioritized against all others. That means they don’t accommodate value of chains of features that, in isolation are not being requested or seem high impact, but are important when taken as a chain connecting to a common goal. Addressing attention management will require valuing a slew of inter-related features as being greater than the sum of their parts.
  • The activity stream of Yammer is a great start for plugging all the sensors into. But I want to see a full set of controls for filtering them: thumbs up and down (like gmail), filters, user-defined thresholds for alerts, subscribe/unsubscribe, sharing of attentional profiles (per agreed-upon privacy constraints). I wrote about this in 2011: If You Thought Your Inbox Was Overloaded, Wait Until Activity Streams Enterprise Attention Management can yield significant performance improvements to organizations and SharePoint has many opportunities to succeed (or fail). Microsoft seems to recognize these issues, which is a good sign. I’ll be looking to the product to actually realize this vision.

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Category: Attention Management Microsoft SharePoint SPC14     Tags:

SharePoint Conference 2014: Work This Way

by Craig Roth  |  March 13, 2014  |  3 Comments

This year, SharePoint Conference attendees were impelled to “Work like a network”. Listen, Adapt and Grow. Work this way (as our software is designed) and you’ll be more productive.

This could just be linguistic nitpicking. You have to be brief in messaging, and there could be an implied “when you work like a network you will Grow” rather than it being a command. Or it’s messaging meant for the attendees to pass on since the speakers are mostly preaching to the choir at this conference. But I sense some hubris building around IT (and a vendor at that) knowing the smarter way to work.

Work like a network

Even if I believe organizations can get collaborative work done more efficiently with activity steams and social graphs (which I do) that doesn’t mean I have the ability to make it happen. Change management is a dark art. And a practitioner must throw a lot of things into a cauldron to change how people work. Technology is certainly an enabler, but there’s also top-down messaging and setting a good example, bottom-up interest, metrics and incentives, visioning, business process redesign, HR implications, regulatory restrictions, and dealing with the winners and losers in the new way of work. And probably a warty frog and pinch of Eye of Newt for good measure because the same ingredients that work in one situation often fail in another.

Humans are social by nature. Solitary confinement is considered punishment for a reason. We were working like a network long before computers existed and before we were told to. The compelling argument to me is that now the software can finally do what you naturally want to anyways, and fit seamlessly into your ways of work, rather than forcing you to change how you work to fit the software.

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Category: Collaboration Microsoft SharePoint Social software SPC14     Tags:

SharePoint Conference 2014: The SharePoint Forecast is … Cloudy

by Craig Roth  |  March 11, 2014  |  2 Comments

I just got back from the SharePoint Conference 2014 in Las Vegas, which was surprisingly exciting. I say “surprisingly” because tech conferences are generally rather humdrum in the years between releases. But one impact of the cloud era is that conferences become more exciting on a regular basis. Changes can be made at any time, and often without the fanfare of a big release, so it helps to have the vendor walk you through it.

Of course, this year the buzz was about the move to the cloud itself. Is it suitable for every company? Are we going to be forced to go there if we don’t want to? How viable is the hybrid option? What capabilities will I gain and lose?

My Gartner peers and I are still hammering out an official position on the conference that will show up soon. I think it’s clear Microsoft is placing big bets on the cloud and making statements to shift a lot more SharePoint business there.

From talking to attendees and partners, I sensed a lot of mixed messages and uncertainty. Jeff Teper said he wanted to “lower the friction …” of moving to Office 365 and allow you to move there “at your own pace.” Great, but “at your own pace” conflicts with saying they aren’t committing to another on premises release after 2015 and that improvements will show up earlier (and possibly only) in O365. As for exactly how many future improvements you’ll be missing out on by staying on premise (or going with hosted PaaS SharePoint, which uses the on prem code), you know it will be some but can’t say how much.

Change is difficult. It’s difficult for the users, the partners, and, yes, even for vendors. I don’t think there is a secret roadmap – just a vision of where Microsoft wants to take SharePoint. It’s a good vision, but getting there will be tricky. There are still technical details to be ironed out, from customization capabilities to data center locations to the ability to leverage a content delivery network (CDN). There’s a strong suspicion this isn’t a win-win-win proposition for users, partners, and Microsoft. And at many organizations, IT doesn’t own the risk and trust assessment – that’s the purview of the Chief Compliance Officer, Chief Security Officer, or Legal group and the regulatory environment, precedents, and messaging aren’t in line with what they need to see to approve a SaaS move.

To say the future direction of SharePoint is “cloudy” is true on many levels.

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Category: Microsoft Office Microsoft SharePoint SPC14     Tags:

What I’m Looking For Out of SharePoint Conference 2014

by Craig Roth  |  February 26, 2014  |  2 Comments

I’m looking forward to the SharePoint Conference next week in Las Vegas. Not only because it is currently 50 degrees warmer than Chicago, but because there is more going on than usual for an “inbetween year” when there’s no new release to announce.

In particular, I hope to learn about:

  • Hybrid cloud: We all know what SharePoint 2013 on premises does, and I know Microsoft can wax poetically about Office 365, but what about that grey area between the two? What is the future of SharePoint on Azure, or AWS? O365 with workflows running on Azure? O365 with content repositories on premises or at another hoster? SharePoint on Azure but custom code running on premises? There’s a lot of interest in points between the two destinations most often discussed.
  • Mobile without tears: Sure, you can develop a mobile interface to anything in SharePoint. But for organizations with thousands of sites and end users that thought they were finally free of the yoke of IT, treating mobilization as an individual development project for each site is unrealistic. What is the power user or end user story for click-and-dragging their way to a usable mobile site?
  • A reusable deployment plan: Pretty much all the sessions I’ve seen in the agenda focus on a specific aspect of SharePoint, and maybe even how to plan a piece of it such as records management or adoption. But where is one view of the overall plan – everything you have to do to go from nothing to a successful SharePoint implementation? There’s the index in TechNet, Product Line Architecture, Microsoft Operations Framework, Premium Support Services and consulting probably have something. I’m looking for the best, most complete view I can find since I’m writing the Solution Path for SharePoint at Gartner and like to compare to other plans. I haven’t found one I consider complete yet, but will be looking for that at the conference.
  • Forking: 2014 feels like it will be the year the capablities of on premise and SaaS SharePoint start to diverge. When first released, O365 didn’t do everything SharePoint Server could do, which was expected. But as improvements are added, how many are showing up just in O365? And is that because they don’t make sense on premise or for more sinister reasons: that on premise just isn’t as important anymore? If the two versions will fork, it will start with minor features and lags in release dates between the two, but could eventually add up to have and have-nots.

And last, but not least, I hope to test out keynote speaker Bill Clinton’s sysadmin credentials. I’ll be the guy in the back raising my hand and asking him how to configure authentication for a provider hosted app. Oh, I know, I just want to see if you know Mr. President! It should be a fun time!

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Category: Microsoft SharePoint     Tags: