Today, Microsoft announced seven Microsoft Office Solution Accelerators, integrated sets of software components, templates, and Microsoft-authored architectural guidance. Office Solution Accelerators are designed to extend Microsoft Office 2003 by offering complete solutions for specific enterprise scenarios. The solutions address common organizational job functions, including finance, human resources (HR), operations, and sales. The products will begin to become available this fall and will continue rolling out into 2004, Microsoft said. Large companies and Microsoft solution partners that serve smaller businesses can implement the products.
"Office Solution Accelerators are designed to help customers build on their software investments and drive higher returns on their investments in Office and other enterprise applications," Peter Rinearson, corporate vice president of the Information Worker New Markets Group, said. "By talking to customers about challenges they face, we discovered pain points our customers experience and that we can help eliminate through a combination of Microsoft Office System software and software components, templates, and architectural guidance."
During the next few months, Microsoft will release seven Office Solution Accelerators designed for recruiting, proposals, Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) reporting, Sarbanes-Oxley Act compliance, Six Sigma projects, business scorecards (managing and meeting key performance goals), and Microsoft Excel reporting. Each solution is intended to solve specific business problems and is based on feedback from existing customers. "It was clear that many customers wanted to know how to get the most out of their Office software in the context of their businesses," Anders Brown, group product manager in Information Worker New Markets Group, said. "That's why we chose to focus on common organizational business problems in order to help people streamline processes and increase productivity in the context of what they do each day."
The Office Solution Accelerators solve several problems for Microsoft, whose Office product line is increasingly seen as a commodity suite that offers few improvements in new versions. First, the products require Office 2003, so interested parties have to upgrade to the new version. Second, the program involves the company's partners, giving them valuable services to sell so that they can stay involved in what Microsoft calls its ecosystem. Finally, the Office Solution Accelerators let Microsoft extend Office during the 2-year downtime between major product releases; because the company can roll out the add-ons without regard to the wider Office System release schedule, Microsoft can release new solutions at any time and dynamically address changing market needs.