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Microsoft Corp. is a worldwide digital hardware and software products developer and marketer with a market capitalization in 2014 of about $380 billion, with markets in every developed country. It employs over 125,000 employees worldwide. Until July 2013, Microsoft's global strategy reflected its divisional corporate organization. Then CEO Steve Ballmer announced a new "One Microsoft" strategy in which everyone in the company works together.
Earlier Growth Strategies
Microsoft has five major divisions, with each division devoted to a specific activity or service: Windows & Live Windows Group, Server Software, Online Services, Microsoft Business, and Entertainment and Devices. Until 2013, each of these divisions was relatively self-contained, with its own customer service group, research organization and sales division. One consequence of this divisional organization is that until 2013 Microsoft had no single global strategy implemented across all five divisions.
The Ballmer E-Mail
Ballmer's "One Microsoft" e-mail announced a company newly devoted to sales through the creation of "a family of devices and services" for both businesses and consumers around the globe. It explicitly renounces the company's earlier concentration on relatively autonomous divisions. It repeatedly describes how the new divisions will work together and implies a farther-reaching central management. What Ballmer intended can be further gleaned from certain repeatedly emphasized concepts. Important among these are operational speed and responsive speed. The company will operate faster -- "Be nimble" is how Ballmer describes it -- and respond faster to local markets around the world.
Speed and Other Key Concepts
In addition to a general emphasize on speed, Ballmer also stresses the need for faster corporate communications and increased and faster developing collaboration that empowers Microsoft employees in local markets. The over-riding purpose of the "One Microsoft" strategy is create a company with increased market-penetration speed.
Global Diversity and Inclusion
One significant difference between Microsoft's diversity initiatives and what may seem to be similar initiatives at other global corporations, is that while most global companies have strategic diversity initiatives, at Microsoft the Global Diversity Initiative is the encompassing strategy that contains all others. In a recent corporate mission statement, all other initiatives were described as aspects of GDI. On its website, Microsoft emphasizes the necessity in a growingly diverse world market of being in tune with that market, partly as a matter of economic justice and largely as a survival necessity. The company discusses GDI in three specific areas: representation, which it describes as a means of building a pipeline of future leaders; inclusion, which it describes in terms of creating a work environment that promotes engagement; and innovation, which it synopsizes as driving market excellence. For Microsoft, global diversity and inclusion are the means to achieve closer alignment with local markets that in turn improves market penetration speed. What may be the core idea here -- that effective companies look like their clients -- has increasingly become a concern in the 21st century for smaller companies as well.
Patrick Gleeson received a doctorate in 18th century English literature at the University of Washington. He served as a professor of English at the University of Victoria and was head of freshman English at San Francisco State University. Gleeson is the director of technical publications for McClarie Group and manages an investment fund. He is a Registered Investment Advisor.