Editor's note: As we continue our annual Year in Review series with a look back on 2010, you'll notice a number of new faces among the participants this year. Our goal with this year's offering was to offer the most holistic glimpse into the "year in Bamboo" to date ... and what a year it was, including the release of SharePoint 2010 as well as the continued growth of Bamboo, as evidenced by the double digit increases in our product line, revenue, and staff.
Earlier in the year you conducted a major survey of Bamboo's customers. What were the most important findings which surfaced as a result of that survey?
Back in August of this year, the management team at Bamboo was tremendously interested in figuring out how quickly our customers were, or would be, upgrading to SharePoint 2010. We needed to make some key decisions regarding how much focus to put on support, development, migration, etc. Most of our operational plans were based on the assumption that the adoption curve for SharePoint 2010 would be similar to that of the adoption curve for SharePoint 2007. Anecdotally, it seemed like the interest and activity around SharePoint 2010 was much more intense than we expected, but no one could say with certainty how that interest would translate to adoption.
I asked the team for a couple of days to conduct a customer survey and see if we could get people to tell us where they were with SharePoint 2010. We took the time to ask a number of other questions about customer's experiences and their perceptions of Bamboo. We really needed data, and we needed it quickly, from a large enough sample that we could trust it to make some big decisions.
We sent out the survey to over 20,000 individuals. In fewer than 24 hours, we had over 1,000 completed surveys! We were really blown away by the response. We have a pretty special relationship and dialog with our customers, and I am very grateful to everyone who participated. The survey was 8 pages long and included several "open text" questions. I personally read every single response, and I can tell you that it was a fascinating learning experience.
I wrote a longer post that details most of the key findings, but I would say that the top three things we learned included:
- The adoption of SharePoint 2010 is happening fast, much faster than the move to SharePoint 2007. Back in August, about 20% of respondents said that their upgrade to SharePoint 2010 was already complete or in progress. By March of 2011, the vast majority of Bamboo customers will have completed their move to SharePoint 2010.
- Overall customer satisfaction at Bamboo appears high. Less than 8% of all customers rated themselves as "Unsatisfied" with Bamboo products, technical support, or product documentation. We will always strive to satisfy 100% of our customers, but we were very pleased with these ratings.
- The recession may be over, but IT budgets are still feeling the pain. 60.37% of respondents reported that their IT budget is currently constrained due to recent economic conditions
Again, I'd like to think everyone who participated in the survey. We'll conduct at least two major new surveys next year, and I really look forward to connecting directly with our customers again.
"Evolution" was Bamboo's theme for SharePoint Conference 2009. What does the Marketing team have in store for this year's SharePoint Conference in Anaheim?
In 2009, we worked on our theme and our presence at SharePoint Conference 2009 for the better part of three months. It was an agonizing process, and I'm sure that I drove most of my team nuts pushing for a truly world-class exhibit for Bamboo. The "Evolution" campaign was extremely well received, and is an accomplishment I look back on with pride. I can't mention that effort without acknowledging Director of Marketing, Lily Griffin for her leadership.
It will be very difficult to avoid trying to one-up ourselves in Anaheim. To be honest, I haven't even begun to put any serious thought into the campaign yet, but this year's show will undoubtedly be the most significant SharePoint conference yet.
This past summer, you announced the formation of the Bamboo Customer Advisory Panel. How's that going?
I have to confess that the Customer Advisory Panel was one of my most embarrassing personal failures in 2010. This is one of those instances where my passion for interacting directly with customers far outstripped my personal bandwith.
The notion was to pull together about a dozen or so of Bamboo's most vocal customers and leverage them as a sounding board for strategic decisions at Bamboo. I successfully recruited a panel of folks who very generously offered to share their time with us, but I completely failed to engage or take advantage of their expertise. I would really like to try this again in 2011, but I'm going to make absolutely certain that I have the resources and a more formal plan before I re-start the recruitment effort. That being said, I welcome folks who may be interested in joining the Bamboo Customer Advisory Panel to drop me a note now. I promise to follow up when we're ready to re-start.
This time last year, you stated your intention to blog more in 2010. Are you satisfied with your blogging output for the past year and, if not, do you have a New Year's resolution you'd care to share with Bamboo Nation?
I definitely failed to blog more in 2010 than I did in 2009. Looking at my profile on Bamboo Nation it appears I managed about a half dozen posts, well below a post a month. That is truly pathetic. I am the guy at Bamboo who is always saying, "If it isn't worth blogging about, it isn't worth doing." There is a gross hypocrisy between my words and actions. I formally resolve to blog at least once per month in 2011, on pain of public ridicule.
That being said, there are a handful of very good reasons why my blogging has fallen off over the past two years. Those reasons include:
- At the beginning of 2010, I fully transitioned the role of editorial lead at Bamboo to the much more capable John Anderson. In addition to getting himself recognized as one of the Top 50 SharePoint Influencers, John has led Bamboo Nation to continued audience growth, and overall has just done a spectacular job as Managing Editor.
- Bamboo Nation gained a handful of extremely active and fresh new voices in 2010, in particular new tech writers Katie Packard and Cynthia Fistler. Not only have we acquired new talent, but suddenly our COO Lam Le has become one of our most prolific writers as we launched the new SharePoint 2010 Cookbook series. In all seriousness, the secret to Bamboo's success with social media is that it's a total team effort. Blogging has become a major part of our culture, and most folks have fully adopted blogging as a core responsibility. I feel a lot less pressure to write for the sake of writing, and am able to devote more energy to writing about those topics that interest me the most. I am very grateful to all of the bloggers here at Bamboo!
You've expressed a desire to move Bamboo Nation from its current platform to SharePoint 2010. Is that a move we'll be seeing in 2011?
Bamboo Nation is currently built on the Telligent Community platform. The Telligent solution has served us extremely well, and we'll miss it when we eventually move away. I do continue to believe that there is a serious credibility problem when the community about SharePoint doesn't actually run on SharePoint. One or two SharePoint-powered community sites were launched in 2010, and it pains me that Bamboo Nation wasn't one of them. SharePoint 2010 is much better suited as a platform for a Web-facing community site than its predecessor was, however, there still are some shortcomings that we'll have to overcome. I think you will see us take some baby steps toward a complete migration to SharePoint in 2011, but we probably won't be 100% there until 2012.
At your suggestion, SharePoint Daily has taken up residence outside of Bamboo Nation. How does the standalone version differ from the Bamboo Nation offering, and what was the primary impetus for the new instance of Daily?
SharePoint Daily is one of the real hidden gems within Bamboo's community franchise. It's a daily round-up of news about SharePoint and Microsoft that everyone in the enterprise collaboration space should be reading. We have about a thousand subscribers to the RSS feed, so the readership of SharePoint Daily isn't yet what it should be. I think SharePoint Daily has suffered somewhat as a Bamboo-branded entity. People assume that SharePoint Daily is merely a shill for Bamboo product news, and it isn't. Author Chris Dooley does an amazing job of combing the Web to find the most interesting and useful SharePoint news of the day. There's no editorial bias towards Bamboo, this is something we offer as a service to the SharePoint community. It includes a comprehensive listing of events, job postings, technical bulletins, etc. I start every day with SharePoint Daily, and I want other people to discover it as a resource as well. If we have to pull our branding off it to reach the audience it deserves, that's an easy decision to make.
If you're a SharePoint nerd, a Microsoft employee, or an analyst in the SharePoint space, I urge you to give SharePoint Daily a try. It's totally free, and you don't even need to register. Give it a shot, I promise you'll be addicted quickly.
What are your primary goals for the year ahead, both personally and for the Marketing & Online Operations team?
Bamboo is nearly 5 times larger than when I joined in 2008. We've experienced three years of rapid growth and plan to nearly double again in 2011. The daily challenges at Bamboo remind me more and more of my time at AOL, when that company grew from 500 employees to more than 19,000 worldwide. I'd be lying if I said that hyper-growth gets easier with repetition. We have to constantly think bigger, learn how to scale, and still innovate ahead of the competition.
Early in 2011, we'll unveil two major initiatives at Bamboo that have been areas of major investment in 2010. On January 11th we will formally launch BambooCRM and BambooSupport. These two services will be the flagship offerings in a new line of hosted applications built on SharePoint. Around the same time we'll be introducing the first Cloud PartsTM to Bamboo Labs. Cloud Parts are essentially Web Parts that live on Azure rather than on a local SharePoint server. Cloud Parts represent the next generation of extended SharePoint functionality. Finally, end users will have the ability to choose and deploy third-party Web Parts without relying on a SharePoint Administrator to approve and execute the installation. Both of these lines of business are really new directions for Bamboo, and represent completely new challenges for the marketing organization.
You asked about personal goals as well. Ok, I'll take the bait. In 2010 I won the 4th Flight of the Club Championship at my home course, Loudoun Golf & Country Club. This was my third win in four years. As busy as I will be at Bamboo, it's still important for me to do something athletic and competitive outside of the office. In 2011 I will attempt to qualify for the Championship Flight. My goal for the year is to win one match at this higher level of competition. If I can't do that, I'd settle for getting my handicap down from 11 into single digits.
Read the entire 2010 Year in Review series:
Jan 07 2011, 09:30 AM
My name is Steve Gaitten, I am Director of Online Operations at Bamboo. My primary mission is to make Bamboo Nation the most useful SharePoint community site on the web. I am also focused on ensuring a world class shopping experience for customers who visit the Bamboo Solutions Online Store. Prior to Bamboo, I spent over a decade at America Online. At AOL my most recent roles included Director of Product Management in the Messaging & Social Media division as well as Managing Editor of AOL Money & Finance. I am a patented inventor, a bad golfer, an enthusiastic horticulturalist and a dog lover.