To Microsoft, Or Not To Microsoft? - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // CIO Insights & Innovation
04:08 PM
John Soat
John Soat

To Microsoft, Or Not To Microsoft?

Dave Robinson has an autographed photo of Bill Gates in his office.

Dave Robinson has an autographed photo of Bill Gates in his office.Dave is the CIO of Lockton Companies, the largest independent insurance broker in the United States. I interviewed Dave for InformationWeek's recent story on Bill Gates and his legacy in the computer industry that I wrote with my colleague John Foley.

Dave is a Microsoft man. "When I came to Lockton one of the first decisions we made was that we were going to be Microsoft centric-desktop and backoffice-that we were going to standardize on Microsoft technology," he says.

The primary motivating factors for standardizing on Microsoft technology, Dave says, were its cost effectiveness and its "uniformity with the rest of the business world." He doesn't regret the decision. "We've been able to continue to take care of our business with what we've been doing with Microsoft," he says.

He does admit, though, that there were some hard times in the past, particularly around licensing and support issues. Dave resented Microsoft's "take it or leave it" attitude, and the fact that his Microsoft reps didn't make an effort to get "close enough to us to know our pain."

However, Microsoft changed that attitude about four years ago. "They don't play it as a monopoly anymore," Dave says.

He admits that putting all your eggs in one vendor's basket can be a gamble, but it helps to have someone to work with, to share the risks and rewards of emerging technology. "I've pretty much put my career on the deliverables from that company, and I think it's been smart," he says. "I need them to be successful. You can't do this job alone."

That autographed photo of Bill Gates? It came by way of a Microsoft rep, to make up for a missed appointment, when Dave was scheduled to meet with Gates one-on-one at a CIO Summit in Redmond.

All relationships are not created equal, I guess.

How about you? Does aligning your technology strategy with a single vendor make sense? If so, which one--Microsoft, Oracle, SAP? The list gets shorter every day.

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