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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Ballmer - Some Sensible Arguments

Too often Microsoft gets bad publicity – for a change lets look at some of Steve Ballmer’s recent interviews – sensible, it appears to me.

In a recent interview, he highlights that Microsoft may have a TCO advantage over open source software.There’s little innovation happening in the opensource world to empower people & improve productivity. I have to agree to a large extent ( if we agree to exclude google apps from the list) – look at opensource share of applications in desktops – it is getting increasingly hard to spot any clear winner(widely accepted – not within in a community). I have long felt that for opensource movement to succeed,it needs many killer apps in the desktop world – this is the world to gain mass acceptance and if anything mass reach is assured mostly in this segment. Where are the widely accepted and used opensource equivalent of Microsoft office, mail server etc with million and millions and downloads and having 1/3rd share like that of Firefox – mind you these are not innovative products – we are talking about products that are in mass use.

In a News.com interview, he points out, "The truth is that the way information technology decisions are made in a company is really complicated. You really have four points of view, and we have to work with all of them- end users, central IT, line-of-business executives, and then the business leaders, who could be the head of sales, finance or operations". Very true – talk to enterprise software vendors – these are definitely the key stakeholders in any enterprise software decision. Ballmer is spot on – too often , we see that enterprise vendors are focussed on just a fewer number of the constituencies that come into interplay in the process of decision making. We see differing focus in established industries where business relies too much on vendor talk ( too often their trust in IT is low- as their mail sever clean up did not happen very well, or the last roll out got delayed , or the nth departmental extension could not get supported, or plainly its the case, competition is showcasing adoption of sophisticated technologies etc..) In contrast we also see smaller/new age enterprises focusing too much on technology with very little concern about the outside world/business. Software vendors give differing/skewed emphasis to these constituents – the affected/ignored lot would work overtime to slow down/ damage the initiative. While on paper, good management and governance could help overcome these – in reality they are far more costly solutions. So its time for vendors to look at All Constituent Satisfaction (ACS) as a measure to focus on just as talking about Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

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