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Microsoft Throws Weight Behind People-Ready Campaign

Looking to expand itsenterprise reach, Microsoft laid out its latest software and marketing drive late last week, trumpeting its “People-Ready” strategy of software-driven efficiency and collaboration for workers.

In announcing details of the plan, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer also jabbed at software and services rival IBM, indicating the company’s consultants were no match for well-armed workers with Microsoft functionality at their disposal for collaboration, server customization and integration, mobile and remote work, enterprise search, customer relationship management (CRM) and more.

Although Microsoft is once again spreading itself broadly as it looks to sell more aggressively to the business market, the company’s half-billion dollar marketing push for People-Ready is an obvious threat to competitors, Yankee Group senior analyst Laura DiDio told TechNewsWorld.

“When Microsoft puts US$500 million behind it, that’s really got to make competitors tremble,” she said.

People Pitch

The People-Ready pitch from Microsoft was the focus of Ballmer’s speech to a New York audience on Thursday.

He referred to several software categories that fall under its People-Ready set of products, including unified communications and collaboration, new server technologies with the next Office, enterprise search, mobile networking, business intelligence, CRM and enhanced infrastructure.

“Getting the most out of their people is on the mind of every business leader I speak with,” Ballmer said. “Successful businesses understand that people drive business success and growth.”

Software Giants Clash

Competitor IBM responded to Ballmer’s statements, casting Microsoft’s new efforts as “proprietary” and “product driven.” In contrast, Big Blue’s Software as a Service (SaaS) model significantly leverages Linux and open source software, the company said.

Although there was much attention paid to the renewed animosity between the two longstanding software rivals, it was not as significant as the real challenges facing the huge vendors, Basex CEO and Chief Analyst Jonathan Spira told TechNewsWorld.

“I’d be concerned if they weren’t fighting,” he said.

Rivals on Notice

Nevertheless, the official statement in response to Ballmer’s speech from IBM highlights how seriously the second-biggest software company in the world takes the Microsoft threat, according to DiDio.

“What does that tell you?” she said of the IBM statement. “It comes down to Microsoft software versus IBM services.”

As Microsoft looks to expand in the enterprise with mobility and remote access and other features, she said, it still faces the challenge of getting people to the new Vista operating systems it will roll out this year.

“The margin of error for them is minute,” DiDio added, referring to security and other challenges — including what to do with its MSN Internet brand.

Software for Humans

Microsoft’s move with People-Ready — an effort termed better than previous slogans such as “the new world of work” — was an acknowledgment that software needs to be designed with users in mind, Spira said.

“It shows a recognition that software has to interface with people, not the other way around,” he remarked.

Both Microsoft and IBM face the challenge of preparing workers and companies for the changing “knowledge economy,” Spira added.

“It’s going to take time for them to get their message out,” he said of Microsoft.

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