A glimmer of hope in the new Microsoft

Ever since Satya Nadella took over as CEO of Microsoft, I have been hopeful. Hopeful that the promise of a new, more customer focused Microsoft would make its way to the enterprise. I knew that things were not going to change overnight, at based on my recent interactions with Microsoft they haven’t, but nonetheless, I was and am still hoping to see a Microsoft that is more focused on the customer. I want to see a Microsoft that understands that there are real choices for the enterprise now and that the Microsoft stack is not the only thing out there. I want to see a sales team that wants to truly help solve business problems and not just get you to the next EA true up or renewal.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I saw a glimmer of that hope in this TechCrunch article. In this article, we learn that Microsoft and Google have agreed to cooperate on certain patent matters to benefit their customers. We also learned that Nadella himself appeared on stage at Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce conference. That is huge! Not long ago, Microsoft was suing Salesforce and now the CEO is on their stage! That in and of itself is a huge statement. Nadella could have walked on, shook hands and walked off without saying a word and that would have still made a huge splash. He did speak though and continued along the theme of cooperation. In the article Nadella is quoted as saying “ It is incumbent upon us, especially those of us who are platform vendors to partner broadly to solve real pain points our customers have”. He understands that customers have a choice and that if they want to be successful they need to start working with other providers.

So what does this all mean? Well, to me, this is a glimpse of things to come over the next few years. It’s great that Microsoft is no longer suing it’s big platform rivals and working with them. I think that this will add a lot of value for both enterprise customers and consumers alike. It’s also great that the CEO makes statements like the one above. But still have a long way to go. They have built a culture and infrastructure around extracting as much money as possible from customers whether they like it or not and that will take years to turn around. I think that we will continue to see small gains like this but it will take years before we see a truly different Microsoft.

In the meantime, we as procurement professionals and others that care about this, can continue to pressure Microsoft to change. We need to continually let them know that without us, the customer, there would be no Microsoft. We need to continually be creating competitive situations and having Microsoft prove their value to us. We should no longer assume that Microsoft is the only answer to our business problems because they are not. By doing this, we can help speed up the change at Microsoft.

I believe that Microsoft will change but it is up to us to make that pace faster or slower!