Microsoft captured this year's Annual Report Card trophy in the Collaboration Software category, outscoring rival IBM in this, the first time Collaboration Software has been covered in the ARC survey. Microsoft performed a clean sweep, winning all 18 criteria.
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Microsoft and its SharePoint and Lync Server software scored significantly higher in product innovation than IBM and its Lotus line of collaboration software, Connections, Sametime, WebSphere portal and other applications. Microsoft also won in partnership by a hefty margin and in support, albeit the latter by just a few points.
"Almost every enterprise we work with has SharePoint someplace," said Matt Morse, director of the SharePoint practice at Perficient, a St. Louis-based solution provider that's a Microsoft National Systems Integrator and certified Gold partner in portals and collaboration. The company also works with IBM's portal and collaboration products.
Morse noted the tight integration between SharePoint 2010--as well as the upcoming SharePoint 2013--with the ubiquitous Microsoft Office as a major selling point for the product. "It's one of the software tools that everyone uses every day," he said.
As proof of Microsoft's commitment to product innovation in the collaboration space, Jared Spataro, Microsoft senior director of SharePoint product marketing, pointed to the new collaboration features in the Office 2013 application suite, currently in "customer preview" mode, and Microsoft's recent acquisition of Yammer to add to the vendor's social networking offerings. "We are committed to truly transforming the way people get work done," Spataro said.
On the partner support side, Morse said Microsoft's "official" co-marketing spending and training programs are effective, as one might expect. However, he said, a key to Microsoft's success in the channel is the way those programs are executed through Microsoft's field sales representatives that work with the partners.
Spataro cited the "business-focused" business scenarios and templates Microsoft provides members of the "extensive SharePoint partner ecosystem" to better leverage the software's capabilities "and provide partners with more profitable services engagements."