Microsoft Dynamics Has Become Microsoft's Locus Of Innovation - InformationWeek

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12/11/2011
11:19 PM
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Microsoft Dynamics Has Become Microsoft's Locus Of Innovation

The enterprise software portfolio is the lodestar for every important piece of technology the company produces.

Over the ten years in which Microsoft has struggled to find a place inside the company for its Dynamics enterprise software products, the question of whether it should jettison the business unit altogether has surfaced more than once. On the face of it, it's hard not to ask the question. Despite the annoying secrecy that Microsoft maintains about revenue from its Dynamics products, it's pretty obvious that the original goal of "10 years and $10 billion" in revenue is off by something resembling an order of magnitude.

And yet, the two-day analyst summit Microsoft hosted just before Thanksgiving week made it abundantly clear that Dynamics isn't a so-so success for Microsoft: the company's enterprise software portfolio--in particular Dynamics AX and Dynamics CRM--has become the lodestar for virtually every important piece of technology produced across Microsoft's vast technology empire.

More importantly, Dynamics is increasingly the place where the cross-company synergies that have eluded this famously siloed company are becoming reality. And these emerging synergies bring with them the potential to dramatically alter Microsoft's overall competitive profile in the enterprise and the critical point of convergence between the enterprise and the consumer that very few companies, Microsoft being perhaps the most advanced, are in a position to truly take advantage of.

The idea of the Dynamics lodestar came to me about an hour into the analyst briefings, when Dynamics exec Michael Park, in an off-hand remark, referred to some forthcoming capability in Windows 8 that would significantly improve Microsoft's mobile enterprise offerings. It was as though we Dynamics followers already knew all about it (but many of us didn't, highlighting the fact that covering enterprise software is increasingly an exercise in covering everything Microsoft does).

[ Learn more about Microsoft Dynamics. See Microsoft Dynamics Lines Up Against SAP, Oracle, and Salesforce. ]

Kirill Tartarinov, head of the Dynamics group, had already mentioned Windows 8, as well as Kinect as a user interface device for the enterprise, in his opening remarks, and we were soon to hear one of the first mentions of Skype in a Microsoft briefing since the deal was finalized, also in the context of enterprise functionality.

As the morning wore on, the list of Microsoft products that were being woven into the company's enterprise software strategy grew to become nothing less than a what's what of virtually the entire Microsoft top-tier technology palette.

Here's a list I compiled over the course of the day of the different pieces of the Microsoft product set that are finding some of their most important use cases alongside Microsoft Dynamics:

>> Azure and the cloud, including Office 365;

>> SQL Server;

>> Visual Studio and .NET;

>> Windows 8, especially mobile;

>> Kinect;

>> Lync and Skype;

>> Business Intelligence;

>> Sharepoint;

>> Bing.

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