Knowledge@Wharton has an interesting interview with Stephen Elop, the President of Microsoft's Business Division (Office, SharePoint, unified communications, and Business Dynamics). He joined Microsoft in January 2008 after stints at Macromedia, Adobe, and Juniper Networks, so as a recent addition he's spent the past year ruminating on what makes Microsoft Microsoft. While you need to take it with a grain of salt (Knowledge@Wharton interviewed him after he gave a keynote at the Wharton Business Technology Conference pitching Microsoft as an innovative company), I think it does offer insights into Microsoft's psyche.
- "UC is a multi-billion dollar business. SharePoint surpassed a billion dollars for the first time last year. Anywhere else on the planet, those smaller businesses would be entire companies all by themselves. Given the scope of Microsoft, they're part of a division."
- "This is a defining characteristic of Microsoft. Microsoft is very willing to be self critical, harshly self critical, willing to take a look at something we spent a bunch of money on and say, 'You know what, that was a mistake. We shouldn't have done that. Time to change plans. Time to move on.'"
He talks about six strategic imperatives within the Business Division:
- Fully embrace software and services: "...don't hesitate, don't try and put a moat around the traditional [products]."
- Extend our business value advantage for customers: making sure that Office, SharePoint, UC are not siloed but rather "a group of capabilities that interoperate well with ourselves and our competitors."
- Delight our customers with unparalleled experiences: "Microsoft does this sometimes; other times it does not. I came from companies where the experience is fundamentally the differentiator."
- Innovation: "Part of the reason we're here today [at the Wharton conference] is to stake out the position that we're driving innovation more aggressively than we've ever done in the past."
- Epitomize operational excellence: "...quality in our engineering, customer satisfaction, hitting the numbers, driving revenue growth, driving margin growth. All the things you need to do to run a business."
- Employee excellence: "At Microsoft, there is more time spent, more investment in ... communicating about individuals -- their performance, how to advance their career, how to help them develop as individuals. It really is remarkable."
He also points out that Microsoft is working to offer "contextual applications" (my words, not his): "They'll do simple editing, creation, viewing and so forth in the browser. But when they're polishing up the final version of their term paper, research document or a proposal for funding, they will likely take it into the rich client environment for the highest degree of capability."
Worth a read if you're trying to discern Microsoft's future direction.