Government // Enterprise Architecture
Commentary
12/2/2011
02:19 PM
Eric  Lundquist
Eric Lundquist
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Microsoft Office, Enjoy Your Retirement

This nearly 30-year-old product should be headed for the sunset villa in this age of smartphones, cloud computing, and Facebook.

Please join me for the retirement party for the productivity software suite.

Our good friend word/spreadsheet/presentation has been an exemplary employee, even as he gained a few pounds as contact management, calendaring, and all sorts of other bits and pieces of the office routine were piled on. And while we can have fun arguing about which was the first such software product (Framework in 1984, Lotus Symphony at about the same time), we can all agree that Microsoft Office started occupying the corner office in 1989. So thank you very much for your service. Here's your gold watch. Now go play some golf.

It's hard to believe that a nearly 30-year-old product is still synonymous with office productivity during a period that has included the rise of the Internet, smartphones, cloud computing, and Facebook. So with the retirement party over, what's the shape of the new office suite?

Let's start with social. Believe me when I say your employees aren't spending their free moments creating PowerPoint decks. They're going to Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites to manage their lives and check on friends. Companies that try to restrict this activity are fighting a losing battle. Go down the hall and talk to your marketing department; they're all about inbound marketing, where brand activity on social networks translates into new customer leads and sales.

How about making your company's social networking goals an integral part of your employee social network activities? Instead of going through a Word upgrade, maybe Hootsuite or Nimble should be a central part of your productivity suite.

Application No. 2 has to be internal collaboration. Employees have escaped their cubes and are now mobile. Trying to communicate, make decisions, and manage projects in these far-flung companies is way beyond the capabilities of email and instant messaging. Maybe Box.com, Dropbox, Yammer, or, yes, Chatter, the product of Salesforce.com and its ever-effervescent CEO, Marc Benioff, should be the glue that ties collaboration together.

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No piece of that retiring office suite needs to slide into that sunset villa more desperately than slideware. It's beyond mathematics to fathom how many PowerPoint slides have been created since 1990, but let's just say it's a lot.

How many hours of productivity have been lost to decks of 100 or more slides featuring goofy animations and eye-chart-challenging rows of numbers? We may have missed our chance at a second renaissance while squinting at pie and bar charts. From now on the presentation program is all multimedia, including video of the boss talking while answering tweets from employees.

Social network management, collaboration, and lively presentation are ready to take on the office productivity duties as soon as word/spreadsheet/slideware clears out its desk.

Eric Lundquist,
VP and Editorial Analyst, InformationWeek
elundquist@techweb.com

The Enterprise Connect conference program covers the full range of platforms, services, and applications that comprise modern communications and collaboration systems. It happens March 25-29 in Orlando, Fla. Find out more.

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BHarrison2
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BHarrison2,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/12/2011 | 3:12:25 PM
re: Microsoft Office, Enjoy Your Retirement
So what happens to " the cloud" in the event of a hurricane, earthquake or other natural disaster that takes down the WAN . . . and how long might that disruption last? "The cloud" may be appropriate for a corporate net workbut I really do not envision it as being practical for the general public. The results "in a lab" are drastically different than in the real world.
Guest
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Guest,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/10/2011 | 7:35:02 AM
re: Microsoft Office, Enjoy Your Retirement
I agree that I don't know where the author is coming from when he writes that social network platforms are going to make a dent in productivity applications, but you could be doing everything you mention for free using Lotus Symphony, OpenOffice, LibreOffice, etc and MySQL, DB2-C, Postgre, etc as a back-end.... I don't know the scale of your business, but, if you have ERP and BI solutions, you should not need to exit those systems into Office for any reason. All of that manipulation should be done in the ERP/BI tools.
cxf
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cxf,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/8/2011 | 3:50:20 PM
re: Microsoft Office, Enjoy Your Retirement
Wrong. Neither Facebook, nor Twitter will be my development platform of choice when my business needs solid pivot tables around their seasonal sales forecasts per geo by accessing my BI databases, or to run massive fiscal year end close queries and integrating that data into my presentations real time, or to access my transactional database with with the exceptional charting capabilities of Excel real time and save the results to the Cloud using VBA. So few professionals even scratch the surface of what the suite can really do. The relevant issue is not what MS Office can do, it's what the majority of users can't.
Asphyxiation
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Asphyxiation,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/8/2011 | 4:37:36 AM
re: Microsoft Office, Enjoy Your Retirement
http://www.microsoft.com/press...

"Office 2010 continues to be the fastest-selling version of Microsoft Office in history with over 100 million licenses sold."

Yes. Well, I don't think Microsoft will be retiring that any time soon.

Also, you're way behind the times: "In June, Microsoft released Office 365 with familiar Microsoft Office collaboration and productivity tools delivered through the cloud."

You were saying?
Guest
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Guest,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/7/2011 | 7:45:33 PM
re: Microsoft Office, Enjoy Your Retirement
Are you familiar with the Microsoft Corporation? I would not consider them a triumph of free enterprise. Microsoft has relied on a monopoly to sell their software at prices that are 10-20x that of their competitors. Every component and software application in IT has gone down by a factor of two as a result of competition. Microsoft's products, more or less the same functionality as ten years ago, go up or stay flat. They block competitors from entering their markets by making integration extremely difficult.

Microsoft made $18.8 billion in profit last year, not sales, profit. I don't think making payroll is a major concern. Also, there is a big difference between hardware and software. You can only sell a server once (there are physical components). You can sell a software application millions of times.
Bklynboy
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Bklynboy,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/7/2011 | 7:26:41 PM
re: Microsoft Office, Enjoy Your Retirement
I agree with the general sentiment expressed by the other commenters, that collaboration is not a substitute for content creation tools, but an adjunct to them. Office or iWork are still indispensable for people who write legal briefs, business plans, create budgets or sales presentations. It is a wonderful advance in productivity to use instant messaging, screen sharing and version control/shared editing rights to enable multiple colleagues/customers/clients to participate in the content creation, but this does not entail dumping office productivity suites for social networking suites.

Moreover, the poor quality of written reports, slide decks and spreadsheets is not due to the poor quality of the currently available tools, but the poor quality of the creative and analytical skills of the content creators. Talented content creators create great content in the common office productivity suites. William F Buckley often touted word processing tools as the greatest boon to writing since the typewriter and Bill gates used slides as part of the transformation of marketing into a true performance art. Both of these consummate creators would have been hard pressed to do the same in Facebook or Twitter
TreeInMyCube
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TreeInMyCube,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/7/2011 | 6:31:14 PM
re: Microsoft Office, Enjoy Your Retirement
Apples and oranges, big time. The fact that people need to collaborate, and are using new forms of tools (e.g., social media, mobile apps) to do those tasks does NOT in any way eliminate the need for writing text documents and crunching numbers in spreadsheets.

To Eric L, the author -- I've read your brief reply to some of the comments, and it also misses the mark. While I may agree with you that mobile apps and social media constructs will form a key part of the basis for *new* productivity apps, and *new* business processes, that is not the point of your post/article. You spent hundreds of words talking about existing software, which has been used to address *existing* business processes, and you glibly declared it retired. What a load of rubbish!!! Are you seriously arguing that all the existing business processes, e.g., budgeting, forecasting, billing, are going to be performed using streaming video and location-aware smartphones? Apples and oranges, and I fully agree with OldUberGoober -- not everything is a nail.
gwilson153
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gwilson153,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/7/2011 | 6:21:04 PM
re: Microsoft Office, Enjoy Your Retirement
Eric - you are right on the money. The last time some really essential feature in Office arrived it was 1997, but MS needed new revenue so the upgrades kept coming and billions were spent in implementation and training.

Personally, I look forward to the funeral.
EricLundquist
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EricLundquist,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/7/2011 | 5:47:08 PM
re: Microsoft Office, Enjoy Your Retirement
Lots of comments around this analysis. Here is the bottom line as I see it. When you are under pressure to develop new productivity apps in your company, you will turn to social based, collaborative apps rather than new versions of traditional office apps.
EricLundquist
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EricLundquist,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/7/2011 | 5:47:08 PM
re: Microsoft Office, Enjoy Your Retirement
Lots of comments around this analysis. Here is the bottom line as I see it. When you are under pressure to develop new productivity apps in your company, you will turn to social based, collaborative apps rather than new versions of traditional office apps.
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