30 months ago Ray Ozzie joined Microsoft, 18 months ago Ray became Chief Software Architect for that company (Bill Gates old job). In June I had the chance to meet up with 600 people at the Lotus 25th Anniversary including Ray. Having moved from Lotus (IBM) to Microsoft I was more than interested in Ray’s view on the world of collaboration and innovation.
A gentle prod of Ray’s office led me to some public quotes. the following I found to be some of the most interesting, Ray said ‘There’s tremendous opportunity because of the changing nature of work — the fact that organizations are increasingly distributed, the fact that we work at home so much now. There are lots of opportunities for innovation in that realm.’. That was said in the context of what Microsoft has to focus upon in the near future. Further on he stated ‘If we’re aspiring to deliver productivity to a customer, how should we best weave that into services that are deployed through a browser? What aspects do you want mobile? What kind of synchronisation should automatically be built in? Should I use the camera in that mobile device to snap a picture of the white board and have it automatically go up to the service and integrate it with the other documents related to this meeting that I’m working on?’. We as an industry are constantly seeing better integration between software products and service but it is still not easy.
I believe we are experiencing a business schism altering how we make use of technology in many areas. The question I am sure Microsoft, IBM et al are considering is one associated with the split of organisations into supernovae on one hand and asteroid belts on the other is leading to conflicting needs and abilities. The large corporations can deploy large phalanxes of technicians to fix and maintain ‘stuff’ but they are finding it harder and harder to innovate, inertia is stopping them moving forward. Smaller companies have less technological skills to hand but understand that they must be at the leading edge of innovation and capable of working with the big boys. This leads me to a view that unless we move to a state that our technologies are more lego-like then apart from small pockets of success we are possibly faced with stagnation through a plethora of incompatible and un-connectable soltuions.