Office Differentiates Microsoft from
Oracle and SAP"> Based on functionality acquired from BI applications vendor ProClarity ten months ago, PerformancePoint 2007 is Microsofts answer to Corporate Performance Management, which is functionality that allows CFOs to answer crucial questions about their business: How are we doing? Why? And what should we be doing? Due late in the summer of 2007, PerformancePoint Server will include dashboards, score carding, analytics, performance, planning and consolidation applications.But Microsoft is not alone in using CPM to lure chief financial officers in major corporations. SAP announced May 8 its intention to acquire OutlookSoft, a privately held company that develops planning, budgeting, forecasting and consolidation software.SAP plans to bridge OutlookSofts performance management software with its business intelligence platform and GRC (Governance, Risk and Compliance) suite of applications. On April 19, Oracle closed its $3.3 billion acquisition of Hyperion, an industry leader in CPM software. Where Microsoft differs from Oracle and SAP is Office, according to Caren. "Our approach is really different," said Caren. "While we are targeting the CFO and compliance, weve bet incredibly hard on Excel, making a place where you can work with information securely and share information securely. Our ease of use and our price point leads to much broader solutions. SAP and Oracle, typically dont go beyond the CFO; our goal is to [reach] everyone who might own a budget." To this end, Microsoft has been building out an internal sales team for the past 18 months. "Were doubling down our efforts to make [the team] more global in focus, with people that focus on BI, SQL Server and Office," said Caren. "Theyre chartered with going into large customers to win big projects. And to recruit, train and work with partners." Click here to read about Microsofts acquisition of ProClarity. The Microsoft BI sales team will have a dual focus on reaching what they refer to as decision makerspeople in finance and sales and operationsdoing financial management projects that include planning, budgeting and forecasting, areas where companies typically need to extract business intelligence. Theyll also target Microsofts typical IT buyers. Also during his keynote, Raikes previewed three key partnerships with global system integrators: Accenture, Cap Gemini and Tata Consultancy Services. The significance of these partnerships, according to Caren, is that the each company is "betting hard" on Microsoft BI much earlier than they would a new software offering from another vendor. "This is a new day for BI, in our view ... not only for Microsoft but for the industry as a whole," said Raikes, in Redmond, Wash. He pointed to the good news with BI, citing a Wall Street Journal report that said that 13 percent of businesses plan to make their first BI acquisition this year. In 2006 companies spent a total of $23 billion on BI technology. "The bad news is we feel people are paying far too much for BI and not getting enough. The promise of BI is unfulfilled," Caren said. At least one analyst, Joshua Greenbaum of Enterprise Applications Consulting, believes Microsofts focus on toolsand on massive SIs to build out functionalityis not quite the right approach. "Microsofts very able BI team is producing great tools but leaving the industry-specific and role-specific functionality to their partners. And herein lies the weakness in the strategy: the partners are a mixed bag. Some are really steeped in the business and end-user requirements of specific industries, but too many are technologists more in the mold of Microsoft than not," writes Greenbaum in his blog. "And too many of those who really grok the industry-specific issuesamong them the global SIsare not developing packaged solutions but concentrating on custom, one-off solutions that are by definition more costly than packaged alternatives." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.