Teaching Microsoft to DancePosted: April 28, 2014
Twenty-one years ago this month, Lou Gerstner came from RJR Nabisco to take over at IBM. He cut billions of dollars in expenses and made tough decisions that no insider would have made easily, including cutting OS/2 (IBM’s PC Operating System) and eliminating the dress code (pinstripe suits, white shirts, wingtip shoes) and the “no alcohol” policy. At the time, IBM was perilously close to running out of cash. It was expected that Gerstner would oversee the company’s dissolution, but, instead, he executed an extraordinary turnaround that has become a classic business case study.
Certainly the situation today is different at Microsoft, but perhaps no less challenging. Which begs the question: can recently-named CEO Satya Nadella teach Microsoft how to dance?
Satya Nadella certainly forged new ground in his first public speech at Microsoft. For example, he was using an iPad on stage and referencing Android, while there was a relative absence of plugs for Microsoft Hardware.
Here are some of the dimensions of his challenge as I see it:
|Old Model||New Model|
|Desktop or Laptop PC||Mobile and Cloud|
|Enterprise I.T. Support||Cloud Support|
|Multi-year Large Enterprise or Package Software||Pay-as-you-Go and micro-transactions|
|Multiple years between major releases||A few days (or less) between updates|
|Focus on I.T. Professional Experience||Focus on Consumer Experience|
|Vertical Stack of Technology||Part of a Horizontal Ecosystem|
|Thick, feature laden client side software||Thin mobile or zero footprint services|
The list could go on. Probably the biggest elephant in the room is the culture. How do you reshape the hide-bound Microsoft ways fast enough to capture market opportunities? The reshaping of Microsoft has begun—it should be interesting to watch.