Hopefully, reports claiming that Satya Nadella – Microsoft's cloud and enterprise chief – will be Microsoft's next CEO are just a lot of hype.
It’s true enough that Nadella is brilliant. Since he's been top enterprise guy, Microsoft's business division's success is practically a mirror image of its consumer's. The company has adroitly moved its iconic on-premise business wares, including Office and Windows Server, to excellent streamlined cloud platforms.
Office 365 and Azure are making great gains in adoption. Gartner and other industry analysts show Azure heartily gobbling into Amazon's cloud platform market share. Hyper-V keeps nipping at VMware's heels. While enterprises will take time to adopt Windows Server 2012 en masse, the new server OS (dubbed "Cloud OS" by Redmond) is bound to find a comfortable place in business datacentres as organisations upgrade their server infrastructures.
Enterprise Microsoft is doing just fine. And Nadella is a big reason for that health. However, Nadella's success on the business side of Microsoft does not necessarily mean he will be successful on the consumer side. It's almost as if the powers that be (investors, board of directors, and so forth) who make these kind of decisions, took a look at the team currently making Microsoft the most profit and decided that team's head should be the new CEO.
If so, that's the wrong approach. It's exactly that type of stagnant, business and profit-oriented nineties tycoon mindset that’s keeping Microsoft from hitting the mark in the consumer space.
Redmond needs the opposite of what Apple needed when Steve Jobs passed away. Apple was rich in creativity and innovation, and remains so (although some may argue that innovation has been slipping of late). It's almost as if the essence of Jobs flowed into the engineers, designers, and other Apple employees, and still does even after his death. With Apple already abundant in creative energy, a bottom-line, business-savvy Tim Cook was a good choice for its new CEO.
Microsoft knows business. What it needs now is magic – a CEO strong in creativity. Someone who can shake out the stodginess and awaken some real innovation in the consumer side of the company. A new CEO who will know not to micromanage the already-thriving enterprise side of Microsoft and will give a good kick in the pants to the consumer side.
Personally, I would love to see what Julie Larson-Green, the executive vice president overseeing devices like the Xbox and Surface tablet, would do if freed from the direction of Steve Ballmer. I think she could really flourish at the top and take the consumer side to a new height.
Another great option would be just to recruit from outside of Microsoft, and bypass the Ballmer holdovers completely. Get an executive from the mobile or the gaming industry with a proven track record of steering the company in a creative direction that resulted in massive profit.
What Nadella and the teams that develop the enterprise portfolio at Redmond know best are the desires of the business community. Going with a CEO who uses business savvy to influence consumer offerings is directly counter to current tech trends. It's the consumer products and cloud services and start-ups that are disrupting and re-shaping business technology. Microsoft's new CEO should be driven more by creativity than profit.
For more, check out: 5 things you should know about potential Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
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