Maybe you have to be of a certain age to catch that ghost busters reference so ask someone older if it passes you by.  I had one of those moments the other day where I realised I had so internalised something that I had stopped talking about it to people because it seemed too obvious.  I was working with our design agency on the launch event and explaining our messaging and what is so special about the 2007 release.  I was talking about convergence and how fundamental that is to our vision for Office which got them excited.

I've talked before about the 4 pillars of the 2007 Microsoft Office system:

  1. Communication and Collaboration (working with others across boundaries)
  2. Enterprise Content Management (managing documents and processes)
  3. Business Intelligence (making better decisions faster)
  4. Enterprise Project Management

We find it difficult to talk about one of these without starting to stray into one or more of the others.  It is hard to talk long about project management without getting into process and document management or collaboration.  It is hard to talk for long about business intelligence and scorecarding for long without getting into project portfolio management.  It's hard to talk about documents without collaboration or process without communication.

What we are responding to though is the inherent convergence of these themes.  This is the whole raison d'etre of the concept of "Office system".  What we are implicitly saying is that the siloed solutions of the past cannot take us into the future as effectively as building off a common platform.  The Office system competes now with vendors in each of the four pillars and make no mistake, we will compete head to head in the interests of the customer but I see that we have a number of key advantages over our rivals:

  1. We will always sell a broad, integrated vision, wider than just one pillar.  This joined up integration is easy for us to deliver on the Office system and very hard for many of our competitors.
  2. We will talk about the client and server integration.  This includes the browser and the rich client.  See my blogcast on the authoring experience which illustrates this in the context of the tagging challenge.  We are so conversant on "port 80" through xml and web services that we have more options than a browser only competitor.
  3. We have a very compelling price point.  Because we are not building it all from scratch and because it is easy to use and maintain, we are bringing technology solutions previously only available to the super-enterprise to within the reach of normal, practical companies, large and small.

My challenge to our channel is to think hard about how you are organised.  Perhaps components of your business previously addressing customer needs in different pillars should work more closely together?  How many portal partners also deliver BI and project management?  Ask yourself - where are we siloed?  I predict that the more convergent you are the more you will prosper.