Last year, having come out of a period as a Microsoft ERP partner, I blogged how it reminded me of IBM in that company’s ‘old days’. My impression was that:
It doesn’t matter if there is better software, if Microsoft promote it the organisation might just take it.
IBM had a monopoly cash-cow in mainframe hardware and operating systems, Microsoft has their one – Windows and Office …
IBM was good in some areas and terrible in others, but still continued in the terrible areas, so too is Microsoft …
We thought that IBM should maybe not do AS and AD/Cycle, and now some of us think Microsoft should maybe not do ERP and Search.
No I see Larry Dignan has blogged about Microsoft’s “IBM moment of clarity“. He comments how Microsoft is being diverted by:
chasing Yahoo, plotting to be an advertising empire and pining for consumers with things like the Xbox and Zune
IBM had its crash in the late 1980s, and as a result has now focused on “enterprise and helping business get stuff done.”
Where I disagree with Larry is when he supports Microsoft as an enterprise player with all these opportunities (as quoted by Microsoft CEO Ballmer):
“We see the most fantastic growth opportunities of all time in the enterprise. Desktop value, mail and collaboration, business intelligence, business applications, the server market despite virtualization is still exploding, enterprise search, the move of enterprises to host their infrastructure in the cloud that we call Microsoft Online, conferencing and IP telephony, management, virtualization software, the database and database application platform. I think palpably we are about this close, Microsoft, able to claim that we’re the number one enterprise software company in the world, which nobody would have been able to say 20 years ago, and yet we see nothing but opportunity.”
In my opinion this is Microsoft trying to be like IBM of old. Where is the synergy in, for example, business intelligence vs conference and IP telephony; or desktop value vs virtualisation.
I also disagree that Microsoft is the number one enterprise company in business intelligence and business apps (unless they justify that with Excel), enterprise search and conferencing.
I agree with Larry that Microsoft needs to learn to focus, as IBM did, but I believe that the areas of focus need to be trimmed even more.