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Good Bet or Huge Gamble? Microsoft's Vision for the Future

2014-17-July-Nadella-Speech.jpgSure the Apple IBM partnership is a big deal, but it may not impact your work and your life as much as the vision that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella unveiled at the company’s Worldwide Partners Conference (WPC) yesterday.

You might not have heard much about it, but that’s not because it’s not worthwhile or important — it’s just that tech news is generally aimed at enterprises, businesses and consumers, not partners (namely, other software companies, systems integrators, product vendors, consulting firms and so on).

But, if you want to know what the future looks like, partners’ conferences are exactly where you get a sneak peek. After all, this is where tech evangelists learn their scripts and where solution providers receive introductions to the kinds of thinking and training they’ll needs to deliver on those promises.

Yesterday, in front of an audience of Microsoft partners, Nadella spoke about the company’s vision and the tactical technologies and tools that Microsoft is working on, or already has in place to deliver.

2014-17-July-Nadella-Audience.jpg

We’ve already written about Nadella’s commitment to products and services designed for a mobile-first, cloud-first world and the exponentially growing numbers of phones, tablets, devices and sensors.

"They're going to both generate tons and tons of zettabytes of data, they're also going to consume and reason over that large data,” said Nadella in Wednesday’s keynote at the WPC.

He went on to explain, that from an economic perspective, this generates tremendous opportunity.

There is not a sector of an economy, a vertical industry, a person's life where software and the devices that are powered by software are not touching. That's our opportunity.”

Nadella explained that Microsoft is the company and its partners are the ecosystem that is going to reinvent productivity for this new generation.

That is something that's unique to us. That's in our core, that's in our soul, and that's what we're going to go do. For us to reinvent productivity so that every individual on the planet can get more out of every moment of their lives is a great mission. That is what we need to go solve. That is where we get to add value.”

Built For How We Live

To do that, Microsoft, said Nadella, is going to focus on building digital work and life experiences.

We will build platforms in the cloud for it, we'll build platforms on the device for it.”

And while that’s the grand vision, there are actual delivery points that speak to it. There’s Office, OneDrive, Skype, Bing, Cortana, Speech recognition, Machine Learning, Predictive Analytics and Intelligent Systems Service in Azure, which allows you to collect that data and put it into and process it in real time.

But Microsoft’s future isn’t about any one of these applications, according to Nadella. “It's not the application silos,” he explained.

Instead it’s about a new operating system for human activity built for the way we live — at work and at home —across our devices.

That is what the future of Office, the future of Dynamics represents for us,” he said. “We're building out that digital infrastructure that ties together people, their activities, their relationships to all of the artifacts of their life, be they photos or documents at work. That is what digital work and life experiences means.”

And while Apple and IBM, and their customers, have yet to actually figure out whether company-deployed iPhones and iPads will have a place in our personal lives, Microsoft knows where it stands. It plans to enable dual use.

This entire notion that somehow I'll buy my device for consumption and personal use and then I'll give up that device for work and take another device just doesn't work,” said Nadella.

Nadella’s vision goes beyond BYOD, to harmonizing dual usage. It’s something that no other company is as well equipped to do. They own the technology and the know-how to take Skype and Lync, OneDrive and OneDrive for Business, Outlook and Exchange, and the hardware and operating systems and put them together for dual use.

If you think about it, at the end of the day, it's not just about I want to be productive, not just at work, productivity is not this niche. In fact, it's the most secular, broadest category of computing. I want to get more out of my time. I want to be reminded when I come home — because of the geo-fence reminders in Cortana — of what it is that I should tell my daughter, because it knows that tomorrow is a recital for her.”

And while that’s the big picture, there are more tactical things he talked about that we can get into and depending on what you tell us, and how well this article is received. We can share with you where Office and SharePoint are headed, what tremendous insights and subsequent actions that big data and predictive analytics can bring to our lives, and so on. So give us some feedback.

Layoffs Can Be About More Than Sluggish Performance

And while we’ve just outlined Nadella’s vision for the future, we’re well aware that Microsoft announced that it will be laying off 18,000 people this year, but hiring in strategic areas as well.

This should come as a surprise to no one, we’ve known for a while that as soon as the Nokia acquisition finalized this would happen. Almost every tech company when it adopts a new vision does an inventory of sorts to look at where they have workers with skill sets that are underutilized or no longer needed and where they are lacking needed skill sets.

In a perfect world, retraining would be great, but this is a “just in time” economy. Companies are realigning regularly and layoffs are likely to happen.

It sucks, but it’s not a sign of Microsoft’s health.

 
 
 
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