It’s a fascinating time in the technology industry right now. We are seeing major shifts in vendors. This is a time when strategy and execution matters. The Internet is an accelerator which magnifies success and failures.
This week at the D8 conference in California we’ve seen some simply amazing performances by CEO’s on stage. And by amazing I mean good and bad.
First up was Steve Jobs. This year Apple has begun to alienate many people with it’s closed ecosystem, tight control and censorship of the app store, and treatment of the lost iPhone. Yet Steve was completely lucid, humble and impressive during his interviews. And the iPad has smacked it out of the park with 2m sales in 60 days. Here is Steve on Flash …
I used to develop on Hypercard. It was revolutionary technology at the time. The next big technology game changer for me was Microsoft Access – but that was some years ago.
So I’ve been a big fan of Microsoft for many, many years and we’ve done well as a Microsoft Partner. In contrast to Steve Jobs, Steve Balmer from Microsoft made little sense. Even worse you can see Ray Ozzie grimacing next to him. When Ray finally gets a chance to speak he is impressive. He gets it.
Their analysis of Google’s dual OS strategy is hypocritical and simply FUD. Android is the same model as Windows and the iPhone – where apps are installed, but still a great web experience. Chrome OS is a bet on the cloud. Having both is clever and very coherent to me.
Worse, Balmer is now taking more responsibility. Balmer has been around for a long time and has now become a caricature for all that is wrong with Microsoft. Balmer simply has to go. Microsoft needs Ray Ozzie to take his turn. Ray is far more like-able and has a better handle on the big technology trends that Microsoft needs to be over.
The other fascinating exchange was Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook. In an ice cold room he melted into a sea of sweat. This is watch through your fingers material. You think think it can’t get any worse and then we find there is a secret Illuminati style motif inside his sweatshirt. You can’t make this stuff up …
Zuckerberg shows a complete lack of judgement for the event at a critical time for Facebook. Predictably the call: OPEN LETTER TO MARK ZUCKERBERG: STEP DOWN.
Contrast the AT&T old world CEO with Jobs: AT&T warns customer that emailing the CEO will result in a cease and desist letter
These example are very relevant to what we’re seeing at Xero. In our space we are seeing a similar vendor shift. It’s now been almost 18 months since Sage pulled down Sage Live and MYOB Live Accounts appears to have been delayed for the fourth time even through they press launched last month.
Early feedback is too little too late.
In our industry therefore we are already seeing this vendor shift. The leaders of the last generation have not been able to develop a strategy for dealing with the next generation. Even though they are huge, have lots of resources and brand – their old business model inhibits strategy and their legacy issues inhibit execution. It’s hard to think of examples of companies that are successfully transitioning from the desktop world to cloud world. Apple being the notable exception.
That’s what makes this space so exciting. As the Internet magnifies failure and success – if you can get it right with strategy and execution there has never been a more exciting time in tech. We have a lot to do but trying very, very hard.