Roberto has an interesting post about the revenue opportunity for vendors that will aid customer migrations from MS Office to OpenOffice.org.
While vendors such as Sun, IBM, HP, Accenture, EDS, etc. may seize this opportunity, they’ll likely only be able to do so with large (Fortune 2000) customers. To be fair, this is a large enough market to get excited about. However, I suspect that Microsoft offers fairly competitive pricing to customers in this market segment. So, the migration business case will likely come down to more than a license cost discussion.
Customers outside of the Fortune 2000 are going to be more of a challenge. First, the large IT vendors don’t have great routes to these customers. It’s not for a lack of effort on the part of Sun, IBM, HP, Accenture, etc. Rather, this customer segment is more used to addressing their IT needs through a handful of trusted IT advisors. As it turns out, many (clearly not all) of these trusted IT advisors are Regional ISVs, Regional System Integrators or consultants that are Microsoft Business Partners.
As Leif Lodahl comments on Roberto’s blog:
“I would rather point my fingers of those Microsoft Business Partners, that provide customers with no choice (as to select Microsoft Office).
First step will be the customers to ask their business software providers if they can deliver a solution without vendor lock-in.”
While Leif acutely pinpoints the problem, I’m not sure that the solution is as simple as it’s made out to be. First off, the customer has had a long relationship with the trusted RISV/RSI/Consultant. So, when the trusted IT advisor suggests a solution that includes Microsoft technologies, few customers are going to challenge that premise. Second, what impetus does the Microsoft Business Partner have for endorsing a solution without Microsoft technologies including MS Office? Remember, that these partners have often made significant investments to become experts in Microsoft technologies. In fact, most of their pre-canned application assets rely on Microsoft technologies. Also, the integration that Microsoft offers with .NET & MS Office makes it really easy for MS Business Partners to build solutions that rely on MS Office. Switching out MS Office for OpenOffice.org in these situations is likely not an impossible challenge. But is it a challenge that a MS Business Partner wants to take up?
A new set of business partners, aligned with OpenOffice.org, could address the small & medium business market without having to make the tradeoff decisions that a current MS Business Partner would. However, these vendors will face the challenge of breaking into the “trusted IT advisor” ranks. It won’t be impossible, but it’ll be an uphill battle. However, over the long run, I would suspect a larger opportunity for OpenOffice.org migrations in this customer segment than the Fortune 2000.
What do you think?