The news from Microsoft corporate this last week has been the quarterly results, which have been very good.
That is, of course, at the global scale. In South Africa we heard this last week that Microsoft SA’s mid-year review had been terrible.
The mid-year review is when the company’s divisions and subsidiaries present their results to senior management; the SA people travel to either Europe or Redmond for that session.
I heard from an insider that the message came down from Redmond that the SA company results meant some people should be fired. Oracle has had a reputation for a while of being hard as far as results are concerned, so when I hear stories like that it makes me wonder if Microsoft and Oracle are all that different.
Once again, I also wonder at a senior management clique of an international company who are unable to recognise and differentiate between countries – it seems as far as they are concerned everyone should perform in the same way.
An interesting story about MXit, the SA social network that operates on the SA cell-phone network and has become the medium of choice for most young South Africans.
Now the big local mobile operators are trying to get in on the act with their own offerings.
I recently spoke with a woman who works as a research analyst for a large local IT firm with international operations. During our conversation I mentioned a large JD Edwards customer I know who has decided that JDE is not going anywhere and will be moving to SAP in the next few years. She commented that the company should consider instead Microsoft Dynamics AX.
When I asked her why that comment, she said it would be easier than SAP. So I proceeded to inform her that SAP had thousands of customer references whereas AX had (maybe) scores, that while SAP skills weren’t plentiful there were more of them than AX skills, and that AX wasn’t necessarily easy.
This led me to wonder how this analyst had been mis-led. She is not a technical person and hasn’t touched an ERP system in ten years, so somewhere she heard a ‘spiel’ and was led to believe it. Without an understanding of the technical issues of how ERP systems are customised, she had no experience on which to evaluate the ‘spiel’.
How many companies are mis-led by unaware analysts who don’t have the necessary background to evaluate the software they are supposed to be reviewing?
I agree fully with Frank Scavo about the effect of the revolving management (yet again) inside Microsoft Dynamics. I have also mentioned before that Microsoft doesn’t seem to be able to keep management in the Dynamics division, and they tend to get people without appropriate experience.
Here’s Frank’s comment:
none of the players since Doug Burgum have any experience whatsoever in enterprise applications. As I’ve said in the past, selling shrink-wrapped software–whether it be Microsoft’s or Adobe’s–is a far cry from selling enterprise applications that require months of presales team effort.
I learnt that in 2003 when I went for an interview at Microsoft South Africa for the marketing lead in the then Business Solutions division. The HR person who interviewed me obviously thought that selling ERP was like selling Office, and asked me what I considered to be uninformed questions. I didn’t get the job, which I now think was a good outcome, although at the time I was devastated – after all I had built up the JD Edwards marketing profile in South Africa, so why not Microsoft.
My marketing mentor from JDE, now a senior EMEA marketing person at an anti-virus vendor, tells me how he is struggling to get their consumer-oriented perspective to understand enterprise marketing issues.
Tomorrow my son leaves home. He has just completed his high school and is doing what many young South Africans do, taking a gap year, before deciding what to do for university or work.
He is going to Cape Town for several months to train and work for Youth with a Mission, known as YWAM. There have been children in our home for over 21 years, and this marks the first time that my wife and I will be seeing one of our chicks leaving home for an extended period.
I am beginning to understand now what the ‘empty nest’ feeling must be about.
By the way, it’s because of our youth taking a gap year that many of the bars in London are staffed by young South Africans.
Vinnie is fond of asking why ERP vendors, and especially implementers, don’t lower their pricing. Take a recent post, SAP’s Egosystem (nice play on words), where he asked
Why is systems integration still so expensive after 35,000 SAP customers and countless upgrades?
Maybe SAP’s value is not based on price, but instead on customer intimacy or product excellence. Here I am referring to the three value disciplines advocated by Treacy and Wiersema, The Discipline of Market Leaders.
If a company wants to get ERP at a low price, they should be considering some of the open source offerings, or the low-end accounting/ERP packages. However, if a CEO wants an ERP system that he knows will work, and can work for his type of company, perhaps he should consider those vendors for whom price is not the driving value.
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