Getting OBA Solutions Deployed by IT

The last two days I delivered the OBA TTT in Reading. It is always a nice experience to talk and demonstrate the power of the Office 2007 System platform (both client-side and server-side). We had a couple of good discussion points during the training regarding the adoption of Office Business Applications within organizations. In my experience, OBAs are seen by information workers as excellent ways to enhance their personal and team productivity. It is not hard to convince that group of people. Developers also start to realize that they can build these types of applications in a professional development environment (just look at the powerful support for building Office client solutions with VSTO Orcas). Developers understand that it is not anymore about VBA but it is about .NET, Web Services, SharePoint and connections to back-end data sources. My experience, and that was re-enforced by the feedback of the participants, is that it is now time to convince the IT people. Many IT departments don't like to push extensions to the client desktops anymore, and definitely not the Office environment since these products are critical to the users and if they screw up, they will be blamed. I don't think it is really a matter of Office 2007 not getting deployed on the clients. Many organizations are in the process of doing this. IT people however have bad experiences with VBA and COM add-ins that extended the Office clients in the past. They see the value but are sceptic about the deployment of these extensions. Personally, I feel that Microsoft should focus a bit more on the IT people the coming months regarding the OBA story. We should explain, document and demonstrate the various deployment options, how VSTO Orcas can help with that and also (very important) how to maintain and upgrade OBA solutions. I know there is some documentation available and I have contributed myself to some of it but I hope that the OBA team is doing an effort to push this even further. IT Forum in Barcelona is already a good opportunity. I haven't looked yet, but this seems to me an excellent opportunity to have a couple of sessions dedicated to deployment of OBA solutions. I know that they are still working on the content track so maybe I have some influence in here :).

To conclude, I'd like to thank Nick Swan and the UK SharePoint user group for the couple of beers Monday evening. It was fun to do the session and had a good time afterwards. If you are part of a user group and want to have me speaking one evening (you'll only have to buy me a couple of beers :)), have a look at my travelling agenda. I'll be more than happy to help you out.