Growing pains

Its a known fact (so for example I don’t have to bother looking for references to prove it…) that organisations go through various growing pains as their size increases.

One big pain I see a few companies experiencing at the moment is the visionary exit pain.

Most recently Jobs announced his departure from Apple and the share price dropped 7% or something. In reality we wont know the real impact for several years as his involvement gradually works out of the product development cycle.

But I don’t want to talk about Apple, I want to talk about Microsoft.

Bill Gates was a big influence, and whilst he was at the helm Microsoft did well (it also did some things that were not so good). But as his input has declined so has Microsoft’s success.

I don’t know, but I get the feeling when he was there there was a single clear message and everyone understood, and everyone found it easy to pull in the same direction. Now it seems like, as well as consistently eating next years seed corn to make the numbers, no one really knows which way they are going.

I think of it as a camel being a horse designed by a committee. so the ribbon is a ui designed by a committee of people who don’t use the product to earn a living. And VS2010 was envisioned by a bunch of people who don’t use it day to day to solve real issues. And so it goes on, there are a few gems in there for sure, but many are becoming diluted.

So all in all current (and near future) MS is a bit meh for me, I see a lot of poor decisions gradually coming back to haunt them. But they are not alone, it seems many of that generation are struggling.

  • Yahoo – still barely alive, but Carol Bartz is my current hero for calling the board a bunch of dufusses
  • HP – in terminal decline, with CEO apparently about to depart (for the circus?)(I don’t think he would get the same welcome at Oracle as his HP predecessor.) (shares up 7% on rumour of exit – I wonder how much MS would jump on similar news??)
  • Google – very static, still limited outside search and ads. Well except for Android I guess, if they can get it back under control.

Yeah I think there are a few big names wrestling with the hand over from visionary to holding team.

Have I got any helpful advice? no not really. Have you? Any other large IT co’s you see in terminal decline?



8 Responses to “Growing pains”

  1. excelandaccess Says:

    It seems this is the way it usually works. Look at Excel 2008. Really, what was that all about?

    And Excel 2011, wow, seems that there are a lot of people using that one. At least that is what we see on our end.

  2. Johan Nordberg Says:

    What’s wrong with Visual Studio? It doesn’t even have a ribbon…

    I regulary use Visual Studio 2010 for all web development. I use Xcode and I use Aptana Studio (based on Eclipse). Back in the Office days I used the VBA IDE.

    Visual Studio is by far the most productive tool for me.

  3. Simon Says:

    Johan I prefer VS to VBA for sure, but VS2010 on a general corp developer box? its unusable.

    But the post was more about these huge IT companies struggling to make the next step. Does it happen in other industries?

  4. Johan Nordberg Says:

    I generally have 3-4 instances running on my 3 year old Dell laptop without problems or performance issues… But…. Sorry for hijacking the thread…

    I do think there are a lot of industries with the same problem. Just look at the entertainment industri. It took a computer company to really make the music industri wake of, and they’re still snoozing…

    The movie industri is even worse. They turn customers into their enemies instead of selling what customers actually want to buy.

  5. Harlan Grove Says:

    re MSFT and Gates vs Ballmer, one argument is that Gates knew when to exit, another argument is people who have some understanding and demonstrated ability to design/build the products they sell are better leaders than people who only know how to sell.

  6. Simon Says:

    thats a fair point Harlan. what I have seen first hand though is the conversion of every engagement initiative (think partner program, MS qualifications, MSDN roadshows, Office developer advisory council, most of the conferences, etc) from a way to connect to the user community to share info into a brash, crass failed marketing exercise. I know who I point the finger at for that. And I have an idea on the long term impact.

    • DickM Says:

      Yep – they are a being run as a marketing company not a technology one.

      Thankfully there are people there working hard on technology but it looks to me like the “decision-makers” are not tech people anymore but BDMs with stock price in mind and Marketing types who are always thinking all that matters is the lowest common denominator.

      Too bad because IMHO if you’re going to be a technology company you have to lead with your technology – aim high – and everything else will follow you. Be the best for your customers – and your customers are the actual people who USE your technology not the CEOs and CIOs who’s butts they spend so much time and money kissing lately.

      MS are not a technology company anymore. I’m not really sure what they are frankly.


  7. sam Says:

    A tech company needs a “nerd” to be its CVO (Chief Visionary Officer)..Something that Bill Gates should have become rather than just moving away …..Just in the office and dream….

    Not the job for the Marketing types who are good for jumping around the stage shouting Developer…Developer…Developer….

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