Satya Nadella, the new face of Microsoft, succeeded Steve Ballmer as the Chief Executive Officer on 4 February 2014. Before taking on probably the most important chair in the tech world today, Nadella was the Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group. In only a few months since taking on his new role, Nadella has made strong contributions, and has successfully enhanced some of the best product lineups from Microsoft.
Before we delve deeper into his impact on Microsoft, here’s some background info. Born in Hyderabad, Satya Nadella attained a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Computer Engineering from the Manipal Institute of Technology. He then went on to obtain his MS degree in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and later completed his MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
New horizons for Microsoft
Nadella hasn’t even completed a year in his current role as CEO, but he seems to have already made quite an impression on the company’s stakeholders, employees, and even its competitors! His presence has completely transformed the company from what his predecessors had envisioned it to be. Nadella has even built a reputation for getting things moving forward in segments of the organization, where the possibilities earlier seemed bleak.
The Nadella Impact
A few noteworthy steps in the direction of improving Microsoft’s visibility and standing in the PC as well as mobile market are outlined below:
Introduction of Microsoft Office App for iPad
Not long after being appointed CEO, Nadella pointed out the absence of an official Microsoft Office app. (Duh!) He was well aware of the radical changes that have come about in the world of computing over the last few years. So, bridging an important gap, the Windows Phone 8.1 was rolled out at Microsoft’s Build Conference, on 2 April 2014, in San Francisco, California. The Windows Phone 8.1 comes with a wide range of notable features including ‘Cortana’- your very own virtual personal assistant, entertainment apps, shape writing, InPrivate internet browsing, and more.
Replacing Rivalry with Partnership
In one of his interviews, Satya Nadella mentioned that he was an avid cricket fan, and having played the game on his school team, owes his learning of teamwork to cricket. He clearly understands the challenges faced in today’s world of business. In the past, Microsoft has had extensive run-ins with Linux. Now, however, Microsoft is running Linux with Azure. What’s more, Microsoft is also offering a version of its Microsoft Office suite for Apple mobile devices! Nadella has realized the importance of cooperating with rivals, in order to triumph. None of the previous CEOs seemed to consider such a possibility, which at times left Microsoft isolated among its peers. He’s also built partnerships with arch-rival Google, as well as young upstarts like Salesforce and Dropbox!
The one sour note
The prediction that Nadella will be laying off at least 6,000 employees is probably one of the few sour notes hit during his reign so far. In fact, he now carries the difficult burden of being the one who has initiated the largest layoff in Microsoft’s history. However, cleverly choreographing a huge layoff in addition to a structural reorganization and a consistent focus on the mobile and software market are all likely to get Microsoft’s stocks on a rebound path in 2015. This move is therefore skillfully aimed at long-term gains.However, since it involves real people losing jobs, the backlash and criticism is real too. No matter, this striking CEO has managed to put his company’s welfare before his own image, and that speaks volumes too.
The Nadella Vision
Nadella has envisioned a great future for Microsoft. In a recent memo, he revealed some of his integral plans for the company:
Nadella has read the future – he knows the cloud and mobile are where it’s at. As a result, Microsoft is starting to take on Amazon, and is now considered to be a massive threat to its cloud business. As for the mobile arena, Microsoft today has 40+ apps on the Google App Store, a stunning leap from the two odd ones before Nadella took over.
Nadella promised that changes are on the anvil. They are engineering and organizational changes, which have not been revealed publicly as yet. But, going by what has happened in his short time as CEO, one can be sure they will have a positive effect. We can expect to see a tighter, more compact industry giant, where collaboration and bonhomie are the norm.
With the introduction of Cortana, consumers can now have their very own personal assistant to help in carrying out basic tasks on their devices. Nadella states that in the future, Cortana will not only follow basic task functions, but will also be equipped to handle complex questions and requests based on the tone of command. The accent of Delve is mainly on learning, and it will be a machine-learning tool for the business segment.
Nadella encourages Microsoft employees to work in collaboration with their teams in order to build a bigger, better organization. According to him, this vision can be achieved by trying to create an impact on the world, with the inclusion of innovative ideas, and the exclusion of traditional methods of doing things.
Satya Nadella agrees that it is imperative for every large and established organization to define its core. However, one must not let go of the opportunities to connect directly with the consumer. He believes that the gaming unit Xbox is one such opportunity that Microsoft must not let go of.
Microsoft proudly boasts of its ultimate selling point – privacy, which is increasingly an essential feature in software and hardware products. When competing with the likes of Google, this aspect is one that will definitely give Microsoft an edge.
What’s in it for us?
Nadella is increasingly focused on the cloud-first and mobile first strategies. Playing it different from his predecessors, he attempts to display Microsoft’s unique solutions on a podium where it is visible, and accessible to the multitude of smartphone users in the market. The organization’s “freemium” strategy will be used to increase Microsoft’s revenue, by pitching OneDrive Storage, Windows Upgrades, and Office Online. Aware of the fact that Microsoft had lost out on a fair share of the market over the last decade, Nadella aims at getting back on track with his mission to “re-invent productivity”, where productivity is much more than a mere software category.
Though a renowned name and industry leader, Microsoft had lost some of its sheen over the years, coming across as a big bully. But now, with a vision that is flexible yet focused, Nadella is ready to take on the world. As Microsoft is all set to become a more open, collaborative company with its ears to the ground, all of us – consumers, developers, partners and companies – stand to gain. Here’s to more of Nadella’s vision bearing fruit in 2015!
Image Credit: Recode.net