Jeff Raikes for President...
Caught a Ziff Davis news alert about a Microsoft reorganization this afternoon. Jeff Raikes, former VP of Microsoft’s Information Worker and Business Solutions group, will be one of three group presidents under the new plan, and I think he got the juiciest piece of the pie. This is a good thing. Raikes has a solid vision of what Microsoft is and should be (notice these are two different things) to businesses and users who employ what we used to call “office automation” software and systems to drive their jobs and businesses, and giving him more power to close the “should be” and “is” gap should accelerate more success in this arena.
Microsoft is growing up in a variety of ways. I caught another headline the other day about prominent departures from Microsoft. That doesn’t bother me – the company is evolving, they’re still highly profitable and are sitting on a literal mountain of cash, so what’s to worry about? I do wish the stock would do something positive, though. It was flat on the news and has generally been a lack-luster performer of late… and certainly more folks have taken to everything from whining to taking some (purported) dirty laundry public to predicting doom and gloom.
The PC market and PC software markets as we have known them are becoming very mature, I think, and innovation will be one of the key engines that drives any of the current tech players forward. Look at Apple (whose stock’s performance has been anything but lack-luster) – anyone who still wants to sing the old tune of “but they have a tiny piece of the market ” is looking at the wrong sheet of music. What the company is executing very well on is targeting and exploiting niches they can and will continue to win in, grabbing both mindshare and what I’d call “heartshare” with products that blow the consumer and competition away, and they’re doing it the old fashioned way. Hell, Scott McNealy’s even praising Jobs… but then again, his real beef has always been with Microsoft.
I think Microsoft will benefit from a new executive leadership structure, and will also place a series of big bets that will yet again realign vendors/ISVs and consumers, albeit not along OS lines. I’d watch for electronic forms and structures like them, automation of business process and then managing those systems become much more prominent in their messaging and product offerings. It should be an interesting ride, if bumpy for some.