“Through our evolution from Windows to Works and Office on the desktop and similarly on the server front as well as on-line technology delivery, we have moved from being the underdog to a player that has consistently showcased our tenacity,” shares Fakhoury.
Talking about tenacity, Fakhoury’s strategy for 2009, particularly with the uncertain economic outlook is to build and reinforce long term relationships with its customers, particularly in the enterprise domain.
“We are armed with our – People Ready- message and this means working with our customers to help them make the transition from seeing IT as a cost to a strategic investment,” he adds.
Building on technology’s play as a cost effectiveness and productivity management tool, the direction will now be focused on enabling customers to do four key things – build an optimised infrastructure; build an environment for information; deliver services and applications internally and ensure security. “We are trying to make things as simple as we can for the customer,” Fakhoury emphasises.
A look ahead
So what lies ahead for the economy in general and IT in particular? “Companies in my view are going to look closely at IT investments and select in most cases, the most cost effective solution. Diligent investment is the flavour for the year,” he says.
According to Fakhoury, this is the reason why he believes that Microsoft is going to be more likeable than ever in the year ahead. “We are geared to enable cost effective IT operations for customers,” he says.
At the same time, Microsoft is also gathering up a storm of integrated solution delivery models focused on helping customers do more with less. “Double purchase has dogged companies for many years, but now organisations are forced to keep a grip on what they have and plan on how they can do more with less,” says Fakhoury.
IT, now a way of life
As Microsoft expands its play with its enterprise solutions portfolio, Fakhoury says the underlying strategy is to make IT a way of life for its users. On the business solutions front, the market also looks alive to Microsoft’s offer ranging from its SQL database to its BI and analytics tool.
“We have been gaining momentum on BI and we are looking to add the core strengths of Microsoft – ease of use and user experience – to enable widespread adoption,” he adds.
According to him, customers in the next year are going to be involved in developing rationalised IT strategies, a trend that can only boost Microsoft’s play to drive tech into the volume market.
Rising to the cloud
If we have to look at one thing that Microsoft got the market talking about, that would have to be its software plus services strategy. Add to that its move to embrace cloud computing and you have a story to discuss. So what’s on the cloud for Fakhoury’s team?
“I want to detach the concept from the hype currently surrounding this term. For me, the cloud is a tool to help people connect to their environment and our software+services strategy means giving people the choice on how to do that,” he adds.
A number of new launches from Microsoft have been tracing this curve. Windows Azure for instance, launched as a developer ecosystem for web-based application development is part of the software+services direction that will be using the Windows environment. “The concept is not new, but it is expanded,” he says.
The Windows Azure project has two focus areas – for developers to use Windows environment hosted on the cloud and develop web-applications and as a delivery platform for on-line Microsoft applications including excel. The company is drawing up a support strategy that will enable SLA based support for customers using this environment.
Further substantiation for Microsoft’s community focused initiatives also came from the OLPC (One Lap Top Per Child) Project’s decision to offer low cost PCs with Microsoft OS. “This certainly has put us right back in the centre of community projects and contributing to the ecosystem to connect the next five billion,” Fakhoury says.
Looking ahead, Fakhoury says the economic downturn has not made this region any less absorbing for Microsoft. “The emerging Middle East market is global at all levels and our focus remains on bringing value and global strengths to this market,” he says.
Partner ecosystem, unlimited potential solution strategy, skills development, early investment and a long term view – Microsoft certainly appears be gearing up to be what you want it to be.