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The real competition to Microsoft

September 5, 2011

I had this idea lying around for some weeks. Now with the content from Dreamforce 2011 it just is not my writing anymore but some videos to put emphasis to my point.

Many people discuss the competition between Apple and Microsoft. Actually I do believe that this is not the core theater of war. Microsoft should be much more afraid about what is going on in the enterprise collaboration market. While I am a strong believer that Microsoft Office is a great product for content creation and have used Outlook for years I do see some dark clouds coming over Microsoft.

The key to the future of success in the enterprise market is Enterprise Social Networking or as puts it, the Social Enterprise. It is about moving beyond components like email, search, file sharing, and intranet pages. It is about introducing new ways of collaboration and communication to the enterprises biggest asset – the people who work for them.

Naturally Microsoft should be in a pole position to this race. Have they not the most common email software Outlook, a strong market position with SharePoint incl. things like people search, UC and Instant Messaging and CRM systems? They do and while these could be huge assets they are also their biggest problem. As all these in themselves in the past have been rather successful they became more or less stand-alone products. Integration is difficult and complicated.

The competition though offers things cloud based. This lowers the barrier to enterprises to trialand use and the feedback is fantastic. With Microsoft you need to buy the kit the software and experts to build something out yourself which is then far away from any standard and difficult and expensive to maintain. The cloud might be an answer and while Office 365 is a good service it does not stack up against the new services for collaboration. It lacks key features of the on premises versions especially for SharePoint.

Companies and products like with Chatter, Yammer and many more will bite a huge piece out of Microsoft’s market. Forget the fight over iPhone, Android and WP7 Mango. The social enterprise approach or lack of is really what frightens me about Microsoft’s future. Especially as they have not recognized it yet that this is the core theater of war for them. I spoke to several Microsoft folks in the field over the course of the last weeks and when asked whom I do see as key competitors for Office 365 and answered I earned blank looks. They have even not recognized that has moved into the space of collaboration. Maybe the Dreamforce 2011 has Microsoft waking up.

To give you an idea of the new ways of work and the social enterprise I can recommend watching the Dreamforce 2011 keynote. It is time well invested especially if you have not been aware of what is changing in the collaboration market. For those without any idea what Chatter is about I have added a viedo at the end which is a Robert Scoble interview with the Chatter GM.

  1. I was also at DreamForce 2011 and agree wholeheartedly that it poses a big threat to Microsoft, and they seem fairly clueless about the threat. For me, it was less about the social enterprise (at least as far as Chatter is the representative application for social enterprise) and more about and Heroku as a way to build applications on top of SalesForce and Facebook. Corporate developers built a lot of internal applications using Microsoft tools and infrastructure over the last twenty years. But if you’re a corporate developer today, you’ve got to be looking at the infrastructure described by Salesforce, with transparent deployment and scaling, as a very attractive alternative. Some of the customer testimonials on the second day, by Avon, Kelly Services, the integrator who built the app for Warner Bros. on top of Facebook: those were the scariest threat to Microsoft in my opinion. I know that Microsoft has Azure, but it seems pretty far behind, both in terms of technology and mindshare, from what I can tell.


  2. Great summary of the emerging collaboration plays in technology; as pointed out, the ability to foster collaboration via simple apps extensions (e.g., Yammer, Chatter) is very attractive vs. heavy software infrastructure initiatives

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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