Best Argument: Yes
Audience Favored: No (55%)
Next CEO has to know core B2B businesses
Ken and I agree on much. No long-timers. Elop is bad news. And more.
But our disagreements point to the fundamental decision a new CEO faces: Can Microsoft be a successful B2C and B2B company? I say no.
Look at Microsoft's key products: an OS; business apps; backend infrastructure; cloud services; oh, and a game console. They aren't a consumer company.
Ballmer wants some Apple cool. But their consumer goods aren't much more successful than Intel's. The new CEO needs to focus on the real threat that
Microsoft's B2B business faces: Amazon web services and Google Docs.
Amazon dominates in cloud. Chromebooks are undercutting iPads, let alone PCs. Red Hat is a billion dollar company. PCs are in free fall.
Microsoft is a company in crisis, but too rich to know it. The next CEO has to know its core B2B businesses - and that means an insider.
Needs a multifold vision
An insider looks good on paper but history proves that, when a company needs a breath of fresh air, an outsider can be the resuscitation required to move the company forward.
Microsoft isn't in trouble but it has some catching up to do. Microsoft is a great company that produces great products but there's been something lackluster about its performance and its vision. Leaders of the company need to know where the company is going in bite-size increments (quarter-by-quarter) and in the longer term (five years, ten years, and more).
The vision that Microsoft needs is multifold:
- A clear cut cloud perspective - desktops, servers, applications, and games in the cloud by subscription.
- An enhanced mobile operating system - forget hardware, supply your best software to the mobile market.
- Licensing restructuring - Move to a subscription model, simplify, simplify, simplify and tone down the "we're out to get you" messages.
- Interoperability - Be open and cooperative with third-party developers giving them what they need to enhance and extend your products.
- Hardware dump - Don't do hardware. Let other companies focus on hardware. You focus on providing the best software and support to third-parties.
There's no shame in admitting that you went down the wrong path by messing with hardware. You're a software company. Do that and do it better than anyone else. Be Microsoft but hire an outsider for your next CEO.
As much as I agree with Ken that an outsider would be the best prescription for Microsoft, the better argument was made by Robin. Perhaps Microsoft threads the needle with an "outsider," who used to be an exec in Redmond and knows the company well. Robin's B2B and enterprise argument sealed the deal for me. Robin gets the win.