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New Year, and some great news

9 Jan 2017 by Alan Byrne

On January 1st I was kicking back drinking a cup of tea and reading my Kindle when my wrist buzzed with an Outlook email notification. I glanced at my smart watch and saw a snippet of a subject line that I was not expecting – “Congratulations 2017 Microsoft MVP!”I’ve been involved with the Office 365 community since 2012, almost as long as it has been around, and have seen it evolve from a small group of evangelists to a mainstream movement of IT professionals, managers and engineers. In the early days, this strong community helped each other out on forums in a time when a lot of Office 365 plans didn’t come with official support.  The same names would pop up repeatedly across TechNet, the Office 365 community forums and on Twitter.

In the early days, a few of us joined a monthly meetup on Lync as part of the Office 365 International Users Group.  Here were a group of people who didn’t know each other offline but would eagerly join an online meeting, often in the middle of the night in their time zone, to discuss the latest developments and problems around Office 365, sharing their knowledge freely and openly.

We must have been doing something right as Microsoft started to take more notice.  There was one time when I logged a support case with Microsoft and their engineer copied and pasted one of my own blog posts into a Word document and sent it back to me as a possible resolution to the issue.  Another time someone chased me down in the expo hall at Microsoft Ignite and asked for a selfie – apparently, they had been using my TechNet Script samples for the past two years.  I know that I have often relied on content provided by other MVPs to solve issues and I’m sure they have similar experiences.

I’ve now met most of these people offline, and have thoroughly enjoyed sharing the same enthusiastic conversations and knowledge over coffees, meals or beers across the world.  I consider these to be some of the smartest and most passionate people I have ever met, and many became Microsoft MVPs long before I did.  I am honoured and humbled to be officially recognised as someone who operates at their level.

A Microsoft MVP is someone who contributes knowledge, insight and expertise to their field.  The only way that can be done effectively is by fully understanding not only the technology itself, but the impact it can have on a person or organisation.  I recently wrote about the rapid pace of change now occurring in Office 365, and how IT departments are evolving to keep up.  MVPs have the same challenge, and it’s no longer possible to keep up by reading a book every few months – change across these platforms happens daily and as an MVP we need to be across it instantly.

I’ve always had a curious mind and a strong compulsion to understand how things work, so I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead.  I personally think that the best way to do this is by speaking with Office 365 users directly about how they are using these technologies and their experiences with it.  I’m going to be at many Office 365 related conferences and events in 2017. If you see me around in person or online, please reach out and say hello – I’d love to chat!