The end of the Doug Burgum era in accounting software era has come with a jolt, and a probable change of direction. Microsoft reached into the Microsoft Business Division, into which Burgum’s Microsoft Business Solutions has been nested for some time, and pulled out Kirill Tatarinov,  corporate VP of Microsoft’s Enterprise Management and Solutions group and the leader of MBS, which markets the Dynamics accounting software and CRM lines. Tartarinov joined Microsoft in 2002, coming from BMC Software, where he was senior vice president and chief technology officer, a background with some relevance. The big guns were rolled out, notably Jeff Raikes, the vice president who is one of the top three executives and responsible for about $15 billion in revenue. There’s not much to be learned in a 15-minute phone conversation with someone at Raikes’ level in a joint call with Tami Reller. But it shows a commitment to MBS, especially at a time when people are leaving, including Reller,  a corporate VP over the Dynamics lines and a long-term Burgum team member.. Key people have left MBS in the last two months. Craig McCollum moved to  the worldwide small and midmarket solutions and partners group.  Lynn Stockstad, VP of strategic marketing, is now in charge of worldwide marketing for the enterprise customer segment marketing. Whatever will happen, it is going to happen under people who have not worked with the channel and who seem to have in common a much stronger technology background. Back in March, in what can only be described as a botched public relations effort, the company slid in Klaus Andersen, a Copenhagen-based VP to the position of VP of sales and operations just as Satya Nadella was being yanked away from his intended role as Burgum’s replacement. At the same time, the channel is changing. Witness the  June acquisition of Iteration2, a $27 million reseller. by Hitachi Consulting earlier this month. I once said that Iteration2 made its living poaching off the bottom of the Oracle market and that is an important concept. Coupled with the personnel moves, and the continuing gossip in the market that AX is the product of the future, the element that could tie these things together is that Microsoft will move upstream aggressively to take business away from Tier 1 companies. Look at Tatarinov’s largely enterprise experience. After all, the lower end of the market is being closed off by products like QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions. In the middle of the midmarket, everyone is competing in the same price range. But for Tier 1 customers, AX is a bargain.  From a strategic point of view, it makes sense—that’s where the most money is--if Microsoft can steal business away from the likes of Oracle and SAP. As they say, follow the money.

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