CEO Nadella issues manifesto to shake up Microsoft

Company has to move faster to satisfy customer needs, Microsoft CEO says

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

The 3,000-word email posted on the company’s news site for all the world to see sums up an array of goals for the company, among them dividing work and private data on devices, speed developing new products, creating new devices and device categories, and support for competitors’ applications and operating systems.

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The overriding object is to enhance productivity, a term he hopes to redefine. “We will shift the meaning of productivity beyond solely producing something to include empowering people with new insights” he says.

Nadella is injecting productivity into his mantra of “mobile first, cloud first”: “Microsoft is the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world,” he writes.

“We will reinvent productivity for people who are swimming in a growing sea of devices, apps, data and social networks. We will build the solutions that address the productivity needs of groups and entire organizations as well as individuals by putting them at the center of their computing experiences.”

Spearheading this productivity will include apps and devices that can split data used for work from that used for personal purposes on the same device. “Apps will be designed as dual use with the intelligence to partition data between work and life and with the respect for each person's privacy choices,” Nadella writes. “They will be built for other ecosystems so as people move from device to device, so will their content and the richness of their services – it's one way we keep people, not devices, at the center.”

Much of the productivity drive, though, relies on upgrading and expanding existing products and services. For example, Microsoft will continue to make hardware, defying criticism that the company made a mistake with its Surface tablet/laptop combo devices and made a further mistake buying Nokia’s cellphone business. Some on Wall Street have suggested that Microsoft ought to sell off its Xbox gaming business.

But Nadella ignores the naysayers. Surface Pro 3 “is the world's best productivity tablet,” he writes. “[W]e will build first-party hardware to stimulate more demand for the entire Windows ecosystem. That means at times we'll develop new categories like we did with Surface. It also means we will responsibly make the market for Windows Phone, which is our goal with the Nokia devices and services acquisition.”

As for Xbox: “Bottom line, we will continue to innovate and grow our fan base with Xbox while also creating additive business value for Microsoft.”

Microsoft will continue upgrading its cash cow Windows operating system and Office productivity suite, while encouraging businesses to move more of their infrastructure into the cloud via Office 365 and Azure, he writes.

“The combination of Azure and Windows Server makes us the only company with a public, private and hybrid cloud platform that can power modern business. We will transform the return on IT investment by enabling enterprises to combine their existing datacenters and our public cloud into one cohesive infrastructure backplane,” he writes.

That’s not new - Nadella introduced it himself as the Cloud OS two years ago when he was president of Microsoft’s Server and Tools business – but it’s important: “Our cloud OS represents the largest opportunity given we are working from a position of strength.”

Reaching these goals will require “fundamental cultural changes,” Nadella says, and that means shaking up the organizational structure and individual job responsibilities. “Over the course of July, the Senior Leadership Team and I will share more on the engineering and organization changes we believe are needed.”

These changes will enable Microsoft to speed up development times, addressing the criticism of Microsoft’s board that Nadella’s predecessor, Steve Ballmer, moved too slowly. “Every team across Microsoft must find ways to simplify and move faster, more efficiently,” Nadella writes. “We will increase the fluidity of information and ideas by taking actions to flatten the organization and develop leaner business processes.”

He says that through the end of this calendar year the company will invest in training and create chances to work on new and innovative projects, but that means individuals must be read to rethink what they do and how they do it. “I have also heard from many of you that changing jobs is challenging,” he writes. “We will change the process and mindset so you can more seamlessly move around the company to roles where you can have the most impact and personal growth.”

Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at and follow him on Twitter@Tim_Greene.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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