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What's going on in the land of cloud productivity? Or more specifically, what's going on in the land of cloud productivity, Microsoft style? 

As many of you know, I am fully ensconced in the Microsoft ecosystem, so stop reading now if you haven't drunk the Kool-Aid. 

I spent mid-July in Orlando, Fla. at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference and saw a trend emerging — the Microsoft cloud is transforming how we get and use our day to day technology. Apple users are finally getting their own version of all things Office and with the changes up top in Microsoft, everyone is playing nice. You name it — Salesforce, Apple — this is the equivalent of dogs and cats living together.

“The only constant is change.” And the crazy speed of change applies ten times over in the technology world. Productivity isn’t a destination — it’s a journey, and to keep up you need to continually change. Given the breakneck pace of that journey, let’s take a closer look at how the cloud — and Microsoft’s take on it — helps organizations keep up with the pace.

Change is Finally Blowing In

According to Microsoft at the WPC 15 conference, “Customers spend more than half of their IT budget (55 percent) on cloud and managed services versus traditional IT (45 percent). IDC made the prediction a couple years ago that 70 percent of CIOs will shift to a ‘cloud first’ strategy by 2016.”

If you’re not in the cloud, you could be facing trouble down the line. Microsoft recommends developing an optimized cloud strategy to achieve several goals: create scale, develop focus, increase value and create stickiness. Almost all of my clients are looking for these very things when they undertake a shift to the Digital Workplace.

The recommendations reflect what cloud-focused enterprise IT groups have been working towards for years, but now Microsoft is actually leading the way. Microsoft may have had a slow start in the cloud, but now it is all-cloud, all-the-time, and that wave will be rideable for a long time.

Head in the Clouds

Microsoft COO Kevin Turner described what some have called “a plan of action for reinventing business productivity and owning the cloud.” As we covered before in “The New Age of Intranets: Planning and Corp Communications,” the plan is crucial. And in this plan, the intranet serves as the hub of the digital workplace.

Start your plan with a complete and thorough assessment of what you and your teams are doing today to drive productivity — this may or may not initially include the cloud. Only after that initial assessment should you go on to the next step: explore the future state, which benefits from all the cloud has to offer. Go wild — your imagination is the only limit in this step. Because in step three, you must take Point A (current state) and Point B (future state) and break them into digestible chunks: that’s your roadmap.

In assessing your Point A, look at the tools and the people who use them. In looking towards Point B, create guiding principles to help draw a line around what success will look like. You can read further thoughts on the planning, publishing and content, on to collaboration among employees, to help drive that success in my three part series.

Changing the Conversation

While this article focuses mainly on strategy, getting that strategy to the implementation phase involves gaining buy-in from execs and peers, the IT team, the corporate communications team, the HR team, and, and, and .... It will require a team of supporters for the project to succeed. 

Rallying that team is not always easy. People come to the table with their own set of biases and experiences with intranets and other, related technologies. By changing the conversation around your company’s strategy for innovation, you gain the opportunity to inspire the team — and your company — to greater productivity and leadership.

Today’s technology world is one of continuous disruption. It’s time we embrace that and acknowledge it, even as we make the shift to the cloud and set forth on executing on plans. Spurred by the cloud transformation, advancements in mobility and emergence of new business models, this change holds great opportunity for organizations, employees and partners. And we all know that there are more technology changes to come along the road of productivity — we can count on it.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by  jordanfischer