Lesson 6: Microsoft 365 Unicorns don’t exist

I have been consulting solely on Microsoft 365 technology for just over a decade. I reflected on this recently and realised I have engaged with over 80 clients. This is the final lesson in my 6 part series diving into some consistent themes from engaging across many organisations and industries.

I know many Microsoft MVP’s (including being one myself) and technical experts and not one of us knows everything. Gasp!

The perfect being… the one who knows all… The Microsoft 365 Unicorn, just isn’t a thing.

The platform is so complex. And so much of it many people are unaware of. Areas go so deep into the complexity and detail that you are best looking for niche experts.

Take a look at the wheel

The wheel infographic below was created by Sharegate back in about 2015 and helps us understand how complex the platform is. And this is out of date and not even the full extent of the platform. It is a starting point, and below I will dive into more areas that it doesn’t show.

The Sharegate wheel is an earlier view of the platform when organisations started to need more guidance to show them a perspective of platform complexity. We used to use this wheel in client meetings to help them really pause and think about the number of apps and all the detail they needed support with.

To expand upon the wheel with more recent apps and services, I love Matt Wade’s content, specifically his Periodic Table of Office 365, and the other fabulous infographics on his site.

Check out his site jumpto365 to view how interactive it is and how the apps are linked and establish the platform for different ways of working.

Again, it isn’t everything. Because you cannot show that in an image. This shows all the applications employees can use, and some great detail on what they do or how they work together.

What else is there?

It is more than the apps that people see visible in the images above or in the Microsoft 365 portal.

Organisations require expertise across areas such as:

  • Telephony
  • Security
  • Compliance
  • Governance
  • Devices
  • Mobile Device Management
  • Security

Deep knowledge and experience to really know the areas and also how they are connected or impacts across each.

A key example is how work processes flow across different areas – use of apps, automation, security etc. Not only do you need people to have deep expertise, but to know who else, or where and when to consult to avoid issues or obstacles. For example, an employee can build a Form, but can it be shared or is external sharing disabled?
Is data captured into a SharePoint list or workflow, and could this stall because security team have put a rule in place.

Who knows the difference between the email connector in Power Automate, or sending an email in Outlook connector, and why you would use either?
Or examples of other connectors that Microsoft has created. These connectors can involve third party tools like slack, drop box, or google drive, or even within Teams apps. The interconnectivity needs to be deeply understood for decisions across security, governance, compliance etc as examples (this is an example from a fellow MVP that I needed explained because even I am not a unicorn!).

Cultural change and workplace behaviour

Beyond all of the technical know-how is the human side of things.

One of the most important things for me in driving change and embedding ways of working is that bridge between the technical and human side. I need strong relationships and guidance from technical professionals to help me understand, to then enable me to drive the business and employees.

The same person cannot guide me on MDM or security setup and policy who would explain the platform integration and detail between SharePoint, Groups, Teams, Sites and governance.

You need people to go deep, be an expert, remain strong in their knowledge ongoing as the platform enhances.

Some final thoughts

With all of this in mind, you can see why no single person can be your go-to, your single knowledge point, for managing your platform. A consultant can research and gain knowledge. They can reach out to peers. But not go deep and do the work in all areas.

This is crucial when hiring staff, selecting vendors and how you operate or who gives advice and expertise ongoing.

Don’t go to a vendor who has built their business on telephony for Intune or Security unless they have new staff with deep experience. I have seen projects where consultants are placed on site for a project to ‘cut their teeth’ and work out that niche on customer dollars.

The Microsoft platform, industry and community is ever-changing and a deep ocean to explore and understand.

Don’t search for a unicorn. No single person can operate as an island, it is a combined journey. Arm your journey with a group of experts to help your every need.

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