Microsoft has quietly created a new group, the office of civic innovation, as well as a new online magazine designed to promote its public sector initiatives.
The new office of civic innovation is a seven-person team based in Washington, D.C., and part of Microsoft's Public Sector division, said Mark Drapeau, editor and chief of the new online magazine, Publicyte, and a member of the new team. The company first talked about the group at a launch party for the magazine in Washington, D.C., earlier this week.
Workers in the office of civic innovation will try to innovate the way the Public Sector group sells products and communicates with customers, he said.
Drapeau hopes to make Publicyte, the digital magazine, "a great source of creative thought leadership on technology and innovation for different public sector verticals" like government, education and health care. "We want to present Microsoft in a new light to influential people in the public and civic sectors and through the media that covers it," he said.
Drapeau will contribute articles to the site as will other Microsoft writers and outside contributors. "It's a Microsoft website so it's going to be Microsoft-friendly, but we have a lot of latitude about the kind of content and opinions that are expressed," he said.
Microsoft did not officially announce the magazine. "It's a bit under the radar. I want to build an audience organically," he said.
Publicyte will be successful if it influences public and civic sector professionals, he said. "If we can change the way people think about issues like social media and government, we've done our jobs," he said.
Drapeau started out as a researcher studying animal behavior and their social networks and he said he can apply some of that work to his current position running Publicyte. He's been working in Microsoft's Public Sector division for about a year-and-a-half.
Microsoft has been in a heated battle with Google over the past couple of years for contracts to offer products and services to public sector organizations, like government agencies and schools. Publicyte and the civic innovation office appear aimed at shaping Microsoft's image and boosting its success in the sector.