Satya Nadella, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise division and rumored shortlist candidate for Microsoft CEO, spoke today at the LeWeb conference for startups and Web entrepreneurs in Paris.
He addressed — or rather, sidestepped — a question about the CEO search, as well as talked about tech trends and shifts that he thinks will be guiding forces for Microsoft in the future.
Interviewer Om Malik, founder of online tech publication GigaOm, asked Nadella what it was like to work on day-to-day tasks when he was being mentioned as a possible CEO to succeed the retiring Steve Ballmer.
Nadella circumvented the question, saying: “For me, it’s a great time to be at Microsoft for what we’re doing. And day to day, it is about getting focused on what I’m doing and I’m excited to be doing that.”
(Nadella said in a separate interview today with Bloomberg News that he intends to stay at Microsoft no matter who becomes CEO.)
At LeWeb, Malik asked Nadella what he thinks the next 10 years might bring for Microsoft
“Who knows what’s really going to happen in 10 years?” Nadella said.
But, he added, even going through the conference and talking to startups, there were clearly trends happening that could be projected forward and that will help shape how Microsoft approaches things.
“This meme of digitizing everything is well on its way,” Nadella said.
He cited several examples, including that of a startup company that created a stadium management system that can also know something of everyone in a stadium because of the data-collection capabilities of everything from mobile applications to geofencing.
“This notion of being able to collect all data, to be able to reason about data, and have this ambient intelligence that’s powering every experience, I think, is what we will see through in the next 10 years,” Nadella said.
When asked what he thinks will happen to Microsoft — a company that’s best known for platforms and products stemming from a different computing era — Nadella replied: “Any company, including ours – it’s all about what we do going forward versus what we’ve done.”
“It all comes down to us reconceptualizing the business you’re in,” he added.
Nadella pointed to Surface, Office 365 and Xbox One as Microsoft’s reconceptualizations.
Surface is a Windows device in a new form factor with new ways of interacting with it; Office 365 is a cloud subscription service version of traditional Office; and Xbox One is now a console, cloud gaming service and entertainment system, he said.
Looking forward on the device side, Nadella said he envisions more shifts in how people interact with their devices: “Input and output, basically, [whether it's] touch or ink or voice or gesture. I think that’s going to be the next big revolution.”
On the back end, he said, it’s about getting more done with less, as happened when businesses moved from using minicomputers to client servers, and then to virtualization and now to cloud.
“Input-output on the client, better utilization on the back end will fundamentally change,” Nadella said. “And we have to play in it. That’s what we’re doing with our cloud platform and what we’re doing with our devices.”
Here’s the video of Nadella at LeWeb Paris: