Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella today laid out his ambitions for the firm in the coming years, spelling out three key areas of focus.
The chief executive stated that the cloud and mobility revolutions were happening conterminously and would be at the heart of Microsoft’s future.
“The question we need to ask is what do we do uniquely in this mobile first cloud first world? What is Microsoft’s contribution?” he stated during his keynote address at Future Decoded in London.
The first area that Nadella has chosen to focus on is that of the reinvention of productivity and business processes.
“With all of this abundance of computing that we have, what is still scarce is human attention and time,” he said. “[We hope] that we can create a system both individually and at the team and organisational levels to help allocate that scarce resource wisely, so that we can get more out of every moment of our lives.”
Nadella’s rhetoric has often been criticised for being blue sky and fluffy, but he is quickly proving that he has the vision to convert his lofty ambitions into legitimate products.
He gave number of demonstrations, using both a Surface Pro and what he referred to as an iPhone Pro (an iPhone with Microsoft applications installed on it). The demos showcased the likes Delve and PowerBI analytics and provided some context for Nadella’s vision of a more productive workplace.
Microsoft’s fearless leader said that the company’s second ambition was to continue building out what he referred to as ‘the intelligent cloud’.
“It’s about building out the cloud infrastructure that will fuel the next generation of applications for everyone from startups… to large business,” Nadella said.
“We understand that realities such as power consumption, speed of light and regulation are all real issues. You need flexibility and choice,” he added, referring to the need for hybrid deployments.
Nadella also used his keynote to announce plans to build a UK datacentre in 2016. There is an increasing amount of pressure on global cloud providers to offer data residency in order to avoid aggressive data apprehension tactics from US agencies.
Microsoft is currently embroiled in a legal case with the US Department of Justice. The DoJ is insisting that Microsoft hand over email communications from a server based in Ireland, while Microsoft and other technology firms contend that it could set a dangerous precedent for governments to seize information held in the cloud. The outcome of the case will therefore have impact on the significance of Nadella’s datacentre announcement.
Microsoft’s third ambition is focussed firmly on Windows 10 and creating a more ubiquitous personal computing experience.
“It’s about being able to imagine a world with Raspberry Pi on one end and HoloLens on the other, where you have a unified experience; a unified platform for developers, and a unified security and management plane for IT – that is what Windows 10 represents,” Nadella said. “It is a first step in this transformation to an operating system that is run as a service.”