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Satya, Part II

What does Microsoft's appointment of its new CEO highlight? 10 key things.

Satya, Part II
AFP (From Outlook 17 February 2014)
Satya, Part II

India-born Satya Nadella’s appointment as CEO of Microsoft—a company that is a huge influencer, albeit with less lustre now—has stirred up the tech world. Arindam Mukherjee examines the 10 key things Satya’s appointment highlights: 

  1. Continuity matters for Microsoft
    Nadella is an old hand at Microsoft, having been there for 22 years. He ensures continuity in the company’s policies as against getting an outsider. Thanks to his technical background, he’s also up to speed on Microsoft’s core issues while leaving the marketing to professionals.
  2. Managing Bill Gates
    Make no mistake: Bill Gates is back. Having Gates as a technical advisor could be Nadella’s biggest advantage as well as a potential problem. Gates is expected to play a more active role in the strategy and day-to-day running of Microsoft, which could stifle Nadella’s independent thinking.
  3. Microsoft remains in crisis mode
    Everyone knows Microsoft has lost its monopoly over the digital space. Sure, its enterprise business is steady. But it has fallen horribly behind in the consumer space with people shifting to mobile dev­­ices and phones from the PCs where MS made its fortune for decades through its flagship products.
  4. Nokia deal will be key
    Microsoft’s biggest failure has been the mobile space —its mobile operating system has not seen much success. Nadella’s big task will be to make a success of Microsoft’s September 2013 $7.2 billion Nokia acquisition and use the new Windows Phone OS to shift users from the Apple-Android supremacy.
  5. The emphasis on Cloud
    After leading Microsoft’s cloud initiative, Nadella has to take that forward and turn around Microsoft’s fortunes. “With Nadella’s choice, Microsoft is saying that the future of the digital world is in cloud. They’re betting on it. If cloud succeeds, mobility will follow,” says HCL co-founder Arjun Malhotra.
  6. Consumer challenge
    With companies like Apple and Google trying to bring in a connected device ecosystem supported by consumer electronics giants like Samsung and Sony, Microsoft under Nadella will have to walk the extra mile as MS’s consumer presence is much less here. So tie-ups and Nokia will be crucial.
  7. The message for India
    India has been one of Microsoft’s key markets bec­ause of sheer numbers and engagement with enterprises and government. But this is yet to hit critical mass. With cloud and mobile as new areas of eng­agement for Microsoft, India might be prominent on the radar of the company’s new India-born CEO.
  8. Nadella’s education role
    Nadella joins a distinguished group of Indian professionals who occupy corner rooms at global corporate giants. He sets a new trend of a non-IIT alumnus hitting the big league. He studied at the Manipal Institute of Technology, known even in those days for admissions through capitation fees.
  9. A strong India connect
    “Satya was a good debater, was fond of cricket. He wasn’t the topper but was surely a good student,” says Dr P. Raghu Ram, Hyderabad, Nadella’s classmate from school. His father was an IAS officer and served under former PM P.V. Narasimha Rao and later was Member, Planning Commission.
  10. The personal factor
    His wife Anupama was his school junior and also a Manipal alumnus. He has three children, two of whom have special needs. This may hopefully have a side benefit of pushing technologies for special needs children. He visits India often, on family vacations as well as professionally.

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