Slightly modified the famous slogan Microsoft 2010, ” Be what’s next ” to speculate a bit about the future of the company after the next start of the fired Steve Ballmer, the obvious responsibility of their fall in terms of influence and leadership, and the person able to lose one by one all the great technological revolutions a decade.
An article in MIT Tech Review, ” Why Microsoft’s Next CEO Should break up the company “, speaks of the need to divide a company turned into an incompetent bureaucratic monster to innovate, and speculates about a future with a series of mini-Bills separate and dedicated to the operating system, desktop applications, server applications, entertainment and activities on the network.
In 1998, one of the questions in the major field exam I faced ahead of obtaining my doctorate at UCLA was just that, a hypothetical scenario of splitting the company into parts. At the time, speculation had been the possible impact of the decision in United States v Microsoft antitrust, but many of the conclusions are applicable then now.
Personally, and from what I know of Microsoft, I do not think we’re talking about a company unable to innovate.
Certainly suffer a crisis of bureaucratic and sclerotic to be solved with the right leadership and cultural change, but I think a number of spin-offs are the way to solve this problem in a fantastically well capitalized company and does not require especially the economic resources that the process would be likely to generate.
My impression is that the main factor that has delayed Microsoft excesses are derived from a culture overly focused on closed and proprietary schemes. Microsoft mentality is focused on what is happening within the company, because there is a widespread belief that anything can be done with existing resources within it.
That vision closes the door to external sources of innovation: the company does not learn from its users, because these have generally been far behind a myriad of other actors such as resellers, partners, OEMs, integrators, etc. Customer proximity is essential in an era in which many of the innovations are precisely the study of patterns of use and how customers own and others accommodate innovation.
Stage, on the other hand, has changed completely. The most leading companies in terms of innovation does not get all of their own resources, they are dedicated to building platforms that allow and give support to the innovation of third parties, or through community development, or various types of structures that enable and encourage the integration of other creations. The opening also is a key to the development of quality products process, an essential element in the process of obtaining quick response to bugs and problems, and a guarantee of the right attitude.
What Microsoft should consider is how to compete in a scenario where open architectures have triumphed decisively over closed, and how to make that evidence impacts the development philosophies of the company. The simple challenge of considering open sourcing many products is a way to not only improve, but also to present a new attitude, a different picture: one of the keys in the Microsoft is the negative image due largely Steve Ballmer’s own generates many users.
Competing with products that have been developed in the context of an increasingly open stage requires just that: be much more open, to initiate a process of honest, constructive and can lead to positive dynamics both within the company and outside opening it. A process that requires not only the right leadership, but also the joint efforts of each and every one of the divisions of Microsoft. For such a process, it is more than possible that the company is better together than separate parts.
The evidence that led to Bill Gates in 2006 to determine the support of its founding research projects that were open source , must now come to the company he founded. Microsoft was one of the companies with their attitude and thanks to the principle of action and reaction, most favored the development of the open source mentality. Now, you must embrace a philosophy that simply has become a sign of the times.
How to raise a Microsoft-centric innovation and, above all, in the opening? This and no other is, for me, the main challenge will be to face the next CEO. And a challenge that decidedly not worth anyone.