There’s an irony in Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announcing a major reorganisation designed to sweep away bureaucratic barriers in a 2,700-word email rife with corporate jargon.
But there’s no doubting Microsoft is serious about reshaping its company to better compete in a world where devices, software and services have to work ever-more harmoniously together.
“Going forward, our strategy will focus on creating a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower people around the globe at home, at work and on the go, for the activities they value most,” wrote Ballmer in the email to staff that was also published on Microsoft’s press site.
Well, yes, but what does that mean? The company is reorganising itself by function: Engineering, Marketing, Business Development and Evangelism, Advanced Strategy and Research, Finance, HR, Legal and COO (support, IT, commercial operations etc).
Engineering will be further divided into four areas: OS, Apps, Cloud and Devices. And the key point here is that Microsoft will be bringing all its devices and entertainment services under one Devices and Studio Engineering Group under exec Julie Larson-Green.
“Julie Larson-Green will lead this group and will have all hardware development and supply chain from the smallest to the largest devices we build. Julie will also take responsibility for our studios experiences including all games, music, video and other entertainment,” explained Ballmer, who concluded the email with the promise of “better execution and innovation through strategy and goal and discipline and engineering coherence. One Microsoft all the time”.
This isn’t strictly a music story, although we’ll be interested to see what plans Larson-Green has to boost the profile of Xbox Music across Microsoft’s various platforms, now that it’s up and running.
But it’s a sign of the bigger shifts going on within every tech giant. Even Apple – which prides itself on its ability to marry hardware, software and services – was forced to shake up its executive team in October 2012 to “encourage even more collaboration” across those areas.