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Microsoft New Year Changes – What Impact Will the COO’s Departure Produce?

by Stephen White  |  July 11, 2016  |  Comments Off on Microsoft New Year Changes – What Impact Will the COO’s Departure Produce?

End of financial year at Microsoft regularly triggers a series of announcements, movements and changes. The past week has seen a number, including one of the more significant of recent personnel shuffles given the departure of COO Kevin Turner.

As Microsoft kick off their new year with the annual Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) today, it will notably be the last such event with influence from Turner. A keynote presenter at each each of these conferences, Turner has been the spokesman of Microsoft’s competitive stance to it’s partner channel.

During last year’s event Turner anchored the day 3 keynote with an extended session that was notable for it’s assertive tone, and the degree to which Turner’s competitive stance stood in contrast to Satya Nadella’s co-opetition and integration messaging of the day 1 keynote. Nadella and Turner thus resembled the figurative good cop / bad cop routine, with CEO operating as the global face of Microsoft whilst COO adopted an enforcer role.


Whilst the percentage of Microsoft clients who’ve met directly with the COO will be slim, a role which lead the sales and marketing as well as licensing and pricing efforts globally had ample impact, and re-structure of responsibilities with the COO’s departure may influence change on the client experience.

Having focused on license sales for many years, as Microsoft transitions to an ‘as a service’ oriented culture the need to drive a sales function with a solution focus has stood stark to many observers. Whether these leadership changes will facilitate or mature the services transition remains of course to be proven, the vision keynotes and more focused sessions at WPC this week may provide some insight as to how Microsoft expects client engagement to evolve.

Satya Nadella’s communication to staff also pointed to a greater degree of autonomy for local Microsoft subsidiaries. That may imply a number of impacts, including greater freedom to drive solutions and innovate locally, but also P&L related matters including greater influence and empowerment over pricing through ‘financial accountability’. Given the potential of any such change to impact the bottom line of clients, such a shift will be interesting to observe, although less likely to become immediately clear during this week’s conference.

The more immediate and outwardly observable impacts are likely to be the delivery of messaging as Microsoft kick off their new year in Toronto this week. The good cop / bad cop performance may be retired and behaviors that replace it interesting to monitor. However Microsoft observers may choose to focus on identifying the template of Microsoft’s approach to continuous improvement and delivering value to ‘as a service’ clients, the vision of innovation, and plans for modernizing it’s global field and channel sales force.

If you’ve the time or inclination to observe WPCs keynotes, a livestream is available through Microsoft’s microsite 


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Category: licensing  

Tags: microsoft  saas  software  strategy  

Stephen White
Research Director
4 years at Gartner
16 years IT Industry

Stephen White is a Research Director in Gartner's IT Asset Management, Vendor Management and Procurement team, focusing on strategic licensing and negotiation strategies, asset management, and reseller engagement. Mr. White leverages his experience in software sales and consulting to assist IT leaders through his coverage of best practices in license life cycle strategy and trends, license metric and pricing practices, contract negotiations, optimizing terms and conditions, sourcing, and relationship management. Read Full Bio

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