The Case for Complexity for Enterprise IT Software

Much has been written about the struggles of Microsoft® to simplify its presentation of consumer products and even products intended for enterprise customers (PC operating systems are consumed by the general public and business users). One of the most recent comments on this topic, a post written by Nick Bilton and published on the Disruptions blog on the New York Times on July 28, 2013: Disruptions: Microsoft’s Struggle to Make Things Simple for Consumers, describes the awkward moves the company has taken as it grapples with an urgent need to remove complexity from its consumer products and the promotional materials it creates for them.

But there is certainly a case to be made for the kind of complexity one finds in enterprise software products from Microsoft like SharePoint®, and its peers. In fact, complexity is a familiar characteristic of software offerings from most any of Microsoft’s competitors in the enterprise software markets.

Simply put, partners filled the gaps in products and even in product presentations for enterprise business markets. These markets asked for sophistication and complex functionality. When enterprise IT ISVs, including Microsoft looked to satisfy these needs, they also opted to build networks of partners, capable of working with market to install the products, support them through their life cycles and even collaborate with customers needing to customize solutions.

Without partners, enterprise IT ISVs would be exposed directly to enterprise customers. Demands on customer service teams could become unmanageable. But of even greater importance, the typical need of enterprise customers to customize solutions for their specific, unique requirements would have to be satisfied by the ISVs, themselves.

This type of arrangement might work for IBM®, but it would not work for Microsoft. Therefore, the growing pains the company has experienced as it implements a radically different business model, in our opinion, should be better understood by commentators.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

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