Hoody and Footballs by Matthew McDermott, IW Practice Director and SharePoint MVP

So…we’re not a big company, but we’re bigger now than we were before “the crash.” We have offices in 5 cities and we’re actually two companies under one parent. But we’re not BIG, like Microsoft big, I mean, on a good day, I can still hit Hoody in the head with a carefully thrown foam football.

Let me back up for a second. Catapult Systems is a Microsoft Gold Partner headquartered in Austin, TX. We have a sister company, Inquisite, that produces the enterprise human insight software of the same name. Bryan Hood, “Hoody” to his friends, works for Inquisite. I am an IW Practice Director and SharePoint MVP for Catapult Systems, that means that I spend all of my time eating, drinking, evangelizing and delivering Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS). A large part of my role is working with clients to understand the business problems they face and how to use technology to support the business solution. The problem we encounter in most organizations is “finding information.” In most organizations this means documents. The real challenge our clients face however, is that so little of their truly valuable information is stored in documents. For example, consider the bigger long term financial loss to a company, a file share of old proposals or the departure of a key sales person (and all of his/her contacts) or the “go-to" guy the “MVP” who leaves because he is overwhelmed in his job?

So what does Hoody have to do with this? Hoody is that sales guy, he sets the bar, he’s “the man!” Hoody’s contacts make him an MVP. In fact every one of our sales folks is an MVP in their own way because of their contacts and the relationships they have established with their accounts. Hoody and I are so busy that we don’t get to talk much, much less throw a football around but since we use KN we can share the intellectual capital that we both hold sacred.

There are three key scenarios where KN drives our business:

Expertise location – I work with a very talented team that is distributed across all of our offices. Most everyone at Catapult knows that I am the “SharePoint Guy.” What most don’t know is who the SharePoint team is, who they can call in Dallas for SharePoint help. The issue is not finding THE expert, but finding the “very knowledgeable,” those individuals who have the knowledge and ability (and bandwidth) to solve a problem or answer a question. Most questions don’t require the expert. Sometimes you are looking for the “composite talent”…the person who is good at “this AND that,” KN can provide that insight.

Finding the Rights – Finding Mr. or Ms. Right is about more that finding the right person. Often it is about understanding how that person interacts with the organization and their social distance from me (or the target of my search). The power of people search is not in finding a list of names, but being able to evaluate the list based on factors like social distance, colleagues in common, title, department, etc. The right person is often a collection of experiences and connections that is illusive and hard to quantify, but I know it when I see it.

External Contact Location – I need to know “who in my company knows someone in another company.” I need the personal connection that will make the difference, whether I am looking for help or looking to close a deal. Recently I began working on a migration solution for MOSS and needed to contact a technical resource inside Metalogix. Using KN I was able to find a Catapult employee who had the contact I was looking for in Metalogix. (It turns out the guy sits two cubes away from me!)

I communicate daily with extremely talented individuals both inside and outside our firewall. The quantity and quality of those communications are captured in my e-mail correspondence. KN unlocks this island of information stored in Outlook and makes it available to my team and my coworkers, with the security required by the sales folks like Hoody. I need the information that my colleagues have locked in their heads and address books. I thirst for more information, quality information, about the people in my company. I may have access to a lot of information but I am a true sufferer of “Knowledge Underload.” But with KN making the connection to friends and colleagues is as easy as making that pass to Hoody with the football.