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Why Nadella Is a Great Choice for Microsoft
While Brien Posey was initially rooting for an outsider for the Microsoft CEO position, here's why he thinks Nadella is a perfect fit at Redmond.
When Steve Ballmer announced his resignation from Microsoft last year, it seemed that almost everyone I know was asking me what I thought about the situation. Even though I gave a straight answer to close friends and a few family members, I chose to remain publicly silent about Ballmer's resignation.
I guess you could say I was a bit conflicted. As a freelance technology writer, I have had the opportunity to speak with Steve Ballmer many times over the years. I always found him to be a very pleasant and likable guy with a great sense of humor. It's hard to write something bad about someone like that. At the same time however, I think that we can probably all agree that bad things were happening at Microsoft and that change was long overdue.
I really wasn't sure who Microsoft would select as Ballmer's replacement. I had initially hoped that Microsoft would choose Alan Mulally, the CEO of Ford because he has done such a great job with the company. Ultimately however, Microsoft made decided to promote from within by appointing Satya Nadella to be the company's third CEO in its 30+ year history.
While it's tempting to play arm-chair quarterback and write about what Nadella must do or must not do in order to be successful, I'm not going to do that. What I do want to say is that I think that Nadella has what it takes to return Microsoft to its former glory.
There are a few different reasons why I think this. First, you can't ignore his track record. Nadella has been at Microsoft for 22 years. Most recently he was the head of one of Microsoft's fastest-growing divisions -- Cloud Services. In the past year the Cloud Services division increased its revenue by 107%.
This brings up another point. If one were to believe everything that they read in the technology column, it would be easy to assume that Microsoft is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. That simply isn't the case.
Over the last few years, Microsoft has had some high-profile products that have not been well received such as Windows 8, Windows Phone, and then Microsoft Surface tablets. Despite the negative publicity surrounding these products, Microsoft's stock prices are way up. The company's cloud services offerings are doing very well, as are their enterprise server products. Microsoft is also still the dominant player in the desktop market, and of course Xbox One is also doing very well.
My point is that while Nadella certainly has his work cut out for him, he is not being put into a position where he is being asked to save a company whose demise is imminent. There are plenty of positive things going on at Microsoft that can help to keep the company afloat while Nadella focuses his attention on those areas that are not doing so well.
Another reason why I think that Nadella will do well with the company is because he is first and foremost an engineer. Innovation is in his blood. He gets excited by cool, new ideas. In some ways he reminds me of the Bill Gates from 15 years ago.
I think that one of the reasons why Microsoft has suffered over the last several years is because the company has become far too bureaucratic. I have seen many of the internal processes first hand, and there are so many rules and requirements in place that I honestly don't know how anyone ever manages to get anything done.
Nadella has already expressed an interest in streamlining the company in order to allow raw innovation to occur in a much more efficient way. In my mind that is exactly what Microsoft needs right now.
Ultimately, only time will tell whether or not Microsoft will regret appointing Nadella to the CEO position. Even so, I think that he is going to be good for the company. He has been around long enough to know Microsoft's history (which is important), and he has a background in engineering and in management. I think that Nadella is going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Brien Posey is a 19-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.