Microsoft restructure: will we see a more nimble, decisive and motivated IT giant?

11 Jul 2013

Will Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer succeed in creating a more streamlined Microsoft?

Microsoft is embarking on the most ambitious reorganisation in its 37-year history; restructuring the company into 12 distinct groups with a clearer product strategy.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said Microsoft has had change beyond its original vision of putting a PC on every desk to supporting the latest shift in personal technology to encompass the growth of broadband, the mobile internet and devices like smartphones and tablets.

“Our strategy will be to focus on creating a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower most people around the globe at home, at work and on the go, for the activities they value most.”

In an email to staff under the heading ‘One Strategy, One Microsoft’, Ballmer said the aim is to be one company with one strategy. “We will see our product line holistically, not as a set of islands.”

He elaborated: “All parts of the company will share and contribute to the success of core offerings, like Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox, Surface, Office 365 and our EA offer, Bing, Skype, Dynamics, Azure and our servers. All parts of the company will contribute to activating high-value experiences for our customers.

Microsoft’s new leadership line-up

An operating Systems Engineering Group led by Terry Myserson will span all Microsoft’s OS work, comprising mobile, console, PC, back-end systems and the core cloud services for operating systems.

Julie Larson-Green will lead the new Devices and Studios Engineering Group with responsibility for all hardware development and supply chain from the smallest to the largest device. This group will include studio experiences including games, music, video and other entertainment.

The Applications and Services Engineering Group will be headed by Qi Lu, which will focus on applications and services core technologies in productivity, communication, search and other information categories.

The Cloud and Enterprise Engineering Group will be led by Satya Nadella, who will focus on development of back-end technologies like data centre, database and specific technologies for enterprise IT scenarios and development tools. He will also lead data centre development, construction and operation.

Dynamics will have its own group led by Kirill Tatarinov, in which its marketing leader will report to Tami Reller and its sales leader will report to the report to the COO, Kevin Turner.

As COO, Turner will continue leading worldwide sales, field marketing, IT, licensing and commercial operations.

In terms of R&D, the Advanced Strategy and Research Group will be led by Eric Rudder, looking at new technology trends on a cross-company basis.

A centralised Marketing Group for the entire company will be led by Reller

Partnership with other industry giants such as Nokia, Yahoo! and others will be led by Tony Bates in the Business Development and Evangelism Group.

All group finance operations will be led by Amy Hood in the Finance Group.

Brad Smith will continue as general counsel and leader of the Legal Group.

The HR Group will be led by Lisa Brummel.

Kurt DelBane, a driving force behind the development of Office, will be retiring from Microsoft while Craig Mundie will be departing at the end of 2014 but will be dedicating his time 100pc on a special project for Ballmer.

Rick Rashid, creator of the MSR computer science research institution, will be stepping away from Microsoft Research and will dedicate himself to a new role driving core OS innovation.

Microsoft’s restructure: one company, one strategy

Whether the reorganisation of Microsoft will be a success, only time will tell but it is clear Ballmer wants fewer walled gardens and a clear line of communication so no opportunity is missed.

For example, each major initiative to evolve out of staff meetings will have a champion who will report directly to Ballmer who said the key objective is to be nimble, communicative, collaborative, decisive and motivated.

The ultimate proof of the success of the strategy will ultimately lie with the consumer or CIO, each of whom exists in a world beyond the traditional PC where a myriad of devices form factors, apps, cloud services and content are available to choose from.

Ballmer said the streamlined organisation will strive to create a single experience where Windows is the driving force for “one company, one set of learnings, one set of apps, and one personal library of entertainment, photos and information everywhere.

In his essay on the new Microsoft, Ballmer said the vision is: “One store for everything. Microsoft has the clear opportunity to offer consumers a unified experience across all aspects of their life, whether the screen is a small wearable, a phone, a tablet, an 85-inch display or other screens and devices we have not yet even imagined.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years