Transitions usually make for uncomfortable times for large corporations. The larger the company, the more uncomfortable both industry observers and company insiders would get. Sure, the ultimate insiders like Bill Gates and Steve Balmer, they’re pretty much going out into the sunset. Their work is done. Their legacy is sealed, and they’re ready to move on. The big question is what happens to those left behind? Microsoft is no longer the company that it once was when Steve Balmer took over the reins from Bill Gates in the year 2000. Far from the market leader in software technology, Microsoft finds itself embattled on many fronts. Even its operating system dominance is facing renewed attacks from Chrome, the Internet and being rendered irrelevant by the spread of tablets and Android. On the smartphone front, Microsoft is pretty much an after thought. Its Windows phone operating system is a distant third to the IOS and Android. On the tablet’s front, Microsoft is barely a player. Even its much vaunted enterprise software dominance is undergoing a sea change. As we have documented earlier, a lot of software is moving to a cloud-based model. In other words, instead of buying software at a store and installing it on your computer, you can access that software from the Internet and pay only for the part of the software you use. You don’t have to worry about viruses, because that’s done at the remote server. You don’t have to worry about software updates because that’s done at the remote server. Moreover, technical support, all of that is handled pretty much in real time just by clicking a button. It’s no wonder many corporations are moving to a cloud-based model.
While Microsoft is making great strides in keeping up with this change, thanks to its Office 360 initiatives, it can certainly be doing more. If anything, Microsoft should be setting the pace and the direction of this technology of cloud computing technology. It isn’t. That in of itself is a red flag to people following Microsoft. It is within this vastly changed technological and management landscape that its new CEO, Satya Nadella, steps in. He has big shoes to fill, and he doesn’t have much time to do it. The great thing about corporate transitions, as scary as they may be, is that it is a giant opportunity for companies to truly chart out new directions. Based on Satya Nadella’s resume and his background at Microsoft, he seems uniquely qualified to be able to reposition Microsoft. As we have mentioned earlier again and again in this blog, Microsoft’s future is in cloud computing. Its future is not in operating systems or in its old models. Its future is in cloud computing and more importantly, cloud base operating systems that are open ended. That is the real challenge because the problem with predicting the future is that you don’t know the fixed form it would take. You can only position yourself so much. The key is to reorient your advantages so that the chances of that particular reality coming to fruition is higher than your competitions competing vision.