Ray Ozzie in the gartner fellow interview provides deep insights into issues facing enterprises today and his vision for Groove, the product that he architected and heavily promoting now. Excerpts with edits:
There's a bifurcation happening right now, and we're in the early stages of it. Five to ten years from now, it will be so obvious that, looking back, you'll never see the industry the same way. Many years ago, information technology started in the IT department of major corporations and bled out to the rest of the enterprise. It seeped out to the users, and never made it to the home. These days, the leading edge of technology has shifted into the hands of the consumer and small business-person, in the form of the TiVo, the iPod, and even the software they download and use. This is also echoed in our recent coverage of Rich Karlgaards three technological trends where he says of late new products directly reach the masses cutting the elitist advantage hithertho enjoyed only by the rich.
On one side of the bifurcation is the big organization, the government and the big enterprise. On the opposite side are small business and individuals. To define which side you're on, answer the question: are your technology decisions gated by an IT organization? The people in one camp buy their computers pre-loaded from Dell. They download what they need. They don't worry about expensive, complex things like VPNs. They grab tools that say they solve problems they have. They use them, deal with spam and viruses in various ways and they get their jobs done. In the other camp, you have enterprise architectures and well-defined processes and procedures. You're focused on issues of compliance, leverage and cost reduction. But you're years behind in the OSs that you've chosen. You've implemented lockdown, and you have intentionally limited choices in messaging and in most all forms of software.
The gap is growing; the sides are not coming together. The benefits of innovation are accruing to the little guys, not the big organizations. Many new innovations aren't burdened by things such as auditing and monitoring and enterprise controls. But they work. They're effective for the little guys. The tables have turned, and enterprises have become the laggards. Collaboration in general has never been an easy sell, but it is so very much worth the effort. Truly effective collaboration lives at the intersection of technology, organizational dynamics, and social dynamics. If you only do two of the three right, it won't achieve the desired objectives. But when you can get it right, it just works
On Microsoft - Ozzie says,"There's the conventional wisdom that Microsoft's control of the operating environment puts other people at a disadvantage. I don't buy that. Microsoft's most significant advantage — and a huge advantage it is — is in their distribution muscle, not necessarily in the technological control of their operating environment. I believe that Microsoft is actually more constrained by their own operating environment than any other software vendor. For strategic reasons, Microsoft generally introduces innovations that are tied exclusively to their latest operating environment. This puts them more-or-less out of lockstep with their customers, who run a broad mix of prior versions".
Other vendors have a strategic advantage in that they can create middleware that operates on a variety of operating environments. Middleware enables significantly more rapid innovation and adaptation to customer environments — particularly in the collaboration realm, where people who work with one another may not have control of what software each other are running.