The Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award is given in recognition of contributions to the community and is renewed yearly. Contributions can take many forms, and those forms are constantly evolving.
MVPs are simply the top influencers in many different kinds of communities. They all give their time to the community in one or more significant ways. They may be forum or newsgroup moderators, authors, bloggers, trainers, speakers, user group or SQL PASS leaders, and I’m sure I’m leaving some activities out. MVPs are also the most highly skilled individuals on Microsoft’s technology outside of Microsoft. In recognition of their place as the best aggregators of customer feedback and the broadest channel of communications out to customers, MVPs are given more access to dev teams than any group of customers in order to maximize both inbound and outbound communications with the community.
Most MVPs work across a number of SQL Server areas. Having a single broad category allows MVPs more access to the breadth of the product. Earlier this year some of us started a customer profile initiative on http://connect.microsoft.com/sqlserver that enables us to better identify all the interests of MVPs and other customers to help our dev teams engage more effectively with the MVPs who specialize in their areas of the product.
Microsoft invests a lot in the SQL Server MVP program, and in the following short interview, MVP Liaison Ed Lehman explains why this investment is worthwhile.
|Q:||How have the MVPs influenced SQL Server—any anecdotes from Katmai or Yukon?|
|Ed:||MVPs have influence on the product from two different perspectives. We look to our MVPs as an aggregated voice of the community as well as a rallying force within the community.|
|Q:||When did the SQL Server MVP program get started?|
|Ed:||I don’t know exactly how long the SQL Server MVP program has been around, but I do know that it has grown significantly in the last few years, and I believe that our culture has grown over that same period of time to value customer feedback more and be much more transparent with MVPs on our future directions.|
|Q:||Any funny stories about the SQL Server MVP program?|
|Ed:|| Not really a funny story, but one of my favorite memories is when I first starting getting more involved with the MVPs. Stephen Dybing was moving on to a new role after a number of years working with the SQL Server MVPs. At his last summit meeting, all the MVPs presented him with a special award and gave him a standing ovation for all his hard work over the years. I knew then that this was a special family that I was privileged to be involved with. Of course, that was about 15 minutes before I got my first personal taste of passionate feedback from the MVPs. I think it was over the ever-popular question of newsgroups versus forums.
Another one of my favorite times is the end of each of our summits over the last couple of years where I get to hear feedback from the MVPs and dev teams about the value of the time they have spent together and how re-energized the MVPs are to go back out into the community.
|Q:||How does Microsoft engage with MVPs?|
|Ed:||Once each year, the Microsoft campus is overrun by an event to which all MVPs are invited. In recent years, this has been the largest event hosted on campus. The focus of the event is multiple days of deep-dive sessions where dev teams explain future plans and spend a lot of time getting feedback on those plans. For the past few years, we have started a tradition of having an additional MVP summit for data platform and related MVPs as a track of private sessions during the SQL PASS summit covering the same kinds of feedback discussions. This additional event gives us two great opportunities each year for concentrated face-to-face interactions between the MVPs and dev teams.|