Microsoft president and COO Richard Belluzzo conceded on Thursday that the company needs to do a better job of collaborating with enterprise customers and partners as it pushes its .Net vision.
"We do have to change the way we collaborate with customers," said Belluzzo, speaking at the Forrester Executive Strategy Forum on the X Internet. "Traditionally, we deploy, horizontally, lots of applications. This is very 'low-touch.' Now we need to engage enterprise customers at a new level."
Belluzzo said that new approach will involve spending more time on professional services consulting and working in-house with users on their IT deployments. When visiting with current customers today, he said that they are demanding a Microsoft that sticks around to solve problems and "makes more proposals."
What's driving a more hands-on tack is the need of users to see a quick return on investment. "This is essential. Customers are placing big bets on IT," he said.
At the enterprise level, in particular, Belluzzo said that Microsoft is still in a fight against IBM, Sun Microsystems, and others, acknowledging that the software giant needs to continue boosting the scalability, reliability, and manageability of its products.
At its core, the .Net platform, as well as corresponding tools suites such as Visual Studio.Net and the Passport service, represents the kind of integrated software that will aid companies in finding ROI and efficiencies in their businesses, he said.
A number of attendees wondered how the company can instill confidence in its ability to collect and store information through Passport and other .Net services when it has been the victim of so many security breaches of its current products.
In defence, Belluzzo argued that Microsoft products are a natural target for hackers and virus creators based on the sheer volume of users for its Outlook, Passport, and Hotmail services.
But on the other hand, Belluzzo acknowledged that Microsoft has done a poor job of communicating security problems quickly to its customers, something that the new emphasis on collaboration should help to alleviate.
"We have a lot of work to do on our security model," Belluzzo said. "We think our products are as secure as anybody's, but think they are not secure enough."