Ray Ozzie is all about the cloud. When he joined Microsoft, he believed that the cloud would rule the day eventually, and the onus was on Microsoft to lead the way. But the software giant didn’t do that. And in the process, it stuck with products that it knew would deliver the highest short-term gain. It eventually came around with Azure, but Microsoft’s move to the cloud has been slow, to say the least. And when it gets pushed out of the cloud, it will only have Ballmer and other top-level executives to blame.
The PC might still be central to Microsoft’s operation, but that doesn’t mean that it’s extremely important. Quite the contrary, Ozzie believed that the PC would take a backseat to new ideas. As the iPhone and other mobile products have shown, he was right. And now Microsoft is wishing it had listened to Ozzie long ago.
Windows is extremely important to Microsoft’s bottom line. Ozzie was a realist that knew the operating system couldn’t simply be ignored. But he also knew that Windows wasn’t always going to be the bankroll it once was. Because of that, he has tried to push Microsoft away from its operating-system focus. But the company has been resistant. And today, Windows is still too important to Microsoft.
Ray Ozzie is a visionary. He doesn’t simply expect the market to stay in one place, and he realizes that Microsoft must be a change agent. However, Microsoft has done very little changing throughout the years. In fact, the company is very much the same company today that it was years ago. That’s a problem for Microsoft. And unfortunately, Ozzie wasn’t able to get through to the executive team.
Ozzie is fully aware that innovation is what drives the technology space. And he understands that most consumers don’t necessarily know what they want or need until it’s handed to them. As a dominant force in the tech space, the onus is on Microsoft to tell consumers what they want and need. But the company hasn’t done that. And in the process, it has allowed Apple and others to be that firm.
Microsoft is a huge company with boatloads of cash that it can invest in practically anything. Ozzie realized that, and he was constantly trying to find ways to innovate beyond what was already being done at the company with the cash Microsoft had on-hand. But unfortunately for Ozzie, Microsoft executives didn’t always see it his way. And the company sometimes invested cash improperly and other times held onto it for no good reason. In either case, it made a mistake.
Ray Ozzie wanted Microsoft to be the company that thought outside the box and came up with unique ideas. Instead, the company has allowed Apple to become the research and development center in the technology industry and deliver neat new ideas. Microsoft, on the other hand, has decided to follow Apple with similar products when it made sense. The result has been disastrous for Microsoft. And it has undoubtedly annoyed Ozzie.
Bill Gates is widely considered a visionary. But his time has come and gone. He knew how to run Microsoft in the 1980s and the 1990s when software ruled the day, but it’s a different market now. And his ideas on running Microsoft don’t work any longer. Ray Ozzie understood that and tried to change Microsoft’s corporate culture to reflect the changing times. But by the end of his tenure at Microsoft, it’s clear that those hopes fell on deaf ears.
Steve Ballmer is trying his best to deliver more shareholder value to investors. But at the end of the day, he’s not doing it well enough. And companies like Google and Apple are running circles around Microsoft. If Ballmer wanted to truly change his company, he would have listened more to Ozzie who realized that the CEO’s strategy wasn’t working. But Ballmer wasn’t having any part of it. And now, the company is paying the price for that.
Office is extremely important to Microsoft’s bottom line. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the be-all, end-all at the software giant. Ozzie knew that in order for Microsoft to continue its success, Office would need to play a key role in its strategy. However, Ozzie also knew that it could play a different role. That’s precisely why Microsoft is starting to double down on the cloud with Office 365. But it should be much further along. And if it listened to Ozzie sooner, it would be.