In the space of a few days, a chap called Satya Nadella has become the most written about individual in global IT.
Even though few people outside the circle of journalists covering Microsoft had heard of him, and fewer still have met him, should Nadella read the press coverage of his appointment as only Microsoft’s third ever chief executive, he would learn a lot.
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He is, apparently, the perfect man for the job. He also is a sign that Microsoft is finished. It’s a travesty that an outsider was not appointed. But he offers much-needed continuity. How can someone so close to Microsoft’s obvious problems be chosen as CEO when clearly fresh ideas were needed? But it’s OK, because he’s not going come in from outside and ruin what is a resurgent company.
You choose which one you want to believe.
So far, every possible outcome in Nadella’s future as Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer’s successor has been confidently predicted. The only prediction you can say with absolute confidence is that somebody will be proved right.
Microsoft is, at this moment, the most successful doomed company in history. For all the justified criticisms of Windows 8 and the mistakes made in mobile technology, the software giant still returned record results for its latest financial quarter.
PC sales may be slumping, tablets and smartphones of non-Microsoft varieties may be in the ascendancy, but IT managers are still buying plenty of enterprise software. This has been Nadella’s most recent focus, as head of cloud and enterprise in Redmond.
There are plenty of commentators – this one included – who believe Microsoft will struggle to be a major player in both consumer and enterprise IT. Nadella will quickly face big decisions in this area with the impending integration of Nokia’s mobile phone business into Microsoft.
But if there is one message that the choice of CEO sends out, it is to reassure IT leaders with heavy Microsoft investments that the company recognises enterprise is its heartland. Many questions remain that Nadella will have to answer quickly as the dominance of Windows declines, but he will be a steady hand for the IT infrastructure software that so many customers depend upon.