MS comes out swinging

Johannesburg, 07 Aug 2009

Microsoft SA yesterday kicked off its annual Partner Summit conference in Durban, with MD Mteto Nyati laying down the gauntlet as far as the company's goals and competitors are concerned.

“We've decided to be aggressive. Going after market share is our first priority for this year,” he said during his keynote address.

But he added: “You can grow share, but not revenue. As a company in SA, an emerging market [emerging markets saw growth last year], it would be a disaster for us if we were not growing our revenue. We [the executive] have decided, as Microsoft SA's leadership team, that growing revenue is something that we need to be focusing on.”

Having achieved growth of 2% in the financial year ended June 2009, the local office aims for double-digit growth in financial year 2010, which has just kicked off.

“Our single most important differentiator is our employees. We need to continue to raise the bar in that area. We need to focus on customer and partner satisfaction. And, lastly, we need to be locally relevant. It's great that we can be an American company and be in SA, but I believe we should not be Microsoft in SA, we should be Microsoft SA. We need to align ourselves to the priorities of this country,” said Nyati.

Microsoft will take aim at Oracle in the database sector, where it sees room for growth as it is currently shipping high volumes, but not garnering vast quantities of dollars, he explained.

“VMware has first mover advantage in the virtualisation space,” he states. ”The fact is that customers are paying so much more for something that is freely available from Microsoft. We have to get that message out. VMware is running a high-margin business. If you have big margins, it is an opportunity for people to come in. We, as Microsoft, are seeing that opportunity and coming in with a very, very different business model, which says that virtualisation cannot be the preserve of few. It must be enjoyed by every one of our customers at an affordable rate.”

As for IBM, he said: “We need to make sure the customers of IBM are liberated from Lotus Notes. Just by moving across they will feel so liberated, and start enjoying things like unified communications. I would like to make SA a Lotus Notes-free country.”

The company is heavily targeting the public sector going forward. “Look at Novell,” Nyati said. “In the public sector space it has a huge install base, and it has publically shared the fact that there is no roadmap for its product beyond 2010. We need to go share that with our customers. They need to move from that platform to something else. Instead of them moving to Lotus Notes or something else, let's help them move to the right platform.”

Nyati noted that many organisations are paying “such a huge tax for capabilities that are the same or better on the other side. We need to go share this fact with our customers.”