Microsoft’s Ailing MBS Group Gets New Leader

After months of searching, Microsoft announced on June 30 that it has named a new leader for the Microsoft Business Solutions group.

Microsoft hopes that filling the position will provide direction for the business applications group, which has been struggling to find an identity within Microsoft and to establish its presence in the ERP (enterprise resource planning) market.

Kirill Tatarinov, a Russian native and Microsoft employee for the last five years, will lead the MBS team. MBS, which develops four separate ERP suites as well as an on-premise and soon-to-be-released on-demand CRM (customer relationship management) suite, was initially headed by Doug Burgum.

Burgum came to Microsoft as the CEO of Great Plains, an ERP company Microsoft acquired in 2001 as the basis of its MBS division (Great Plains had acquired another ERP provider, Solomon, just prior to its purchase by Microsoft). The following year Microsoft acquired Navision, which also included Axapta, rounding out its ERP offerings.

Burgum announced in September 2005 that he would step down the following November as the head of the MBS group, which had been steadily losing money.

In the summer of 2006 the MBS group was transitioned to the larger Microsoft Business Division that encompasses Microsoft Office, SharePoint Server and Microsoft unified communications products. The move was made to help align Microsoft’s business applications group with the rest of the company.

Finally, in September 2006, Satya Nadella was named to the top spot in the MBS division—a job he held for all of six months until he was transferred over to head the newly created Search and Ad Platform group.

Microsoft reaches an ERP milestone. Click here to read more.

Microsoft then named Tami Reller, corporate vice president of MBS at the time, as the interim leader of the business applications division. The plan was that Reller would work with Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division, to find a new leader for the MBS group.

It is rumored, however, that Reller was bucking to maintain the top spot in the MBS group, and that she has been passed over in favor of Tatarinov.

Tatarinov, who is stepping out of the role as head of Microsoft’s management and solutions unit, is stepping into a complicated role. The MBS group is tasked not only with maintaining a raft of separate application suites but also with unifying the suites under a common Microsoft technology stack—a roadmap that has also seen some big changes as the company realized that melding separate code bases would upset customers and partners alike.

At the same time, the MBS group is tasked with keeping up with the fast-evolving SAAS (software as a service) market. MBS is in development with an on-demand CRM suite, code-named Titan, and there is speculation that the company will also develop on-demand ERP capabilities.

Microsoft’s go-to-market on-demand strategy hasn’t been completely hammered out yet, a fact that has resulted in some consternation amongst partners who are unsure how their role will evolve. Microsoft has traditionally sold its business applications through a partner channel strategy rather than a direct sales strategy.

Tatarinov starts his new job July 2, a week before Microsoft’s major annual partner conference in Denver July 10-12. In his new role he will oversee all aspects of the MBS division on Microsoft campuses in Redmond, Wash., Copenhagen, Denmark, and Fargo, N.D.

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