A few months ago I was asked to take on a new role at Microsoft. We've kicked off an initiative within Developer and Platform Evangelism to help drive ISV evangelism for the Microsoft Dynamics brand. I was asked to help drive the content development and programs. What an opportunity! I jumped at the chance and am now on this full-time. That's why my blog went dark for a few months, BTW.
The reason I jumped at this is that I see enormous potential in this area. Early in my career I spent many years building ERP systems. This was back when they were still called accounting systems. :)
For those who haven't been paying attention to this part of the Microsoft business, a little history: Microsoft acquired Great Plains in 2001 (getting Great Plains and Solomon in the deal) and Navision in 2002 (getting Navision and Axapta in that one). Until recently we've been running all of these products as a separate division. That has worked ok but I don't think it's done much to help integrate those products into the rest of Microsoft. We've taken it slow as all four products had partners with investments in products and businesses riding on the success of those products and Microsoft is nothing if not hyper-sensitive to the needs of our partners.
In 2005, we mapped out the plan for how we were going to rationalize the four ERP products in our portfolio and more importantly talked about the roadmap for how we were going to do it in a way that our existing partners could come along for the ride. We've been executing to that plan ever since. The past year especially has been pretty exciting to watch. About a year ago we combined all the line of business products into one brand called Dynamics. Around that same time we also moved the Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) group in with the Information Worker group to form the Microsoft Business Division under Jeff Raikes. And finally, a few months ago Jeff Raikes appointed Satya Nadella to head up the MBS group.
You see what we did there? We took what, a couple of years ago, was a billion dollar bag on the side of the company and pulled it into to where it is now a strategic part of the business. We then put a hard core Microsoft exec who understands both the Microsoft business and culture as well as having made a big impact on the MBS roadmap. Nice! In most companies that would be just another re-org. In my mind, though, we're now set up to bust out and grow this business and that I like, I like! Do I like that it took us 5 years to get here? Not so much but I understand why and agree it had to happen that way.
If all we'd done was rearrange the office name plates I wouldn't be so excited. What's got me really excited is the product roadmap for the next few years. I'll talk about that in my next post...