Microsoft: Product Innovation in Software

Stanford University
Course Lectures
  • Jeff Raikes, group vice president of Productivity and Business Services (PBS) at Microsoft Corporation, explains his own background and how being open to opportunities helped him become the only undergraduate from the Engineering Economic Systems department at Stanford.ÂÂPlans change as opportunities arise, he says. He also recommends entrepreneurs look for a job they love.

  • Raikes explains how Microsoft has 5 computers for every employee, close to 70 subsidiaries around the world, and only 40% of their revenue comes from the Unites States. Microsoft's revenues this year will be around $36 billion, or $100 million a day, he adds.Soda is free for employees and over 3 million cans of Coca-Cola are consumed a year.

  • Raikes talks about how Microsoft participates in a broad range of competitive and evolving businesses in the software industry.They are transforming into seven business: client (Windows), information worker business (Office), Business Solutions (small to medium businesses), server and tools, MSN, and Home and Entertainment (X-Box, PC gaming).

  • In Raikes' early days at Microsoft, the strategy was to focus on agility-to have the products run on a number of different computing platforms. To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to learn and respond to challenges that arise and adapt your strategy accordingly, says Raikes.

  • Raikes explains that PowerPoint was created as a new way to present overhead slides. Microsoft made the bet that people would be willing to change the way they present information and launched PowerPoint into one of their most successful applications.You have to listen to your customers, but you also have to see beyond what your customers do now to what they might do in the future, he says.

  • Raikes talks about how Microsoft's success at innovating business models equals its success in technology innovation. Before Microsoft, there was no market for a company that did operating systems. The business model to license operating systems was novel and helped to propel Microsoft to success.

  • Broad-based leadership is important to the success of a venture, says Raikes. Though everyone cannot have every skill, it is important to bring together a leadership team that has both a broad and deep set of experiences.Still, people should be hired more because they are passionate about what they do and willing to work hard, rather than their experiences.

  • In this decade, there will be a shift in the way small and medium companies do business, says Raikes.The next generation of workers will have 15 years of Internet experience when they enter the workforce and will expect great computing tools.They will only hire companies they can communicate with online.Small to medium businesses will need to adopt new business application software to help them communicate with customers, he adds.

  • Raikes talks about how many palm devices failed before Palm became hugely successful. Microsoft is still working on a tablet PC, though efforts in the past have failed. Microsoft's entrepreneurial success is characterized by persistence: keep investing and keep trying, says Raikes. Persistence is a part of agility.You learn to respond and then you keep trying, he adds.

  • Find what you have a passion for and find a company that represents that, says Raikes.Life is too short to focus on money.Interviewers look for three things: high energy, high horse power, and the ability to get things done.It is nice to have relevant experience, but it is more important to be really passionate and willing to learn quickly, he adds.

  • Raikes talks about how companies can be successful at software and hardware, but only within a certain scope. If you're looking at the overall market, it has to be either hardware or software, he says. Within a niche, it is sometimes important to do both.