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					The People-Ready Business

Case Study

                    Microsoft Academy
                    Microsoft Sales Force Uses Social Computing to Share
                    Expertise, Drive Sales

Microsoft sales professionals couldn‟t find the time to attend the online sales
and technology courses offered by Microsoft Academy because they are on
the road all day, visiting customers. They needed a convenient way to
consume information that they could integrate into their daily lives. The
Academy used Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Server 2007 to create a social
computing environment called Academy Mobile, where sales representatives
create and share podcasts. Academy Mobile helps drive sales excellence by
facilitating the exchange of shared ideas, innovations, and best practices.

Country or Region
                                                The Academy created Academy Mobile, a
United States
                                                podcasting solution built on Microsoft® Office
Industry                                        SharePoint® Server 2007 that sales reps
Manufacturing—High tech and electronics         use to create, share, and consume peer-              “Companies that embrace
Customer Profile                                generated content.                                   social networking benefit from
Microsoft Academy is an Enterprise                                                                   a low cost information
Knowledge Management business that                                                                   distribution system that fits
                                                  Increases knowledge shared within
offers online, community-based learning to                                                           employees‟ lifestyles. At
Microsoft field representatives. Thirty-four      Fosters innovation
                                                                                                     Microsoft, podcasting to share
people work on this team.                         Harnesses people‟s potential
                                                                                                     expertise is the way of the
                                                  Builds a supportive sales community
Business Situation
Many sales professionals in the field did not     Improves customer service                         Ludovic Fourrage
                                                                                                     Group Program Manager
have time to listen to the Academy‟s online
                                                                                                     Microsoft Academy
courses and webcasts. They needed
snippets of information that they could
download on the go.

The People-Ready Business Case Study                                                             1
The People-Ready Business

Situation                                         was too far removed from their daily
                                                  experience, and there was no way to share
Keeping 30,000 Microsoft sales                    peer-generated knowledge across the global
professionals around the globe connected to       expanse of the company. He decided to
the latest technical and sales information is     innovate a new learning environment for the
a daunting task. It is even more difficult to     field based on his experience with popular
foster peer-to-peer communication.                social networking sites like Soapbox on
Microsoft Academy already used                    MSN® Video and YouTube.
collaborative, Web-based technology to
create and deliver online courses and             Applying consumer technology to the
facilitated webcasts, but for many sales          corporate sector is a growing phenomenon.
representatives in the field these were still     According to an Information Week study
not quite adapted to their work style.            conducted in March 2006, 76 percent of IT
                                                  managers reported that they watched the
Ludovic Fourrage, Group Program Manager           consumer space to better understand what
at Microsoft Academy, heard that sales            technology to implement in their businesses.
professionals like Mike Gannotti, a Senior        For Fourrage, social computing technology
Technology Specialist in Durham, North            seemed to offer what the field was looking
Carolina, were looking for new ways to            for—quick, easy, and interactive ways to
integrate Microsoft training into their busy      communicate self-generated information in a
lives. “I‟m never in one place long enough to     way that didn‟t impinge on their busy lives.
finish an Academy Focus course,” Gannotti
says. “I don‟t need a week-long course on         “I felt sure that I could repurpose social
Microsoft SharePoint technologies. I need         computing technology to better meet the              “I‟m never in one place long
quick, snappy tips and tricks to assist me        needs of the sales field because I had seen          enough to finish an Academy
with my job.”                                     the growth of blogs, wikis, and podcasting           Focus course. I need quick,
                                                  within Microsoft,” he says. “The Academy‟s           snappy tips and tricks to
Other sales professionals were frustrated by      existing technology solution wasn‟t working          assist me with my job.”
their inability to share ideas or to search for   for all our field sales professionals. We were
                                                                                                       Mike Gannotti
peer expertise within the company.                spending money developing online courses             Senior Technology Specialist
Microsoft Service Line Architect Dave Coplin      that they couldn‟t fit into their lives.             Microsoft
needed a better way to help 60 strategy           However, they do have short periods of time
consultants across the United Kingdom             to consume knowledge in between meetings
share best-practice information. “Beyond          and while driving to customers. Social
conversations in the hall, or phone calls, or     computing technologies offered a much
e-mail strings, the only venue we had for         more appropriate environment for us to
sharing knowledge was a team site,” says          provide education and knowledge sharing
Coplin. “The site only had a few Word             services for the field.”
documents and the content didn‟t really
reflect the consultants‟ experience in the        Solution
field. The strategy consultants spent so
                                                  So Fourrage used Microsoft® Office
much time at their customers‟ locations that
                                                  SharePoint® Server 2007 collaboration and
they never had time to read them.”
                                                  communication technologies to create a
                                                  social computing environment for knowledge
It was clear to Fourrage that the Academy‟s
                                                  sharing in the field. The new Academy
offerings were not meeting the needs of
                                                  offering, called Academy Mobile, empowers
many individuals in the field. The content

The People-Ready Business Case Study                                                               2
The People-Ready Business

sales representatives to share and consume      other media players, and a laptop or a PC to
their sales and technology expertise using      produce and/or consume audio and video
multimedia podcasts. The podcasts, stored       podcasts in between sales calls, or while
on the Academy Mobile Web site, are             waiting for a flight. Video podcasts can
downloadable to any mobile device,              incorporate images of people talking, screen
anywhere.                                       captures, Microsoft Office PowerPoint®
                                                presentations, and demos, so people can
Academy Mobile is a one-stop shop for           choose the format they like.
relevant, real-time knowledge generated by
the field, for the field. Academy Mobile        “We needed to educate the sales force
matches a sales professional‟s lifestyle        about podcasting to make this work across
because it offers short bits of information     the enterprise,” says Paolo Tosolini, New
generated and consumed on the road using        Media Business Manager at Academy                   Executive Biography
mobile devices. The online podcast              Mobile. “We have an online learning center           Ludovic, or “Ludo” to his team at
repository is searchable by content or by       with links to podcasts on how to podcast.           Microsoft Academy, began his career
                                                                                                    with Microsoft as a Solution Architect
contributor.                                    We created downloadable PowerPoint
                                                                                                    in France. In 2002, he moved to the
                                                templates for mobile devices. We are even           United States to manage the Microsoft
“The Microsoft set of server technologies       coaching our content providers on how to            Enterprise Partners technology
already has 80 percent of the capabilities      compartmentalize their online courses so we         enablement programs. He has been
you need for an enterprise social computing     can recycle the material to the field as 10-        the Group Program Manager of the
platform, right out of the box,” says           minute podcasts on Academy Mobile.                  Microsoft Academy programs since
Fourrage. “Why reinvent the wheel? It only                                                          July 2006.
took us six weeks to tweak the solution to      “Every chance we got, we took the social
meet all our needs.”                            computing concept and tailored it for the
                                                enterprise to drive adoption,” Tosolini
To ensure that good content rises to the top,   continues. “We made it easy to use. Right
the five-person development team added          now, all you have to do is call a number,
rating and commenting features so that the      leave a voicemail of your podcast, and the
sales community can identify the most           team will upload it to the platform. We made
relevant content. “We incorporated a            it flexible, and we gave it a cool interface
rewards program to incent people to create      that provides a fun experience for
podcasts as well as rate and comment on         producers, contributors, and consumers.”
other podcasts,” adds Simone Tunc,
Marketing Manager at Academy Mobile.
“The commenting feature helps to foster         Microsoft sales professionals have
collaboration and peer-to-peer                  enthusiastically integrated Academy Mobile
communication through the site‟s engaging       into their work lives. They are using the
interface.”                                     social computing environment to share their
                                                knowledge and to search for peer-generated
The development team also added a               expertise on meaningful topics in the format
multiple download feature and created           that suits them best—without disrupting their
automatic Really Simple Syndication (RSS)       lives. “With a social computing environment,
feeds to alert people when a podcast on a       we achieved our goal to increase the
favorite topic becomes available.               amount of knowledge that is shared within
                                                Microsoft,” says Fourrage. “And we are
Sales professionals can use mobile phones,
PDAs, the Zune® digital media player or

The People-Ready Business Case Study                                                            3
The People-Ready Business
                                                                                                    Lessons Learned from the
                                                                                                    Microsoft Academy Team:
                                                                                                       Even though we solved the problem
spending less money to deliver a better            Share Best Practices by
                                                                                                        with technology through online
service.”                                          Recognizing Experts
                                                                                                        courses, that solution was not
                                                   Academy Mobile recognizes Microsoft
                                                                                                        meeting the needs of many sales
Before its official launch in December 2007,       subject matter experts. “We show
more than 750 podcasts were created and            contributors‟ bios and pictures, and we
                                                                                                       Take the time to understand how
more than 5,000 people visited the Web             make them easily searchable,” says
                                                                                                        your user base will best consume
site, of which 2,000 created a podcaster           Fourrage. “Now even those people who
                                                                                                        information. We looked at adapting
account. Academy Mobile is publishing              don‟t realize they are experts will quickly
                                                                                                        consumer oriented technology to
podcasts at the rate of 100 a month, and           discover how relevant their contributions are        deliver relevant information to the
expects that number to double after launch.        through ratings and comments. It‟s a fun             sales force in a way that was easily
“I‟m excited by how people have already            way to ensure that good content gets to the          consumable on any device, at any
embraced the concept to improve learning           top.”                                                time.
among sales professionals,” says Fourrage.                                                             Understand consumer-oriented
“Today, Microsoft employees use Academy            “We believe that 90 percent of what the field        technology and the capabilities of
Mobile to foster innovation, share best            needs to know is already out there in the            your in-house systems so you can
practices, build supportive communities, and       field,” says Phil Morel, Director at Microsoft       apply emerging models of behavior
make more sales.”                                  Academy and Events. “Anywhere you have               to internal needs.
                                                   large numbers of mobile or distributed              To drive adoption of a social
                                                   employees, it‟s in a company‟s best interest         computing solution in the corporate
Foster Innovation by Making it Easy                to facilitate knowledge sharing among                sector, think about the following:
to Contribute                                                                                           
                                                   peers. There‟s no better way to recognize                  Work with individual users of
“The easier you make it for busy sales
                                                   the value people bring to an organization.”                system to make sure that the
professionals to contribute, the more they
                                                                                                              system can be easily
will contribute,” says Coplin. “Academy
                                                                                                              integrated into the way they
Mobile is that easy. It‟s almost like a            Building Supportive Communities                            work.
byproduct of your life. Say you‟ve just had a      by Innovating the Solution
                                                                                                             Ensure that systems provide
brilliant meeting with a customer and made         Sales professionals can easily create new
                                                                                                              feedback and that project
a sale using an innovative approach. You           ways to share information using the social
                                                                                                              owners act on the feedback.
can be recording your thoughts and                 computing environment. Coplin is already
                                                                                                             Shed the corporate look and
uploading your experience as you drive out         using the Academy Mobile offering to upload
                                                                                                              feel to create an intriguing user
of their parking lot.”                             a weekly podcast that mirrors a radio panel
                                                                                                              experience that will engage
                                                   discussion. Called “Strat Con One,” the                    people.
Other employees in Microsoft are already           podcast features Coplin and invited guests                Provide support and learning
using Academy Mobile to showcase their             conversing about weekly technical news,                    for people new to an
expertise and broadcast innovative ideas.          service delivery excellence, and other items.              experience. In this case, help
“Our target audience is the entire 70,000                                                                     people learn how to create and
employees at Microsoft,” Tosolini says. “I‟ve      “Academy Mobile is scalable and flexible.                  deliver good podcasts.
had people come to me with many different          We are only seeing the beginning of its uses              Encourage people to rate and
uses of this platform. Recently, an inventor       within Microsoft,” Coplin says. “For Strat                 comment on content and
used Academy Mobile to post a five-minute          Con One, we plan to add Microsoft unified                  reward them for their feedback.
podcast about the business value of his idea       communication technologies to the solution                 This will generate improved
and to collect ratings and feedback.               so people can call in over the network from                content.
Ultimately, this platform will foster innovation   around the world.”                                        Tag podcasts in order to
throughout Microsoft.”                                                                                        facilitate the discovery of
                                                                                                              relevant content.

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The People-Ready Business

Driving Sales by Providing Better                                                                                         Customer Details:
Customer Service                                                                                                          Microsoft Corporation
Academy Mobile helps sales                                                                                                Web site:
representatives like Gannotti to improve
sales through peer-generated knowledge
that‟s impactful because it‟s relevant. “It‟s
rewarding to cross-pollinate ideas among                                                                                  The People-Ready Business.
like-minded people who are doing the same
                                                                                                                          A people-ready business is one
job that I‟m doing,” he says.
                                                                                                                          where people can apply their
                                                                                                                          unique skills, insights, and
Gannotti is also driving sales by                                                                                         experience to create new products
demonstrating Academy Mobile‟s use of                                                                                     and services, work responsively
SharePoint technologies to customers that                                                                                 with customers and partners, and
are interested in social computing solutions.                                                                             drive operational excellence in
“For my customers, the hottest topic has                                                                                  every aspect of the business.
been social networking and how that relates                                                                               People-ready businesses support
to the enterprise space and an increasingly                                                                               people with knowledge, practices
younger workforce,” Gannotti confirms.                                                                                    and tools so that they can add the
“Today‟s employees are messaging, rating,                                                                                 extra value that helps differentiate
and sharing multimedia files on all manner                                                                                successful organizations in a
of mobile devices all the time. So when I tell
                                                                                                                          competitive, fast-moving global
them that Microsoft has already built a social
networking platform for its sales force,
they‟re interested. When I pull out my                                                                          
computer and introduce them to Academy
Mobile, they‟re convinced that Microsoft has
the social computing technology they need.”
                                                                                                                          Software & Services

Saving Money by Podcasting                                                                                                Microsoft Office SharePoint Server
For Fourrage and the Academy, choosing
Microsoft communication and collaboration
technologies to adapt social computing to
the corporate sector was quick, easy, and
affordable. “Companies that embrace social
networking benefit from a low-cost
information distribution system that fits
employees‟ lifestyles,” concludes Fourrage.
“Academy Mobile‟s podcasts are „live‟ as
soon as they are uploaded and they don‟t
cost us air time. We made podcasting as
easy as picking up the phone and recording
your message. At Microsoft podcasting to
share expertise is the way of the future.”

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.

Document published January 2008

The People-Ready Business Case Study                                                                                      5

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