"Coming to the UK is in amazing experience," enthused Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella as he took to the stage at Future Decoded 2014. "At Microsoft we have an ethos that you should launch in the UK and succeed there, then you can succeed anywhere else."
Future Decoded brought together influential thought leader under the broad banner of one weighty topic: Where is technology taking us? Featuring keynote speeches from eminent figures such as Jeremy Paxman, Bob Geldof and Dame Stella [blah blah], Nadella's address closed the morning and marked the first time he had spoken in the UK as CEO of Microsoft.
His speech had been heralded as an opportunity for Nadella to outline "how Microsoft is creating the next generation of technology innovation." That's a broad statement to be sure, but his remarks were still decidedly vague.
Microsoft is going through the most significant period of transformation in his history, but Nadella's main focus was on the notion of "reinventing productivity."
"Productivity as a single world doesn't have that emotional appeal," he said, "but if you look at what one does to maintain a productive life, it's the empowerment, the freedom an individual needs. For me, it's about empowering every individual and every organisation to do more, and to achieve more."
How exactly you enable that productivity, it's a question on which the Microsoft CEO remained schtum. Instead he threw out key words like "computing fabric," "ubiquity of competing" and "orchestrate the mobility" – of which we're still trying to decode.
Still, he did have a useful nugget of advice for business leaders.
"There are three concentric circles that need to click into gear for any organisation to thrive," Nadella said. "You have to have new concepts, and these have to be complimented by new capabilities (for example we have capabilities in the cloud and in silicon), and you've got to have a culture that constantly evolves to support the first two. This is what any organisation needs to do in order to reinvent themselves. You can't at any point stop, because that's when you get into trouble."
It certainly is a nice idea, though it could have been book ended by dynamic discussion on Microsoft's recent ventures that have made headlines across the globe. Most obviously, Microsoft has made no secret of the fact it is reinventing itself as a "mobile first, cloud first company." This was a clear focus of Nadella today when he praised the UK for its "rapid adoption of cloud," and his advice that "the only way to orchestrate the mobility is the cloud."
However, there were a slew of other intriguing issues that could have augmented his 15 minute chat with Microsoft's Chief Envisioning Officer, Dave Coplin. We could have heard from the horse's mouth what Nadella experienced when he took over from Steve Ballmer, for example, or the launch of Microsoft Band (the company's first wearable device.) He could have ran us through why Microsoft has announced a partnership with Dropbox for syncing and sharing office docs, or given us further insights on the new Office apps for iPhone and Android.
A lot's been happening in the world of Microsoft, but today's fireside chat may have been just that bit too cosy for the world's headlines. For a rundown of the other keynotes from Bob Geldof and Jeremy Paxman, check out our liveblog of the event Microsoft Future Decoded 2014.