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I was reading a recent memo from Steve Balmer to MSFT employees. He talks about key priorities for MSFT going forward. The one thing that stood out for me was the software plus services model. While this was low on details, I'm assuming that this is a platform strategy. With this cloud (MSFT's term), users can access the same application on multiple devices. The same cloud could be used to develop and deliver apps. This is exactly what Google has already done. The current advantage for MSFT is in owning richer applications on the platform. Google is catching up fast on the both the quality and quantity of applications. MSFT may be willing to subsidize the apps through advertising and this leaves very little to differentiate with the business models. Once MSFT's cloud is operational, the competition will be back to features and functions.
I have now visited several companies that are KPO service providers. The evolution from IT services to BPO to KPO seems quite obvious now. In the earlier days, Indian IT vendors simply provided the IT services and the clients worried about how the IT investment provided productivity gains via improved processes that created better services, products and competitive capability. Once the vendors realized that IT supports a process these processes came into focus and this launched the BPO industry. In the earlier era vendors focused on the data that these processes generated and helped the clients capture and store this data. Ultimately, this data reveals what is going on with the client’s business. This is where KPO comes in. Vendors realized that they could provide services that would provide insight into the business by analyzing the data and interpreting that to provide advisory services on how to improve/change the process and improve competitive positioning. This has created a demand for statisticians, modeling experts and people with deep knowledge of the domain. In a later posting, I will try to show how these services provide leverage points for both providers and consumers of these services.
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