Being on travel, I have less time to slow my brain down to digest what I absorb from my senses, but sitting in Portland airport (PDX), feet propped on window sill, coffee, laptop, phone dangling from wherever, I had a few thoughts I need to export from the old cranial cavity before I board the flying tuna can to my next stop. No segue, let’s go…
Microsoft is indeed an impressive company. People joke about them; Poke and pick at their products, strategies, marketing, and so on, even their product names (as I have quite often), but whatever, the final score is this: they earn billions, while you and I do not. They’re doing something right.
Call it what you want, they’re making it work. That said, they’ve earned the right to make a few missteps along the way. Because, while you and I can’t make more than a few mistakes in a given year, they make up for a few with more successes, which happen to earn billions of $$$$. So, anyhow, I bitch and moan and gripe, but they still have my respect.
And, what exactly is “they” anyhow? Our media-soaked senses seem inclined to wrap all groups into a new creature, as if Gov. Rick Perry’s insistence that corporations are indeed (legally and otherwise) “people”, we wrap “them” into a “it”. Singular. But really, after years of interacting with their employees, no two are alike, yet the common quality (95% of them anyway) is a sincere focus on results.
No, I’m not sucking ass just because they bought LinkedIn and I’m hoping for a magic phone call or anything. I had my magic phone call, but I didn’t have enough pixie dust to sprinkle on it, but that’s another story.
Putting some perspective from 1980’s until now, I would sum up their path, from then to “now” as this: They won their battles as a result of their competition making poor decisions.
Whether it was Sun, Novell, IBM, WordPerfect, Lotus, Borland, or whoever. People like to point fingers, and I suppose I’m pointing mine as well, but… every one of those companies made strategic and tactical decisions that boxed them into a corner, and Microsoft simply opened the lunch box and ate the sandwich. Period.
We can argue about how their competition had superior technology, and all that, but that’s like saying the running back had the perfect football, but couldn’t get it across the goal line.
If you went back to 1996 and told ANYONE that Microsoft would embrace the strategy they’re applying today (open source, community involvement, cloud services, hardware, etc.) they would have called you insane. Not nuts or crazy, I mean insane.
While it’s been gradual enough for the public to digest without burping, a before/after snapshot comparison is close to being “mind-boggling”. Think about the MS-DOS and Windows 3.11 era for a full minute, and all the things that entailed. Then smack yourself in the face, dunk your head in a sink filled with ice water, and shout in the mirror “2016 man!!! Get a hold of yourself!!” and look at their present situation. If you still don’t feel it, put down the crack pipe and undo that tourniquet.
I hear a lot of whimpering about their purchase of LinkedIn, among other acquisitions, but it kind of makes sense, for what that’s worth. I say that because I’m not an MBA. I’m not a venture capitalist angel investor. They have a battalion of them. Ask me about making a patio deck, specific computer things, DoD technical manuals, or patent application drawings, and I can carry a conversation. Heck, you might even stay awake for most of it. But, ask me about corporate business strategy and I’m like all the other hot-air spewing “pundits” out there who second guess everything AFTER it happens.
The problem I see is that IT people tend to analyze everything from their subjective POV. They don’t stop to consider the business and financial motives. That’s a generalization of course, and I do know a few that can be that objective. But how often do all of us see our colleagues do a cheerful fist-bump over a successful automation project, which might eventually eliminate their own position?
So, the tactic I’ve adopted is this: whenever someone starts into pontificating about how “stupid” some particular strategy is with regards to a Microsoft press release, I ask them “where’s your corporate empire?”
I’m just %%%%ing tired of hearing people yap about things for which they have no relevant experience or credentials. I apply that to myself as well. Ask me about politics, religion, society and I’ll preface it with “my opinion”, but only when pressed. In most cases, (aside from my stupid blog) I will refrain entirely. “I dunno. I’m not a ____”.
I wish them (Microsoft) well on the LinkedIn decision. As well as others. Keep the pressure on. It keeps Amazon, Apple, Google, VMWare, IBM, HP, Dell, Lenovo, and all the others on their toes and pushing harder. Competition is good. If one team wins, the game becomes dull, even if only until the next season.
For what that’s worth.