Will The CIO Love Or Hate Microsoft?

If you were a CIO sitting in the audience in Washington DC listening to the announcements made by Microsoft at their World Partner Conference (WPC), would you be cheering or cursing? You would certainly be wowed by the technology, but that is not the point. As CIO your job is to leverage the power of technology for the business, not be seduced by it.

So why cheering or cursing?

  • Consumerisation where every business user is also a consumer so expects Web2.0 style apps to be delivered to any and every device; PC, Mac, iPad or Smartphone – just like at home
  • Cloud apps are enabling business users to sidestep IT in something I have been calling the Stealth Cloud in recent presentations
  • Compliance which covers everything from data security to SOX.

Firstly, they called out Consumerisation. Business users are consumers and therefore are getting a better technology experience at home than at work. A staggering 74% of PCs in the workplace are still running WindowsXP. So Microsoft’s enhancements to Windows7, the Office suite and Sharepoint2010 will dramatically improve the look and feel of applications. And the PC is looking cool. A plethora of PC devices of different shapes and sizes and an even bigger range of Windows Mobile phones were demonstrated.

In fact a number of hardware manufacturers launched new devices at WPC. Ultra-thin PCs, Netbooks with 2 screens, and a laptop with a screen that pulled out to double width. 3 lucky people in the audience were given these devices to take home. I am sure their CIO was delighted!

They will come back to the office and demand that this weird and wonderful device MUST be connected to the network. And Microsoft is working hard with the Windows Mobile phone manufacturers to make the experience across all phones far, far better and more consistent. Which may reduce the pressure on IT departments having to issue and support iPhones.

So CIOs cheering or cursing? 50%/50% ;-|

Secondly Microsoft’s entire WPC rallying cry is “Cloud, Cloud, Cloud”. As a founder member of MS’s worldwide Partner Advisory Council for the last 4 years I have been working with them on their Cloud strategy. So this came as no surprise, but I’m bound by NDAs. In fact in 2008 I was presenting in Steve Ballmer’s keynote telling people to take the Cloud seriously. So they launched a concept called the Personal Cloud, to add to the Public Cloud, Private Cloud, G-Cloud and my own Stealth Cloud.

So what is the Personal Cloud. Any document, image, music or media file will be simultaneously synced to your phone, home PC or work PC. Sounds cool? The demo certainly wowed. But it left some nagging doubts. I am sure that is will be easy to set up, so no need for IT support.

Again Microsoft called out what we’ve known for a while that for many professionals the line between work and personal is blurring. Hell, I’m writing this blog on my work PC at 6am on a Wednesday morning at home. So here is the rub. Where is all that corporate data going when it is synced in the Personal Cloud? What Data Protection or corporate security policies is this going to ride roughshod over?

So CIOs cheering or cursing? 10%/90% ;-(

Finally, Compliance. Nothing was mentioned about compliance. Maybe Day3 will show that Visio has suddenly grown up to be a true enterprise GRC (governance, risk and compliance) application. But don’t hold your breath. That is not on the Visio roadmap.

So CIOs cheering or cursing? Neither really. So on balance, NOT a great set of announcements if you are the CIO. However, that techy consumer in you cannot help but be impressed.

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Ian Gotts is CEO and Chairman of Nimbus Partners, an established and rapidly growing global software company, headquartered in the UK. He is a very experienced senior executive and serial entrepreneur, with a career spanning 25 years. Ian has co-authored a number of books including “Common Approach, Uncommon Results”, published in English and Chinese and in its second edition, "Why Killer Products Don't Sell" and books covering Cloud computing from the perspective of both the prospective buyer, and the software vendor. Having begun his career in 1983 as an engineer for British Rail, Ian then spent 12 years at Accenture (nee Andersen Consulting) specialising in the project management of major business critical IT projects. During this time, he spent two years as an IT Director, seconded to the Department for Social Security (DSS), with a department of over 500 and a budget responsibility of 40 million pounds.