Back in the eighties, when IBM announced to step out of the type writer business, many analysts feared that Big Blue would vanish from its customer´s mind set. But the desktop wasn´t IBM´s platform for big business. Mainframes at the customer´s strictly prohibited security section shouldering the heavy weight business applications were the real sweet spot. But indeed: today IBM is painfully clawing back into customer´s memories
Microsoft has spread all over the desktops instead: with Windows and Office. But today cloud offerings around Office 365, Dynamics and especially Azure are the platforms for the real big business. Microsoft´s cloud infrastructure claims already one quarter of the worldwide market and is growing faster than even market leader Amazon with its Web Services. But other than IBM Microsoft doesn´t refrain from the desktop, but moves everything – Windows Office, Dynamics – into the cloud. Though Microsoft is heading to the cloud, it will still be visible for everyone.
Visibility makes the difference between success and flop. Microsoft´s CEO Satya Nadella has to keep this in mind, while transforming the company further and further into a platform provider, which is selling all services through the cloud. We will watch him doing so at the worldwide signature event for the whole Microsoft ecosystem beginning this Sunday. Microsoft´s Inspire at the Las Vegas venue is a „must“ for partners and customers alike. They want to identify the new route of march for Microsoft at the very beginning of the new fiscal year.
Although the direction is already obvious: Microsoft is pouring billions of dollars into its cloud infrastructure to strengthen its foothold in the market. This is the platform where Azure can offer services for nearly every circumstance of life – starting with voice recognition in your smartphone and productivity tools for almost every device to HoloLens und Xbox up to ERP solutions and company networks for the industrial internet of things. The cloud is not only the platform, where customers get access to their solutions. The cloud has become the ecosystem itself, where Microsoft and partners do business.
But there is even more: The Inspire will show, that artificial intelligence has become the main cause for future growth. When people share their work and ideas, machines produce trillions of data, supply chains become closely meshed and business processes get faster and faster, there will be the need for analysis, automation and agility. This can only achieved by AI-solutions, which are deployed for everyone through the cloud. That is, what Satya Nadella calls „democratising artificial intelligence“.
Thus the Inspire event will prove, that Azure is the right platform for future AI-solutions. Thus Microsoft has to grow faster than the market and the competition. This is a truly inspiring prospect.