Christian Buckley interviews Mark Rackley & John P. White

Video Transcript

Christian: Hey thanks for joining us again at the European SharePoint Office 365 and Azure conference here and beautiful Prague as you can see behind us it has been nice like all week you looking out the window skip those sessions, don’t talk to those experts, ignore the expo hall, look out the windows it’s been beautiful so.

Mark: And drink hot wine yeah.

Christian: For some people that that’s great so well why don’t you guys introduce yourselves.

Mark: So my name is Mark Rackley and I work for an organization called the paid group where we do office 365 and SharePoint consulting services I’m also a Microsoft MVP and I’ve known you now since Wow since you were we won about 10 years.

Christian: 10 years yeah.

John: I’m John White I’m the CTO of tyGraph we do analytics for office 365 and delivering other things through Power BI so vested interest here I’m also a Microsoft MVP for SharePoint and power bi so ready to go.

Christian: Excellent well hey the topic here that we’re discussing today so it’s actually kind of the genesis of the project and Mark I’ll let you kind of give the background but came out of the discussion following with Microsoft Ignite this last month and we had spurred a community survey so why don’t you kind of talk about kind of the lead-up to the survey.

Mark: Sure so there been a lot of changes as we all know going on with licensing around flow and power apps and we have found that we have a lot of customers and organization that were impacted by that and as we go and create new estimates and new statements of work for clients and when you’re doing things around the forms and workflow we have to take into account if we go down the power platform path are there gonna be extra cost that the customer needs to be aware of and it’s becoming more and more often that’s the case that there’s extra costs and when we bring those to the customer and we say this is this is the we even say like this is the probably the best platform for your solution based upon you know you know being with what Microsoft is doing it’s going to be good you know future proved it’s this is a solid platform however, because we need to do these extra things there’s an extra call and in how do you feel about that cost and it started to impact the way we create estimates and I really wanted to know if this is affecting other people in how it’s affecting them because that affects the way we try to pitch stuff to companies as well so I wanted to understand a true understanding of that and not go beyond that just oh we don’t like it.

Christian: Right and I think part of the conversation came and where we involved John and the tyGraph team as well and a number of other players in the community so it wasn’t just about you know paid group and tyGraph there’s about a dozen companies that kind of said yeah hey we’re interested in seeing the data and being able to talk about and analyse what are the impacts of some of the licensing changes so we did this Community Survey so we had a decent response out of it so we ran it for two weeks we had 228 responses we kept it very short very simple some basic questions we wanted to understand the size of the organization that people were you know responding from we didn’t get into you know capture any personal information we didn’t even go in and identify roles of people responding but answering kind of for their organizations and then we tried it we asked them to self-measure what they thought the impact to their business would be and then we asked some open questions we asked you know how is that so to kind of rate the impact and then how is it impacting your do you foresee it impacting your business and then what you’re doing because of those impacts and usually when you ask a short survey a Community Survey and have an open-ended question like that with the research that I’ve done is that you have at best maybe one out of five people filling in kind of the long answers and I’d say well over half of the people that responded probably higher than that 60% or so people responded with details they filled in those boxes with their feedback and some interesting stats there. So, I mean the first thing is about responses by org size when you guys look at this kind of way your thoughts around that?

John: I was actually struck by how many large organizations responded to this survey usually he’s get a lot of little ones and that you know add the org size really typically you’ll have things that impact a small organization but are good for a large one or vice versa in with any of these changes. We’ve had really good representation from the high end of the market in fact disproportionate representation from the high end of the mark of the market but you can want to combine that with the impact level but the other thing that strikes me along that side is how evenly the impact is. It’s it seems to affect all organizations kind of the same level there’s a little tiny bit of variation but statistically insignificant yeah.

Mark: I really thought there would be probably a higher dislike for it from the smaller companies and I thought the larger organizations are like well yeah I mean weird this is the price of doing business we understand it but it’s like even across the board people’s feelings on it so it’s…

Christian: Just to give some context here too we had a 1 through 7 with 7s and being a serious impact to my business to a 1 at the opposite end saying zero impact of my business the average impact was five point seven nine and so as you look at what’s nice about the data and I should point out that we’re so we have a blog post going up tonight in the on the ESPC blog so you can find some more detail with some snapshots of this data so we’re able to go in and look at that that the impact level by the organization size and so I mean even looking at this spread as you said I mean it’s in between the lowest impact there 5.4 the highest of six point two and it’s very level consistent across the size of organizations. But we also ask the question is whether they were even familiar with these licensing changes and so you had of the 228 respondents 160 they said yes I’m up-to-date I’m aware of these changes if 55 said that I saw that there were changes but haven’t really dug into the details of that and only 13 answered you know I wasn’t aware that there were changes. So people were coming into this knowing that you know hey for the most part we’re aware of this well aware of these changes and then they had an opinion on that. And so the other two questions the other things that we could have dug into were like how are people responding to this and what I think is really interesting about this so you have a number of different options that people could fill in which pre-set options that it had to respond how it’s impacting their business so but we built those into the questions based on feedback things we’re hearing you know that that we just know that people have stated to us we have quite a few that are at the in the long tail of one person responding to each of these but the vast majority the top the responses here, were that people said these licensing changes to power apps in power automate will slow or halt adoption internally 125 of those respondents.

Mark: That’s over 50% so that’s huge it is huge.

John: I think what’s interesting and if you read the language here or what’s particularly telling about that this will slow or halt adoption and I think part of the problem here is not so much not necessarily what the licensing model is, but the fact that this was unplanned because they started down this path or they’ve started down some sort of a roll out with one understanding and kind of had the rug pulled out from underneath them and I think that’s something we should really focus on in here.

Mark: Yeah I mean I agree and I think that’s probably why you know even if you are not too adverse to the price why it’s gonna cause you to pause a little bit because these were unplanned I think that really that really made some people uncomfortable with moving forward.

John: Yeah and then the next most commonly responded to item is that we will investigate alternate solutions.

Mark: Well it just makes sense you know if you’re gonna have this this cost for things that used to be free and there are third-party tools out there and if they’re feature-rich and less expensive you know why not why not look into them. I think this kind of this makes me a little sad because power platform is spectacular and I would love to see us find some nice common ground I understand why Microsoft needs to increase the prices but I was I was loved if there was just some middle ground that allowed them to get what they needed out of it but then also allow us to continue building without you know spending a lot of money.

Christian: But again we’ll share more of the data the specific responses the numbers behind these in the blog post but just a round out the top five of the other of the top responses there we will be conservative in our use people that are still unsure of the impact and they’re still trying to understand the impacts and then the number five was we’re already in the process of moving to an alternate solution. So, you know there are those that I feel that there’s a high impact it’s not surprising they’re saying well they look around and say well what else do we need to do to move forward to meet our customers’ needs.

John: Just to call the one you know we will be conservative in our use. You never really want to penalize people for using your product right that’s you’re backing off on adoption it’s really what we’re talking about and adoption something we want to increase so yeah none of that’s particularly shiny.

Mark: And the one thing that I do want to make sure that we’re very clear especially people who aren’t familiar with licensing changes or maybe have some misinformation if you’re staying in the office 365 space of connecting to SharePoint and doing things within that space you’re not gonna run into additional costs for the premium licensing things that’s it’s when you try to go outside of SharePoint and things like Azure SQL or other premium data connectors or on-premises that’s where you’re going to start running into some extra costs or if maybe people the really popular thing we used to do was call other flows using an HTTP connector that was probably one of the biggest things impacted people because that became premium but I just want to make it clear that if you’re doing things within SharePoint staying in SharePoint Online you’re not gonna be experiencing extra cost for that.

Christian: And I think it is important to I mean the last question we’re asking about you know we’re trying to figure out a way of capturing some data around how people you know they thought it was too expensive or not I think it’s the vast majority a hundred and ninety of those thought it was expensive or too expensive you know the third category not sure and then the fourth the smallest of the reasonable or competitive pricing around that but I think what’s more interesting is actually when you start in those open-ended questions when you start digging into the other solutions that people are considering and they’re certainly your patterns there and the common third-party tools that we’re aware of and other options but even beyond that I think it’d be more interesting is when you the question there of saying well you know what else would you suggest that Microsoft could do and I think this is the to put a positive spin and feedback from Microsoft it’s really I think in this question and this is where I was surprised by the high percentage of respondents filled in this open question.

Mark: And they weren’t overly negative they weren’t like you know bashing the things that people love this tool set they love it and they want to use it and I think that’s very positive that they responded in the way they did.

Christian: Well that’s the difference to I think because in some of the pricing nuances there if you’re saying well it’s really expensive for a generic thing but when you have if you’re talking about you know very specific connectors or you know whatever the option center or bundling out there there’s I think ways very easily that for these respondents that they could see value in paying those price at the higher prices with these few adjustments so I think it’s just it’s something that we’re going to share with the community and I’m sure Microsoft is interested it didn’t take a look as well.

John: Yeah I think it all there’s a bit of a deeper issue here I’d like to address with this and we this is another instance of something we’ve seen a few times in that licensing seems to be left to the end of the discussion when we’re architecting or introducing new technologies. When you think about it it’s actually a core part of architecture or design because if something isn’t going to work financially you’re not going to be able to adopt it so there’s no sense in handing someone a technology and say they invest a lot of time building up resources or skills or architecture based on that if you’re only gonna be taken out of the knees later on from a cost standpoint and it just won’t make sense you’re not gonna be able to do it that’s just a waste of everyone’s time I would really like to see the cost and it’s not about how much it costs and it’s not even about the licensing model it’s about knowing what the licensing model is ahead of time and not down the road and I’d really like to see that part of the initial discussions with product planning as opposed to let’s wait till the product goes GA before we talk about the numbers.

Mark: Well I mean to their to their to defend those guys a little bit they don’t know what they don’t know and they are just rolling things out and saying here’s some great tools for you guys use we don’t know how they’re gonna be used we don’t know how they’re gonna be adopted so we don’t know what it’s gonna cost.

John: True but I think we should think about that a little more ahead of time instead of just throwing it at the wall and seeing what sticks.

Mark: Well they have not said cortex is gonna be free at all so I think they’ve learned.

Christian: I think they’ve learned some of those lessons but honestly no and correct but so I think that the and if I could just play devil’s advocate it’s the first time that we saw it as MVPs at the MVP summit just by the response in the room you would have thought there was a lot of excitement around that, that they that should have been an indicator to kind of get those things in order before it goes GA to your point so. Well anyway so again you’ll be able to find out the results of the survey out on the ESPC blog you know please you know take a look at that if you have any questions you can reach out to these gentlemen here have it’s the best way to get in touch with you guys.

Mark: So you can email me directly at mrackley @ Pait group dot com you can follow me on Twitter MRackley and my blog post is Mark Rackley dot net or my blog site I should say.

John: JPW at unlimited vis my twitter handle is diver down 1964 because I have the second most common name in the Western world and my blog is white pages dot unlimited viscom.

Mark: So the coolest blog name in the world by those ages yeah.

John: Or my podcast is also something I would advise people listen to bifocal by focusing on bi.

Mark: That’s true I do a podcast as well with three other MVPs it’s techsplaining so at Tech splaining dot net so you can check that out.

John: That’s when you explain things to someone that ad infinitum.

Christian: Thank you thank you sir yeah obviously to say that you know you know that the younger generation in just a few years it’s not going to know what you’re talking about with white pages white pages yeah so it won’t be as clever will it John.

Mark: He’ll be retired by then.

Christian: Anyway, thanks a lot guys.

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