Top 10 challenges next Microsoft CEO must face to confront Apple and Google

Microsoft logo at its Redmond headquarters
A week since the shock announcement that Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer is to retire and the technology industry is still sizing up what the decision means for the company, and the wider market.
Many are wondering who the successor to Ballmer could be with internals at the firm – and outsiders such as Marissa Mayer, Stephen Elop and even Apple chief Tim Cook – being touted as the sort of heavyweights that might relish the challenge of Microsoft.
But whoever takes over from Ballmer faces many challenges and issues that will need addressing, and quickly, in order to ensure that the firm maintains its position in the market, and to claw back ground from rivals such as Apple and Google, the two firms that have eroded Microsoft’s former position as the number one IT giant.
Arrow Chart10. Raise the share priceWhen Ballmer announced he was retiring the Microsoft share price rose by seven percent. In some ways this sums up everything that the market had come to see as wrong with the company. Investors' lack of confidence in Ballmer meant the company stock price has flatlined for years.
By contrast, Apple and Google have seen their share prices soar, especially Apple, which at one point passed $700, making it the most valuable company on the planet. The price has since dropped, but it remains just shy of $500. Microsoft is just $33.26.
While stock price shouldn't be seen as the be all and end all of a company's success, for Microsoft is has become indicative of its inability to excite and inspire. As such, any incoming executive will need to make sure its price tracks north in order to prove their worth to the company.

bing-sesny-20139. Push for search growthSearch is one area where Microsoft has never really stood a chance, with Google dominating the market. However, Microsoft has made attempts to fight back with its Bing services, and it has out-innovated Google in some areas.
While Microsoft may never overtake Google in this market, it must keep carving out a small piece of the market because web search is never going to wane in importance, and the more Microsoft can do to attract users, the more its brand will grow.
Furthermore, if it hopes to entice people to its Windows Phone platform, the inclusion of its Bing search service must, at the very least, be something that doesn't turn users away.


8. Deal with antitrust issues Patent lawyers must love the current breed of chief executives at the major tech companies around the world, as each is more than happy to sign off, or possibly just ignore, the huge sums of money they are paying to sue one another.
Microsoft is very much a part of this, embroiled in deals cases, notably with Motorola, as well as being sued on numerous issues, such as copyright for trademarks such as SkyDrive and Metro.
Deciding how to proceed with costly cases that could end up with disastrous decisions is something that’s hard to learn at MBA school, and so whoever takes the helm will have to already be well versed in deciding when to fight, and when to settle.

teamwork7. Improve employee satisfactionDescribed as a system that encouraged backstabbing and betrayal, one could say that Microsoft’s employee ranking practices are unpopular.
Only becoming common knowledge in August 2012, the system effectively encouraged the best executives to avoid working with each other in order to avoid being ranked against them, instead opting to work with weaker staff members in order to receive a bigger bonus come the year’s end.
Things weren’t great for the hard-working quiet types either, often overlooked by their managers, they would end up being ranked as the worst in their group despite being as solid as their more boisterous colleagues. Far be it from us to judge, but we reckon Microsoft should review this policy.

lightbulb6. Make innovation a key focusWhen was the last time Microsoft did something that truly excited you? Exactly. Sure, perhaps Windows 8 was a surprise, but exciting?

Now think of Google, and think of Apple. These two incredibly mature businesses are still able to wow users year after year with innovative products such as Google Maps, the iPad, Google Glass and the iPhone.
As has so often been repeated on V3 and elsewhere, Microsoft has been playing catch-up for too long in terms of consumer-focused innovation.
The only place we can truly say it’s created such enthusiasm is with the Xbox 360, but its successor, the Xbox One, has not been as well received so far. Microsoft desperately needs to find an area to make its mark in.

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About Doru Somcutean

Hello, my name is Somcutean Doru and I'm from Romania.

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