Satya Nadella to flatten Microsoft and reverse device strategy

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has sent out a memo to all 100,000 employees, in preparation for what is likely to be a major reorganisation

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has sent a memo to all 100,000 of the company's employees, in preparation for what is rumoured to be a major reorganisation.

Reports suggest Nadella wants a cultural change from the top down at Microsoft.

The company will become a flatter organisation, suggesting that a chunk of middle management is set for the chop.

Nadella wrote: "You can expect to have fewer processes, but more focused and measurable outcomes. You will see fewer people get involved in decisions and more emphasis on accountability."

In effect, the company will change how products are released to a continuous delivery model, rather than major releases.

Nadella said: "Microsoft must find ways to simplify and move faster, more efficiently. We will increase the fluidity of information and ideas by taking actions to flatten the organisation and develop leaner business processes."

He said the company will use analytics to drive product development. "Data and Applied Science resources will focus on measurable outcomes for our products and predictive analysis of market trends, which will allow us to innovate more effectively," he explained.

Tone down device focus

The company will no longer push devices and services, but will focus instead on being a mobile and cloud platform provider. "While the devices and services description was helpful in starting our transformation, we now need to hone in on our unique strategy," said Nadella.

Previously, when he became CEO in February 2014, Nadella stressed Microsoft's role in a software-powered world. "We have talked about how our strategy going forward is about devices and services," he said at the time.

In the memo Nadella said: "We will obsess over reinventing productivity and platforms. We will relentlessly focus on and build great digital work and life experiences with specific focus on dual us."

Enterprise push

Earlier this year Nadella emphasised the company’s focus on enterprise computing and SQL Server. At the time, he said: "Ambient intelligence starts with everyone in an organisation having questions and testing out hypotheses, gaining insights and taking actions." 

It appears the use of analytics tools and methodologies will not only be integrated into SQL Server, but will form the basis of Microsoft decision-making.

For heterogeneous computing, Nadella highlighted the new Enterprise Mobility Suite. He said: "We now enable IT organisations to manage and secure the Windows, iOS and Android devices." The company has also released Office365 natively on the Appstore for iOS.

But a deeper level of heterogenous computing may be on the cards. At its Build 2014 conference in April, Xamarain, which has developed a cross-platform version of the Windows .Net framework, showed Xamarin Mobile, a library that exposes a single set of APIs for accessing common mobile device functionality across iOS, Android, and Windows platforms. 

Apps can be developed in Microsoft’s Visual Studio development environment. This level of integration along with Nadella’s goals for heterogeneity has fuelled rumours that Microsoft will acquire Xamarain.

A threshold for Microsoft

Microsoft is expected to reveal details of a new version of Windows, codenamed Threshold in the next few weeks. 

Rumour has it that this new operating system will offer different personalities depending on the form factor of the device: a tablet will be optimised for touch with the Windows 8 style UI, while laptops will have a more usable Start menu, as in Windows 7. Whatever Microsoft delivers in the Threshold release, it is clear is Nadella will want it to become the first major product to arise from his new strategy.

As such, IT departments may have to prepare for the continuous release of Windows functionality, rather than service pack updates and monthly patch Tuesday releases, that they have become accustomed too. This is the software upgrade model used by browsers, mobile operating systems and software as a service providers.

While the company plans to reverse the strategy of former CEO Steve Ballmer, who aimed to emulate Apple’s iOS ecosystem with gadgets and services, Microsoft is clearly making a u-turn. That said, Nadella emphasised the company’s new Surface Pro 3 table devices, and Microsoft’s continued support of its xBox games console business, which means, these devices will remain a part of Microsoft's future even if it no longer sees itself as a device and services company.

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