My third read on future tech points at the usual suspects that will shape our future economies – mixed reality, Ai and in this offering – quantum computing. Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft (MSFT) has an optimistic view of the future where Ai and robotics will aid humans and not fight; unlike Hollywood’s view etched in our minds with sinister computers like HAL and its diabolical intentions. Along the way, a few things will need to complement technology- empathy, sense of collaboration with competition, great culture and a growth mindset.
Some insights – we would need to empathize with users, colleagues and the larger world when creating any product. People will always be at the center so a diverse and inclusive culture will always lead to innovation. There is also a different view of managing competitors. Though MSFT lost game-changing opportunities to Amazon, Apple and Google since 1999, the way ahead is to collaborate with them to create better products across platforms, so ultimately customers wins. This is where a growth mindset comes in. Also for new business leaders in technology, what is required is a creation mindset, and not a labor saving or automation mentality.
Lastly, intense use of technology is most important along with training and creativity. It’s not enough to just make the technology available. Trained employees and regular, diligent use of cutting edge resources will lead to growth and innovation.
My view: Though the book illustrates most of these points with certain achievements of the company in the last 3 years since the new CEO took over, the story of MSFT will go from good to ‘great’ only if the company is truly loved for products they make, by taking risks and going against the grain. Today, regular folks love creations of Tesla, Apple, Google and Facebook for creating a craving need for innovations which none saw coming. All founders started with nothing, had a ton of faith in what they were onto and made it big. Though MSFT owns proven productivity tools like Office and LinkedIn, is it really ‘loved’ by its users? There is an emotional attachment to a story provided the company inspires users in some way. Example- I would really like to read Steve Jobs’ and Elon Musk’s bio because I truly admire both companies for their innovations and daring thought processes. I want to know what the bosses were thinking when their personal convictions contradicted the way of the world, but despite everything they stuck to their guns and eventually succeeded. Like this book talks about trust that is built with consistency, MSFT needs to stick to their innovations and be consistent. Today Chrome is preferred over IE, Windows Phone shuttered down and we still don’t see HoloLens, MSFT fitness band, Surface tablets and Pro Studio desktops as much as we see Apple products in stores everywhere.
Microsoft has all the resources to create awesome products like Kinnect and Xbox and be truly loved by its users. The CEO shows commitment to his vision which a business leader should, and its a good read overall. For now, ‘Hit Refresh’ is PR checkbox with a ‘year-ahead’ memo to the world. This book is recommended along with ‘Kranti Nation’ and ‘The 4th industrial revolution’ – all talking about disrupting tech that will dominate in coming years. This review ends with the most inspiring tech quote of all-
“One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.”
– Elbert Hubbard