Web 2.0 Summit 2006 - Day 2 / A Conversation with Ray Ozzie, CTO for Microsoft

Day 2 notes from Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, CA:

[my analysis and notes are in these square brackets.]

A Conversation with Ray Ozzie:

  • Question: Does Microsoft “get it”? Answer: It’s a big company. Some people really “got it” – they got the shift that this industry is undergoing. Others didn’t get it. So I wrote the now infamous services memo.
  • When Bill talked about the services wave in HIS leaked memo, people went back and re-read my original memo. So that was good and useful.
  • I have been in the collaboration space – technology that allows companies to reducing coordination costs. Sometimes putting people in a room is better. Sometimes separating them physically and having them overcome that geographic barrier together is better. It’s context-sensitive. It depends upon your situation and your goals and your team.
    • [I like his definition of collaboration as being something that allows companies to reduce coordination costs. This fits in nicely with Tapscott’s comment that the reasons corporations exist is that they are better and more efficient at coordinating labour than individuals. However, I would add that the BIGGER reason corporations exist is to provide liability protection to the investor but that’s a whole other subject!]
  • Question: Will Microsoft change? Answer: Each of our groups has its own working approach.
  • Question: Eleven years ago. Microsoft “leaked” a memo about the internet wave and they turned the ship 90 degrees and in 18 months managed to crush Netscape. Was this recent memo as important? Answer: Yes, it is more important than even that old one that spoke of the power of the internet.
  • Use scenario-driven planning: The catch is that we want our people to do scenario-based planning. Start with the user and ask ‘What do they need?’ If that drives you towards mobile, then use mobile. If it drives you towards the PC, use that. Don’t try to come up with one size fits all solutions such as “Let’s do web 2.0 across everything.” Let things be true to themselves. The internet is great for universal access, sharing, and quick access to things. PCs however are great for rich UI that is not directly correlated to bandwidth or connectivity. The way to make this happen is to use each thing to do the tasks it is inherently good at.
  • Question: Do you have the authority to really make things happen at Microsoft or do you have to spend so much time building consensus that you may not actually get anything done there? Answer: I came in with a free pass but I have to earn my followers here over time. Will the org miss Bill? Are things challenging? Sure. My interaction style is very different.
  • [I was really looking forward to seeing Ozzie and to hearing him speak. I have followed his career for many years. But this particular talk was pretty underwhelming. I think the biggest lesson is that he believes that the services wave / web 2.0 shift is EVEN MORE IMPORTANT than the shift that happened when we moved onto the internet in Web 1.0. I agree with Andrew McAfee who stated, “This isn’t a revolution, but it is a transformation…a big one….we just don’t know how big yet.”]