Martina Grom: “The biggest challenge with cloud is the change of mindset”

February 19, 2019

Martina, you were one of the first eight Office 365 MVPs back in the days when that technology was just emerging out of the BPOS shadows. Can you tell us a bit more about those early days?

It was such a great surprise to be appointed an Office 365 MVP in January 2011 and I’m so proud to have been one of the first eight in this category. Back then, I worked in a market where Microsoft Cloud services weren’t well known, and many were convinced that cloud services were just a trend for very special use cases. As I’m someone who loves to work as an early-adopter, I found there was a huge field for me to learn in, share, fail and win! On one side, cloud services helped me to solve real business problems for customers; on the other side, I learned a lot about how to bring a service the size of Office 365 to the market and to clients.

In the early days, we had a lot to discuss and to learn and I improved my negotiation skills in that time as well. It was challenging to drive this business: I started to disrupt our own business to get our company into a good strategy. It was and still is a big honour for me to work closely with large enterprises and to support them. I am especially interested in the complicated ones, such as regulated industries.

As an entrepreneur with my company atwork, I find cloud services a perfect match for developing a robust and stable business and setting up solutions such as our Delegate 365 product. Those solutions can close use-cases gaps that customers want to fill. From the community perspective, it is simply overwhelming how much response, both answers and feedback, you get back when sharing your expertise with others. I learned so much from others and I am one of the lucky ones who built friendships through the MVP community programme. Another important point is to give feedback back to Microsoft, to influence its products. To know that your feedback matters and that you can make an impact on the services you’re passionate about is very rewarding.

Cloud services bring a lot of opportunities but also some risks. Opportunities range from faster business movement, more agility and flexibility; risks involve security, compliance and privacy. All of that needs to be addressed and considered. The biggest challenge is the change of mindset.

How did cloud turn the world of IT business upside down?

Cloud brings a lot of change into enterprises. The usual approach where operations take on a big migration project every three to five years doesn’t work anymore. Many challenges are new to people here. Cloud services bring a lot of opportunities but also some risks. Opportunities range from faster business movement, more agility and flexibility; risks involve security, compliance and privacy. All of that needs to be addressed and considered. The biggest challenge is the change of mindset. Moving fast with an evergreen technology requires changes within organisations as well. Dedicated roles need to be implemented as well as skills needing to be developed.


Yammer vs Teams vs Skype vs Kaizala vs email – how should we communicate?

Communicate with the tool that matches your needs. The ‘Which tool when?’ discussion is an ongoing one. If you think about your communication behaviour in your private life, how many different tools do you use here? It’s not that much of a difference from your business life. Our workplaces are far away from having one tool that solves all your communication and communication requirements. Take the one that best matches the current situation and the people involved.

You were in the content team of the European Collaboration Summit 2019. What can you tell us about the programme of this year’s conference?

It’s always a big pleasure for me to be part of the content team for the Collaboration Summit because I know how much love and passion is related to this conference. I hope the programme has a good balance of Microsoft 365 services, Azure and AWS. I’m sure there’s something to learn for everyone!

We have a very strong speaker lineup, too, and I hope we get more women speaking at Collabsummit.

You’re one of the very few people who spoke at all seven Collabsummits. You’re also an ambassador, a content team member and an advisor. How did you see the evolution of the European Collaboration Summit over the past seven years?

The European Collaboration Summit developed from a small family-style event into a very big family-style event! 😊 The evolution of the conference was amazing; it’s developed from a primarily SharePoint-focused event into a first-class Microsoft 365 conference throughout the years. I’m sure Collabsummit is now one of the largest community-driven conferences in Europe and I’m incredibly proud of what Adis Jugo and his team accomplish every year to make the event such a big success for everyone.

If you met Satya in an elevator, what would you ask him?

This could actually happen, you know? First of all, I would respect his privacy and then I would like to congratulate him on how he’s changed Microsoft and how he’s boosted the ‘open mindset’ over the past years.

Collaboration means two-way communication!

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