(Nomura analyst Rick Sherlund might be responsible for formulating the prescription)
Don’t tell SharePoint enthusiasts, but Microsoft has big changes coming its way.
Without them, the behemoth that ruled the Client/Server era of computing will be laid to rest there.
Bill Gates knows this, so does Steve Ballmer.
The question is whether they, as Microsoft board members and the largest individual owners of Microsoft stock, will be able to let go of their own voices and visions, open their minds and step aside when a leader who understands the future walks in.
Unless they do, Mr. Softie will die and Gates and Ballmer will be responsible for digging its grave.
Why Microsoft Is On The Road Of Demise
Go to any Enterprise tech conference, or better yet, go to ten in a row, and during the opening presentation you’ll hear the same common theme: We’re entering the third era of computing. The mainframe era was first, the client server era came second and the third will be called (something like) the end user device of choice era.
Computing’s third era, you’ll hear next, is defined by four disruptive forces: Cloud, Big Data, Mobility and Social. The presenter will inevitably go on to explain how his/her company’s products leverage these forces to help you win business. They’ll then, inevitably, invite some satisfied customers or beta-testers up onto the stage to testify on their behalf.
This is where Microsoft runs into a problem.
They need to have a story to tell about how they’ve embraced these disruptive technologies and how they’ve innovated products and services that leverage them to the hilt.
And they don’t have one.
After reading this, Microsoft enthusiasts will, no doubt, try to point out that Office 365 is a cloud solution, that the Windows phone and Microsoft Surface Pro are Mobile (and that Microsoft just bought Nokia), that Microsoft has a strong partnership with Hortonworks for Big Data (so does everyone else), and that Microsoft has So.cl, a great social network.
How many people do you personally know that have ever used these products and services? How many Enterprises are seriously considering adopting them? Are these leading technologies in their categories?
Who Has the Ability and Guts to Try to Turn Microsoft Around?
Disrupting a highly profitable US$ 73.7 billion company is no easy task, and Ballmer’s replacement will not only need to have the right vision and execution strategy but also the ability to turn a slowly sinking ship and to motivate its crew. A Microsoft insider might find this difficult, if not impossible, to do.
That may be why Ford boss Alan Mulally is being seen as a top Ballmer replacement pick; after all, he has proven that he can turn a sinking ship around. That being said, there are a few things about Mulally’s suitability for the position to consider. First, he and Ballmer seem to be buddies of sorts — Ballmer personally penned Mulally’s entry on Time Magazine’s “100 most influential people in the world” list in 2009. This being the case, Ballmer would likely have more influence over Mulally than a stranger, and that’s not what you want when you’re looking for disruption.
Second, the power and implications of disruptive technologies like Big Data, Cloud, Social and Mobile aren’t easy to understand, let alone innovate around. This is challenging for the IT industry’s most visionary leaders. It’s also worth noting that those who are ushering-in computing’s third era are geeks.
And though one could argue that an industry outsider could bring in new ideas, the argument would be a leap, even if the outsider hired a geek-god as his second lieutenant.
Why Pivotal’s Paul Maritz Would Make a Smart Choice for Microsoft’s Next CEO
First, let’s be clear, recruiting Paul Maritz for Microsoft isn’t an original idea. Rumor has it that Ballmer offered him a job last year, but it probably wasn’t the CEO’s position.
It’s also been reported that Rick Sherlund, an analyst from Nomura Securities who has followed Microsoft for years, thinks that Maritz should be wooed for a top job at the company.
It’s not a bad idea.
Consider that Maritz is both an accomplished CEO (he led VMWare during its heights) and a geek (his undergrad and grad degrees are in computer science, he began his career as a developer at Burroughs, and rose to the number 3 spot at Microsoft before he left.)
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