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Friday, April 07, 2006

People Platform For Business Centered On Desktop : Microsoft Vision

Some friends wrote to me requesting me to complete the coverage of the remaining sessions (had to take a break in between from blogging as I travelled back home) - I shall just do one or two more posts and complete all those. My purpose of creating this is 1. To share and 2. For reference and cross linkages in future. So here is the coverage on Microsoft perspective presented at Software 2006. I have added my own views therein.
Simon Witts started with the revelation that in Microsoft’s estimate, no big customer has more than 5% of their IT budgets locked in with Microsoft solutions ( am curious to know the categorisation – does it include or exclude desktop license price and how is it computed – not under the hardware manufacturer price – after all most of Microsoft’s licenses are OEMed – Traditionally, Microsoft has kept the OEM transfer price a secret.)
Microsoft is positioning their enterprise solutions as platform for the people as in this age of globalization, business needs more innovation, connectedness etc. and people make things happen (by driving business outcomes). Microsoft’s perspective on the role of software is best explained as meant for enabling process excellence, foster compliance, support teamwork, provide information visibility etc. Highlighting that the conventional definition of process is not enough he said in the real world, process characteristics are moving away from being from :
Explicit ->Implicit, Structure -> Unstructured, Transactional -> Collaborative, Formal -> Adhoc, Rigid -> Dynamic
and this calls for appropriate technological response. Microsoft’s approach here is to make available role based portals & ability to integrate enterprise workflow with individual workflow. As an example, he highlighted that activities in Siebel could be synchronized with outlook activities seamlessly. As I see it, Simon’s view is that browser-based interfaces to web services are hard to learn and use. Outlook already has wide deployment and familiarity & so integrating web services with outlook is more elegant and easy to use. ( consistent with Microsoft’s policy of leveraging desktop dominance for extending their reach). API based integration are things that other enterprise majors – SAP & Oracle are actively embracing. With web services to work both offline and online, leveraging Outlook's architecture for caching and syncing transactions makes this a compelling option .Moving forward, Microsoft shall be positioning “Office as the client”
Other salient points that Simon brought forth include:

- Enterprise content management, business process integration & business intelligence as the three massive requirements across enterprises – these get manifested as universal requirements – Mobility, Search, Colllaboration, Workflow, Portals, Customer Management, Infrastructure, Unified Communication etc.
- Pointing out that 77 million new users have signed out for Sharepoint in the last two years, he said Sharepoint centered solutions are key elements in the enterprise solution basket from Microsoft. No wonder Microsoft is pushing Sharepoint quite aggressively – even Bill Gates does not miss out a chance to talk about Sharepoint.
- SP2007 shall be released as a business platform supporting collaboration, workflow & portal, ECM, BI,BPI etc where MS office shall provide support for business management, LOB integration & extend support for role based productivity. Microsoft Dynamics shall provide support for composite applications, legacy backend systems and may also be in future made available as SaaS solutions.
The message that came from Simon on the future artefacts of enterprise software from Mirosoft makes interesting reading:

Foundation : Storage, Communication, Identity, Relationships etc
Solutions : Websites, Workspaces, Forms& Views, Messaging, Calendaring, Libraries
Interface : Ajax, API, Web Services, RSS etc
Architecture : Cloud Services, Cloud Federated Services, P2P direct, P2P relayed services etc..

In the pundit session, it came out clearly that Microsoft could be focussing on the mid market segment aggressively and could move quickly by offering on demand solutions centered on Great Plains. I wanted to ask him about Microsoft’s thrust on on demand solutions and the status of Project Green – but there was no Q&A session. I continue to think that Microsoft may just play a small role overall in the business application centric enterprise market – due to its dominance of the desktop market , it appears to be a big player. As I wrote earlier, Microsoft has not been able to show its strength in the enterprise segment - look at the status of Project Green, its impact with .NET(limited success), Biztalk, in the BPM space etc - all shows that it is another type of corporation with massive strengths no doubt - but certainly can be competed against successfully.

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