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Why Microsoft's Elop isn't afraid of Google

Elizabeth Montalbano | Sept. 24, 2009
The Business Division president discusses Office 2010, hosted apps and the link between them

Now the enterprise segment year over year was a very different story. It was modest growth. It wasn't exciting growth -- it was modest growth. Really what's going on there is customers continue to make decisions about the long term about what they want to invest in, combined with the fact that we have a number of products in the enterprise that even with tough economic times are growing very aggressively. So SharePoint for collaboration, document management and other workloads like that -- the SharePoint product is north of a billion dollars and it's growing at double-digit rates during the worst economic calamity we've ever seen.

IDGNS: Why do you think that's true?

Elop: A key reason for that is it helps businesses even if they're contracting to figure out how to save money, how to get people communicating and collaborating more effectively. Another example is around unified communications -- things like e-mail and instant messaging, voice, video conferencing. In tough economic times when a company says "look, we've got to reduce our travel expenses," what do people do? Well I still have to talk to them, I still have to get around to the team around the world. How do I do that? They turn to our product. Well our OCS product, our Office Communications Server product -- double-digit growth year on year during the worst economic circumstances we've all faced. Dynamics CRM -- customer relationship management. We may be contracting as an industry in a particular business, but you say, "I have to get closer to my customer, I have to manage every lead for a sales opportunity tighter than I did before." So it's growing very substantially as well.

IDGNS: Here's how I see the challenges for Office 2010. On the business side of things, you've talked about the "good enough problem," in which people think what they have is good enough. This is especially true now when people have cut back on IT spending. How would you address these challenges?

Elop: One of the interesting things, with every release of software we've ever issued, we've faced the "good enough" problem. Forget about the competitors -- we always have the previous version of software. So our whole process, our whole plan for the interaction we do with customers is ensuring the value is there in the times in which we exist to encourage customers to say, what I have is the best that was available before, there's now something else. You could say, "Oh, maybe what was good enough before is still good enough." But all of a sudden they see, for example, opportunities to save money or to solve a business problem that hasn't been solved before. And of course that's what we're focused on, the capabilities we've introduced in 2010.


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