Is Microsoft the next Dinosaur?

Marketing used to be pretty easy to understand — not simple mind you, but easy.  Marketing consisted of branding, public relations, advertising, trade shows and the like.  One could choose print media, radio, TV, billboards and such.

The company was in charge of the message.  Does anyone remember “The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit”?

Today the world is on its head.  My last post discussed the great new book, What Would Google Do.  That book focuses on the model of free core offers that are supported by the ancillary things the core touches.  Content is less important than how to tap into content.

And all of this stems from the explosion of information that came about with the Internet.

I started my career in the 1980s when AT&T spun off the “Baby Bells” giving up the gold mine of monopoly POTS (plain old telephone service) customers for the holy grail of “a computer is just a node on a network.”

That idea rang so true to me, who became a true believer in distributed computing and “information anywhere, any time, any place.”

Everyone else laughed.  This was the era of huge mainframe proprietary computers (the BUNCH were still around — Burroughs, Univac, NCR, CDC and Honeywell, although on the decline.  RCA had already exited computing.  DEC, Wang (no jokes please), Data General. . .these were the ‘mini” computer guys with 64 KB of RAM or LESS (yes, LESS) — names now gone as they either went out of business or were swallowed by others. . .

Microsoft is now on the edge.  It faces the same fate as the BUNCH and the minicomputer vendors if it doesn’t soon wake up and realize that they’ve been commoditized.   Software is almost a “thing of the past” just as minicomputers went the way of the buggy whip and the VCR.  Will anyone buy software on a CD or DVD much longer?  Why, when you can access SaaS (software as a service) online?

Why bog down your internet access device (computer seems so passe, doesn’t it?) with gigabytes of software when it changes daily?  Why not just tap into a secure app that is FREE or nearly free?

Years ago I interviewed for a job at Microsoft and they asked me who their competitor was.  Fresh from Teradata and in a DBMS (data base) state of mind I said “Oracle?” The reply was:  “Google.”

Google?  Google???

But it only took me a second to realize they were right — he who owns the eye balls, owns the person.  Google may have begun “life” as a search engine, but now it is so much more — it is the gateway to the information highway.

Microsoft, I love you.  You’ve done amazing things —  Microsoft Dynamics, your unified communication platform rocks — but you need to realize that the world has changed.  Aside from being global, it is viral.  If you want to stay relevant start realizing what AT&T knew back in the 1980s — but failed to deliver.

A computer is nothing but a node on a network.

Stop focusing on delivering products for the computer.  Start thinking of the network.  Start thinking of the people as if they were on a vast buffet line (network) where they can pick and choose what they want (iPhone apps ring a bell?).

Because that is today’s reality.  And it isn’t changing any time soon.

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About Sandra Eisenberg

Dynamic pragmatic marketing and sales executive whose biggest asset is converting technology to real corporate value -- for a variety of industries including health care providers (Adventist Health System Sunbelt), Teradata (Data Warehousing), RWD Technologies (quality improvement and professional services), Siemens and AT&T (telecom). Sandra brings twenty years of experience in sales, marketing and IT management. Her career spans entrepreneurial firms (E5 Marketing) and senior positions in sales, sales management (direct and indirect), marketing, channel development and product management at Bell Labs and NCR Teradata. A few career highlights: • Total product lifecycle management (PLM) using ISO 9001 and other quality methodologies. Sunset aging product lines and developed a migration path to a new, open standards platforms at Avaya, NCR and Bell Labs. • 1st woman to win the AT&T and NCR Teradata national sales awards -- top sales manager and sales rep at AT&T, NCR Teradata and Avaya • Delivered profitable marketing campaigns in the area of CRM, Business intelligence, contact centers and other high tech areas • Run call centers, sold call centers and been in product management of call centers (Avaya, AT&T and NCR) • Director of CRM Strategic Planning and Alliances at Avaya and NCR Teradata • Senior Manager of Product Management Bell Labs (business intelligence, data warehousing and CRM) Most recently Sandra managed the Central Florida territory for Siemens' telephony division. Siemens is selling this division soon and their loss can be your gain.

Posted on May 25, 2009, in Guerilla Marketing, Marketing, product lifecycle, sales, UC, unified communications, viral marketing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Apparently, you’re not in touch with Microsoft Dynamics Live and Azure. Microsoft knows what they are doing, just like when in 1998 people said Linux was going to take over the world and it didn’t happen.

    • John, of course I’m “in touch” with Microsoft Dynamics Live. I realize that Microsoft is blogging (great way to stay in touch with customers), offers some SaaS alternatives including Dynamics CRM which is one of my personal favorite CRM offers (go back in this blog and you’ll see I discuss it: “Mid Market is the fastest growing CRM Segment”). You seem a bit emotional on what should be a non-emotional topic, namely that to stay on top, or even near the top, today’s technology companies must be ahead of the curve, or even SETTING the curve.

      Nope, Linux hasn’t taken over the world — but there are Linux users. Yet that is still a hardware / software mentality. There was a time when RCA was on top of the world. There was a time GM was on top of the world. There was a time IBM mainframes were the only “game” in town with the BUNCH nipping at their heels. Yet technology and the vendors keep changing. For Microsoft to stay relevant and not become the world’s next Lotus 1,2,3 or WordPerfect or any other last generation winner they need to be constantly vigilant. I am a huge Dynamics fan (especially when one thinks back to the Siebels and before them Brock Softwares of the world) but that ignores the point. This isn’t so much about Microsoft, aside from the catchy title — it is about any company staying aware of the business they are in, focused on their customers — and that may very well mean that Microsoft should not think of itself as a software company at all — even if today that is the primary bread and butter.

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