At its Convergence extravaganza in San Diego earlier this month, Microsoft basically threw down its enterprise software application gloves and let the computing world know that it is ready to take on the biggest players in the market.
CEO Steve Ballmer, never one to be at a loss for words (and fightin’ words, at that), declared Redmond’s Dynamics offerings “enterprise-ready” in terms of such factors as security, scalability and reliability. He stated (warned?) that although Microsoft’s “sweet spot” in this space is still the small and mid-sized business, the firm intends to “keep expanding” that sweet spot. From a customer perspective, it all sounds promising. It can’t do anything but help IT decision makers to have more choice when it comes to purchasing software, which is always a good thing, whether it’s a router or a PC or an enterprise-wide ERP system.
From an overall market perspective, the Microsoft strategy appears to be a beneficial one as well. Where consolidation has been a trend within the software space of late — with Oracle’s purchase of Hyperion being a notable example of late — the unequivocal inclusion of another competitor to the mix (even if that competitor is still somewhat synonymous with “antitrust”) could bode well for the innovation process and for downward pricing pressures.
The question that most naturally seems to arise, however, is: What in the world took them so long? It seems natural for Microsoft to move into the large enterprise software space with the vigour exhibited at the Convergence show. It has its nearly ubiquitous Office platform installed in most shops that are running the high-level software turned out by the Oracles, Baans and SAPs of the world. Why not leverage that and allow enterprises to have an option that works seamlessly with that software set? It appears that it’s simply been that Microsoft has been putting its efforts elsewhere and that only now has the time seemed right to make this push. It’s tough to explain it in other ways, given that the Microsoft coffers haven’t been an impediment to venturing forth into a new line of business since Bill Gates had acne.
The fact that the company seems to have taken such a cool, methodical approach to its full-fledged entry into the space should be an indication that they will hit the ground running and won’t be wasting much time “expanding their sweet spot.”