OK, so back to computers. Well often we do hear comparisons between the evolution of computers, aircraft and cars. Mostly they are somewhat arbitrary, but still.
This year we saw the release of Vista and Office 2007. Later we will see never versions of Great Plains 10 and Navision 5.1. In terms of revolution, 5.1 is revolutionary, it is as big a jump as the jump from Dos to Windows.
But when most people think of Office 2007 and Vista, its much like the 787, just another upgrade. Both Vista and Office 2007 look very much different than their predecessors, but really that is barely scratching the surface of what these products deliver. In fact they introduce a whole new way of delivering for Microsoft.
The biggest change in Office 2007 in my opinion, is the "one version of the truth" concept. The idea that data is secure not only form outsiders, but even form those inside. Its now possible to email a spread sheet to 100 people, then go to a meeting and have just one version of the data in the presentation. In our ERP world, this ability of people to simply take data and manipulate it in excel was a tough nut to crack.
What has happened, is that instead of having isolated desktop applications on isolated desktops, we now have a truly integrated office environment. And those companies that think "we will wait for the next version" need to take a close look at 2007 and what it offers. Personally I think MS are doing too much hype in the "user experience" areas, and not showing off enough of what is going on in the back ground.
And then we have Navision. This next version (which we hope will be released some time this year) will change the way we think about ERP in the Navision world. No longer will we be able to think of ourselves as C/SIDE developers. More and more, C/SIDE will be come less and less important. We will be soon able to hand off parts of Work Flow to the user though MOSS (Microsoft Office Share Point Server). And users will control their own User Interface.
Looking further into the future, I see that Microsoft will have to radically change licensing policies, even more so than they did with Business Ready. I see that licensing will be a concept of what he users uses, so you will buy 10 Credit controller CALs that will allow them access to AR, Customer, Excel, Outlook etc. The company may be running Navision, CRM and Great Plains in different divisions, but all the user will care is that they have a CAL that allows them access to the Customer card.
But more importantly will be that there will be multiple VARs and multiple ISVs working together. There is no way that existing Navision VARs can deliver both the depth and breadth of technology that is needed, There will be many new opportunities for smaller VARs to go Vertical, and outsource all the components of the system, with them understanding he clients business needs, and relying on independent partners to deliver the components.
This is a great and exciting time for us. Get out there and look at the new technology that is coming at us. Knowledge of business process will be closely tied to the ability to integrate multiple technologies to solve issues, and we will rely less and less on the huge volume of customized code that we see now.
Will we go to bigger aircraft with Hubs and Spokes, or will we see 50 seat jets that can fly half way around the world non stop. And will we see more and more bespoke systems with lots of custom code, or will we see systems that integrate multiple systems into business solutions?
At the recent Partner day a company presented to all of the Microsoft Partners regarding an online buying and selling market, linking partners with partners. Microsoft realise that many companies cannot sell the stack, they simply do not have the skills or resources. The idea is to load works orders, these are then distributed to partners with the skills to bid for the contract.
I have none of the figures with me, or the url, but it is free to sign up. They take 10% of the sale and charge an £8 posting fee.
Only currently in the UK and in its infancy backed by VC, but Microsoft are right behind it. I will post the details when I am next in the office. I mentioned your freelancers but in typical fashion had none of the details to hand!
As for going vertical Microsoft have been banging this drum with the partners very very hard for the past 18 months.
To change the method of transport slightly "We are going to need a bigger boat"!!
Well I think more smaller boats, than one big one. ;)