Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS)


Interviews by Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P., MVP, DF/NPA, CNP

Sean O'Driscoll - General Manager for Community Support Services (CSS) and MVP Worldwide, Microsoft Corporation

This week, Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P. has an exclusive interview with Sean O'Driscoll.

Sean O'DriscollSean O'Driscoll is the Global Manager for CSS and the MVP Award Program at Microsoft Corporation. The Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award recognizes exceptional technical community leaders who foster the free and objective exchange of knowledge by actively sharing their real world expertise with users and Microsoft. The MVP award is the way that Microsoft formally honors the accomplishments of these individuals for their contributions to community. As the Global Director, Sean is responsible for the worldwide team that identifies, awards, and engages over 3500 MVPs spanning over 90 Microsoft technologies and in over 90 countries.

O'Driscoll began his career at Microsoft in 1992 as a customer service and sales professional responsible for business development and client relationships. Most recently, he was responsible for Premier and Professional Services sales and delivery to Independent Software Vendors in the US. Prior to that, Sean served as a business development manager working with ISVs on joint development, co-marketing and channel development with Microsoft.

Before joining Microsoft, O'Driscoll graduated from Pacific University in Forest Grove, OR (1992) with degrees in Business and Philosophy. He and his wife Kari have two daughters, Erin and Lauren.

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To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.


Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

00:059: I found your extensive research and thought leadership into business and societal transformation exciting and intriguing. What are the catalysts for your work?
"...Five years ago I had the opportunity to change roles and take a leadership position focused on connecting with what we call our Most Valuable Professionals, (essentially community leaders around the world both online and offline), who volunteer tremendous amounts of their energy, their passion and technical knowledge around our products to helping users use our technology. Little did I know at the time that the work five years ago would intersect with this emerging trend of social computing or citizen journalism or web 2.0...."

02:36 What is social media and why should we care?
"....I think what the web is doing today is essentially enabling what is already a natural human construct - that we want to collaborate with one another...we want to connect and leverage each others knowledge, skills, and expertise...."

06:52: You reference Wikinomics, Swarm Theory, Darwin, Gen Y and Generational Change in your talks - which facets do you find most compelling and why?
"...There's a lot of uncertainty in how this new work style (Gen Y) will affect the workplace but there is no uncertainty about the fact that it will...."

12:18: You reference Don Tapscott and Wikinomics - can you build that out further in terms of his work?
"....I think he captured the analogy well of how to think about this notion of group intelligence or co-learning or co-production...."

15:52: You also talk about Moore's Law and Connectivity and so forth. How does that relate in terms of social networking and media etc.?
"...I think of them as enablers. They are things that have been true for a couple of decades....Maybe they are fuel in the engine of change versus the engine in of itself..."

17:02: You talk about the 5Ps of social media: People, Places, Process, Platform, and Patterns. What is the significance of this in the broader context and to our daily lives?
"...I think too many of us think of social media as a set of tactics...(i.e. a need to enable assess feeds, a need to have a discussion forum, a need to have an influencer program and a need to have a Wiki)...and we start checking the boxes without understanding the business purpose. So I wanted to come up with a construct for this.....I came up with this notion of the 5 P's of social media...."

27:07: Microsoft supports the world's largest ecosystem of community in many respects. You've been talking about the 5 P's of social media and the impact it is having and how it is continuing to grow and will build out in the future. What does this all mean to Microsoft? How will this impact the user experience with Microsoft?
"....I think it goes back to business transformation. I think for Microsoft, our ability to listen, respond, and then engage with a much broader set of our users is going up exponentially as the social platforms evolve...."

33:17: You are the leader behind the most successful award and recognition program. All of this research that you've done (ie. social media, social networking, Gen Y, Swarm Theory, etc.) - how does this apply to the MVP program? What does this mean to the people who get this designation or to the program itself and how it builds out in the future?
"...A real influencer program is about finding, thanking, and engaging.....What we aspire to in terms of the MVP program standpoint is how do we continue to focus, (not on the find and thank), but on continuing to deepen the engagement part of the equation. Because it is really the discussion between those leaders and us and how we think about our innovation, that has the potential to drive authentic conversation between them and users on the web.....In the end, the more we enable them to be part of the process the better off we'll be and the more interested they will be...."

38:10: How would you define Microsoft? Would you say you are a product company, a community company, a consumer company, a gaming company?
"...Maybe we are all of those things. We're a software company.....We are a company whose aspiration is to help people realize their potential...Unless we can inspire user to user conversation that empowers people to get more from the technology we simply can't be successful...That is what is so exciting about this emerging trend..."

39:49: Sean shares where one can go to find out more about this trend.
"...I'm actually a big fan of using social bookmarking sites like to research some of this. People are welcome to read my blog: There are a set of links on my site which will take you to people I think are great thoughtleaders on this topic..."

41:21: Sean provides some predictions of future trends and their implications/opportunities.

45:58: What question would you ask of yourself if you were the interviewer and what would be your answer?
"...How do you connect all this enthusiasm? (There is massive discussion and enthusiasm out there for this social computing, social networking etc.) How do you connect this enthusiasm back to business value if you are a corporation (large or small)?..."