CRN Interview: Microsoft's Doug Burgum

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CRN: With you leaving, there's quite a bit of sentiment among partners. They're wondering who MBS' face to the partners will be. Who will it be?

Burgum: There's a broad set of people depending on where you are. There's Cesar Cernuda in EMEA [Europe, Middle East and Africa] who is now international, meaning he's everything but North America.

There's Klaus Holse Andersen, who joined six or seven years ago. He's Danish but worked in California for Oracle at a high level and came to Microsoft. An enterprise apps guy from Oracle at Microsoft.

He was the Danish GM when we acquired Navision and that was the one place in the world where the MBS business was actually bigger than the Windows client business. He was head of Nordic, then East Europe, now Europe. He's promoted now to a role not unlike Orlando's for global sales and field. He's a corporate vice president now, that's huge, there're only 120 of them. And he's based in Copenhagen, which is a big deal. [Navision and Axapta originated in Denmark.]

[Other key partner players include] Craig McCollum who has tons of experience, and Jeff Young who has close to 20 years at Great Plains. Also Michael Parks who came over from SAP. Tami Reller also has 20 plus years at Great Plains. And there are lots of people inside [Allison Watson's] org—Don Nelson who's now with worldwide partner programs. We have a pretty good infiltration at Microsoft.

I'm thinking close to 80 to 100 people have moved from Fargo to Redmond and not because we moved any jobs but because they took promotions.

And on the EMEA side, a lot of Navision folks are populating Cesar's org.

CRN: How much interaction have you had with Ray Ozzie and his Live efforts?

Burgum: When he arrived, and the Live effort was being born, I reported directly to [Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer] and we had many, many offsites. And once the launch happened there was a lot more clarity and a framework and Satya is now the R&D lead and spends the most time, now delegating to the team to make sure they're aboard.

CRN: Do you need to offer hosted ERP as well as CRM?

Burgum: Do we need to? We need to offer solutions that customers demand. I ran into a partner here who said he's going live in two weeks with a Dynamics GP hosted offering. That's a signal that there's customer demand. Our SPLA partners can opt to do that today—hostable ERP. Having partners host is a nice model. They can offer the confidence and support customers want. It won't be completely blind in the sky service, it's not a brand on the Web site, they get to meet the partner people and the partner can add IP atop that. It's not a click to buy without a partner thing. The only place that will exist is in the Office accounting level.

We have real traction going with our Office Accounting downloads and we will keep tweaking that. It's disruptive at the low end but that learning can be applied. A piece of the market will want very simple stuff, not modified, and that's not where GP, SL, NAV or AX sells anyway.

To the degree we decide to have that capability in addition to partner capability [Microsoft will do hosted applications] but there will to be have a partner element there in configuration and implementation. Our stuff is not self-configuring. It's just not.

The long-term vision for partners—the role of the partner becomes more important the more capability we deliver, the more things they can do. I say they have to move to the customer edge vs. the platform edge. I'd love to eliminate from partners having to spend their time and customers' money making our products work together.

As you could see in Satya's keynote, if you have the same interfaces, the dynamic movement of data from one piece of the stack to the other, that's the stuff partners used to get paid to do. We want them out of the plumbing business and at the customer edge where their domain knowledge has huge value.

When I talk to partners, the future's huge, but not if you want to write a piece of middleware, that'll be our job. Partners need deep domain know how. High customer service means high margins.

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