Technology Evangelism

June 17, 2020 Evan Riser

Early on in my career, when I was a SharePoint administrator, I was introduced to the industry’s use of the work “evangelist”.  It was particularly relevant to SharePoint because it is a sort of technology Swiss army knife.  Initially, my experience with evangelism was as someone being preached to, but as I read blogs and attended conferences I began to learn more and gain insight.

My transformation from “sheep” to “shepherd” came about when I began to go beyond the core responsibilities I had as a SharePoint administrator creating sites and granting access and explained to users there was more they could get from SharePoint. At first it was an informal one-on-one I would have when creating a site for someone where I would point out the cool things in SharePoint they weren’t aware of.  It grew to become a dedicated area in our corporate intranet, where users could learn more about SharePoint features at regular lunch-and-learn sessions, sharing how SharePoint was used to solve myriad business problems.

Fast forward 10 years and I have become an Azure consultant; spreading the message on technology is my career.  However, as a consultant, I have learned that the power of evangelism comes from within an organization.  I have witnessed roadblocks being put up as new technology was being planned or rolled out, as people are reluctant to change.  All too often I see teams dragging their feet when they are asked to participate in cloud adoption planning or training.

This is where the evangelist comes in.  It is the evangelist, the individual(s) who know what the cloud (or other new operating model) has to offer and the passion to share it with the world that does best to overcome this reluctance. Take, for example, the team or teams which are inflexible and “unavailable” to attend the cloud adoption meeting or won’t provide someone to be a part of their cloud center of excellence. The best way to get through to these individuals is to demonstrate how the cloud can benefit them and what they do. The evangelist can get in front of a few of the team members to sow the seeds of interest, feeding into the “what’s in it for me” attitude the underlies human/team behavior.

It is a well-known fact that change effected from the ground up tends to do much better than change from the top-down, and evangelism is the catalyst. What’s better is that the evangelists don’t even have to be a part of the department or group leading the change.  In my case I was in my role as a project administrator when I took interest in and then spread the good word about SharePoint.

If you’re struggling to get adoption of or buy-in to the cloud in your organization, then seek out or become an evangelist. Having an individual(s) who is excited to demonstrate the art of the possible and sees the forest for the trees will help build excitement for the new and result in acceptance of the future.

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