Sunday, September 24, 2006

Identifying with Customers

You may have noticed a new look on our home page. The pretty flash movie is gone in favor of a simple yet (hopefully) common story that bedevils project managers every day. This is the start of TeamDirection's efforts to better connect with current customers as we navigate the transition from Groove 3.x to Groove 2007, and new customers who are used to the SharePoint experience.

As I've mentioned before, I think Microsoft's purchase of Groove was brilliant, and I think they see the power of SharePoint, Groove and Project Management together as they've created a business group for the three. However, I've come to the conclusion that the SharePoint audience has a completely different set of expectations from the Groove audience. As such, it takes a completely different message.

SharePoint users expect SharePoint applications to use SharePoint web parts. This is not so dissimliar to Groove 3.x customers who expected Groove appilcations to use Groove tool templates. But whither the web services? People wanted the web parts and the tool templates, leaving the web services to the tech heads to figure out what to do.

Well, since Groove 2007 no longer allows non-microsoft applications to live within Groove, we had to figure out what to do. Solutions for the Groove platform have three choices: Groove Forms, Groove Web Services, or both. Interestingly enough, these are also the choices for SharePoint: SharePoint Web Parts, SharePoint Web Services, or both. So we chose Both and Both. We created a Task List using a Groove Form, we utilized the Task List that ships with SharePoint and we tied them all together with web services.

But now we have to describe it to interested parties. While Groove users seem to have no problem installing a webified desktop application, SharePoint users seem to much prefer a solution through the SharePoint server.

Which makes me very curious for the near future with respect to crossover: will we have two distinct marketing strategies for these two similar collaborative platforms or will the marketing strategies coalesce as people become more comfortable with the two? Time will tell.

Of course, there's also that class of user that doesn't use SharePoint or Groove. Don't worry, we're thinking about you too!

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