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Microsoft Corporation is a multinational computer software corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington. With annual revenues of more than 50 billion, Microsoft Corporation is more than the largest software company in the world (Kooten, 2011). It was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975.
In early school days, Bill Gates was the topper of the class. Bill and his friend Paul Allen starts to skip classes soon after they were introduced to computers in 1968 (Balu, 2011). They started to find out how these computers work, read books about them, and they started to write programs then, at the age of 13. After finishing schooling days, they joined Harvard University and this was the time when they got into full time into the world of computers. Gates was not graduated from Harvard University as he spent most of his time in computer center and his total interest in programming.
The Microsoft Empire started when Bill Gates saw a copy of magazine in 1975 in which featured the new Altair 8800 microcomputer made by MITS computer. He showed MITS the application of the BASIC programming language for their computer. Gates and Allen moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico to be close to MITS Computer and this was where they established Microsoft. Like most start-ups, Microsoft begins small, but has a huge vision - a computer on every desktop and in every home. The company was incorporated in 1981 and it became Microsoft Inc. They launched the first Windows operating system on November 20, 1985 (Microsoft, 2012).
Microsoft is known globally for its Microsoft Windows operating system and Microsoft Office suite of products such as, Internet Explorer, Power Point, Excel and Word programs. The company's core business is on developing, manufacturing and licensing software products. Microsoft is committed to the mission of helping their customers to realize their full potential. They constantly update and improve their products, continually evolving their company to accelerate new technologies for serving their customers better. Therefore, there are a total of eight business divisions in Microsoft offering greatest potential to serve their customers. They are Online Services Division, Server and Tools Business, Microsoft Business Solutions, Microsoft Office Division, Interactive Entertainment Business, Windows Phone Division, Windows & Windows Live Division and Skype.
Led by Gates, Microsoft has succeeded in placing at least one of its products on virtually every personal computer in the world, setting industry standards and defining markets.
An effective organization should four important management functions in order to help managers to achieve organization's mission. The four management functions are namely: Planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. In this content, we will analyze Microsoft Corporation in using these four management functions effectively.
In this current global marketplace, a multinational corporation such as Microsoft is required to have a corporate culture and an inclusive business environment. Employees with varied perspectives, skills, and experiences are working together in this corporation to meet global consumer demands. The collaboration of cultures, ideas, and different perspectives is what that brings forth greater creativity and innovation.
Microsoft found out that U.S. and global diverse markets represent tremendous sources of value in the workplace and marketplace. The growth of diverse populations worldwide and the potential of these segments make them important targets as prospective employees and customers. Economically, the diverse markets represent a growing source of market consumption and buying power, which makes them an important customer group for Microsoft. By increasing the diversity of workforce, they will create a team that capable of designing products that fulfil these growing customers' needs.
Employees actively seek guidance from their senior executive leadership team to ensure that diversity and inclusive best practices are deeply embedded throughout the working environment. Microsoft comes out with a strategy called Global Diversity & Inclusion (GD&I), which included:
Representation: Building a Pipeline of Future Leaders
Microsoft focuses on building its employee pipeline, while actively recruiting those with wide range of diverse backgrounds, highly trained individuals from around the world. Microsoft leverages relationships with schools and professional organizations to achieve diversity recruiting.Â They offer programs that provide students the chance to interact with today's technology and learn about careers in this industry
Inclusion: Creating Engagement in the Work Environment
In order to sustain diversity gains, working environment must promote behaviours in a way that encourage employees to find new ways of problem-solving and reward diversity of thought. Thus, Microsoft provides leaders that have cultural competency training and GD&I best practice management strategies, and offer employees the opportunities to build stakeholder relationships, thereby fostering a culture of inclusive behaviours.
Innovation: Driving Market Excellence
To build the best software, Microsoft incorporates the talents of varied workforce into products, and fulfils the needs and priorities of its diverse customers, suppliers and partner base. Microsoft works with certified and highly trained individuals, and also with small businesses that are seeking to purchase competitively priced quality goods and services from Microsoft. ("A Vision and Strategy for the Future", 2012)
Microsoft's unveiling of the new Surface tablet, and with its planned $1.2 billion acquisition of Yammer, a social networking service, and the company is showing signs of actions of a market leader. Microsoft is going after Total World Domination, 100% market share in every market that it is involved in. They focus on risking profits to increase market share and go after a market with the view to dominate it. This is part of the reason which makes Microsoft the leading corporation.
There are secrets of Microsoft's management where the key points are, Bill Is Watching (Olaoluwa, 2012). Bill Gates' philosophy, approach and strategic vision permeate the entire company. Project managers send reports regularly to Bill about the status of their projects in which the current status of the project and the problem that it faces must be stated in the report to ensure Bill knows what is happening. Bill often walks among the workers to see how projects are progressing and he gains a good understanding about what is going on with the projects by talking to the workers. Because Bill understands what is happening throughout the company, his decisions are generally the correct ones for the strategic direction of the company (Thielen, 1999).
Besides, workers are given the freedom to create and work properly, but must at the same time be aware of the problems within and status of the project. There is an annual meeting every year for Microsoft employees that include entertainment as well as business. The idea is to keep all employees informed about what is going on in the company and the direction that it is taking. This reflects the management functions of leading in Microsoft.
Microsoft is a public corporation. Shareholders elect the board of directors, who in turn hire the top executives including the president, vice presidents, secretary, and treasurer. The company must follow Washington State's laws regarding a corporation and must also abide by Securities and Exchange Commission regulations for financial reporting. As of November 2012, Steve Ballmer held the title of CEO, while co-founder Bill Gates was the chairman.
According to Wikipedia, as of 2012, the company has a divisional organization. Each division, or product group, focuses on a specific line of goods and services. Each group has its own research and development, sales and customer service staff. Although this type of organization is more expensive and consumes more resources, but it allows the groups to better serve their customers. Each product group has one executive in charge who reports directly to the company's president.
Microsoft's five product groups are Windows & Live Windows Group, which handles the PC operating software and Windows consumer products; Server Software, in charge of internet server software; Online Services, responsible for online advertising and Bing search engine; Microsoft Business, develops business related software and servers; Entertainment and Devices, assigned to handle the Xbox, Zune and software for the automotive industry.
By managing the company in divisional form, the entire group is often in one location, allowing more interaction and better communication between all the employees developing or supporting one line of products. Having a smaller business unit means each division can develop new products and get them to market faster, making it easier to compete against rivals.
Figure Organizational Structure of MicrosoftOrganizational Chart Microsoft - TheOfficialBoard.jpg
Besides planning, leading and organizing, Microsoft also focuses in controlling. This management process is important to ensure activities are accomplished as planned and to correct any unwanted deviation. The controlling process includes monitoring, comparing, and correcting work performance. Microsoft often monitors the employees by personal observation. The company managers practices Management By Walking Around (MBWA).
Bill Gates and other management staff of Microsoft often walk among the workers to monitor the progress of the project. By this way the top managers gains a good understanding on what is going on with that project. The employees of Microsoft are rate and measured according to accomplishments. A project failure will affect the employee's rating negatively. But failure is expected to happen sometimes, and a failure is acceptable and will not give a permanent bad mark on the employee's record, unless the employee fails continuously. This measuring style do not intent to belittle the employee, but to measure the work the employee most recently completed. The employees are not measured by whether the project fails or not, but how well they perform within their scope of responsibility. Employees with better performance will receive rewards as well as successful. If failure happens in a project, a post-mortem discussion is held where individuals discuss what went wrong and what could have been done better.
2.5 Factor that lead to success
Marco Iansiti and Alan D. MacCormack stated that in any industry subject to rapid technological change, a firm faces two big challenges. The first is in recognizing the threats and opportunities that are caused by newly emerging technologies. The second is in mounting an effective response to these threats. Microsoft appears to have solved these problems, giving it the ability to quickly adapt to changing circumstances.
Based on Sean Silverthorne, Microsoft has built-in "sensing" mechanisms to keep track of what is happening in the broader technological context which assist it to recognize threats. Much of this ability comes from its tools division, which tracks the needs of the many developers worldwide who write for Microsoft platforms. When these developers find attractive alternatives to Microsoft technologies as they did when the Internet first emerged, it's not long before the tools division starts to hear about it. Microsoft also employed several thousand developers to constantly examining the potential of new technologies.
In terms of responding to potential threats, Microsoft consistently plays to its strengths: its overall platform strategy, its existing knowledge base, and its process of componentization. For example, when developing the new Internet Explorer browser, the development team opted to leverage its existing programming model, despite the fact that this would initially slow the project down. From this point on, competitors in the browser space faced a formidable challenge. They were competing not only against the Explorer team, but also against the continual improvements made to Microsoft's underlying platform over its many years of existence.
2.6 Future Challenges
Even as Microsoft earns high ranking in world's most powerful brand, profit, sales, assets and market value, their longstanding competitor, Apple, still holds higher ranking than Microsoft in all those aspects. Apple had now topped Microsoft to be the world's most powerful brand, and it is clear that getting that first place again will be Microsoft greatest challenge.
Now and again, Apple had introduced new innovations, especially products like iPad or iPhone, which generates more revenue than all of Microsoft's wares combined. Apple's innovations have earned Apple more attention and customers as compare with Microsoft. Microsoft challenge will be turning attention of consumers from Apple to Microsoft by coming out with new gadgets that are better than Apple's product.
Microsoft next challenge is to be flexible in their products. When Apple came out with gadgets with touch screen interfaces such iPhones and iPads, it grab consumers attention to buy the products because people like the convenience and uniqueness of the touch screen interface. Clearly touch screen interface is the trend, but Microsoft could not implement this new technology in their product because Microsoft's software products are hardcore to only keyboard and mouse, not touch screen. As a result, Apple was able to grab more customers because of Microsoft inflexibility in its product. To dominate the market, Microsoft needs to be flexible in their product.
As a summary, the four management functions which consist of: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling had been applied by Microsoft and this kind of management allows the organization to run smoothly in achieving their goals.
The chosen example Microsoft stated that planning is the foundation of management, where all the management should built. Planning is importance as well, it determine and implemented to attain the organization's goals and objectives. Besides planning, the management should getting prepared, getting organized. Manager must organize all the resources well before putting into action. Furthermore, leading helps the manager to manage and supervise the actions of the subordinates. This helps them to assist the staff achieving organization's goals and enhancing their career goals which can influenced by leadership, communication, increment, promotion and motivation. Lastly, controlling helps to check the errors and to take the corrective action; therefore control is a tool for achieving organizational activities and also a continuous process.
Nowadays, big organizations require managers to be flexible, adaptive, and innovative so to stay competitive. In order to reach these targets, managers must have various management techniques and practices. Managers should understand the fundamentals of the techniques and practices it before it can apply it. Without understanding the management basics, they can't be an effective and efficient manager. As a result, effective and efficient management leads to success, where it accomplishes the targets and objectives of the organizations. Of course, to achieve the ultimate goals, the managements need to work productively and innovative for solving problem with the four management functions mentioned earlier. Management not only has foreseen the desires of accomplishing the goals, but has to look into process that their method is practical and realistic for the company as well.