At Convergence, the end-user conference held by Microsoft Business Solutions in March, Doug Burgum addressed many of the financial and product issues surrounding MBS. Burgum, a Microsoft vice president and president of MBS, appeared in a question-and-answer session with the press and analysts. The same afternoon, he also answered questions in a one-on-one interview with Bob Scott, editor of Accounting Technology magazine. This article includes information from both sessions.
Recently, Microsoft reported it will delay some key products to improve security. Analysts believe this may result in a delay of Longhorn, the next Microsoft operating system. Will any delay in Longhorn result in delays in shipping Project Green, MBS’s next-generation accounting product?
Project Green is now completely dependent on Longhorn. That wasn’t always the case. The delays you are mentioning are a possibility, although we still expect that Longhorn will ship in 2006.
MBS promised to support its existing accounting software lines [Axapta, Great Plains, Navision, and Solomon] --- until 2013. Since the Project Green product is expected to reach market in the next two years, will you be marketing five different product lines? Does that represent a problem?
We will be offering five accounting products. You keep selling all of them because you are making money on them. It’s a portfolio management approach. We are feeding R&D through the sale of existing products. It’s not about getting people to switch products. While we are developing a new product, we have four streams driving profitability.
MBS reported a 40 percent increase in revenue for the December quarter. The company’s financial reports attribute the rise to sales of Navision and Business Contact Manager. Did the increase in the Navision maintenance fee from 10 percent to 16 percent of license fees have any impact?
No. It was largely sales of Navision. Currency exchange rates also had a big impact and we have talked about this several times.
Jan Sillerman, director of mid-market solutions] says Microsoft is seeking to expand the Navision channel. What is the reason?
In Denmark, the reseller base is probably five to 10 times denser than in the United States. The sales there are representative of what you can achieve when you reach high market share. There is also room for expansion in Eastern Europe, and in the United States there are still geographic gaps and there are vertical gaps.
Sillermann also said that resellers say that the Navision application has gotten too big and too complicated, and that MBS has responded by adding tools, including wizards. What is your view?
As an industry, all our products are too complex.
What works best in selling customer relationship management software? Accounting software resellers who pick up CRM, dedicated CRM resellers? How hard has it been for MBS accounting software resellers to ramp up in the CRM business?
Many Great Plains resellers learned CRM through sales of the Siebel Mid-market Edition and SalesLogix [from rival Best Software.] As a result, many of these partners already had the skill sets and hit the ground running. There are some difficulties facing partners. They have to understand the process and understand products they may not have carried before. Still, at year one of Microsoft CRM on the market, there have been multiple areas of success.
Many observers did not expect you to continue holding this job. Do you plan to stay around longer?
I’m still having fun. Steve [Microsoft CEO Ballmer] still seems to think I’m doing a good job.
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