I think I've mentioned before that SUN is one of the worst stock investments I have ever made (second only to Handspring, which I bought without studying the financials). So, I am glad to see that they are altering their strategies.
Sun Microsystems is borrowing strategies from its biggest competitors in an effort to reverse its flagging fortunes. The sweeping changes can't come fast enough for Sun, which is so beaten down that it has been the target of takeover speculation all summer.
It's about time. Other companies have changed the way they sell, and SUN hasn't kept up.
"Our salespeople used to be box pushers and order takers," says Larry Singer, a senior vice president. "Now they're solutions providers and relationship managers."
Variations on this strategy have been adopted by IBM (nyse: IBM – news – people ) and, to some extent, Hewlett-Packard (nyse: HPQ – news – people ).
At Sun, there are no longer general managers for each product category, says Singer. Rather, Sun has established a global sales organization that will sell all of its products as a packaged solution to technology problems.
A big part of that effort involves software. Sun will integrate its various software products into a suite, � la Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT – news – people ) Office. "We're taking a page from our neighbor to the north," says Singer, referring to Microsoft. "There is real value when you offer systems integrated into a suite."
Specifically, Sun will bundle together middleware, application server, Java, Web portal, directory and installers into one package called the Sun Java System, which will sell to businesses for $100 per employee per year.
I hope they aren't so slow to react to market changes next time. If it wasn't for a decent hoard of cash, SUN would be on the verge of going out of business. Maybe they can turn things around – but they are in a pretty tough industry where everyone is trying to steal market share. Whatever happens, I am glad to see them trying something new.