Microsoft have announced a major corporate reshuffle in an effort to make the company more efficient and bring products to market faster. The changes were announced by CEO Steve Ballmer who said he was re-focusing the company around devices and services.
In an email to employees Ballmer said: “Going forward, our strategy will focus on creating a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower people around the globe at home, at work and on the go, for the activities they value most.”
The actual effect of this is that Microsoft will be changing from eight separate product divisions to four, with each of these given a broader remit. As noted on The New York Times’ blog, Microsoft’s previous reputation was for corporate infighting:
“Rivalries among the company’s divisions have built up over time, sometimes resulting in needless duplication of efforts. Microsoft managers often grumble privately that one of the most dreaded circumstances at the company is having to “take a dependency” on another group at the company for a piece of software, placing them at the mercy of someone else’s development schedule.”
For the consumer the upshot will hopefully be a cohesive range of hardware products (ie, a Windows Surface, a Windows Phone and an Xbox One) that seamlessly share data and services across a range of platforms.
To many this sounds like Microsoft are simply mimicking Apple’s platform and, to a lesser extent, Google’s. Indeed, the corporate changes outlined by Ballmer have already occurred in these two companies.
At Apple, for example, Jonathan Ive has been given control of the look of the company’s software after handling the appearance of its hardware for many years. Whilst at Google, the departments for both mobile and desktop operating systems have been merged under a single executive, Sundar Pichai.
This is an open secret however, and Ballmer has previously stated his desire to replicate Apple's success. In the recent edition of the Fortune 500 list, a ranking of corporations by revenue, Apple was placed 19th with revenues of $156.5bn and profits of $41.7bn. Microsoft meanwhile was 110th on the list, with revenues of $73.7bn and profits of $17bn.
As well as creating a unified ecosystem across a range of devices Microsoft hopes that the reshuffle will also boost their ability to deliver quality back-end services. Ballmer cited “operational excellence in cloud services, datacenter operations, and manufacturing and supply chain” as “essential in a devices and services world.”
Outlining the new “core values” for Microsoft Ballmer said he wanted the company to be “nimble, communicative, collaborative, decisive and motivated”. As TechRadar noted, this “doesn’t sound much like the Microsoft we currently know.”
Those wishing to read Ballmer’s memo in full (as well as find out exactly who will be taking the new top spots) do so here. Following the news Microsoft’s shares have risen 1.64% in the morning’s trading.