On the surface, for Microsoft to do well and be successful at recovering business, they must learn to compete with companies like Google, Amazon, and Apple. Recent acquisitions, product updates, and company overhauls are all intended to get the old software company back on track. Reimagining Microsoft means shedding the software characteristic of yesteryear and anchoring a new image as a Devices and Services company. Microsoft wants to make devices and it wants to sell services. All of that is dependent on the Microsoft Cloud.
But, for this to actually work, Microsoft also has to alter how things have generally been done. Microsoft has a large speed bump on the way to glory that has to be eliminated before companies will move to the Cloud en masse. That speed bump is IT.
In Microsoft's Next Major Acquisition, I talked about how Microsoft has been looking for just the right moment over the past decade where they could literally supply complete IT services for every business out there. Technology has evolved, the Cloud has become ever-present, and Microsoft believes the time is right.
Since Microsoft announced it was "all in" with the Cloud, it has worked and toiled to get IT on its side about the Cloud, through conferences, webcasts, whitepapers, and other events and content. But, IT keeps fighting the Cloud. IT is stuck in the old ways of doing things.
Hmm…why do I keep thinking I'm somehow relating all of this to the Clone Wars, when the Empire hunted down and eliminated the Jedi?
For Microsoft to truly achieve its vision, and to be able to compete directly with Google, Amazon, Apple, and others, its largest competitor must be eliminated. In truth, Microsoft's largest competitor is IT. IT is keeping Microsoft from its vision of complete and total Cloud dominance, and of course, keeping it from revenue. IT still likes to work within the confines of the local network and casts a careful eye on data that passes outside of the corporate structure. On-premise solutions just don’t fit Microsoft's new model. Try as it might, Microsoft has not been able to make its Cloud message stick with IT. The messaging didn't work, so the message is no longer for IT. In the grand scheme, IT was supposed to be Microsoft's own Cloud migration army, doing the work for them until the army was no longer needed. However, migrating apps and services to the Cloud means job elimination for many and those smart enough to realize it are deliberately dragging their feet on the Cloud.
When a company looks to enter a market or sustain business there, one of the first things they look at is the competition. What will it take to compete? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the competition? What's the best way to take advantage of the weaknesses to gain dominance? Each competitor is different so a different plan would be required for each.
So, for IT, how would Microsoft go about eliminating this type of competitor? Hypothetically, if I were trying to do it covertly, I might do something like eliminate a valuable IT subscription service, which removes access to old and new products for learning and labs. I might also, suddenly and without much warning, kill a certification or two and promise to revamp the service in the future. Eventually, I would abolish a few of the more popular, larger conferences where IT Pros attend to gain knowledge and network with colleagues. The intent is not necessarily like Paul suggests in Does Microsoft Hate IT Pros? Instead, Microsoft may be attempting to dry up IT by eliminating learning opportunities, resources, and community – or, at least through making learning extremely hard to obtain. The harder it is to do a job, the easier it is to get frustrated and give up. Microsoft certainly doesn't hate IT, they just feel they are competing with IT for control over companies' Cloud dollars. The only thing standing in the way of Microsoft and success is IT. It's not emotional, it's just business.
This is not the end of this commentary. Truly it's just the beginning. In a few weeks I'll be able to add more. Check back.