Head of Microsoft's ERP business bows out

Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) group Senior Vice President Doug Burgum, seen as the person largely responsible for creating Microsoft's now considerable ERP business, is leaving the company.

MBS announced Burgum's departure Tuesday and said that Corporate Vice President Satya Nadella would replace him as head of the MBS group. Nadella has led MBS's global research and development operations for five years. Burgum said in a conference call that he plans to stay on until next June to assist with the transition.

When MBS initially announced that there was a search to replace Burgum as the group's head, he planned to stay on as chairman. However, he said he later changed his mind, citing the relative success of MBS and the fact that Nadella was an MBS insider who needed less grooming for the transition. In the meantime, he plans to remain a senior vice president reporting to Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft's business division. Raikes oversees MBS and the Office line of desktop products.

Burgum would not comment on his plans for after he leaves Microsoft. "My No. 1 commitment has been the business I helped create and built over the last several decades," he said. "I have to remain 100 percent focused on that. After June 30, perhaps I'll have a little time to think what the next venture will be. I'm very focused on driving the MBS business forward."

Known for his inspirational keynotes at user conferences and for a very accessible and laid-back manner, Burgum was largely responsible for the creation of what is considered to be Microsoft's fastest growing commercial line of products.

Microsoft effectively launched its ERP initiative with the April 2001 buyout of Great Plains Inc., a supplier of business applications to the midmarket. Burgum, then chairman and CEO of Great Plains, joined Microsoft and oversaw its acquisition of Denmark-based applications vendor Navision. The merging of Great Plains and Navision led to the creation of MBS.

During his tenure, Burgum oversaw the launch of Microsoft's CRM applications, as well as the creation of the next-generation Dynamics line of business software, which includes technology from Great Plains, Navision and other acquired portfolios.

Burgum's departure was widely expected, and Nadella will likely continue the momentum Burgum has generated, said Josh Greenbaum, an analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting in Berkeley, Calif. He noted that Burgum's efforts to bring Great Plains into Microsoft started a major transition for the company. Before that, "Microsoft was ubiquitous but not strategic to its customers," said Greenbaum.

"The entrepreneurial spirit and genius of Doug have gotten us where we are," Nadella said during a news conference. He noted that his new duties include further defining and evolving the MBS online strategy. That includes things such as enabling customers to have integrated on-premise and hosted ERP installations.

He also plans to continue to the rollout of the next set of MBS applications, including Dynamics GP 10, Dynamics SL 7.0 and Nav 5.0 over the next year.

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