CRN Interview: Microsoft's Doug Burgum

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Doug Burgum, senior vice president of Microsoft Business Solutions, is leaving the company in late June. He sat down with CRN Industry Editor Barbara Darrow this week at Convergence 2007 to discuss the legacy of Microsoft's purchase of his Great Plains Software in 2001. Great Plains and Navision, subsequently bought by Microsoft, formed the basis of the MBS business applications push which is now pitting Microsoft against biz powers SAP and Oracle.

Convergence, the annual MBS customer conference, took place in San Diego.

CRN: So this is your last official Convergence show?

Burgum: As a Microsoft exec. I should be able to figure out how to become a customer.

CRN: What's next for you?

Burgum: My official statement, no official plans and kind of by design I'm still enjoying and fully engaged on the business and expect to be through the fiscal year.

There may be a possible appearance at the Randy and Andy party [at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver in July.]

I've tried not to commit to anything --either to operating jobs or board seats, or investing in startups.[but] I am collecting a list of opportunities and suggestions.

I have been offered a job as unpaid intern for dynamics partner in the Napa Valley with 85 wineries.They have a wine hour every Friday afternoon. Pretty good job.

CRN: In Great Plains Software, you led a private company that went public, then became part of a huge company. In simple terms, are you glad you did the deal and is there anything you would have done differently?

Burgum: In terms of whether I'm glad we did the deal, he answer there is a resounding 'yes.' At the time, my statement was I wasn't selling out, I was buying in [and] six years later I'm still here.

This category [of business software] needed to be transformed, like others needed to be transformed where you had broad easy to use capabilities that become a platform which others can innovate on.

The platformizing—if that is a word-- of biz apps is something we talked about and from [MBS corporate vice president Satya Nadella's] keynote it's apparent we'll actually get there. We're using SQL Server and SharePoint and the Office UI in ways that really add value.

The other thing that was clearly a criterion at the time-- [Great Plains was] very much a channel-focused company and we wanted to align with another channel focused company. Microsoft was always a platform company and a channel company.

To the degree that we had a broad strategy six years ago of creating great solutions for customers and great partner opportunities and value for customers, the partner opportunity today is better than it ever has been. If partners can cover SharePoint and Office competencies and CRM and ERP that's big.

If you've got that, it's the most value we've been able to offer them.

How could you not feel good when NAV partners, people friends of [Damgaard software founder] Preben Damgaard, Solomon partners, all those people who've come up in two days and told me that .'everything you said you were going to do you've done.' [Note: Damgaard sold his company to Navision which was subsequently bought by Microsoft.]

It's not a personal thing. We committed the organization and the organization has delivered on partner programs, on branding. All of that you've got to feel good about.

Now, what would I have done differently? We made some changes in field engagement three years ago when we merged the NAV/GP field orgs with the Microsoft field and there were a number of things we'd have done differently in our approach.

Most of those things we'd have done differently we've now engaged[Microsoft has added] solution sales specialists and [Partner Account Managers] We've taken the best of Microsoft and best of solutions selling sales force that supports partners.


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