Microsoft’s Next CEO Will Contend With Mobility, Platforms, And Consumerization

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced today that he will be retiring within 12 months. My Forrester colleague Ted Schadler laid out some of the strategic challenges his successor will face in coming years. Here, I add to Ted's analysis.

Microsoft remains one of the great global technology companies, a solid member of the Fortune 50. Although it no longer enjoys the reputation for innovation it did in the 1990s, it’s a critical player in every aspect of end user computing (including devices, software, browsers, development platforms, and services) and of other technology product and service markets.

As CEO, Steve Ballmer solidified Microsoft’s stronghold in enterprise solutions. Microsoft built and maintained — or built and made itself into a key challenger — in several enterprise markets. Microsoft Office remains a titanic success, even as it faces lower-cost competition from Google and others. Windows Azure has been cultivated into a full-fledged contender in the cloud services market. Exchange remains entrenched in enterprises, as do many of Microsoft’s Server and Tools offerings. Microsoft remains the company to beat in some of these markets, and has become a formidable challenger (e.g. as Azure takes on Amazon Web Services) in others.

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Q&A with Stephen DeWitt, Senior Vice President of Enterprise Marketing at Hewlett-Packard

I recently spent an hour with Hewlett-Packard executive Stephen DeWitt, a longtime leader at the company who is currently leading up HP’s enterprise marketing efforts. I wanted to learn more about the value proposition of products and services HP is selling to infrastructure & operations professionals and to understand HP’s vision of the future for enterprise customers.

“It’s easy to think of HP as a ‘PC and printing’ company – and we’re obviously a huge player in those traditional product areas – but we have a broader vision for enterprises and for workers…all built around the new style of IT,” Stephen told me. “Our new enterprise campaign, for example, is going to introduce people to the degree of breakthrough innovation we are providing customers today, and how co-innovating with HP can empower your business in the dramatically changing world ahead.”

To give you a deeper sense of how HP serves its enterprise customers, here are some edited excerpts from our conversation:

Q: What’s HP’s overall vision for enterprise solutions? How do you make that vision tangible and concrete for your customers?

HP is a portfolio company, from core to periphery, from cloud to the device. We work very closely with our customers to provide end to end solutions rather than just ad hoc or best of breed products, and we focus on solving for business outcomes and co-innovating with our customers.

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Our Collaborative Computing Future: Oblong’s Mezzanine

When people think of futuristic user interfaces (Forrester analysts included), they often invoke the 2002 Tom Cruise movie Minority Report. The imagery in the movie offers a compelling vision of how next-generation technologies – gestural control, voice command, 3D visuals, multi-screen interactions – can empower computing experiences.

Where did Minority Report get this vision? From a man named John Underkoffler, Chief Scientist at a company called Oblong. He designed the computer interfaces in the film.

I had the pleasure of visiting Oblong’s Boston office recently, where I saw demonstrations of several technologies. Most interesting to me was the company’s Mezzanine offering, an “infopresence” conference room that the company sells to enterprises today.

The solution involves equipping a conference room (or multiples – it works as a long distance telepresence location) with a number of monitors (5 in the room I visited), teleconferencing equipment (industry standard products work well), and ceiling-mounted sensors (for interpreting gestural controls), and a whiteboard (a physical one, but visible to a camera). Workers control the room with a wand, which works via both gestural controls and a button.

Putting all of these things together, workers can collaborate both within the room itself and with remote teams (or remote individual team members). The resulting experience, in my view, offers two sets of benefits:

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Global Business And Consumer Tablet Forecast Update, 2013 To 2017

In our new reportMichael O'Grady and I outline our latest update of the tablet forecast. While in previous years we focused on the North American consumer market, this year’s report expands the analysis to include our viewpoint on the global market for both consumers and businesses

Forrester Research ForecastView Trends

Fundamentally, as we have been writing about for some time, we believe tablet sales and penetration will continue to grow rapidly. In developed markets, they will streak past “mass market” status to become what we term “mainstay” devices – a third form factor carried by most online consumers. Our forecast indicates that tablets have hit hyper-growth. By 2017, we find that:

  • In North America (US/Canada), 60% of online consumers will own a tablet by 2017, making it a majority device. In Europe, 42% of online consumers will own one. While penetration rates won’t reach even 25% in aggregate in the developing world by that date, tablets will reach majority status in leading Asian markets like Singapore and South Korea.
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