Congratulations to Steve Vamos for picking a brilliant week for a heart-to-heart with the IT press corp. He may not have been able to predict it, but amidst much ado about the government’s prematurely leaked IT Steering Committee report, Vamos’ admission that Licensing 6.0 had not worked as well as the company hoped went down with not so much as a slight whimper. No victorious war-dances from CIOs. No grand “I told you so” from the competition. Just one very profitable quarter behind the company. Game, set and match — Microsoft!
Well, it ain’t got nothin’ to do with vested interests of the channel, but you’ve got to love the clever way the suddenly communicative, new-age Microsoft works. Vamos told the industry what the industry already knew, except by doing so, he took the impetus for further scrutiny out of the equation.
It is a coup for the man on a mission to “broaden the perceptions of Microsoft” towards an image of a company that “helps its customers and partners get the value from what they buy from us”.
To that end, Vamos intends to “learn from customer feedback” and “articulate and deliver” value where it has been lacking — as in Licensing 6.0 and Windows XP, both of which have faced a tough-minded market. And then, he will try and strengthen relationships between customers and partners in order to benefit both.
This may be a soul-searching Microsoft on a self-reinvention trip, but the fact is that neither “benefits” nor “value” would be delivered in the form of price changes to the program that has been perceived as prohibitively expensive for the enterprise, and — despite anything Microsoft would say on the topic — a very hard-sell for the reseller. In other words, no matter what improvements are to be made to the sales pitch, customers with the aptitude for twisting certain parts of executive anatomy would still squeeze you to bend on price. And they will squeeze hard!
Of course, it is not in Vamos’ powers to deliver on price. Microsoft prices are generally set first in Redmond, and then in stone. But one wonders how much value are adjustments of other aspects of the program — be they changes to service, logistics or terms and conditions, going to make to a market driven by cost-cutting considerations.
Now that the topic is out in the open, at least one thing is clear — Microsoft — the notoriously controlling communicator — is finally willing to talk straight. Or maybe Vamos’ media-savvy in announcing the program to change the company’s public perception has worked even before the pics of Microsoft’s execs kissing babies have hit the press? Toss a coin.