One of the most exciting takeaways from the Microsoft Fall Analyst session was a focus on One Microsoft as I wrote here.
Coming to their Convergence event in Atlanta this week especially with the backdrop of executive transitions happening in Redmond, I expected a bit of a regress to tactical messages. I expected more localized, VAR channel comfort zone talk and a bit of Magic Quadrant messaging and bashing of ERP and CRM competitors.
I was wrong.
Mike Erhenberg kicked off a pre-event analyst briefing spending nearly 30 minutes on the evolving Microsoft mission statement
Create a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower people around the globe at home, at work and on the go, for the activities they value most.
In a one-on-one he spent some time on the evolving matrix organization and how different Microsoft units decide who takes the lead across various initiatives and the cross-unit meetings that are much more common than he has seen in his long Microsoft career.
The terms “devices and services” came up quite often during the event. That’s a crisp distillation of the 7 competencies Microsoft had identified in the Fall event (operating systems, machine learning, natural UI etc.)
Kirill Tatarinov‘s keynote (transcript here, I will add video later when it is available) had many subtle and not so subtle hints of a Microsoft in transition. He highlighted Microsoft’s infrastructure role at the Sochi Olympics. Customers like Delta Air Lines and New Belgium Brewing talked about mobile devices in their flight crew and “Rangers” workforces. The Lotus F1 team discussed sensory analytics from the race track and the use of the Azure cloud. In a customer panel which followed the analyst questions ranged from BYOD and mobile devices to Azure usage. Accenture , not one of the traditional VARs, was on stage during the Kirill keynote discussing digital enterprises. Judson Althoff, who heads Microsoft’s North American sales was on stage describing how Microsoft internally uses its CRM in another indicator of the changing Microsoft go-to- market. The core in each segment was about Microsoft apps, and yet so many other devices and services were prominent. In a later one on one with Trek bikes I heard about their use of Azure for Infrastructure and Platform –as-a-service and their device strategy.
In a conversation with Wayne Morris, Corp VP of the MBS unit, he talked about how many MBS VARs were evolving to also offer Office365 and other Azure cloud services. He mentioned collaboration between the Advertising and Online unit with the CRM unit as they work with digital agencies.
Probably the most reassuring aspect of the move to a more unified Microsoft is the new CEO, Satya Nadella who has rotated through several roles at Microsoft Cloud (Azure, Office365 etc.), Online Services (including Bing) and Dynamics units.
In my 2009 book, The New Polymath, I described examples of companies which were blending infotech, healthtech, cleantecth, nanotech to come up with a brand new set of solutions. The book had sections on Bill Gates’ various health charities. It had a section on Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft’s former CTO, a modern day polymath with his wide range of scientific, gastronomical, archeological and other achievements. It had a section on Microsoft’s’ growing Azure data center investments and innovations.
Microsoft has for a while had on its board, Ford CEO Alan Mulally who is credited with turning around the car maker with its One Ford strategy.
So, all the building blocks have been in place to see Microsoft act like a New Polymath. One Microsoft, its own unique manifestation of the concept, is starting to gather steam.