Microsoft plans to fire 3–5,000 employees, primarily in sales and marketing. It’s a drop in the bucket (more than 120,000 people work there), but evidences a fundamental shift in its business.
For most of the company’s history, sales really meant taking orders from customers who didn’t know better (or had few to no alternatives). It ran an effective monopoly thanks to Windows OS, which it dutifully and regularly updated in order to collect successive rounds of income.
Sales amounted to visiting restaurants to pick up the latest protection check.
This racket allowed it to tolerate its marketing department’s inability to sell its forays into peripherals (like Zune), or successfully position its game platform; Xbox succeeded with gamers despite Microsoft’s marketing, not because of it, and the company has never received credit or value for its innovation.
Things were no better internally, according to reports. So when Satya Nadella took over in 2014, he inherited a company that fewer and fewer people wanted to buy from, or work for.
The news of layoffs evidences his progress in fixing it; Microsoft plans to reorganize its sales team to actually sell to meet customers’ needs. Proof of this new focus is its latest iteration of Azure, which has been cited in media stories as the engine for going after smaller, emergent companies (instead of relying on renewals from big customers).
A version even runs on, gasp!, Linux.
Microsoft is also doing some cool experimental things, like developing a plan to use TV stations to bring Internet access to remote locations. It’s partnering with most automakers on various aspects of autonomous vehicle development.
But it still needs a purpose…
Read the entire essay at Medium