When i first met Martin “Get The Facts” Taylor, general manager of platform strategy at Microsoft, I expected a bit of rough and tumble. I am not an open source bigot, but i must admit to extreme skepticism over some of the materials and approaches used by Microsoft in its campaign to change perceptions that LAMP environments offer lower TCO than Microsoft equivalents.
What struck me really powerfully when i met him though was that Martin is such a great listener. He is a joined up listener too – you can talk for five minutes and he will soak it all up. Before coming back with a reasonable response, addressing every point you just brought up, stepwise. He may not be a coder but he certainly doesnt lack in logic.
But while Martin is all about the conversation, Get The Facts tends to feel like a broadcast. I don’t know about you, but i tend to tune out a lot of the ads…
Then again, I originally thought enterprise customers would see through the GTF campaign as propaganda. Well sure they did. But if you are a Windows supporter, it certainly helps to have a bunch of materials to give the CFO when you want to push back against other noises in the organizations agitating for non-Microsoft solutions. I am latterly beginning to see the power of the campaign, even though some of the content still makes me feel queasy. I have been wondering how IT history might have turned out if IBM had helped its mainframe customers with a Get The Facts campaign, making the economic argument against minicomputers and Unix more clearly back in the day.
I know that today IBM sales people are running into situations where the buyer is fully Get The Facts primed. What does that mean–well it means Martin’s strategy is working. Remember that IBM has a massive enterprise sales force, while Microsoft doesn’t.
Martin wanted to take the passion out of the argument, to draw its sting. I am not sure he succeeded but he is setting the terms of the debate.
At the end of the face to face meeting i told Martin he needed to find a way to scale. How can you have a thousand Martin Taylors out there talking to the market? That is, to make it clear that Microsoft is listening to customers and competitors, not just broadcasting FUD. Well Martin just went a long way to achieving just that with a slashdot interview. He acquitted himself very well, as many slashdotters aknowledge.
My suggestion to Microsoft Corporation – get these guys blogging. That could be a big step in making Get The Facts more conversational and less confrontational.