Interview: Microsoft exec eyes midsize users for apps

Douglas Burgum, a senior vice president at Microsoft who heads the company's business solutions division, spoke about the unit's enterprise applications strategy during an interview at Microsoft's Convergence 2003 conference in Kissimmee, Fla., this month.

Q: Can you clarify where Microsoft sits in the corporate applications market?

If you drew a bell curve for us, the center is in the midmarket. We're not focused on selling applications through a direct sales force to the world's largest corporations. Those applications are very expensive and require ongoing customization. We're in the business of high-volume, low-price software sold through partners.

Q: Other parts of Microsoft do business with rival applications vendors such as SAP and PeopleSoft. Is that an issue for your unit?

We want to work with those folks on our (underlying technology) platforms. We want them to adopt our tools that support XML connectivity and offer customers support for .Net. To the degree that SAP has announced aggressive plans in the midmarket (with its SAP Business One initiative), we will find SAP a partner, but also we'll be competing with them for customer accounts.

Q: You recently shipped your first customer relationship management applications. Any misgivings about taking on Siebel Systems CEO Tom Siebel?

We're not taking him on. He sells directly in deals that are worth multiple millions, with lots of rich customizations. That's not the market we're pursuing. We see Siebel as a strong partner doing nice work with our SQL Server database and Windows and .Net and our support tools.

Q: Do you view any of the applications that Microsoft has bought over the past few years as redundant?

No. The products won't fade away in any near- or midterm time frame. There are large customer bases for Solomon and Navision and Axapta and Great Plains. We've got a deep commitment (to them) and are planning for the next generation. We're not going to try to merge those lines together in the traditional sense, so much. (But) to some degree, the future generation will have a migration path to one single global code base.

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