Microsoft’s New CEO — Looking Ahead Beyond The Great Race

Over the past months, Microsoft has provided quite a bit of transparency into deliberations selecting a new CEO.  While at times this may have provided the rush of anticipation more aligned with reality television, it has led to fewer surprises when naming the new CEO – Satya Nadella.  Indeed, Nadella’s first email to employees re-affirms Microsoft’s core values (e.g., empower people, change the world through technology) current strategy (i.e., One Microsoft; software, service, device).

While fewer surprises may have disappointed some on Wall Street, looking for an event-driven jump in the stock price, the selection does provide some promising changes at Microsoft.

  • Mr. Gates is back as technology advisor, apparently offering up to one-third of his time; what technology company would not Imagebenefit from that?
  • Nadella’s engineering background and exploratory management style, thoughtful approach and likeable personality will provide a change in management style from the at-times larger than life personalities of the past.  When is the last time you saw Oscar Wilde quoted in an employee communication?
  •  Front and center in the first employee communication is the i word  — Innovation, considered an Achilles-heal for Microsoft.  While at times innovation may be over-used or misdirected internally, Nadella points out that (technology) industry respects innovation.  Over time, perhaps industry respect may translate into stock price appreciation?
  • Mr. Nadella’s executive background and description of cloud-first world certainly affirms Cloud Services.  While promising and with some success with Office365 products, there are quite a few challenges for server, consumer and business applications.  Product roadmaps and vision are promising; time-to-market and simplicity remain daunting – for example Azure, where there is catch-up to be played with the likes of Amazon Web Services and Hadoop providers.  Will the market evolve to appreciate the complexities of Azure; will Azure simplify to meet market coherence?
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