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  • Microsoft to Set Up 10 Back Office Migration Centers
  • May 6, 1998 (TOKYO) -- Microsoft Co., Ltd. of Japan plans to establish 10 Back Office Migration Centers (BOMCs) in a move to more quickly expand its market share among small- and medium-sized companies.
    It has been working with leading office computer vendors to establish BOMCs. BizTech talked to Kazushi Sato, director of Microsoft's channel marketing division, about the company's BOMC strategy.

    The so-called "officon" or office computer grew up as a uniquely Japanese computer concept for computerizing overall business applications for small- and medium-sized companies. Computer dealers provide those companies with cradle-to-grave support from computer installation through operation and maintenance.

    The BOMC is a strategic organization to spread Windows NT and BackOffice products to small- and medium-sized company users. It is organized to develop technology and sales support activities to port the applications for office computers to BackOffice/Windows NT.

    In July 1997 Uchida Yoko Co., Ltd. opened the first BOMC. In 1998, Toshiba Information Equipments Co., Ltd. and NEC Techno-Service Ltd. opened BOMCs as well. Microsoft has steadily included the leading office computer vendors as its partners.

    BizTech: As of April 1998, how many office computer vendors established BOMCs?

    Sato: At present it is six companies, which are Uchida Yoko, Kyudenko Corp., Sumisho Computer Systems Corp., Toshiba Information Equipments, NEC Techno-Service and KK Ashisuto. In December 1997 we set a goal to establish 10 BOMCs by the end of June 1998, but we are a little behind the plan in attaining that goal. It will be delayed to the summer of this year.

    BizTech: You said you have been slow in establishing the BOMCs. Is it because the office computer vendors are not interested in them?

    Sato: No, it isn't. It is because they are slow in changing their internal organizations. Such vendors had a vertical structure for the conventional type of computer business specializing in business types and applications. But a horizontal structure is necessary for BOMCs.

    Special knowhow about the business type and application is important. But what is required at present is the organization that collect such knowhow as database and Internet-related technologies, which can be used as the common platform.

    The management of the office computer vendors has a sense of crisis due the shrinking of the office computer market, the problems of conforming to the year 2000 date change and other challenges. As the trend of the times progresses, they are increasingly interested in client/server systems.

    BizTech: Taking the year 2000 problem as a chance, are you planning to transfer the existing office computer systems of small- and medium-sized companies completely to Windows NT and BackOffice products?

    Sato: Microsoft wishes we could do so, but we know it is difficult to actually do so. This is because the environment of the current office computer users is quite diversified in terms of all the points from business types/industries, business applications and business scales.

    Therefore, some users may select BackOffice products as their means to solve the year 2000 problems, and some others may patch their existing office computer systems. I don't think, however, that it is wise to tailor them as necessary when problems occur.

    BizTech: Do you think you already have a lineup of BackOffice-based business applications for office computers?

    Sato: I can't tell you in detail the number of applications. We are currently working hard to increase various kinds of business applications. Microsoft set our target for that at the terminating point of the year 2000 problem, or the year 2001.

    Before that, we would like to have completed such administration applications as accounting and human resource management as well as such vertical applications like manufacturing, distribution, construction and welfare.

    In addition, in order to increase such compliant applications, we need cooperation from the business partners of the office computer vendors which established BOMCs, and the software houses that have been developing the business type and business industry-specific applications for office computers.

    Uchida Yoko has already called through its USAC association to its partners such as cooperative software houses and sales shops. Toshiba Information Equipments and NEC Techno-Service have not yet because they have a lot of partners.

    BizTech: In order to increase the number of applications, what kind of backup support is Microsoft providing to the office computer vendors which established BOMCs?

    Sato: We provide them with related information, technology and sales support. Our role is to provide the information necessary to the office computer vendors and to arrange an environment for them in which they will have no difficulty working.

    The information provision includes not only the latest BackOffice products, but also related applications developed by other companies. Besides, we want to offer some places or occasions where our vendors exchange information with each other.

    As for the technology support, we are thinking of providing what is related with the BackOffice products, and providing a special training program and something like that for the vendors' system engineers who have knowhow of each business area so that they understand such products better.

    We are planning to provide our sales support on some general-purpose BackOffice applications that we think will attract our partners.

    BizTech: You said before that you are going to set up 10 BOMCs by the summer of 1998. Does that include Fujitsu Ltd.'s office computer vendors?

    Sato: Yes. We don't know when their BOMCs will open, but we are in discussions with such vendors. We are also having similar talks with some leading IBM Japan Ltd. dealers.

    Not limited to the vendors of these two companies, Microsoft intends to partner with any vendor if they want to participate in BOMC activities.

    Related stories: Microsoft to Target Small Biz Mart With SQL Server
    Toshiba Info to Set Up Microsoft BackOffice Center

    (BizTech Editorial Dept.)

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    Updated: Tue May 5 21:07:28 1998