Hockey players, motorcycle riders and Microsoft

Roughly 6.8million people were already using Office 2010 and related products whenMicrosoft Corp. launched Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 to the business marketon May 12, according to Microsoft Canada Inc

At a Canadianlaunch event in Toronto, hosted by Microsoft Canada, theEdmonton Oilers Hockey Club and a Canadian Harley-Davidson (H-D) retailer had a lot to say about their experiences with pre-release versions of the products.

SharePoint 2010 helps the Oilersscout for the NHL draft

TheEdmonton Oilers implemented a pre-release version of SharePoint 2010 in theirscouting department early this year, with help from Vancouver-based HabaneroConsulting Group, for Web-based remote collaboration.

It’s apowerful tool for amateur scouts looking at prospective draft players, saidSean Draper, director of research, analysis and software development for theEdmonton Oilers Hockey Club.

Scouting isparticularly important for the Oilers this year. The team will have first pick in the National Hockey League (NHL) entry draft in Los Angeles, Calif. next month. While the team has won fiveStanley Cups since it joined the NHL in 1979, they have fallen to the bottom ofthe list in recent years and ranked 30th in 2009.

TheWeb-based system focuses largely on video, allowing scouts to not only viewvideos of prospects but also tag specific players and add comments with timemarkers. Other scouts can then join in the debate by adding their own commentsand replies.

Scouts havepretty developed ideas about what a particular player brings to the table andthis tool lets them highlight their ideas with examples and share them amongthemselves in real time, said Draper. The interaction between scouts is mostlyarguments, he said.

But this isa good thing, he added, because by the time they get together for a meeting,they’ve already hashed out their ideas. “It really gives them the preparednessto into the meeting knowing it is going to be war over some players,” he said.

The mostuseful parts of SharePoint 2010, according to Draper, are its collaborativeaspects and presence capabilities. “I want my scouts to know when someone elseis online so I can start to immediately share my information with them,” hesaid.

The abilityto tag videos with time markers is also key, said Draper. Video capabilitieswere available in SharePoint 2007, but they required buying a third partyadd-on and didn’t allow users to breakdown videos in detail, he said. 

Roughly 20people are using the SharePoint 2010 tool, which was developed in partnershipwith Habanero for the scouting department. The rest of the HockeyClub is on SharePoint 2007, said Alfred Ng, director of IT for the EdmontonOilers Hockey Club.

Ng said he would like to expand theuse of SharePoint 2010 to the rest of the company for purposes like theintranet, BI, workflow and business process management.

There is alot of other functionality that the Hockey Club isn’t leveraging and SharePoint2010 does it easier and better than SharePoint 2007, he said. The new versionis also a lot more intuitive and doesn’t require a lot of time for end usertraining, he said.

Thesolution was very easy to implement, said Ng. Some of the hockey scouts areex-players and they aren’t tech savvy, so for them to pick it up immediatelyand start using the system was “a huge thing for us,” he said.

Finding apartner to implement a SharePoint 2010 solution with is also key, said Ng. “SharePointis one of those types of software where your imagination is your limitation. Soif you can imagine a solution, with the right partner, they can make it happenfor you,” he said.

TheSharePoint 2010 system is currently restricted to scouts, but Draper said hewould love to see it used for crowd sourcing. He would even go as far as openingparts of the system to the general public so scouting fans could contribute theiropinions.

Office 2010 helps Jacox H-D forecastbike sales and weather patterns

With 70 H-Dretailers across Canada, andnot all of them exclusive to the H-D brand, some of the “cookie-cutter” reportssupplied by Harley-Davidson Canada’s internal system just don’t work, saidMarshall Horner, partner at Jacox Harley-Davidson in Mississauga, Ont.

Jacox H-Dis the largest exclusive H-D dealership in Canada and an eight-figure retailerin sales, said Horner. He uses Excel extensively to create the annualfinancial budget and factor in all the “what if” scenarios, like the weather. 

“Weather has a 110 per cent affect on all aspects ofour business,” said Horner.

Jacox H-Dcan sell 30 to 40 bikes a month in the summer, but a winter month might seeless than 10 bike sales, he said. Sales traditionally slow down in the winterbecause people can’t ride and don’t want to accept delivery of their motorcycleuntil they can ride it, he said.

“Withregard to things like service, people will make a service appointment, and ifit rains, they just don’t show up … a wet summer will also affect your sales,”he said.

Horner keepstrack of past sales and weather patterns using Excel. “Excel allows us to chart thatand it will give us a backup to why we are doing certain things – why we planon selling maybe 10 bikes in December and 45 bikes in May or June,” hesaid.  

Jacox H-Duses a top-down model, he said. “We sit down with every type of bike we aregoing to order and do a forecast of sales of what we are going to sell by modeland then take that and tie it back into the parts or accessories,” he said.

There arefive bike families – Sportster, Dyna, Softtail, Touring, and V-Rod – and threeor four models in each family, he said. The bike sales affect everything else,such as service levels, inventory levels and carrying costs, he said.

Horner hasbeen using Office 2010 for the last month. The new version of Excel is betterand faster, he said. “Instead of your worksheets being lined up across the bottom, now youcan lay them out. So I can jump from worksheet one to worksheet two toworksheet three … it makes it that much easier, that much quicker,” he said.

The newExcel is also easy to learn, he said. It took Horner 45 minutes to build his first chart. On his second try, he built twocharts in 10 minutes. “It’s notcomplicated, but most small businessmen are not complicated either. They wantto get on with running their business,” he said.

Horner said he plans to roll out Office 2010 to the rest of the management group.  

Theconsumer versions of Microsoft Office 2010 and Microsoft SharePoint 2010 willbecome available in June. A specific Canadian launch date is not yet availablefrom Microsoft Canada.

Follow me on Twitter @jenniferkavur. 

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