Ray Ozzie’s “The Internet Services Disruption” memo

If you haven’t checked out the Ozzie Microsoft strategy memo, you should put aside the few minutes to read through it. It’s valuable in several ways:

  1. It’s an example of exactly the kinds of technical leadership and communication you’d expect at a software company. A software company lives and dies by it’s developers (medium- to long-term at least: you can always vaporware some short-term cash), so it’s obvious that those are the people your most important communications should cater to and address.
  2. There’s a start of the “be the infrastructure, not the end product” strategy I talked about a few days ago. That is, in a more DIY/good enough programming/ecosystems culture, for a large company that needs a steady revenue stream, selling the tools is more stable than selling the actual artifacts of those tools.
  3. The fact that it’s out shows — intentional or not — a willingness to engage in very
    -ish PR. In this new development mentality, the more info you share, the more cred you get: secrecy is for the old foggies of technology. (There are still some issues to be ironed out with non-developers, but the PR for only developers is looking sound.)
  4. It has a summary of Web 2.0 development (or “contemporary web-as-platform programming” for all you curmudgeons), in just 7 words: “treat[ing] the ‘raw’ internet as their platform.” The fact that a high-level exec [or his staff, etc…. whatever] can and is articulating it is significant: not to the lucky people already doing it, but to all the BigCo coders who wish they were doing it but can’t get their management chain on board.

Those are just a few highlights, there’s more to be had from it. The most significant thing, of course, is that it’s coming from Microsoft: a huge name that people who make decisions can, and will, take guidance from.

As the last point addresses, BigCo management chains rarely listen to their own highly paid developers; instead they look for outside validation of new technology directions. On that issue in particular, if you’re up on your internal marketing theory, this memo is a big arrow in your quiver. Now go shoot it.

Update: some of the ideas I outlined in another post, “The Disappearing SysAdmin and Enterprise Software Vendors” fit well with the SaaS stuff in this memo, with the change that the ideas in the memo at hand are more consumer software than enterprise software centric.

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