Microsoft – what’s behind the changes?

June 29th, 2015 by Stephen Jones Leave a reply »

The last major senior management shake-up at Microsoft was a couple of years ago and was initiated by Ballmer. His reorganization involved doing away with several product divisions and folding the remains of the old units into larger, “flatter” groups to allow for improved communications among formerly disparate factions.

Nadella’s recent exec changes, particularly the ouster of Elop, whose former unit has been integrated into a new group called Windows and Devices Group (WDG), which includes Xbox, smartphones, and Surface tablets, among others, along with the Windows division. This change stands out because it undoes at least part of Ballmer’s reorg from two years past and puts even more of Nadella’s stamp on the “new” Microsoft.

More importantly, Microsoft’s recent exec changes better align it with the first pillar of Nadella’s “mobile-first, cloud-first” initiative. Nadella’s mobile strategy has always been more than simply building Lumia smartphones or selling more Xbox units: though some may still look at quarterly sales and believe Microsoft is dropping the mobile ball. But there’s more to it than that.

There seems to be a move to technology rather than marketing in the management changes

Mobile-first: more than devices
If there was any doubt about Nadella’s vision for mobile, even after (finally) announcing Microsoft’s wildly successful Office solution is now compatible with Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS, those should have been dispelled with the introduction of its Windows for iOS and Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) dominant Android OS. The pending Windows 10 OS is said to provide an even better integration experience for users, regardless of device .

Similar to Google’s strategy behind its free Android OS, getting Windows into as many devices as possible — regardless of manufacturer — accomplishes several things. Microsoft’s Bing will be the default search engine, and with last quarter’s 21% jump in search ad revenues, Bing is quickly becoming more than an afterthought.

More devices running Windows should help maintain, the growing number of consumer Microsoft Office 365 users — a figure that increased a whopping 35% last quarter sequentially. integrating Windows into as many devices as possible ramps up Office 365 usage and boosts other app sales like Dynamics CRM.

Nadella’s new WDG division headed up by Terry Myerson better aligns Microsoft with its plans for a more holistic approach to mobile.

With Office 365, Microsoft is placing more emphasis on tools that enhance the entire online platform instead of focusing exclusively on content management

Rather than a “big bang” release every few years, Microsoft is becoming more nimble and shifting toward smaller, more frequent releases whether for Dynamcis, or Office 365

Work is not where we go, but what we do. The workplace is changing and so is the workforce. The enterprise must adapt to new ways of working—whether employees are at the office, working from a café, or from the lobby before a big presentation. Employees expect to be just as productive no matter where they’re at or what device they’re using. VPN clients, intranet access, or home office productivity, or Office 365 in the cloud.

Security has to be rock solid in order for all of this mobile, BYOD, and sharing functionality with partners and customers to work. Microsoft made a point to highlight security in the Ignite keynote. Office 365 has been verified to meet requirements specified in ISO 27001, EU model clauses, HIPAA BAA, and FISMA. It can also support the most complex scenarios around eDiscovery, device management, and DLP.

Social functionality within the workplace is now proven. It provides more effective and time-efficient methods for your employees to work together than traditional methods that require that employees know who to go to for help (e.g., sending an email to a specific recipient vs. posting a question on a forum that anyone can respond to). New functionality in Office 365 is heavily focused on leveraging this model e.g Yammer

BI, big data predictive analytics and dashboards, which highlight cross-team interaction and provide data on how and when you work to help maintain work-life balance. Understanding all of this usage data is key to ensuring effective use of technology, as well as staying attuned to your users’ needs. See the Office telemetry dashboard.

Office Graph is the next iteration of search + cloud + Azure machine learning. It is the “brain” behind features such as Clutter and Delve. To work effectively, it is important for organizational details (e.g., role, hierarchy, team name, location) to be up to date in Active Directory to be able to find:
1) content without query;
2) content trending around you;
3) content you didn’t know existed;
4) colleagues by expertise or interest.
In addition, Microsoft will expose Graph via an API to develop custom apps directly against it.

SharePoint is now positioned as one function of the Office 365 platform. The platform has evolved. With Office 365, Microsoft is placing more emphasis on tools that enhance the entire online platform instead of focusing exclusively on content management. With this broader focus, there is more choice, and with that the need to clearly define business cases for each technology.

What does this all mean?

Groups, Delve, Microsites, Team Sites, OneDrive, and Yammer, do you know which provides the best fit and value for how your team works?

The emphasis on mobile underscores the importance of responsive, fast user experiences. Many core elements of an on-premise solution (e.g., structured navigation, content query web parts) have implications on performance that are magnified in the cloud. In addition, heavily customized user experiences often leverage custom master pages. By using custom master pages, we can miss out on new experiences and features being rolled out on the Office 365 platform

A move to the cloud provides an opportunity to reassess current information architecture. Has your business remained static since you first deployed SharePoint? Take advantage of the opportunity to ensure that all of the assumptions, process definitions, and changes since are reflected in a manner that provide an experience that supports and enhances how your employees work.

In an age of social collaboration and online productivity, new roles are required to ensure an organization is working in the best possible way. Site or community ownership is no longer a passive role. Site owners will evolve into community managers and shift their focus from governance to content curation.

New technology also spawns new roles, such as machine-learning engineers and data experts who strive to garner knowledge from new ways of looking at data that were not possible in the past.

Microsoft’s increased focus on social collaboration and dashboards, which highlight cross-team interaction and provide data on how and when you work to help maintain work-life balance. Understanding all of this usage data is key to ensuring effective use of technology, as well as staying attuned to your users’ needs.

when you’re deploying a new solution for a client, individual users resist changing the way they get their work done and their performance suffers, making them a drag on workgroup productivity and profitability.

Customer-business transitions to cloud-based and hybrid cloud and on-premises solutions are making the “people” side of adoption and change even more important. At the same time, increased use of cloud and mobile applications means upgrade-time cycles are becoming extremely quick. Microsoft is adjusting the previously stately pace of Windows upgrades to accommodate the accelerated expectations of the market.

Change management is important. Agile powerful and simple is the Dynamics Ax mantra and is major factor in user adoption . Some of the basic keys to starting a good Adoption and Change Management (ACM) project are:

•Situation Awareness: a clear, broad, and deep awareness of the way the people in the company do business today, how they’ll be doing business in the future, and what the gaps are between those two scenarios.

•Sponsorship: Understand the power structure in your organization, and determin who is for and against the changes being planned.

•Resistance: Find out whether there are individuals or groups that will be resisting the planned changes and what the root causes are for their feelings.

•Incentives: Determining what employee incentives are in use in the client company. WIFM “What’s in it for me” for many it is fear of the unknown rather than belief in a better future .

•Training: Understand how new and existing employees are to be trained on new business tools and processes.

•Communications: Survey how client management communicates with employees across the company and within workgroups.

•Expertise: A change management team leader who’s trained, knowledgeable and, experienced in change management.

One benefit of using consultants is their exposure to change management every day. Its easy to pinpoint the need but it takes time and conscious effort to out theory into practice and manager also need to go through a change process.

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