Earlier this week I was at the Microsoft Dynamics Convergence conference in Houston, Texas. Since this was my first time at the conference, several people gleefully informed me that I was a “Convergence virgin.”
In addition to my title, I frequently heard the word “speed” or concepts related to it during the four-day event. Kevin Turner, chief operating officer, gave the opening keynote and the theme of his speech was that it was a “new era” for technology, a new era for business, and a new era for Microsoft.
In discussing the key components of this new era, e.g., the cloud industry going mainstream and the consumerization of IT, Turner also emphasized Microsoft’s dedication to faster product releases.
“Speed is very important to our business,” Turner said to more than10,000 attendees.
Unlike young startups, Microsoft hails from an era when new releases occurred years apart. To keep up with younger companies like Salesforce.com, which rolls out new updates several times a year, Microsoft announced that it was speeding up the pace for new releases of its products, including CRM and ERP applications.
Microsoft has already been putting out new releases of its Dynamics CRM products about every six months and it vows to do the same for many of its ERP applications as well.
Turner could have been talking about any other business as customers increasingly demand the latest and greatest of a product—NOW. Fast is good. The problem is if it is associated with rushed products.
Remember Windows Vista? If you don’t remember what happened, here’s a quick recap: intended to be an improvement of the Windows XP operating system, Windows Vista was instead criticized for being released with too many bugs to make it a feasible platform. What’s worse, it hurt the company’s reputation and made its competitor, Apple, seem even better.
Of course, that was back in 2008 and Microsoft has largely redeemed itself with Windows 7 and possibly with the upcoming Windows 8 as well.
Microsoft is wise to acknowledge the importance of speed in business but there are plenty of other companies that are aware of it as well. Time will tell which company actually gets it right.