On Friday, Microsoft completed its acquisition of Skype for $8.5 billion. This should be a huge red flag for corporations, but it’s not; Microsoft’s biggest customers are often unaware. Many of the top corporations have an unbelievably inefficient information architecture. Microsoft Sharepoint is the base for almost everything technology based at these companies, and everything by default runs on IIS and SQL Server because they are a “Microsoft company”. Microsoft’s creative licensing and support cost structures encourage the use of their full product suite. Once you sign up for one Microsoft product, they make it seem intuitive, by cost and technology, to use the rest. Microsoft lures in corporations with their big name, corporate suite, and supported products. Microsoft has really taken a hold on huge corporations by leveraging their brand and the fact that they provide full support. And out of fear of outages and not fully understanding the technology, huge corporations are encouraging this process. Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Skype will be no different. Skype was one of the few independent technologies emerging in the corporate world, and now it’s Microsoft owned as well.
When Microsoft first created its product suite, it was cutting-edge and something corporations should have embraced. Now, it’s not news that Microsoft is no longer on the cutting-edge for many of its products. But because corporations have spent so much money on training, licenses, and establishing a Microsoft based infrastructure, they are intimidated by change. Some even argue that change is unnecessary based on the “if it ain’t broke, why fix it” principle. Cost-benefit analyses have been done by the wrong people. Managers, even technology managers, may not be the proper parties to conduct these analyses. This is primarily because most technology managers at these large firms have been bred by Microsoft technologies. Room needs to be made in these corporations for a new breed of analysts and architects to have proper control to perform an assessment of technology. The benefits of moving towards new technologies are often undershot. Citing from my experience, proper implementation of a technology infrastructure may have upfront costs about 20% greater than current costs, but the five-year savings can be increased by up to 300% (case study coming soon).
Inefficiency in technology runs through the veins of these Fortune 500 companies and small businesses alike. What these companies don’t understand is that embracing open-source technologies, or any other technologies outside of Microsoft is not a bad bet. Sure support may have to be in house, but surprisingly enough, full development and maintenance is still scalable and could very possibly be cheaper than specialty Microsoft training, licenses, and products. An additional benefit is that the result would be a more efficient application. Not only would everything be done more efficiently, they could significantly cut overhead of all the Sharepoint licenses, and other Microsoft licenses. Think about how many handsomely paid Microsoft product SMEs there are. Why do there need to be so many Subject Matter Experts on the usage of individual Microsoft applications? Why not just hire architects and developers to create new, innovative, current, and cutting-edge products at a fraction of the cost?
Any organization built on Microsoft needs a re-evaluation of their information architecture. Sometimes Microsoft may be the best and most cost-effective option, but more often than not, it will not be. With the number of technologies and technology specialists out there, there is a vast market of custom, open-source, and off-the-shelf industrial and corporate level alternatives that can make your organization more cost-efficient and cutting-edge.