Microsoft ‘s ERP biz head Burgum bows out

In a surprise move, the leader of Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) Doug Burgum said Tuesday he plans to leave Microsoft Corp. at the end of June 2007.

Satya Nadella replaces Burgum as senior vice president of MBS effective immediately, though Burgum will remain on in his current role for the next nine months to ensure Nadella’s transition is a smooth one. Nadella is currently the head of research and development for MBS and its Dynamics suite of business applications.

In November 2005, Burgum and Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division, announced they were looking for a successor for Burgum, who joined the company when Microsoft acquired Great Plains Software Inc. in April 2001 and has been instrumental in reshaping the company’s ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer relationship management) applications business. However, at the time Burgum said his intention would be to remain at the company as chairman of MBS.

On a conference call Tuesday, Burgum said he decided last Friday after talking with Raikes to leave the company instead, in part because he makes his home in Fargo, North Dakota, and has no plans to move to Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

“I have personal constraints relative to geography,” Burgum said. “I always felt this was a job that needs to be done full time in Redmond and not by someone who is commuting.”

Burgum said he has given “little or no thought” to what he will do once he leaves Microsoft, and that for now his focus is on “driving the MBS business moving forward.”

While Microsoft originally said the search for Burgum’s successor would be an external one, Raikes said the company ultimately choose Nadella after reviewing external candidates because he is “the best person for the job.”

Nadella has been with Microsoft since 1992, and he joined the MBS unit in 2001. Prior to his current position, he led the global development team for Microsoft’s Dynamics, which is located in Copenhagen, Denmark; Hyderabad, India; Fargo; and Redmond.

Before joining MBS, Nadella held several marketing, product development and general management roles, which include launching and leading the Microsoft bCentral small business online service and acting as general manager for the Commerce Platforms Group. In the latter position, Nadella led the development efforts for Microsoft Commerce Server and Microsoft BizTalk Server.

In fiscal 2006, which ended June 30, MBS revenue grew 17 percent, and achieved profitability ahead of analyst expectations, Raikes said Tuesday. He attributed the business’ strength to Burgum’s influence. “The MBS business is in great shape because of the role Doug played in getting us there,” Raikes said.

Both Raikes and Nadella said they are bullish about sustaining MBS profitability and achieving more growth in fiscal 2007.

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