In their announcement regarding the release of Microsoft Cloud Computing, Microsoft referred to cloud computing as “the platform for the next generation of business”, a statement that I wholeheartedly believe. Yet, at a networking event shortly after the announcement the majority of small businesses I spoke to felt that Microsoft had missed the mark – why are small businesses feeling left out over Microsoft’s announcement?
I deal with small businesses on a daily basis – SMEs/SMBs/SOHO – and many of these businesses feel that Microsoft don’t understand what they really need; and I am inclined to agree. What businesses really need, particularly in the current economic climate, is not software but support. Small businesses need Business Services Providers – BSPs.
In my opinion, established through years in the industry and close communication with small business owners around the world, any software company that believes that a successful long term business strategy is to provide businesses with a limited product offering are missing the point completely when it comes to small business. As I wrote in my article yesterday, Steve Jobs’ opinion better reflects my own, in so far as an integrated solution is always better than a fragmented solution.
In this circumstance that means that an integrated software and services offering will always trump the ability for a small business to purchase software and seek services elsewhere. Not only is this inefficient in terms of both time and money, but also ineffective. The future belongs to the BSPs.
I agree with my small business colleagues that Microsoft is not offering any solution that is relevant to small businesses today. And, as such it is my opinion that the threat to Microsoft mounts on all sides; not only from other cloud computing vendors, but also from the Open Source movement and companies shifting to providing integrated software and business services solutions.
This threat is, in my opinion, demonstrated through the recent turbulence in Microsoft’s share price as well as the fluctuation in its market share. A further signal that all is not well is, in my opinion, the announcement of the departure of Microsoft’s Cloud Computing leader, Ray Ozzie, the day before the major Microsoft Cloud Computing announcement.
Small businesses know what they need and fragmented software options are not an efficient or effective solution to the problems that small businesses face. The future lies not only in cloud computing, but also with Business Services Providers; and that is where Microsoft missed the mark with the small business contingent.
Disclaimer: Stefan Töpfer is CEO of WinWeb.com