Is Microsoft Changing Too Quickly?

by Matt Klassen on April 1, 2014

The changes at Microsoft are coming fast and furious as CEO Satya Nadella attempts to build on the momentum generated from last week’s announcement about how the company plans to not only compete, but thrive in a “mobile-first, cloud-first world.”

To that end Nadella once again shuffled his cabinet, getting his chosen team in place to help Microsoft achieve its newly defined goals. Nadella officially filled the post he left at the company, naming Scott Guthrie as the new executive vice president of the cloud and enterprise group. Guthrie had been the interim head of that department since Nadella’s promotion. Concurrently, former Nokia head Stephen Elop will officially be joining Microsoft as the head of the company’s Devices division.

While there’s no question that Microsoft is gaining momentum one has to wonder what sort of momentum it truly is: are these changes calculated and controlled decisions, like a powerful and sturdy train speeding down the track, or are they frenetic kneejerk choices, more like an avalanche cascading towards disaster? I suppose only time will tell.

I noted last week that its truly encouraging to see Microsoft trying something, anything, to make itself relevant in today’s mobile tech market. But given the speed with which these decisions are being made, one has to wonder if they’re being made with due care and consideration.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the appointment of Guthrie as the company’s new VP of the cloud and enterprise division, such in-house promotions are not unusual, particularly when the chosen person has already acquitted himself during his interim tenure.

The appointment of Elop as the company’s new head of the devices division is a bit of a head-scratcher though, as during his tenure as the head of Nokia the one thing Elop demonstrated was that he had no idea about what devices would sell in the current smartphone market. Bringing that sort of head-in-the-sand approach to Microsoft seems contrary to everything else Nadella has attempted to do thus far.

But that said, its not so much the moves themselves that concern me with Nadella’s fast and furious changes at Microsoft, but the speed of the decisions, as Nadella and his chosen team have a herculean task ahead of them, transforming a slumbering giant into a dynamic and competitive player in the mobile world.

While I suppose speed is of the essence to gain traction in the mobile market, should these frenetic decisions ultimately mean failure for Nadella and his new corporate strategy I can see questions being raised about these sweeping changes, of course by then it’ll be far too late.

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