Microsoft Cannot Afford Any Delay, Anymore!

by Shweta Verma, Editor - CXOToday    Feb 13, 2014

Shwetaed

They took over six months to choose their new CEO. Before that, they had taken even longer to announce Steve Ballmer’s retirement. Even though everyone in and outside the company had realized that he had lost his relevance long ago. And if we start counting the opportunities Microsoft missed in Mobility, Cloud and several other areas, the list could go on.

The one lesson that Microsoft can take from all its fumbles and stumbles is they don’t have time on their side. For all their past delays in taking critical decisions have already cost them quite dearly. Steve Ballmer must be regretting the moment when he laughed off the first iPhone (See Video) or when he ‘over-estimated’ the future of the PC (See Video).

However, from a time when the company almost bullied its way to the top, Microsoft now appears a much humbler and open version of itself. The company’s choice of a new leader in India-born Satya Nadella is also a sign of openness in embracing the change. This could well be a new defining moment for the company.

Defining The Future Strategy

Microsoft’s first vision of “a computer on every desk and in every home” was indeed quite futuristic and helped the company remain the undisputed software leader in the PC era for more than two decades. But then the market situation began to change, and PCs gradually started losing out to the newer, sleeker, smarter devices like tablets and mobiles. Microsoft had obviously not prepared in time for this change.

Even when Android devices and iOS grabbed market share and challenged the dominance of Windows, Microsoft was not willing to accept the fact that they would have to reinvent themselves in a big way. They were unable to clearly define a new vision or future strategy for themselves, and kept stumbling at almost every step. Their attempts with Windows Phone or Windows 8 also offered little hope to revive the sagging fortunes of the company.

Ballmer’s last dig at completely restructuring the company with the ‘one Microsoft’ vision launched last year is yet to show results. Now as the company sets out to define its future roadmap, it will have to be even more cautious. It has a huge legacy to live up to and very little time at hand to prove its mettle again. Any wrong move at this stage could spell doom for the company.

New Leadership, New Rigor

Whether Satya Nadella will prove to be that visionary leader that Microsoft needs at this stage is tough to predict. But he surely does have the right experience, knowledge and most importantly the right “attitude” that was missing in the company for a long time.

Nadella’s long association with the company and his successful stints with multiple business units give him an in-depth understanding and experience that is much needed. In his inaugural address to employees, he clearly emphasized on the need to get rid of legacies and focus on innovation and emerging technologies like Mobile and Cloud. “One of the core things we have to realize is that this business does not respect tradition, what it respects is innovation on a go-forward basis. So it is our collective challenge to realize that we need to make Microsoft thrive in a cloud-first and mobile-first world,” he said.

Nadella’s appointment as CEO has been welcomed by almost everyone in the industry. Undoubtedly, he has brought in a fresh rigor and enthusiasm inside the company as well. As the industry eagerly awaits his next move, he will have to quickly chart out the future roadmap for Microsoft, without losing any more time!