Suggestions for MSFT’s Transformation

Source: WSJ, Aug 2013

Bob Lutz, former vice chairman of global product development at General Motors Co.

The next Microsoft leader should either be a so-called product guy—or he should be someone who deeply appreciates and will give the product people the freedom to run. As in the auto business, you need people who have almost a sixth sense for what’s next.

The company either has to be run by a risk-accepting person or a person who is fascinated and receptive to new ideas and a product genius himself. A high-technology company that does not encourage out-of-the-box thinking is doomed.

James Breyer, venture capitalist and former director at Facebook Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.: 

Microsoft needs to be built more from the ground up with new mobile and social platforms. The biggest mistake is for Microsoft not to experiment enough with many of these new and emerging spaces.

In many areas with long-term opportunities—like cloud computing, the data center and big data—Microsoft should be extremely willing to cannibalize existing products.

Paula Long, co-founder and CEO of business-data company DataGravity Inc.:

What does Microsoft stand for today? Is it productivity tools, or tablets or something else? The market doesn’t know anymore, and Microsoft’s next leader needs to communicate that mission clearly.

For example, Microsoft owns the application space. If I were in the leadership seat there, I’d have to ask: How can the company go deeper into this corner of the market where it’s strongest? How can Microsoft tap into the intelligence users create with its tools?

As a Microsoft customer, I see an exciting, unexplored opportunity. Microsoft is one of the biggest owners and producers of data, and it has the chance to be more than just a conduit for that raw material.

Instead, the company could create additional value for users—and reestablish its prior dominance—by extending its server and productivity tools with solutions that extract real, actionable information from data. All of that data is creating a real pain point for customers, who know they’re sitting on gold, so how does Microsoft weave intelligence into this for them? That’s a huge opportunity in the market right now.

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