Category Archives: PowerPoint

A brief look at the origins of PowerPoint and its acquisition by Microsoft

Since its inception, PowerPoint has revolutionized the way we present. Although PowerPoint has grown to become a ubiquitous tool across multiple industries and worked its way into pop culture (see Dilbert), few know about its early days.

Early PowerPoint history
A brief look at the origins of PowerPoint and its acquisition by Microsoft

PowerPoint began development in 1984 when Robert Gaskins was hired at Forethought, Inc. in Sunnyvale, California. His initial description of PowerPoint noted that business presentations were a $3.5B industry driven by 35mm slides and overhead transparencies. The idea of presentations wasn’t new and there were already a number of competitors. However, PowerPoint sought to disrupt the industry, making it quicker and easier to build slides with the help of personal computers.

The name “PowerPoint” wasn’t coined until just before its official release in 1987 when attempts to trademark the original name “Presenter” were rejected.

In February 1987, about 2 months prior to launch, Microsoft visited Forethought for a private demonstration. Bill Gates remained skeptical: “No, no, no, no, no, that’s just a feature of Microsoft Word, just put it into Word.” However, Microsoft returned a few days later to offer $5.3M plus incentives. Unhappy with the terms, which included moving the development team to Redmond, Forethought rejected the offer and subsequent offers from Microsoft.

On April 20th, 1987, PowerPoint 1.0 for Macintosh shipped. The initial press reviews were favorable, and their first production run of 10,000 units sold out. On April 28th, Microsoft visited Forethought again and the final deal structure started to take shape. On June 25th, the Microsoft officially agreed to a purchase price of $14M in cash. A permanent ‘Business Unit’ run by Robert Gaskins would remain in California.

PowerPoint 2.0, the first version available on Windows, was released in 1990 in conjunction with Windows 3.0. Press coverage of Windows 3.0 was illustrated in PowerPoint slides, launching a strong symbiotic relationship. Microsoft beat offers by Apple, Borland, Xerox, and others to get a head start in the presentation industry – they’ve never looked back.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_PowerPoint;
https://www.robertgaskins.com/powerpoint-history/documents/gaskins-powerpoint-original-proposal-1984-aug-14.pdf;
http://bento.hult.edu/the-man-who-dreamed-of-powerpoint/;
https://blog.zamzar.com/2016/06/10/deal-of-the-century-how-microsoft-beat-apple-to-buy-powerpoint-for-14-million/;

4 Microsoft add-ins that help drive B2B sales productivity

B2B Sales Productivity: Office Add-ins that help

Microsoft Office is an incredibly versatile and comprehensive tool on its own, but with the right add-ins you can supercharge the Office experience, improving your B2B sales productivity.

Microsoft add-ins are software utilities that enhance the overall functionality of core Microsoft Office applications including Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Excel. They offer focused productivity gains that can greatly help specific sales tasks.

Here are some of our favorite Microsoft add-ins that help drive sales efficiencies:

1. Word: Grammarly

While written communication is central to the process, grammar is often overlooked, lowering the perceived quality of the sales collateral. And as a result, reducing the perceived quality of the product or service sold.

Grammarly is a cloud-based writing support tool that automatically detects potential grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice, and style mistakes. It greatly improves your writing and reduces the risk of embarrassing errors. Their Microsoft Word add-in automatically checks your documents and also provides weekly stats about your writing. Grammarly offers a free version that includes basic checks and a premium offer that checks for more complex errors and inconsistencies.

2. PowerPoint: TeamSlide

Building PowerPoint decks is a critical sales task, but quickly finding the right slide and leveraging past presentations can be inefficient.  Sales teams often end up checking email attachments and flipping through decks to hunt for lost slides.

TeamSlide is a slide-level search tool embedded in PowerPoint. It searches across your content repositories (e.g. SharePoint, Box), local folders, and email attachments, allowing you to preview and insert the best slides into your current presentation. You’ll never rummage through presentations to hunt for a slide again.

3. Outlook: Join.me

Productive B2B sales team spend a significant amount of time in customer meetings. However, setting up conference calls with new leads can be tedious as sales professionals have to configure invites in Outlook and call details in a web browser. Between the back and forth, determining different time zones, and aligning calendars the process is time-consuming and prone to error.

Join.me, a web conferencing and online meeting solution, offers an add-in that helps you schedule meetings directly from Outlook. You can create a meeting invitation and include the required web conference details (personal URL, dial-in details, etc.).

4. Excel: Mapline

Managing sales territories, including their performance, is a core function in sales operations. However, generating simple but powerful visualizations that outline performance can be difficult, and as a result, often not completed.

Mapline, a mapping solution, offers an Excel add-in that helps you create maps from Excel data without leaving the worksheet. You can upload data directly from within Excel, allowing you easily update maps.

Microsoft add-ins drive productivity while minimizing change management

Add-ins minimize change managment

Microsoft Office has a stranglehold on business productivity with no signs suggesting a significant shift any time soon. While Office provides a strong toolkit, there is plenty of room for improvement with additional features that help specific user groups. Microsoft, after all, is aiming to please a wide audience which tends to leave feature and workflow gaps.

As a result, a wide ecosystem of partner companies has popped up to fill these gaps, adding even more functionality to Microsoft Office. Realizing that partners play a critical role, Microsoft has fostered the ecosystem with in-depth documentation, an app store (for certain types of add-ins), and even competency certifications.

Aploris earns Microsoft Partner Gold and Silver Microsoft Partner competencies
Aploris, creators of TeamSlide, have earned Microsoft’s Gold and Silver application development competencies

Often partner companies add functionality with add-ins that bolt onto Office and interact with Office documents. The range of add-ins is endless from a Wikipedia add-in that allows you to conduct Wikipedia searches from Word to our slide search tool, that helps you find and extract individual slides on your computer. Typically, add-ins are accessed through the navigation ribbon in an Office application (e.g. PowerPoint).  We’ve previously discussed the benefits of add-ins versus browser-based tools.

Beyond adding functionality, add-ins help drastically reduce the change management effort commonly involved in rolling out a new feature or tool:

  • Add-ins can be silently deployed and often require no user input during installation
  • They operate within a host application that users are already familiar with (e.g. Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Excel), reducing the friction typically associated with new tools. For example, the icon that launches the add-in can be included the navigation ribbon and the tool open in a pane within the host application
  • Add-ins can notify the user within the primary application, facilitating a number of adoption strategies. For example:
    • After installation, add-ins may start automatically the first time their host application is opened
    • Add-ins can activate based on a document state. Our slide search solution, TeamSlide, automatically notifies users if a slide in their presentation is out-of-date

Microsoft add-ins offer an effective way to add specialized functionality to the Office application suite. By embedding within familiar applications, they reduce the change management effort often associated with rolling out new tools.

Tired of digging for slides? Bring your content management system inside PowerPoint

Tired of digging for slides? Bring your content management system inside PowerPoint

SharePoint, Box, and other content management systems (CMSs) are a great solution to securely store and share your company documents. They provide online access, version control, metadata support among a host of other capabilities. CMSs allow marketing and sales teams to organize their PowerPoint assets by product, vertical, customer segment for easy search and retrieval.

However, accessing content from a CMS typically involves breaking your workflow from a productivity application (e.g. PowerPoint) to a separate interface. Further, the CMS interface may require several clicks before you find the content you are searching for.  This disruption is time-consuming and switching applications can disrupt your thought process.

CMSs are making progress in their integration with Microsoft Office products. For example, Box now allows users to simultaneously edit a Word document. Or, you can edit a document with Office 365 right in your browser.  Most CMSs include desktop sync applications that ensure folders on your computer mirror your online account.

Retrieving content from a CMS is still a tedious process. Further, for PowerPoint users, the problem is amplified as users are often looking for a particular slide rather than an entire presentation. Even after traversing their CMS to find a presentation, they dig through the presentation it to find the specific slide they need. SharePoint had a basic slide library solution that briefly solved this problem but it was deprecated a few years ago.  As a result, this enforces bad habits as users retrieve old versions of slides and presentations stored on their computer rather than the latest version available on the CMS. For sales reps, this can lead to out-of-date product information, old branding, and propagation of errors which ultimately impacts their ability to close deals. An alternative to SharePoint’s slide library, ideally a significantly improved version, is required to improve productivity.

At TeamSlide, we focus our efforts on providing a slide level search engine that works within PowerPoint. You can search, preview, and insert a slide into your active presentation without ever leaving PowerPoint. TeamSlide connects to a number of CMSs including SharePoint, Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive. Essentially bringing the CMS inside PowerPoint. Once connected, TeamSlide searches across presentations to surface the most relevant slides for your search.

For sales teams, TeamSlide allows you to quickly find a particular slide and build effective presentations. For marketing, TeamSlide offers a simple way to disseminate content while still leveraging your CMS. In addition, TeamSlide will check your slides against the central repository to ensure you always have the most up-to-date content.

Switching applications to find content is inefficient and promotes bad habits that can impact output quality. Bringing content systems inside productivity software is a natural step to solve this problem that can lead to significant benefits.