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Stanford e-Day 2005

May 24, 2005

On Saturday I was a panelist at the Stanford Engineering School’s annual e-Day conference. Having neither attended Stanford, nor graduated in Engineering, it seemed an unusual lapse of quality control.

The conference was keynoted by Jeff Raikes who runs Office for Microsoft and is by far the best communicator I have ever seen from Redmond. Granted this is not a very high hurdle, but he may have missed his calling in politics. The guy is a combination of aw-shucks Midwestern humility with an obvious keen mind and strong presence – the guy is devastating.

He talked to the standard issue Microsoft Presentation (one word per slide) and discussed the vision for the forthcoming Office 12:
“Remove corporate boundaries” – Groove operating through the firewall.
“Connect information and people” – Search
“Broad control” – Document DRM
“Business Applications” – Play nice with ERP/CRM applications
“Software services” – Live Meeting
“Unified Communications” – He gave an example of being able to take phone calls when he is on IM. Not sure if he realizes a million people were doing that while he was talking.

They are moving in this direction as Microsoft chose to “Expand the view of the Opportunity.” As such Office is no longer about productivity applications, but about “enhancing the productivity of those who do information work.”

I don’t know. For the first time I had to give serious thought about whether to buy Office with my new PC. I did, because of Outlook. But I find myself using OpenOffice more than Word as it has a great HTML editor and every document can be turned into a PDF. And it’s free. Their grip is tenuous. And the fact that he never mentioned RSS when his goal is “enhancing the productivity of those who do information work,” is stunning.
The irrepressible Jeff Kleck moderates at Stanford e-Day.
Moving on to our panel, Jeff Kleck did a stellar job of keeping it conversational and fun, complete with Nerf rockets to shoot at audience members who asked bad questions. While we were supposed to talk about “Managing Next-Generation Information Technologies and Services,” the discussion quickly veered to entrepreneurship and software business models. But not before someone asked me about the relative benefits of XML vs. relational database as a data model – a question I am uniquely unqualified to answer as a Finance major.

At the conclusion a member of the Stanford engineering department presented me with a token as I do not have an affiliation with Stanford. It was a School of Engineering drink coaster.

Well, it’s not an honorary doctorate, but I will get plenty of mileage out of this with the development team.


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