WPC 2012: All About Windows 8, Cloud Playing Second Fiddle


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It is always exciting to visit WPC, Micorosoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference, and this year was no exception. WPC 2012 was a lot more international and a lot more dynamic then 2011 – as Guus Krabbenborg at MSDynamicsWorld.com reported, WPC 2012 welcomed over 16,000 people from 156 countries in Toronto – an all time high for attendance, with about 3,000 Microsoft Dynamics-related partners. The banner theme this year was no doubt Windows 8 – Microsoft’s new operating system, a single platform for multiple device management, with a big emphasis on portability between desktops, laptops, mobile devices and tablets. Azure and other cloud offerings and solutions were certainly present but not as front and center as they were in 2011, when the buzz was all about the cloud.

There is no doubt that the consumerization of IT is having a profound impact on our entire technology ecosystem affecting everyone in its way – from infrastructure and platform vendors to software and application providers. Not only is the rapid consumer adoption of mobile devices and tablets pushing our industry to think multi-channel and multi-device, it is affecting how design interfaces get planned and designed. Windows 8 affirms this – its interface is dramatically different from what one may be used to, following touchscreen conventions and fully adapted for portability. The good news for the end consumer is that the promised seamless user experience, allowing consumers (and increasingly now business users) to move from one device to the next – a standard set by Apple, is coming to the Microsoft ecosystem.

In that sense, the new Windows 8 signals another fundamental shift in technology, that of technology finally adapting to how people get their jobs done and not the other way around. Yes, technology is finally starting to follow us and how we do things, shadowing us as we move through our days, at work and home.

The multi-channel and multi-device shift has profound implications for the tech sector across all dimensions – some already quite pronounced, others still developing. Cloud is here to stay – but as Scribe Software’s CEO Lou Guercia stated in a recent blog post, we are not there yet. Even though an increasing majority of companies are accelerating their trust in cloud solutions, confident that the cloud is viable for mission-critical business applications, with big data and CRM topping the list, there is a sizable business population that is still on the sidelines. Most businesses still operate hybrid environments (over 51% based on a recent Scribe Software report on the State of Customer Data Integration), which at least in the short term, is straining the IT function. Not only do CIOs and CTOs need to think about interoperability between devices and portability of applications, now they are faced with a data integration conundrum that is bound to get only more complex. Without lack of standards and concerns around cloud vendor lock-in, IT departments and software vendors alike need to choose sides – which platforms to develop on, how to store their data, and how to make that data portable and available in real time for all those business stakeholders that need it. Sales is pushing for more accurate and real-time data so the sales force can be more effective and close more and faster. Marketing is demanding a complete view of their customer and the customer interactions not only across channels but across all devices so marketing teams can effectively engage the customer and retain their loyalty. Customer service is getting inundated with services calls and increasingly by posts from social channels where data comes in messy and hard-to-read formats. Not to mention finance, trying to run elaborate models on revenue performance and drivers, increasingly relying on real-time customer data to provide accurate forecasts.

So it may seem like things will get worse before they get better. But then maybe not. As business needs evolve and business leaders push for more sophisticated solutions to accelerate their businesses, while being responsive and social, big and large companies alike will push our industry toward a much-needed rationalization and simplification. We are seeing the rise of the specialized agent – people, platforms, software and applications that can do specific jobs really well, like applications that connecting customer data from on-premise ERP applications to cloud CRM systems, and doing so in real time and without any coding. Interfaces are being developed and implemented to minimize the effort to move from one application to the next by abstracting the specific application endpoint from the integration process itself, while preserving much of the data integration logic.

So it is no surprise that Microsoft focused on Windows 8 at WPC this year – cloud, although a key element of the computing fabric of today and the future, is only an enabler of the things businesses and people need to get done. To paraphrase James Carville, it is the customer, stupid! And the customer will continue to set the agenda for what comes next – and that future seems more mobile, more responsive, and most likely happening in the cloud.

Peter Chase
Peter founded Scribe Software along with Jim Clarke in the beginning of 1996. As Executive Vice President, Business Development, Peter is responsible for establishing and growing partnerships with other leading technology companies in support of Scribe's overall market and product strategy. Prior to founding Scribe, Peter held senior positions in sales, product marketing, and finance at SNAP Software, an early pioneer in CRM software that was acquired by Dun and Bradstreet. He has published numerous articles and whitepapers and is a frequent speaker and panelist at industry events.


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