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 benefit 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?