Forbes: The 5 Unanswered Questions And Why Microsoft Could Lose

Will Microsoft ever get heir heads out of the Office? After seeing Steve Ballmer’s presentation of Office 2013 the other day, I still wonder. They present it as an attac on Apple with their iPad and iPhone solutions, and partly as an attac on IBM with their Social Business strategy that, in my opinion, is far, far ahead of what Microsoft could show up with.

Now, here is what Mark Fidelman writes about it at the Forbes site:

The 5 Unanswered Questions And Why Microsoft Could Lose

Make no mistake, Microsoft has just changed the rules for the future workplace. They’re asking CXOs to take a leap of faith and most will consider it. Because when they look at Apple in the enterprise, they feel something is missing. Executives recognize leadership when they see it – and what they see is a lot of ‘not much’.

But Microsoft has some significant challenges. Most importantly a better user experience on the tablet. Microsoft needs to give Surface that addictive quality that the iPad has – which means more Metro and less legacy Windows. To be more precise, it needs to be more Metro when in a mobile context and more Windows-like when the user is trying to create a lot of content.

Second, Microsoft lacks social in their DNA and is at risk of not following through with social. As Futurist and AuthorPaul Miller put it to me: “Clearly Microsoft is making a big push to expand its current and near-term future enterprise technologies. The purchase last month of Yammer, the social networking tool for business, for $1.2 Billion is about upgrading its next version of SharePoint (its intranet plus digital workplace platform) which is great for the next few years – but then what?” The ‘now what’ for me is to placeYammer CEO David Sacks in charge of Office 365 and let the visionary control the social experience for Microsoft productivity tools. He’s the real deal.

Third, on Monday, I didn’t see anything about ‘smart data’ or data analytics. It’s a big miss.  Expect a big announcement or acquisition – there’s simply too much data being created to deprive a solution that makes sense of it. IBM and SAP are taking the lead here, Microsoft needs to follow suit.

Fourth, Microsoft needs to get the price way down on the big Perceptive Pixel screens. Small to mid sized companies are not going to replace whiteboards with expensive screens.  Microsoft or its partners need to create a few killer apps for the large screens or the technology risks ending up going hyper-niche like the Segway.

Microsoft also faces intense competition. Look for competing visions from IBM, Salesforce and Google – and perhaps a few choice words from Ellison at Oracle. The good news though is that no matter the winner, it’s going to get easier for us to be productive in the workplace. And that’s the first major improvement since the introduction of the computer.

I believe Phil Sorgen, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President summed it up for me best, “Organizations that embrace how their employees work best, such as through collaboration software and consumer-centric devices, are building a strong foundation for a productive future.”

You can bet on a few missteps along the way, but our workplace is going to change drastically in the next five years.   And change means a workplace that exists anywhere and everywhere. Are you preparing?