Microsoft's on-demand strategy is barely twitching

Steve Ballmer believes a 'short twitch' innovation cycle is once every nine months. For an on-demand vendor, that's not a short twitch cycle, it's a death twitch cycle.

It just goes to show how little Microsoft understands about on-demand services when its CEO Steve Ballmer believes a "short twitch" innovation cycle is once every nine months.

Every nine months!? For an on-demand vendor, that's not a short twitch cycle, it's a death twitch cycle. Hasn't anyone told Ballmer that six weeks between updates is considered a long time in the online world? Some vendors update as frequently as every week — but don't be alarmed, many of them combine this with a 'smart upgrade' option that allows customers to decide when and what new features to implement.

RightNow Technologies, for example, reported in September that it has performed 3000 separate 'smart upgrades' of its on-demand CRM solutions for customers since it began operations in 1997. Canadian CRM vendor Salesboom.com introduced a similar facility last month to complement its 4-weekly update cycle.

Microsoft CTO Ray Ozzie, who's in charge of the company's on-demand development strategy, may believe that these rivals' shorter update cycles are "a function of the complexity of the internal code base being released." On the other hand,  it just might be a function of a more modular, service-oriented architecture and a mindset that's focussed on innovating to suit customer timescales rather than the vendor's own internal priorities.

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