I seem to be running a hard core diversity theme at the moment, but i have a few more words to say on the subject. Having recently had lunch with Microsoft’s UK head of analyst relations, Tracey Pretorius, i have been meaning to make a couple of notes on the subject.
I really like Tracey for her fresh, friendly but take no prisoners attitude. She has even been known to get in Martin Taylor’s face, which if you have seen this photo (look into my eyes look into my eyes), you will know takes the right stuff. Tracey has a Southern hemishere fearlessness, being South African.
At lunch we talked about what it really means to act local. To be part of the local landscape and perceived that way. Portuguese hate being lumped in with Spaniards. Germans like process and they are good at it. The English really are a bastard amalgam of hard charging Anglo Saxon capitalism with left leaning socialistic urges – how do you sell to that? For Microsoft the challenge of being local is given extra impetus with the hand to hand combat against open source in the public sector. You better understand local motivations if you want to start bashing Linux. Oh yeah–and be careful about that in Finland, or you could run into some national pride. The Danes have done a great job of encouraging Microsoft into open standards for office documents. Europe is not a single market, just like open source isn’t a single community. Tracey has a clear understanding of these challenges, but also how the analyst market is way more fragmented over here.
Gartner kept Meta folks in Europe because its smaller rival had a strong enterprise consulting presence, particularly in the UK and Scandinavia. In Germany you want to check out the folks at Strategy Partners. The supposed “European Firms”, Ovum, Bloor, even Datamonitor and so on, are in reality UK based and focused. But mostly we don’t see ourselves as geographical analysts. We live here, so we know the lie of the lands better, but that doesn’t mean we’re an expert in Italian IT, say (although i can tell you that Italy remains an oustanding market for IBM’s iSeries platform and has some really interesting Linux desktop banking deployments at the moment)
Compliance challenges is an area where Europe can certainly teach the US a thing or two. You think Sarbanes-Oxley is hard to deal with? How about if you had to cope with a different interpretation of SOX in every state you do business? If say, you had to keep copies of every email in Nevada, but had to destroy every one in Ohio? Europe is the home of bureacracy, after all, and regulation. So learn from it.
I have to say, in some respects, Microsoft looked more European five years ago than it does today; the organization felt more decentralized and so local. The EU antitrust situation of course doesn’t help. But a message from me to senior Microsoft managers–the EU is not on an anti-American jihad. Don’t confuse Boeing vs Airbus with Microsoft vs EU. This is all about complexity management, not black and whites. Anyone wants to talk about the issue I am more than game. We’re not out to get you. As an Anglo American I ask
you’ll have to apologize for you to please forgive my multiple identities and gear changes in this piece.
It struck me over lunch that Tracey has her eye on a greater prize. Tracey wants to deal with European complexity, not just local UK issues. If Heinz Gras, the rather good incumbent, who has created strong ties between European analysts and Microsoft Corp, decides to move on, i am pretty sure Tracey would do a good job of backfilling. A South African, born of the rainbow nation, helping Americans to understand European diversity. That is the reality of globalization. That is what Thomas Friedman calls Flattening.