If Microsoft Made cars …..

Posted on December 5, 2013


As the continued parade of prospective new CEO’s to the largest IT company on earth adorn our news feeds I was reminded during a recent chat with a friend at Microsoft of a debate we had back in February over how Microsoft can best make the transition to a Cloud Service company, during which I used the analogy of a car manufacturer to highlight some of the organisation structural and cultural challenges confronting Microsoft on this journey.

My analogy went something like this …. ‘IF Microsoft made cars, they would not roll off the production line but collapse, because the guys who make the chassis will be working in isolation to those building the engine, the bodywork and the team doing the wiring looms and those matching the wheels up’. For anyone who has been around Microsoft as long as I have will be familiar with the inherent silo’d approach to how it operates and with the force march to the Cloud and Service (also now devices) their product/service offerings are becoming more dependent than ever on each other that the need for seamless integration has never been more urgent and the support services component more critical. This demands a new cultural attitude that has already forced huge change through the organisation but the change that has already occurred is a fractional shift compared to what needs to happen for Microsoft to complete its course correction onto its Device and Services heading from a traditional software vendor tack. The Nokia acquisition will be a font of insight for Microsoft into the devices world and delivery of support services, but this integration has its own challenge and major distraction as Microsoft merges two of the largest workforces in M&A history.

The suggestion was that if Microsoft was to complete its metamorphosis then they could do worse than recruit someone who had built cars! It was therefore with some amusement that I read of Ford the motor manufacturers CEO Alan Mulally being one of those in the running. Although I believe latterly he is denying any such interest, which if he was a politician would imply he has the job! But I assume as a trusted businessman he is being genuine. ‘Alan Mulally Will Be Ford’s CEO Until The End Of 2014, Says Ford Board Member, Crushing Microsoft Investor Dreams Of Him Being Microsoft CEO’

To be honest the Nokia integration challenge probably plays into the hands of a trusted and known entity, familiar with the beast, Kevin Turner for example, to finish bedding in Nokia and addressing a number of other slumbering bug bears within Microsoft itself and its ecosystem.

That being said I still stand by my early blog ‘A Microsoft Future’ and believe that this is a critical event horizon for Microsoft. If there was ever a time for the emergence of a Blue Ocean strategy within an industry saturated with Red Ocean thinking it would be NOW. Microsoft is the company with the impeccable timing and cadence to capitalise on this and succeed I have little doubt, with the one caveat – the visionary to lead it?

As a post script to my earlier blog I made reference to Microsoft leveraging a next generation digital currency as a driver to establishing a new marketplace that could revolutionise the IT landscape and impact Global markets themselves. Since writing that back at the beginning of October the world leading digital currency BitCoin has sent ripples through the finance industry and set new records of return as it has gone from $100 to over $1,200 in less than 6 weeks. I am not an advocate of BitCoin as it is fundamentally flawed as a currency unit, BUT an evolved digital currency that address much of the deflationary and other problems BitCoin is faced with would be viable – The problem with Bitcoin’.

As for the next Microsoft CEO, well Christmas is coming and so we are told will be the new man at Microsoft before the end of the year. I wonder what Santa has in store …..