Thoughts on what businesses actually need from the Cloud, not what vendors wish they needed.

Chris Bliss

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“Be what’s next” and the irony behind Microsoft’s new slogan

If you haven’t heard already, it’s now close to official: Microsoft is trademarking “Be what’s next” as their newest slogan. Compared with the current tagline (“Your potential, our passion”) it’s not a bad change, and when paired with their expanding line of cloud-based software it’s a clear indication of where Microsoft is moving (the cloud).

Thing is, I’m not sure if the slogan’s imperative is aimed toward Microsoft’s clients (ie use our products to “be what’s next”), or toward Microsoft itself (ie c’mon you slumbering beast, “be what’s next”). The marketer in me is 99% sure it’s the former, but the consumer/consultant/realist wants to think it’s the latter. We’ve been hard on Microsoft in the past, but it’d be awesome (awesome!) if they stepped up their services to really embrace cloud computing, SaaS and all the innovations therein. The cloud is what’s next – in fact, it’s been “next” for a decade now – and it’s about time it went mainstream.

Unfortunately, that’s not really what Microsoft is doing. Their largest pseudo-SaaS offering to-date, the unfortunately named “BPOS” (“Business Productivity Online Suite”), is a lame attempt to extend traditional Office functionality online. Sharepoint/Exchange/Windows 7 Phone, all of it: why doesn’t Microsoft step back, assess the market today, and design solutions from the ground up? So long as they avoid doing so they’ll continue burping out the same tired old designs, and their competition (*cough* Google *cough*) will continue their digital coup d’état.

I think Microsoft is heading in absolutely the right direction, but I also think they’re years behind. Their target audience already knows what’s next (Salesforce grew 31% last year): it’s high time for Microsoft to cut the crap and eat some of their own medicine.

For your enjoyment, here’s the video a MS employee leaked showing off the new slogan:

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Chris Bliss works at VM Associates, an end-user consultancy for businesses looking to move to the cloud from pre-existing legacy systems.