No good idea goes unchallenged, and today’s announcement at the Microsoft Dynamics Convergence conference that Office has become the new client for its enterprise applications suite follows on the extraordinary success that the Office gang has already registered in the SAP market. That success , aka Duet, has been one of the bright spots in SAP’s otherwise lackluster financial performance of late.
So Microsoft Dynamics, which more and more wants its partners to duke it out in the market with SAP, particularly the growing number of global systems integrators who made SAP the household name it is today (okay, in my house, anyway), has decided to launch its own version of Duet.
Sort of. Duet is really a set of pre-packaged workflows around specific business processes, whereas Microsoft Dynamics, techies that they are, released a more general purpose desktop platform, based on its Sharepoint portal and Office Applications suite. This platform – which comes with a “please use for new customer apps development” sticky note on every box – builds on the momentum that Microsoft has seen from the use of Office, particularly Outlook, as the interface to its hot-selling Microsoft CRM product.
What Microsoft wants to do at a minimum is level the playing field for its partners, who have been just a little jealous of how well Duet has done, and how hard its been to compete against a Microsoft product that, as Dynamics partners, they’re actually not allowed to sell. That’s right – the partners most adept at selling into the enterprise software market haven’t been able to sell one of the hottest new capabilities in the industry. I’m sure there was a reason for this that made sense to someone somewhere.
But no matter, the leapfrog effect should make up for this strategic blip. Dynamics is focusing on a toolkit approach, which to date SAP has eschewed in favor of a more packaged solution approach. So the next leapfrog moment will undoubtedly come with an announcement of a Duet SDK from SAP. Watch this space.
The main question now dogging Dynamics is how fast can it get its customers to upgrade to Vista and Office 2007 in order to take advantage of the new Duet-like functionality. Part of the problem may be solved when attendees at the Convergence conference open up their conference bag, where they’ll find a free version of Office 2007 waiting to installed. Will that be enough? Not too sure. Office 2007 requires all users in an organization to upgrade, or face a more than annoying incompatibility problem between Office 2007 and previous versions. Of course, SAP so far doesn’t require Office 2007 and Vista, which may give it an edge until the new Office and Vista technology gains critical mass – and a critical business case – in the Dynamics market.
Ain’t leapfrog fun?