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Microsoft stays relevant in the new world

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Kathy Gibson reports from Reimagine 2015 in Johannesburg – What a difference one year and a new CEO makes. This is the word from Zoaib Hoosen, MD of Microsoft SA, speaking about Satya Nadal, the recently appointed MD of the global Microsoft corporation.

Hoosen points out that Microsoft has come from a position of having 90% share of the PC market – but in the new world of devices, the company is no longer the top dog, with about a 14% market share.

“We have had to reimagine Microsoft,” he told delegates

“We talk about digital business – not digitising information, but digital business. Three key things have given rise to this,” he says.

The first is the rise of the platform, and agile and flexible way of letting companies to things differently.

New business models, such as the freemium model, aimed at developing the world of digital are also important.

In addition, the barriers to entry are very low, with every company having the same opportunities

Consumer adoption is driving the new way of doing business – even technco-phobes, says Hoosen are consuming apps without even thinking about it.

“If you think about the shift in direction Microsoft has had in the last 12 months, it is driven by the dream of empowering every persona and organisation to achieve more.

“We have some big bold ambitions to drives that.”

The first, to create more personal computing, is driven by the natural user interface, which Microsoft believes is the new evolution. “Wouldn’t it be great to engage with gesture, voice and vision with holographic outputs – this is taking personal computing to a new level.

“The key in the new world will be about trust,” Hoosen says. “as we have more information all around, trust is key. Privacy will be the next big frontier in this world.”

An important milestone for Microsoft on this journey is Windows 10, Hoosen says. “You will start to see some of this. You will see security build in that comes from biometric data and is offered in a consistent experience across multiple devices.

“We talk about the mobility of the experience, not the mobility of the device. Because these pieces of glass let us do many things – but you are liberated from the piece of glass. That’s what we see Windows 10 giving us.”

The second element – re-inventing productivity and business processes – is the intersection between collaboration and business process; the intersection between collaboration and productivity.

“The way we live, work and play has changed. You used to go to work, then go home and these were different blocks. The way we all engage now has changed. And so the tooling around us gives us the opportunity to become more productive. People don’t just work, they do other things – and the technology lets us integrate all of these things.

“The fact that we are building our tools and offerings to do these things offers opportunities.”

The last element – building the intelligent cloud – is about building an infrastructure or platform that can service any industry.

“We talk about the cloud infrastructure having the ability to take care of the technicalities of any industry – on you terms.” Hoosen says. “Customers need to have the flexibility.

“And, if you can harness all this data, wouldn’t it be great if you could make intelligent use of all this data.

“With the Internet of Things, we are capturing masses of information. Imagine if you could reason over this data.”

Hoosen localises the overall Microsoft message, saying there is an additional priority to have local relevance.

“So the kinds of things we are talking about is: how do we work together to accelerate development and the growth of the knowledge economy.”

Microsoft has created about 8 000 jobs over the last few years, and Hoosen calls on IT companies within South Africa to join it in developing skills and creating jobs.