August 29, 2007
software + services explained
This cartoon is now in Steve Clayton's collection. All to do with a conversation about Microsoft [Steve's employer] that we were having a few weeks ago.
Basically, with software companies, you have a balance of two axes: 1. How much of your offering is software vs. How much of your offering is services 2. How much of your offering resides in "the cloud", vs. How much of your offering resides on the desktop/handheld/personal object etc.
The ideal answer, of course, is that there's no right answer. In theory one should be able to change at moment's notice, and the software company should be able to accommodate said change at equally moment's notice. As Steve says,
Microsoft wants to be right there in the middle. The user gets to pick where they wanna be. I wonder if I can get Ray Ozzie to use this :)[This cartoon has been added to the Blue Monster cartoon series etc.]
Posted by hugh macleod at August 29, 2007 6:51 AM
Well it's an interesting hypothesis but (yes cumudgeonly hat on again) it reads like sitting on the fence. Worse still, it leaves the customer with no idea about the available choices and what they mean.
The premise that there is no right answer is great if you're a marketer, hokum if you're looking to add value.
We do know that Microsoft is happy to make all sorts of development investments. Provided it keeps the desktop alive. So tell me, just how equidistant are those arrowheads supposed to be?
Dennis, if you have a better mousetrap in mind, build it ;-)
Nothing to do with mousetraps - to do with value. Gr8 you've chosen the 'mousetrap' metaphor BTW, now I can really go after this one ;)
It would be my observation that over time, some parts of services become software and some parts of the cloud move to the desktop. This normal evolution occurs because
1) services become distributed to more and more people, enabled by software and
2) individuals claim more control of the cloud by having the portions they require on their desktop.
This pattern should guide future developments. History tells us that there is a right answer. It's power to the people.
Dennis, I look forward to it, as always ;-)
"it reads like sitting on the fence."
Dennis, Aha! You missed the point. There. Is. No. Fence. To. Sit. On.
Hugh - depends on your perspective.
@Hugh - nice try but it doesn't reflect where Microsoft is or where it *says* it wants to be. In any and all discussions I've had with Microsoft on the applications front and as confirmed in recorded presentations by numerous Microsoft execs, it is all about preserving Office as the central component that holds everything together which in turn means the desktop OS.
If this represents a fundamental shift in MSFT's position, then I'd rather hear it from Steve Ballmer. He, after all, runs the company. But if he does agree, then there had better be a clear and unequivocal strategy to back it up.
To say there is no right answer is a fence position isn't it? For many applications today, there are very clear 'right' answers. Lots of variables will dictate that position.
To put this back at the customer and say 'the user gets to pick where they wanna be' is crazy. How many users make those sorts of decision? They don't. They simply want to get stuff done. They could care less whether it is cloud computing or at the desktop. The people who do care are the IT guys trying to keep all the moving parts working on ever restrictive budgets.
As I've said before, I don't bet against Microsoft but I will call marketing puff when I see it. It's a great idea but reads like motherhood and apple pie. You've a long way to go before folk will swallow that one. IMO.
I would say that multi-device services like Jaiku or twitter with their APIs etc. are trying to span the whole spectrum from cloud to desktop (or any other device, such as mobile)
In general it seems that this second axis is becoming less important as we're moving away from the old server-client distinction and enter the age of ubiquitous computing.
i think it provides the customer with *more* choices. not always what they need but the services disruption is driving that. True to form the software industry will probably make those choices wildly complex with some new fangled language and adverts to boot....I'm looking forward to using the cartoon to bring some semblance of simplicity :)
A good talking point but not a valid 2-axis representation. A service can almost never fully reside on the desktop. In almost every case it has a 'cloud' element e.g. for update of service information.
Also, if an element (of Software or Service) is not on the desktop - it can be anywhere (from the user's perspective) - it just has to work.
Cost (low to high) might be better for the vertical axis.
BTW, Steve-O should have rustled this up himself ages ago.
Good luck Hugh with your public sucking up to MS for a gig - nothing wrong with that, and you are a smart cookie so goodness knows they need people like you.
But this story is really very simple. In a world that is gradually moving towards SaaS and the cloud, MS is fighting a rearguard action to preserve its Office desktop cash cow by making up the category of software + services, as in Windows + Windows Genuine Advantage - ok ... bit cruel that one ;-)
There is nothing wrong with the play per se, and Mac users have a wealth of free tools that connect to cloud services (e.g. NNW) to prove it. But in the case of MS, it is simply a rearguard revenue protection action that plays on the ignorance of corporate consumers in particular.
Sad to say, my friend, but this cartoon is meaningless.
Hm - very interesting and a very happy intersection if your business is providing *real* differentiated physical services along with software the resides either in the cloud or the desktop (or iPhone, etc...).
Like if MSFT suddenly started to offer to have techs come to your home and fix your BSOD and they'll be there in (you, the user, pick, 60 minutes, 2 hours, next day, etc.). Now that would be a game changer and it would probably be a great customer service experience for the user (presumably in the middle). It'd be like moving the "genius bars" at Apple Stores out into the wide world... but it seems very few companies give a sh*t about great service anymore... which maybe explains why they want to sell their software AS a service, to make up for what they don't want to offer anymore.
Heh. We'll see, Lee, we'll see...
Hope all is going well at Headshift...
1. Not sure software and services are on opposite axes, as services may come from elsewhere (network, hardware adaptors for eg) - but the overall point is good, ie axis from "component provision" to "service provision".
2. There is something else going on in the client/service axis, ie the breaking up of the "client" into multiple clients being assembled for a service (widgets, mashups etc,) supported by a host of transactions that previously were in the single system.