Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is reportedly looking to shake things up at the top by bringing in senior managers with more tech and engineering backgrounds, according to a Bloomberg report citing unnamed sources. The move, on the surface, is supposed to accelerate Microsoft’s push into tablets, smartphones and other categories where the company has fallen behind.
But dare I say again that the problems with Microsoft (MSFT) have more to do with senior managers not having the technology and engineering know-how that’s needed to keep one of the pioneers of technology ahead of the game? You see, the root of the problem is not product managers. The root of the problem goes much higher than that - all the way to the CEO’s office.
It’s Ballmer’s job to steer that massive ship known as Microsoft. But Ballmer is a business guy, not so much a techie the way Bill Gates was. Sure, the company continues to perform well financially as it rides the wave of Windows, Office and even XBox. But where’s the plan of attack for business segments that are growing leaps and bounds without Microsoft?It took forever and a day to get a competitive smartphone OS launched - but the headstart that Apple and Google had in gaining ground has largely left Microsoft on the sidelines of what’s perceived to be a two-man race (OK, maybe three if you count Blackberry.) The same goes for the tablet strategy, the cloud strategy and so on.
Microsoft, once a leader in technology innovation, has fallen far behind on those fronts - and it will take something out-of-this-world to push Microsoft back into the forefront. Sure, maybe there’s plenty of blame to go around - and once you realize that, you start shaking things up, just as Ballmer is reportedly about to do. But if we’re pointing fingers, let’s place blame where blame is due. After all, Ballmer is the guy at the top, the exec who’s sitting in that big office where the buck finally stops.
I blasted Microsoft after Ballmer’s pathetic keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month. Thanks to a presentation that offered nothing new and only seemed to recap last year’s products and technologies that the company hawked, it was clear that change is needed at Microsoft.
A shake-up at the top is certainly overdue. Perhaps the board should be taking over the reins of the shake-up and kick it up a notch to the top rung of the ladder.