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Global CIO: 5 More Things Microsoft Must Do

Make some spicy acquistions (SAP? Tibco?) and seriously commit to cloud, data centers, and mobile.
(a) SaaS As noted above, Microsoft does offer a once-promising set of enterprise apps but they're targeted at SMBs (nothing at all wrong with that) and Microsoft seems to have lost interest in making them into game-changers. The new market momentum is toward Web-native SaaS apps that remove a great majority of the pain and suffering typically associated with on-premise enterprise apps: up-front costs, ongoing maintenance, upgrades, training, associated infrastructure, and more. There are a slew of growing and highly capable such companies, including Workday, NetSuite, RightNow, SuccessFactors, and many more. Any of those could provide a major bolt of lightning to Microsoft's intent to be thought as an enterprise-apps player.

(b) Integration: If Microsoft wants to be a player here, it should buy Tibco, which is becoming the Esperanto of enterprise apps and data. Again, this all depends on whether Microsoft is serious about being in the enterprise applications and integration business: seems to me those two businesses have a lot more long-term viability than some of the headed-for-the-stockyard cash cows Microsoft is squeezing to the last drop. In the eyes of customers, Microsoft could go from being one of the many companies that cause ugly integration problems to one that actually helps solve those issues.

(c) Big Enterprise: Acquire SAP SAP is slowly and somewhat agonizingly reorienting itself toward online apps and could very well benefit from some Steve Ballmer intensity in hastening that shift. As valuable as SAP's software and people are, however, the gem in such a deal for Microsoft would be entre to an unrivaled customer set of some of the world's top corporations, CIOs, and IT organizations. Again, this dealand it is admittedly a huge stretchwould zip Microsoft from the outer fringes of global-strategy conversations to being an indispensable part of the highest-level discussions. This one would be a clash on many levels, but remember the fundamental issue here: what does Microsoft need to do be regain its stature as one of the pre-eminent technology companies in the world?

OkayI've showed mine so now you show yours: what does Microsoft need to do to become an indispensable partner to CIOs? Let me know at [email protected].

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GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO,
or write to Bob at [email protected].

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