COMMENTARY: Satya Nadella’s FY15 letter to Microsoft employees

imageOn July 10th, 2014, Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella penned a letter to Microsoft employees that was made public here:

EXPERIENCES ARE EVERYTHING
One of the biggest themes of Satya’s letter was “experiences”.  As a brief exercise, go to Satya’s letter and search on the word, “experiences” and you’ll see highlighted, how many times the word is used.  (tl;dr: It’s 23)

Satya is making a very strong statement here about the future of Microsoft:  Microsoft’s focus is “the experience” that our customers have with Microsoft solutions.  It’s not about a specific product, new technology or feature, but the end-to-end experience our customer has.  This has a number of implications for the future:

  • Create a consistent experience.  Experiences are to be created across technologies – even technologies not owned by Microsoft.  The days of duplicate features across monolithic Microsoft products just because it’s “not invented here” are at an end.  If another Microsoft team has a feature you need, leverage theirs to make them successful, but ultimately, do what’s best to a provide a solution that fits in the larger vision & delivers a consistent experience for customers.
  • Start with the customer experience.  The final experience customers want is what Microsoft will start with, not just the foundational APIs & services that underlie the solution.  If features are missing, the words “you can script that” or “just write a program”, while likely true, shouldn’t be the 1st thing Microsoft responds with.  Understanding how we should prioritize that feature to benefit the customer against other customer needs & then iterating quickly while providing transparency around our development plans going forward should be our aggregate response – this is all part of the experience.

I think the recent trend of taking customer input on Microsoft solutions through UserVoice has been not only refreshing but also a testimony to how our company is evolving going forward.  Welcome to the era of “customers provide input often to product groups” & “help us directly prioritize what is most important?”.

For those of you that have been in the industry for a while, our DNA-level focus on the “end user experience” moving forward at Microsoft should sound a little familiar to you:

Steve Jobs Insult Response

(BTW: ZDnet journalist, Ed Bott, did quite a good job summarizing most of the points of the letter.  Overall it’s an excellent post:  http://www.zdnet.com/decoding-the-hidden-messages-in-satya-nadellas-letter-to-microsoft-employees-7000031472/)

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