Sunday, August 12, 2007

Microsoft Office for the Rest of Us

microsoftofficedevilstower You know guys, I was perusing around the blogosphere and picked up on an interesting article Re: MS Office and Google Apps written by a guy named Michael Gilronan at this company called Knowledge Management Associates in Boston. Anyway, he was responding to a White paper written by Limit One comparing the merits of it's service re: Google Apps and taking exception to Microsoft Portal Server's complexity etc. It's a story I've heard over and over but it was only when I was reviewing one of my larger clients (Sullivan Family of Companies aka. Foodland, Beard Papa, Food Pantry) Enterprise Architecture that I realized how easy it is for us in the industry to forget how the "rest of world" uses MS Office and what a security and management nightmare it has become.

These guys are focused on SMB in the real sense, not the IBM definition. Yes, contrary to popular belief in the the halls of the glass tower (your?), there are ten's of thousand's of small business in the USA who don't have on staff IT and have a single SMB Server if at all. With no training nor any knowledge of the Sharepoint services which they have had installed on their behalf, most aren't using them. A smart marketing move on Microsoft's part, allowing them to be included in that grossly WSJ inflated number.

Secondly, true collaboration never happens using fat client Office. Versioning solutions are complex and security problems abound with xls and docs all over the planet in temp folders or saved locally. I run a feet-on-the-street IT MSP which serves this market so I'm closely familiar with how many valuable documents of financial data are just left lying in inboxes and temp folders on someone's Spyware infested home computer.

Microsoft attempt at securing this data using their flavor of DRM is a joke, with no external collaboration easy or even possible. Pour out the Kool Aide my friend, Google's on the right track.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for joining the conversation, Johnny.

Our feet-on-the-street consulting firm is an SMB focused on MSFT technologies because that’s what our clients (mostly) ask for, and we’ve invested accordingly. However, it’s not dogma, so I won’t unconditionally defend MSFT from my “glass tower.” MSFT is a valued business partner, but my Kool-Aid is watered down by experience and pragmatism. I believe in the right tool for the right job.

In fact, I agree with you on the point that SharePoint is woefully underutilized within many SMBs (although the definition of SMB changes depending on the agenda of the person you ask). The point remains: collaboration tools are still too expensive and complex for many SMBs.

I also agree with you (to a point!) regarding GOOG and LimitNone’s prospects in the area of SMB collaboration tools. As I posted, I certainly think that they merit watching and could fit certain types of organizations. As volunteer Treasurer of a not-for-profit, I have already used tools such as this to work more efficiently with virtual teams. I look forward to seeing LimitNone’s performance in the market validate their technology and their business model – but I haven’t seen that yet, so the jury is still out in my eyes.

At the same time, MSFT still owns the desktop (like it or not), and is vigorously investing around collaboration tools while evolving their model toward the combination of rich desktop software + services “in the cloud.” The battle is just beginning. I think the competition will be interesting to watch, and I look forward to chronicling the battle as I’m sure you will, each from our own point of view.

Johnny Kessel said...

Scholar and gent!