Hey, Microsoft, sometimes patience is not a virtue

slothYesterday, Microsoft shook up its leadership team with changes that kept the same people but in new roles. Some of the most significant changes were around the flagship Windows development team and Cloud, in both cases putting people in place that argued for better integration of products and the need to prepare for a post-PC/Cloud world. The good news is that Microsoft seems to get what’s happening in the market, finally. The bad news? They waited about two years to realize the need to change.

Two years?

Two years is a lifetime in today’s technology market. In those two years, the following happened:

  • A significant market move toward Cloud storage, where Dropbox scaled to 175 million users
  • Major steps by the biggest Cloud application vendor, Salesforce.com, to build out an integrated sales AND marketing platform that has nothing to do with a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone OS
  • Focus by media and several industries on Big Data consumption and Internet of Things production of vast quantities of many types of data, what GE calls the “Industrial Internet”

Microsoft’s patient steps to embrace new technologies and strategies isn’t surprising for a company with so much success in a world of annual (or slower) releases of products that are mostly in silos. But we don’t have a patient world and while Microsoft took their time, people moved past the PC and the Microsoft brand in favor of companies that have a better sense of urgency and innovation.

So what to do?

Here are a few suggestions that could turn Microsoft from stodgy to cool once again:

  • ‘Kids these days’ aren’t getting steeped in the Microsoft brand the way we were as teenagers. That puts a whole generation of users in an OS-agnostic frame of mind where any product is an interesting opportunity to try something new. Think back to Apple’s playbook over the years that had several programs to put their products in the hands of students, knowing that would ‘seed’ the future. Get into the schools, even if it is massively free. Especially if it is massively free…no one has budget these days.
  • Gamers aren’t necessarily the same as future managers and executives…not to say they’re mutually exclusive. Apple became the machine of the Yearbook Staff, the group more likely to carry their passion to the workplace. Microsoft needs to look beyond the gaming market and have products for the next generation of highly productive workers. They’ve ridden the Office train to the end of the line. Think beyond SharePoint (which no one likes, anyway), Excel, PowerPoint and Word. Create an über-web publishing platform that allows ANY content to be published even better than WordPress and its diverse widgets.
  • There’s still plenty of space for integrated products that do super-cool things and Microsoft has the development resources to create platforms that rival Apple and Google. Forget Surface…get serious about an OS that works everywhere (something Apple doesn’t even have). One OS to rule them all.

These are just three, but they’re completely free pieces of advice for a company that needs to get busy. Think they’ll take me up on them?

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Categories: Disruption, Information Technology

Author:Jeanne Roué-Taylor

I'm fascinated by disruptive technology and its impact on our world. I manage sales operations for an excellent startup with a unique team of highly experienced data scientists.

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