Microsoft is evolving quickly under Satya’s leadership and I want to share my thoughts on how Microsoft IT fits into that vision. We have a tremendous opportunity ahead of us in IT as the company raises expectations around the role that IT can play. I have never been more excited to be a part of Microsoft than I am right now, as part of an IT organization that can help shape our company’s future.
“Our industry does not respect tradition – it only respects innovation.”
For the foreseeable future, IT priorities fall into these four groups:
Evolve and deliver our Plan of Record (POR)
This is not static, and we expect PORs to evolve as the company transforms. In our target-setting process last spring, we identified big rocks for each IT organization and the rest of the POR was updated around them. We did not publish a top 10 CIO projects list simply because things are changing too fast as we deliver results faster and new priorities get inserted more often. We have to deliver on our promises to the business, but we also need to challenge ourselves to always drive the most business value. To avoid building PORs in silos, we need to connect our work across the company and update what we are doing, while letting the lower priority work drop or delay.
While we have integrated work from the former ICM teams into our portfolios and the PORs above, we also have major milestones to meet, such as MS Day, and obligations to retire with the Transition Service agreements. Where you are involved in these critical deliverables, they usually take priority over existing POR work. We also need to take advantage of our integration plans to not just do the minimum, but to opportunistically clean up our legacy services
One commerce fabric
We must break down the silos and deliver together across the company to be successful going forward. While this priority will actually update PORs above, it is worth calling out separately. In early September, IT and the Universal Store Team (UST) in Operating Systems Group (OSG), presented our initial plan to Satya and his Senior Leadership Team (SLT). The plan includes a proposal for a simplified portal experience for our customers and partners including every aspect of their relationship with Microsoft. It will better leverage data across the company and enable friction-free ways to find, try, buy and use Microsoft products and services. Satya called it “the most important thing we are doing at Microsoft today.” This will eventually lead to a core business process change across the company and transform our legacy software business into a modern business model for a mobile-first, cloud-first world. IT is playing a leadership role in this work and many of you will have an opportunity to participate directly or drive work that contributes to significant progress.
As we change the way we work, we have the opportunity to significantly rationalize the legacy portfolio we manage today. When we get better visibility on the end-to-end services we run, whether they are infrastructure services or application services supporting a company business process, we can simplify what we run and how we invest in new capabilities. The transition from a project-focused to a services-focused portfolio is a huge deliverable that will help us excel in the future and better manage dependencies in an increasingly interconnected portfolio.
Change... or get left behind
How do we reinvent ourselves to take on these challenges? There are many areas we need to change and many people will have different views on what we need to change first, but there are a few areas that are essential to help us step up to new opportunities without just working harder.
02Change business engagement
Another area we need to change is how we engage with our internal business stakeholders. We must be simple to work with and not have people bounce around trying to find the right person to talk to for their needs, but we also need to be more assertive in balancing priorities across teams rather than solving for niche capabilities.
Historically, we have fought against people outside of IT who, in our view, are doing our job – a.k.a. “shadow” IT. We see the islands of unconnected data, the extra run costs and the broken business processes it creates, but we often miss the immediate business value driving it. Shadow IT appears cheaper since it’s narrowly focused and often lacks enterprise security standards, regulatory and longterm supportability requirements, and integration with other processes.
IT is empowered to force compliance, but, that alone, can work against better engagement. We need to rethink the boundaries of what we have historically considered our role. As we become more assertive in processes that cross business boundaries, we also need to recognize there are places we should get out of the way.
Ultimately, the goal is to enable the value Microsoft needs to compete, for as little investment as possible, while adhering to security and regulatory requirements. Deeper engagement from IT is necessary to understand what we need to deliver, rather than just asking business stakeholders for business needs.
With all the great analytics tools available today for data-driven decision-making, IT should focus on providing curated internal and external data with proper access controls so anyone in the company can analyze what they need with key information right at their fingertips. With this new level of engagement, IT can help light up value faster without compromising security, privacy, or regulatory controls.
"Success in business engagement requires a range of business, personal and technical skills on both sides. What an individual business might value and prioritize, may not make the most sense for Microsoft."
Think and act differently. We need to develop new behaviors in order to visibly change and align ourselves with the culture Microsoft is building.