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Posted by Rob Koplowitz on July 16, 2012
For a long time Microsoft ruled the knowledge worker part of the IT seas with impunity. They have fended off attacks from the expected folks like IBM and Oracle rather handily. Then the consumerization wave hit. Turns out the danger came not from a frontal assault from another battleship, but from a huge array of small pirates. Knowledge worker eyeballs that always belonged to Microsoft strayed to Evernote, Dropbox, Box, Jive, Yammer, Google Apps, Confluence, you name it. Even IBM donned an eye patch and went pirate with Connections. A few leaks were found in the Microsoft battleship. Nothing too alarming if you follow the revenue and profit growth numbers from the Office group, but Microsoft has always thrived on paranoia. And for a paranoid company, this is very key moment in time.
Today Microsoft announced the biggest release of Office ever. Every product with an Office brand, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Exchange, Lync, SharePoint and on and on, will be updated with this new release. The strategy is in stark contrast to that of the competition. The pending acquisition of Yammer notwithstanding, the strategy is vintage Microsoft. Generate deeper and deeper integration between multiple products, marginalize competing products down to the level of core product features and bundle, bundle, bundle.
The consumer trends that Microsoft is reacting to are well known at this point: mobile, social and cloud. Here are some of the highlights that IT needs to pay attention to:
At the crux of today's announcements, Microsoft is taking a very traditional approach to a market that is undergoing massive disruption. Their approach is about enticing users through deeper and deeper integration. Make no mistake, many users will embrace and enjoy the experience. But, the fundamental approach of the large battleship that will always be hard to turn remains in place. Actually more so as the stack becomes more integrated and more products and development teams take increasing dependencies on one another. The approach sets up a dynamic that will drive a fundamental strategic alignment on the part of IT: the Microsoft battleship or hundreds of fast-moving nimble pirates? While this a huge release, it's that dynamic, not the number of applications and lines of code that make this the biggest release of Office ever.
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