Obviously this is what Satya Nadella and his executive team at Microsoft are paid the big $s for. But here are my thoughts and observations:
- In the good old days IBM sold you the hardware and gave you the software. Microsoft challenged this with the “use any hardware, but pay for our software”. Now Microsoft seem to be moving to a world of “use any hardware, ideally use Windows (which may be free), but most importantly pay for our services which will be available on all platforms”
- In this context the focus on productivity makes sense. This is arguably an area where Microsoft have a clear market lead with Office and the complimentary cloud assets such as Office 365. By getting the previous “waring” product silos to work together they have the ability to really deliver on the previous Microsoft slogan “better together”
- Satya Nadella made it clear that Microsoft will continue to invest in a “dual use” (work and personal) model. However we have seen in the recent redundancy announcements that there will be a streamlining of these efforts to support the challenger focus.
- Microsoft also have an asset that is the envy of all of their major competitors – the Microsoft partner network. From small business specialists to service providers using SPLA to host services on a global scale. These partners will enjoy the focus on the core Microsoft they know. Microsoft would do well to focus on and heavily market the partner ecosystem asset.
- The challenger mindset means that defending the traditional PC market will no longer be focused exclusively on the 14% itself. Rather by “challenging” the other 86% Microsoft can extend the overall ecosystem and create the end to end experience.
- Part of the public “challenger” comments is almost certainly directed at the various “monopoly” commissions around the world – essentially they are saying “back off, the world is different, we are no longer the big bad boys, we are now fighting for our future, so get off our backs”
- We have seen a major play in this direction with the $0 Windows licensing cost for devices of 9” or less. It is not too difficult to imagine a very low cost, full blown Windows tablet, being connected to a keyboard, mouse and monitor to replace many ageing desktops.
- The “Cloud Solution Provider” program was announced at WPC with little hard facts behind the announcement. BUT WATCH THIS SPACE. This is Microsoft’s play to pull their huge ecosystem towards the cloud.
- I also expect to see a major streamlining of Microsoft marketing that more accurately reflects the “One Microsoft” approach with a strong “better together” type message.
- Microsoft’s true differentiator from their competition is HYBRID. Nobody else spans on-premise, service provider hosted and full blown public in the way that Microsoft and their partner community do. Despite the high profile focus on their first party cloud assets (Office 365, Azure, CRM Online etc) I also expect to see a growing push for their wider Hybrid story (however it is a more complicated story to tell so…)
- Over the past 10 years Microsoft have become increasingly conservative, driven by the need to defend a near monopoly. However by publically putting on the challenger boxing gloves I am expecting to see some interesting and unexpected behaviour as we progress through FY15.