Satya Nadella: A New Leader in Technology

Microsoft have announced that Satya Nadella will be the new CEO, taking over with immediate effect from Steve Ballmer.  Up until two days ago Nadella was Microsoft’s VP of Cloud and Enterprise and has been with the company for 22 years.

The same day, Microsoft revealed that its Chairman, Bill Gates, would step down to become ‘Founder and Technology Advisor’ (ultimately meaning he will be spending more time with the business than he currently does.) Gates said, “During this time of transformation, there is no better person to lead Microsoft than Satya Nadella.”

Ballmer announced the news to Microsoft employees in an email, asking them to ‘stay focussed and keep moving forwards’ and underlining the confidence he has in Nadella and in the senior team.

So what can we look forward to from Nadella?

When Nadella was still just a hotly tipped candidate to take over as CEO, Technology resource Zdnet spoke to him about his relationship with Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer:

“They (Gates and Ballmer) yell at you, they’ll scream at you, they’ll sort of say you’re crazy and you’re destroying this place. And all the melodrama aside, you come back at it with the data…with your own conviction, because a lot of that stuff is all to test whether you know what you’re talking about.” (See the full article here)

To face off against those two, and to want to keep doing it, must take something else!

Sheer bloody mindedness isn’t the only quality Nadella will need as the new CEO of Microsoft. In the months since Ballmer announced his decision to leave, many people, particularly investors, argued that an outsider was needed to shake Microsoft up.

Out of 100 possible candidates (the figure according to new Chairman John Thompson), they’ve hired from within. Was this the right decision?

There’s little point in speculating on day 3 of his new position. However, the biggest influencing factor as to whether or not Microsoft’s strategy will work is not how many waves Nadella might create (he’s never led a company before, never mind one of Microsoft’s stature).

It’s primarily down to how he stays focussed on providing customers with what they need.

It sounds simple, but we’re demanding more from the technology we use than ever before – whether that’s the connectivity within our business, or the content we consume at home.

On paper, Nadella looks to be a good choice for a customer focussed approach. He has stayed incredibly close to technology trends (he’s probably one of the most influential people in Cloud computing) and is passionate about delivering technology as a service.

And he’s been known to change things around and make things happen. Microsoft were behind the game in Cloud computing, losing out to rivals like Amazon and Google. Nadella became head of the division and started meeting with start-up businesses so he could ensure Microsoft were responsive to what they needed.

It’s unlikely he’ll be a reactionary CEO given his propensity for innovation, which many have accused Ballmer of being.

Helping people and businesses to get more from technology is the absolute key. To use Nadella’s own words in his memo to Microsoft employees yesterday, this means to ‘empower the world to do more of what they care about – get stuff done, communicate, and accomplish great things.’

Microsoft have a new structure; they’re remaking themselves as a devices and services company rather than just software, new mobility capabilities are on the horizon with Nokia’s deal set to be complete soon. And now a new CEO promising a real focus on innovation.

But it’s not just about being innovative or the way technology will be built – it’s about helping people to do what they want more effectively; making it easy to consume content, find information, communicate and, in business, make decisions.

Nadella’s success will come down to how well he leads Microsoft to anticipate and deliver beyond customers’ expectations, and empower them to do more with technology.

Take a look at the first interview with Satya Nadella as Microsoft’s third CEO. There’s some nice ‘walk and talk’ going on and much rhetoric about Microsoft ‘changing the world’ but looking beyond that, Nadella has an enviable thirst for providing what people want in this technologically driven world. The signs are good: