Microsoft Deepens Investment
in Consulting Industry
Microsoft Dynamics addresses CRM and ERP needs of the
consulting industry, with the look and feel of other MS software
When most people think about Microsoft,
office automation products come to mind that
employees use daily, such as Office, SharePoint
and Outlook. After hours, they might kick back
with Microsoft entertainment products like
XBOX and Kinect.
But over the last several years, the Redmond,
Wash.-based giant has quietly been investing a
chunk of its sizable R&D spend in six vertical
industries around its Microsoft Dynamics suite
of business applications, which includes
Customer Relationship Management and
Enterprise Resource Planning. These solutions
have been designed to manage business
functions on site or, increasingly, in the cloud.
The IT and management consulting industry,
which stands to spend $1.2 billion on CRM and
ERP software this year, according to IDC,
represents one of Microsoft’s targeted markets.
Reporters recently sat down with Ted Kempf,
service industries director for Microsoft
Dynamics, to talk about Microsoft’s strategy and
innovative approach to meeting the practice
needs of management and IT consulting firms.
Why did Microsoft decide to invest in the IT
and management consulting sector?
Kempf: The services sector represents about
What are the biggest challenges in the
30% of the GDP in the U.S. alone, excluding
financial services, according to the U.S. Bureau
of Economic Analysis. That’s on par with
other developed countries. Here in the U.S.,
professional services is one of our fastest-
growing segments. By 2018, professional and
business services are expected to represent 22
million jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor
Statistics. That’s one of the largest segments
that we have in the U.S. It’s surpassing state
and local governments.
consulting marketplace today regarding
We see a number of challenges in the industry.
Firms are developing a global footprint with
resources dispersed across the U.S. and
abroad. Firms have to manage each consultant’s
talents and performance regardless of their
It’s equally important to manage intellectual
capital. You’ve got to have the ability to capture
and reuse content and procedures to make
sure you’re not reinventing the wheel every time
you engage in a project.
Business development is another challenge.
The business climate looks much better than it
did in 2009. But firms are having to step up
their business development activities – not just
in the way they’re running campaigns and
managing accounts to make them more
efficient, but giving the firm real visibility into
the business. Part of that is tying client
information back to your ERP products, so
you have complete visibility into these accounts
from one system.
The fourth key point is service delivery. After
you’ve won the project, you must deliver on it in
a predictable, repeatable and profitable way. So
a core component to project execution is
picking the right people to work on those
projects. Then you wrap around all those
proven project methodologies and tools. After
you’ve won the deal, it’s about managing the
What challenges do most firms face when
implementing new solutions?
Kempf: I see three big issues. The No. 1
inhibitor to implementing enterprise software is
fear of change. Most people don’t like change,