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Microsoft's Value/Volume Dilemma

For five years, Doug Burgum has walked the value/volume tightrope at Microsoft.

He has reassured ERP value-add partners that their model is safe in the hands of a company noted for high-volume sales of low-margin software. And, to be sure, the margins earned on ERP have stayed stable even five years after Microsoft bought Great Plains Software.

Now with Burgum set to step back from day-to-day responsibilities as senior vice president of Microsoft Business Solutions to become chairman of MBS, some partners worry that they will lose their highest-ranking advocate for a high-value-add sales model at the company.

Burgum dismisses that notion out of hand, promising to stay active, to even take on more of a public role with customers and partners and continuing to influence the direction of MBS, which last quarter posted its first profit.

During what is probably his last keynote speech at the MBS annual Convergence show as operational lead, a sometimes tearful Burgum spoke about the value of good relationships and straight dealing between businesses, their partners and customers (see sidebar).

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