Sunday, October 02, 2005


I had an interesting experience with Microsoft recently. I have tons of old friends and colleagues still at Microsoft so you'd think I wouldn't have a hard time finding the right person to talk with at Microsoft. Particularly when the question I was trying to answer came from a Kleiner Perkins funded company with Vinod Khosla on their board. It was a relatively simple question for an Exchange product manager to answer. After a few different forays, the best answer came not from Microsoft but from a Microsoft partner.

It made me wonder if there isn't a role akin to an ombudsman that bigger software companies should have. In absence of having a clear process for handling non-standard questions or when someone gets stymied, should there be a safety net of having someone playing an ombudsman-like role? After exhausting my contacts at Microsoft, I thought of one person I don't even know -- Robert Scoble. From reading his blog over the last year+, he seems to play an ombudsman role as one of the hats he wears. Perhaps he should add to his list of nicknames by being called the "Scobudsman". I think this reinforces, yet again, one of the benefits of a company having a blog -- it gives people a way to connect to a human which is sometimes easier said than done. Undoubtedly, there's an Exchange blog but the blog searches I didn't find any that appeared to have a Microsoft team member associated with them. Perhaps I'll have a chance to chat with the Scobleizer at Web 2.0 this week and get his take on this.

The quote from one of the execs from the company that made the request captures the situation. I don't think this is unique to Microsoft though it may just be a problem of bigger companies.

Just curious --- but shouldn't it be a straight forward process within Microsoft to find the MS-Exchange 2003 product manager who has responsibility for that product? I can easily find these guys in almost every company I work with, but for some reason, the same techniques and tactics that I have used elsewhere just don't get me anywhere in Microsoft. I cannot seem to find anybody who can help me identify this person and how I can just have a brief conversation with them. Very puzzling to me. Perhaps this is one other dimension of "Microsoft biosphere".

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