Microsoft faces a number of needs and challenges that require innovative technologies to overcome. For instance, the recent acquisition of Nokia for over $ 7 billion has brought the latter’s entire smartphone business on board and this is set to impact on the devices and services segment of Microsoft (Bishop, 2014). In addition, the company’s position as the leading innovator in the industry has been lately challenged by Google and Apple and new strategies are therefore required to compete. Thirdly, there is need to defend the business in terms of market leadership for software and services in the midst of cut throat competition from rivals. In this paper, the innovative technologies such as cloud services, Holo Lens, Cortana and Windows 10 will be discussed with the view of addressing the listed challenges and needs at Microsoft.
The acquisition of Nokia by Microsoft has not only brought with it an additional workforce but also the difficulties of integration. Whereas in the past Microsoft has been engaged in development of hardware components, the new integration poses the challenge of direction. According to the top leadership at the company, the problem will be solved through continued manufacture of hardware devices but the main concern will be cloud technology (Endler, 2014). Essentially this means that the synergies brought about from Nokia will be focused on developing devices to enhance the use of cloud technology which is set to dominate the next few years. Devices that help the functioning of this new technology will be required and this is the advantage accruing to Microsoft after the acquisition.
The position of Microsoft as a leading innovator has come under threat from competitors such as Apple and Google. For instance, in the development of smartphones and tablets, Microsoft has been a follower rather than a leader and its Xbox product needs upgrade (Bishop, 2014). In competing for the top spot, Microsoft will have to capitalize on devices and services that showcase their strength which is in the area of cloud services. Technology usually changes progressively and currently the market is oriented towards smaller and smaller gadgets that have high numbers of application. In the near future, there will thus emerge a shift in devices that will be utilized for cloud connectivity purposes and the firm that leads this path will emerge on top.
The hybrid cloud technology developed by Microsoft is a strategy that seems to be working even in the short run as illustrated through the revenue figures. For instance in 2014, there was a 147% increase in terms of revenues generated from the commercial clouds and this translated to more than $4 billion (Endler, 2014). This has been achieved through the products driving the growth momentum such as Azure, Office 65 and SharePoint Online. Cloud connectivity is set to replace the traditional outsourcing of services and the costs of operation are decreased for businesses due to sharing.
Through the Cloud Support Program (CSP), Microsoft enables internet based sharing of computer resources. In the cloud, data and other auxiliary devices attached to the computer are shared on demand meaning that there exists a shared pool of servers, applications and also services. Cloud connectivity reduces the functions of managing all these devices and connections and therefore the costs incurred by a business are substantially reduced. In addition, the use of cloud connectivity from Microsoft enables businesses to access much larger storage than they would perhaps afford on their own.
By contrast, the sharing between many users or businesses is rather disadvantageous because privacy may be lost and at times information could be stolen or tampered with. This is especially true where the security has been breached or there exists inadequate measures for information safety.
Competition from rivals is a major challenge for Microsoft moving forward even though the company has maintained influence in terms of software and services sales. Whereas products such as the iPad from Apple have continued to gain popularity in the market, Windows Personal computers/PCs have recorded a decline in terms of sales (Bishop, 2014). In order for Microsoft to take a strong market position, the Windows phone must be revolutionized to compete favorably with the alternatives. Towards this goal, Microsoft has developed innovative technologies that “light up” the devices (Endler, 2014). For instance, the creation of Holo Lens will bring about a new phone from Microsoft which will attract customers because of the cool factor. Such technology is required if the company is to survive the onslaught brought about by Android technology that has come to dominate the low margin segment of the market. Digital devices that incorporate technologies such as Holo Lens and Cortana stand a fighting chance against the smartphones from Apple which have dented the performance of Microsoft.
Basically, the aesthetics brought about by Holo Lens technology include the ability to interact with holograms right from the comfort of the office or home (Bruzzese, 2015). It means that walls and tables can be used as alternative monitors where data and information can be projected and also manipulated. The Cortana Analytic suite on the other hand, enables the pulling of large quantities of data onto the device and through special features, actionable information is generated. It means that this technology helps the user quickly ascertain the underlying patterns and relations in huge data sets and this is important for decision making. These innovative technologies will be vital in positioning Windows and Microsoft as the preferred operating system for future phones and maybe tablets.
Another challenge that can be solved through innovative technology at Microsoft is the defending of their market share for software and services. To address this challenge, the management at Microsoft sought to develop an operating system that would cater to all sizes of screens. This is what has evolved to become Windows 10 as commonly known in the market today. The innovation allows for the combination of the three previous operating systems namely; Windows, Windows RT and Windows Phone (Endler, 2014). The integration of these operating systems has led to more efficiency and it has eliminated the need to purchase multiple sets of software for different devices at home and in the office.
The problem with previous versions of windows such as Windows 7 and 8 was the large number of user interfaces encountered during use. These operating systems tended to be cumbersome and therefore created problems especially for learners and first time users. Moreover, the need to constantly add upgrades to the software implies additional costs and also wastage of time at the expense of productivity. Another utility for this technology will be in the recently developed Surface Tablets from Microsoft which are slowly gaining momentum in the market place.
The upgrading of Windows versions is important for the smooth running of applications such as Microsoft office especially for devices which are less than eight inches in size. Windows 10 is especially suited to Windows phones and another special feature is the display. When users interact with the new operating system, there are minimal differences in the display of icons and images despite the size of the device being utilized. For applications such as PowerPoint, Excel among others, the experience provided by Windows 10 enables efficiency and there are no past difficulties arising with change of device.
The Upgraded windows 10 also enables sharing of files through the infrastructure referred to as Microsoft Cloud. This sharing is facilitated by the operating system regardless of the point and device used to create the files. For instance, files created on the desktop can be accessed through the Microsoft cloud from tablets and vice versa.
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Further benefits include the ability to take notes through the option of annotating the pages on screen. A reading mode component enables the viewing of documents when the user is offline and this is additionally supported for files created in the PDF format. Applications on Windows 10 can also run anywhere including on game consoles and other devices. There are features to arrange personal photos/images and this is a much neater way for storing them. Lastly, the new operating system allows for Xbox functions which are however limited at the moment. People can nevertheless share what they are doing and exchange game clips as well as other friendly messages.
In conclusion, there are three main challenges and needs for Microsoft which require the adoption of innovative technology to surmount. The acquisition of Nokia by Microsoft portends problems of integration but this has been addressed through the strategy to continue making hardware devices. This will mainly be used to showcase cloud connectivity technology for which Microsoft is an innovative leader in the market. Stiff competition from Google and Apple smartphones needs to be countered through development of a new Windows phone that is both cool and practical. Use of Holo Lens and Cortana Analytics on these devices might do the trick. Lastly, the challenge of maintaining market leadership for software and services should be tackled through upgrading of Windows Operating systems and so far, Windows 10 has been a good initiative by Microsoft.
- Bishop, T. (2014). The top 5 challenges facing Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Retrieved from< http://www.geekwire.com/2014/top-5-challenges-facing-microsoft-ceo-satya-nadella/>
- Bruzzese, J. (2015). 6 Innovations from Microsoft’s Worldwide partner conference. Retrieved from< http://www.infoworld.com/article/2948113/business-intelligence/6-best-innovations-from-microsofts-worldwide-partner-conference.html>
- Endler, M. (2014). Microsoft faces 4 big challenges. Retrieved from<http://www.informationweek.com/software/enterprise-applications/microsoft-faces-4-big-challenges/d/d-id/1297533>