Information and Communication Technology has brought so much change in today’s modern world. Many technologies are utilized by big companies all over the world. They take advantage of these advancements since all these can speed up processes and transactions and definitely change the way business is handled. One of the leading companies in the world of Information Technology is Microsoft. All over the years, it has proven its name and has helped not only computer users but also employees. Computer users are now more aware of the advancement in IT and are being provided with software that can help improve their day-to-day operations.
William H. Gates, popularly known as “Bill Gates”, is the chairman of the world’s leading software distributor – Microsoft Corporation. He was the son of a Seattle attorney and a University of Washington school teacher. He discovered his interest in software and began programming as early as 13 years old. He entered Harvard on 1973 and there he developed a version of the BASIC programming language for the first microcomputer – the MITS Altair. In his third year, he left Harvard to give much of his time to Microsoft – company which he started in 1975 together with his childhood friend, Paul Allen. They began developing software for personal computer since they strongly believe that the computer would be valuable tool on every office desktop and in every home. His vision in personal computing has been the central success of Microsoft in the software industry. In his leadership, it has been Microsoft’s mission to have continuous advances and improvements in software technology, to make it easier and cost-effective for computer users. In addition to his love of computers and software, he founded Corbis which develops a comprehensive digital archive of art and photography from public and private collections around the globe. Philanthropy is also as important to Gates as software. He and his wife opened a foundation to support philanthropic initiatives in the area of global health. (http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/billg/bio.mspx)
Information is a vital ingredient in any organization and in today’s world, digital information is much more important. To make digital information flow an intrinsic part of any company, it is best to insist that communication flow through the organization over e-mail so that everybody can response to whatever news with much speed, use digital tools to create cross-departmental virtual teams that can share knowledge and build on each other’s ideas in real time, use digital tools to eliminate single-task jobs that use the skills of a knowledge worker, use digital communications to redefine the nature of the business and to use digital tools to help customers solve problems for themselves. In addition, Gates mentioned in his book “Business at the speed of Thought” that any company, like a human being should have an internal communication mechanism to coordinate all actions. Most businesses focus on the customers, products and services, revenues, costs, competitors, delivery and employees. With good management using whatever solutions available, the result has been a proliferation of incompatible systems. Every business has “autonomic” systems – that is the operational process that has to go on if the company is to survive. Every business organization has a corporate mission, has to manage its income and expenses and has a variety of administrative processes. A company needs to establish good business reflexes to guard its forces in response to any unexpected event. In addition, company can use the Internet to work seamlessly with professionals as consultants rather than as company employees. One important principle is that the company should focus on their core competencies. For Microsoft, outsourcing has been a way to temper the expansion of their workforce reduces management overhead. The Web workstyle enables them to extend electronic web of partnerships and keeps them from being in the wrong areas. In addition, the internet has not always been Microsoft’s top priority in strategy. Its arrival changed the business is done these days. In 1995, experts predicted that the internet would put Microsoft out of business but it didn’t happen. The company used the digital nervous system to respond to this crisis. One way to attack problems is to attack it from a variety of perspectives and to use technology to create streamlined processes. Microsoft used web-based tools to get timely responses to complex questions from their sales representatives, support engineers and technical managers world-wide. Web-based information system is Microsoft’s key component in improving the quality and timeliness of answers to customers’ questions. The product managers of Microsoft live their lives giving presentations to their customers, tracking and supporting sales, creating marketing materials and working with program managers. With their years of experience in the business, consultants often come in with fresh ideas and new ways of looking at issues. Furthermore, to integrate customer complaints it is advisable to focus on the unhappy customers, use technology to gather information on the customers’ unhappy experiences with the product and use technology to drive the news to the right people. Adopting a learning posture can make customer complaints the best source of quality improvements and adopting the right technology will give the company the power to capture and convert complaints into better products and services. As e-commerce booms, the merchants who treat this as more than the digital cash register will do their best. Sales are the ultimate goal but of course the sale is part of an online customer experience. It’s important that customers come away from electronic interactions (Gates, 1999).
To increase the openness of Microsoft’s products and draw forward greater interoperability, opportunity, customers and competitors, the company announced its set of broad-reaching changes to its current technology and business practices. To be specific, the company is now implementing four (4) new interoperability principles – ensuring open connections, promoting data portability, enhancing support for industry standards and fostering more open engagement with customers. According to Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO, the principles present one important step and a very relevant change on how the company share information about their products and technologies. In addition, according to Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect, Ray Ozzie, when the company announced its principles and steps, this reflects the importance that businesses place upon the ease of information-sharing. He also quoted that “Customers need all their vendors, including and especially Microsoft, to deliver software and services that are flexible enough such that any developer can use their open interfaces and data to effectively integrate applications or to compose entirely new solutions”. “By increasing the openness of our products, we will provide developers additional opportunity to innovate and deliver value for customers.” The principles and actions apply to the following high-volume Microsoft’s products: Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, Exchange Server 2007 and Office SharePoint Server 2007. Furthermore, to enhance Microsoft’s connections with third-party products, they will publish in their websites the documentation for Application Programming Interface (API) and communications protocol. Developers need not pay to access this information. Microsoft will also document how it supports these standards and they will publish it on their website for free access. “The principles and actions announced today by Microsoft are a very significant expansion of its efforts to promote interoperability,” said Manfred Wangler, vice president, Corporate Research and Technology, Software and Engineering, Siemens. “While Microsoft has made considerable progress on interoperability over the past several years, including working with us on the Interoperability Executive Customer Council, today’s news take Microsoft’s interoperability commitment to a whole new level”. In addition, Microsoft will provide indication on their websites which protocols are covered by patent and will give license on these patents at low costs. They are also providing the agreement of not suing open-source developers for development of these protocols. “As we said immediately after the CFI decision last September, Microsoft is committed to taking all necessary steps to ensure we are in full compliance with European law,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft general counsel. “Through the initiatives we are announcing, we are taking responsibility for implementing the principles in the interoperability portion of the CFI decision across all of Microsoft’s high-volume products. We will take additional steps in the coming weeks to address the remaining portion of the CFI decision, and we are committed to providing full information to the European Commission so it can evaluate all of these steps.” (http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2008/feb08/02-21ExpandInteroperabilityPR.mspx).
In a recent convergence in Orlando, Florida, Kirill Tatarinov, CVP Microsoft Business Solutions mentioned in his speech that dynamics is very vibrant business for Microsoft. This is a business that continues growing at 20% over the last six quarters. It was found out in a report that in last quarter 26% growth of customer billing that continues on the strong performance of the company’s result. He also added that Microsoft has always been a player in the overall push for software development and modernization. It’s delivering familiar software to computer users that make sense at all. Tatarinov then added that cost still plays a significant part in technology investment decisions specifically in reducing cost of ownership or as he puts it “Making sure that through that pre-configuration that our customers get from Microsoft where business applications is at the top of the stack and all of our infrastructure technology is in the stack itself, comes pre-packaged and pre-integrated.” (http://www.mycustomer.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=133627&d=101&h=817&f=816)
In the days where internet was not yet in used, consumers could only get goods from manufacturers through tiers of distributors or resellers. But today, with the fast growth of the internet, consumes can transact business with manufacturers through the web. Also, in the pre-internet days, gathering of information about products requires much time. But today, despite the imperfect search tools, consumers can use the internet to get some information. And any company can dispense any information at a low cost. The internet has always been a great tool in helping customers find the best deal they can. In addition, good information system can remove customer’s waiting time and the speed of delivery and interaction with customers made possible by the internet effectively shifts products into services. The thrust for Microsoft’s response to the internet didn’t come from the senior executives but from a small number of dedicated employees who saw events unfolding. For Microsoft, each employee has a PC and e-mail access since this is a very famous part of their corporate culture. Being prepared with to experiment with new processes and business solutions is another important factor for Microsoft (Gates, 1999).
In all aspects of business operations, competitors are always present and have always been a part of the game. To play a healthy competition, it is best for any organization to do the right thing without any hidden agenda and they will focus on their customer – that is giving the best products and services to them because it is what they deserve.
To compensate for less frequent product launches, Microsoft is organizing a “Go-To-Market” (GTM) campaign. This focuses on short-term strategic challenges and provides consistent marketing approaches for most business products. GTMs address the lack of new product releases by identifying a strategic issue and constructing a framework for addressing it with broad-reach advertising and customer and partner incentives. GTM is basically consists of various components:
§ A broad advertising campaign which is aimed at targeting audience to raise awareness of IT problems. This generate sales lead as customers order marketing CD or visit special sites to learn more about issues relating to Information Technology.
§ Specific Marketing Tools which aims at those customers who expressed much desire in learning more about Microsoft solutions. This includes assessment tools which help customers quantify the potential gains from Microsoft solutions.
§ Training, consulting offerings and evaluation products which helps interested customers to better understand how a proposed solution solves a customer’s specific requirements. Training sessions delivered online lets customer explore solutions at their own pace.
§ Solution Accelerators and Project Guides which aids customers who have a commitment with Microsoft in deploying and managing solution for both customers and partners.
Based on the components mentioned, customers are exposed to more Microsoft’s products at any stage in the process. Partners with vertical focus can take advantage of the features of a GTM. To measure the success of GTM, Microsoft established specific metrics:
§ Year-over-year increases in sales of particular products
§ Gains in market share
§ Declines in the installed base of old products, such as Windows NT 4.0 or Exchange 5.5
§ The number of partners involved in the campaign
§ “Attach rates” for related products
Microsoft also quantifies market opportunities for partners and their potential spending on new systems. Larger Microsoft partners are specifically invited to take part in going to market that are relevant to their products and services. Smaller partners get less support from Microsoft but the company makes a significant effort to give them the resources they need. Partners are expected to take any required training to align their own sales effort with the focus of the GTM. Microsoft also takes risks the GTM inflation as various parts of its organization (DeGroot, 2005).
For a company, such as Microsoft, where there are lots of projects to work on, proper management of contingent is vital. Five different groups need to coordinate one another in their use of temporary workers: the temporary workers themselves, the agencies, the managers, the internal contingent staff grouping and corporate procurement. Their business problem was multifaceted. They also had a difficulty ensuring a consistent contracting process and obtaining the correct people at a proper hourly rate. One management issue was whether or not the manager has the authority to hire contingent workers. Microsoft’s new process had to support changes without holding up the work. Microsoft’s international business grew fast once they started rolling overseas. They made a point of moving into international markets and their subsidiaries had a lot of entrepreneurial energy. The independence of their subsidiaries extended to their financial reporting by a number of different business arrangements and taxation rules. Microsoft’s sales also includes s central customer database which they are using to evaluate purchasing patterns (Gates, 1999).
From the book Business at the Speed of Thought, the following are the business lessons that can be applied by other companies:
§ To win big, you have to take big risks.
§ With manufacturing, you trade information for inventory.
§ A lousy process will consume ten times as many hours as the work itself requires.
§ Redesign processes to deliver optimal information flow.
§ As the internet drives down the cost of transactions, the middle man will disappear.
§ Customer-service will become the primary value-added function.
§ Every new project should directly build on the learning.
§ Tying compensation to improve quality will work with real-time feedback of quality problems.
§ Business leaders must own decisions about processes involving technology.
§ Unproductive meetings are signs of poor information flow.
§ Teams should be able to act with the same unity of purpose.
Applying the correct marketing strategy really matters in all organizations – may it big or small. In today’s modern world, Microsoft has gone far. They are the leading software distributor and they established its name over the years.
DeGroot, Paul. (2005). Going to Market, Microsoft Style. Retrieved from http://www.directionsonmicrosoft.com/sample/DOMIS/update/2005/02feb/0205gtmms.htm on April 18, 2008.
Gates, Bill. (1999). Business at the Speed of Thought. New York: Warner Books.
No Author. (2002). Bill Gates: Chairman, Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved from http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/billg/bio.mspx on April 16, 2008.
No Author. (2005). Microsoft Executives Outline Business Applications Strategy and Solutions Road Map at Convergence 2005. Retrieved from http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2005/mar05/03-07Convergence05UmbrellaPR.mspx on April 17, 2008.
No Author. (2008). Special Report: Microsoft talks business apps strategy. Retrieved from http://www.mycustomer.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=133627&d=101&h=817&f=816 on April 18, 2008.