The consumerization of IT -- and of Microsoft

The consumerization of IT -- and of Microsoft

Summary: Not everyone thinks Microsoft should be so focused on the gadget and Web 2.0 space. More than a few industry watchers, customers, partners and Microsoft employees themselves believe Microsoft is spreading itself too thin and should stick to its enterprise knitting. With that in mind, I read with interest a PowerPoint presentation deck that Microsoft is offering its partners to explain Microsoft's official views on the "consumerization of IT."

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Microsoft is spending an awful lot of money these days on projects at which company officials might have scoffed not so long ago. Training in the form of collecting Facebook-based achievement awards? Twitter-update clients for your media player? A BorgVille equivalent of FarmVille? (OK. I made that last one up. But if/when it happens, -- like Windows 7 --it was my idea.)

Microsoft has established its reputation as an enterprise software/services vendor. It's trying to be a consumer one, too, and is spending money on retail ads, brick-and-mortar stores and viral marketing campaigns to try to gain more mind share there.

Not everyone thinks Microsoft should be so focused on the gadget and Web 2.0 space. More than a few industry watchers, customers, partners and Microsoft employees themselves believe Microsoft is spreading itself too thin and should stick to its enterprise knitting.

With that in mind, I read with interest a recently posted PowerPoint presentation deck that Microsoft is offering its partners to explain Microsoft's official views on the "consumerization of IT." The deck is designed for partners to use with their business customers when trying to position (justify?) Microsoft's growing investments in more consumer-focused markets and technologies.

Microsoft's definition of the consumerization of IT is "the increasing influence that our technology experiences as consumers -— both hardware and applications -— have on the technology that we expect to use at work," according to the deck. More:

"The reality is that many of us have powerful computer systems at home, and social computing tools like MySpace, Twitter, blogs, etc. are a part of our everyday lives. As technology plays an increasingly important role in our personal lives and we become accustomed to the power, convenience, flexibility, and connectedness of consumer technology experiences, we want those same capabilities to help us at work. However, in most cases we aren’t being given the tools."

Enter, Microsoft. It has the tools and the technologies that will help get these kinds of socially friendly deliverables into business users hands, the deck says.

Using virtualization (desktop, application or user state, where appropriate), user settings can be centralized, synchronized and safeguarded. "People search," like what's being built into SharePoint, can help users find answers to questions faster by calling on established experts. Content feeds, podcasts, shared documents, Wikis -- all available as part of SharePoint -- also can help with quicker information discovery and sharing, the deck notes. (It's no coincidence that Microsoft plans to push the built-in social-networking tools as one of the big selling points of SharePoint 2010 this year.) And don't forget about corporate instant messaging, presence capabilities, built-in VOIP and other unified communication features in Exchange, Office Communications Server, and other Microsoft software/services.

Even if you yourself aren't a social-networking believer, there's evidence your next-generation workforce will be, the deck points out. The "millennial generation" are avid social networking/social computing tool users

"They love their devices and stay at the forefront of what technology can do. And this generation expects to be able to use these same tools at work," Microsoft warns in the deck.

What's your take? Do you think Microsoft is right in obsessing so much about Apple and Google? Or do you agree with one Microsoft shareholder, who recently said: "I don't expect (Microsoft) to be Apple, I don't want them to be Apple. They need to be really good at being 50, an elder statesman"?

Update: Right after I hit publish, I noticed IDC has just published a new Social Business Survey. The study "confirmed that consumer social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn continue to dominate business use, although the gap between consumer and corporate-sponsored social networks has narrowed in the past nine months. This survey also showed that the use of social media has penetrated deeper into U.S. organizations, with executive managers and IT leveraging these tools for business as well as line-of-business workers."

Topics: Microsoft, CXO, Enterprise Software, Software

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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10 comments
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  • Consumerization of IT

    I don't know that we're trying to justify the investments we've made. The trend is that applications and devices that started out in the consumer world are making their way into the business world. I think we've got to acknowledge that and work with it or get left behind, don't you?
    ruth.morton@...
  • Never in the field of R&D...

    has a company spent so much and produced so
    little.

    "More than a few industry watchers, customers, partners
    and Microsoft employees themselves believe Microsoft is
    spreading itself too thin and should stick to its enterprise
    knitting."

    It's not that they're spreading themselves too thin, it is that
    a company can spend USD8+ BILLION / year on claimed
    R&D and have so little to show for it. It's competitors
    spend a fraction to produce so much more.

    Quite frankly it's embarrassing.
    Richard Flude
    • I second that (nt)

      nt
      Economister
    • And how much do their competitors spend on R&D

      just paste the links, I'm too lazy to search for it myself.
      John Zern
      • MS spends more than all their competitors combined (7 x Apple)

        From the latest 10K filings with SEC

        Microsoft USD 9 billion in 2009
        https://investor.shareholder.com/msft/EdgarDetail.asp?
        CIK=789019&FID=1193125-09-158735&SID=09-00

        Apple USD 1.3 billion in 2009
        http://phx.corporate-ir.net/External.File?
        item=UGFyZW50SUQ9MTg1OTB8Q2hpbGRJRD0tMXxUeXBlPTM=&t=1

        Novell USD 0.88 billion 2009
        http://www.novell.com/company/ir/09annual/annual09_form10k-
        nc.pdf

        Oracle USD2.8 in 2009
        http://secfilings.nasdaq.com/filingFrameset.asp?
        FileName=0000950123%2D09%2D018689%2Etxt&FilePath=%5C2009%
        5C06%5C29%5C&CoName=ORACLE+CORP&FormType=10%2DK&Rcvd
        Date=6%2F29%2F2009&pdf=

        Sun USD 1.6 billion in 2009
        http://www.sun.com/aboutsun/investor/annual_reports/sun_10k09.p
        df

        Red Hat USD 0.13 in 2009
        http://investors.redhat.com/secfiling.cfm?filingID=1193125-09-
        91983
        Richard Flude
        • MS is King in Return on R&D

          A recent study on patents by Bloomberg BusinessWeek ranks IBM as #1 in Most Patent Grants (MS is #3) yet Microsoft is ranked #1 in Most Valuable Portfolio (IBM ranked 8th).

          Now that is embarrassing for IBM, not Microsoft, as you state Richard Flude. In fact, this shows Microsoft is getting the absolute #1 return on its R&D investments!

          ?No one beats IBM on patents. For 17 years running, Big Blue has been granted more U.S. patents than any other applicant, raking in an ?unprecedented 4,914 in 2009. That tally is more than the number of patents granted last year to Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, Apple, Accenture, and Google combined.?

          Richard Flude- get your facts straight instead of trying to pass your opinion off as authoritative. Sure, Google and Apple have each released singular innovative products into the market, but Microsoft is not one dimensional.

          Study-
          http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_04/b4164051608050.htm

          Ranking-
          http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_04/b4164000826071.htm
          nmoore41
    • Most of their R&D goes into...

      the field of academia. So that explains why we have seen little. However, that is changing.
      rjohn05
      • Link please

        Please support your position
        Richard Flude
  • RE: The consumerization of IT -- and of Microsoft

    Mary,

    Brilliant piece. This is MUST win for Microsoft, they
    I think they should be spending more. Consumerization
    is the only driving force in enterprise now,
    everything roots back to it, ask enough "why" on any
    spend project and its the answer. What consumers get
    at home, they expect at work - why should it be different? You are a consumer, so your boss and your
    customer as a result you form the opinions that make
    the decisions that drive the business.

    I'm deep into Microsoft as a consumer brand (and an IT
    Pro) and that's the current problem, they're seen as a
    business brand (which equates to boring [especially
    for gen-y]) that needs fixing. MS have stellar
    consumer brands, Xbox is the obvious one, leveraging
    them is key, looks like it's happening.

    For the next 10 years (at least) the consumer is the
    target market because people are learning more and understanding more about the tech they want to use.
    Essentially the consumer market is the enterprise
    market.

    So for everyone asking why Microsoft is outspending
    everyone else. Simple. It must, it's had a
    successful business for years that needs migrating to
    the next successful business without loss - tough to
    do.

    Will they manage? Hope so. Will it take lots of $$
    and grunt. Yes.

    This is not just a one time deal either, it'll happen
    again, the driver will change. IF they get it right
    this time they can again.

    Every single IT business out there, heck every
    business, should be asking itself "how can I appeal
    more to the individual, the consumer" because we're
    all getting our own identity back and becoming
    individuals, even in massive organisations.
    sjrmay
  • The are sooooo correct

    Microsoft is right on the money here. People more and more are wanting the same experiences at home while at work. My day goes a lot smoother when i have to use software that is easier, friendlier, and easy on the eyes.
    rjohn05