Microsoft's Erwin Visser on the future of enterprise IT

As Microsoft’s general manager of enterprise audience marketing, Erwin Visser has witnessed an extraordinary number of changes across every sector. Here he outlines the company’s key areas of focus and summarises his thoughts on the future of enterprise IT

Lindsay James
Lindsay James
By Lindsay James on 15 January 2016
Microsoft's Erwin Visser on the future of enterprise IT

This article first appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of OnWindows.

Billed by analyst EY as a ‘step change even greater than the internet’, the impact of digital technologies on enterprises has been remarkable. In fact, technology is evolving so fast that many organisations are struggling to keep pace – only 12.2% of the Fortune 500 companies in 1955 are still on the list today and almost 88% from 1955 have either gone bankrupt, merged, or still exist but have slipped out of the Fortune 500.

“All successful businesses are becoming more digital,” says Erwin Visser, Microsoft’s general manger of enterprise audience marketing. “New technologies have had a significant impact on how today’s leading enterprises run their business, how decisions are made and how competitive advantage is achieved. What’s more, the availability of new technologies such as big data and machine learning is enabling the reinvention of business processes and disrupting markets at a rapid pace.”

It’s the recognition of this shift that has led Microsoft to evolve its business strategy, focusing on three key areas. “The first is around reinventing productivity and business processes,” Visser explains. “At a time when we’re generating more information than we can possibly consume, this is about providing the tools and ability to cut through the noise and focus on the things that matter most.”

The second area that Microsoft is focusing on is the cloud. “We have committed to building an intelligent cloud platform to enable any enterprise in the world to build better services, drive efficiency and reduce costs,” Visser says. “What’s key here – and what makes us unique – is that we’re allowing them to do this across any platform.”

Microsoft’s recent partnership with Red Hat illustrates its commitment here. Microsoft is to make Red Hat solutions available natively to Microsoft Azure customers to provide them with greater choice and flexibility when migrating to the hybrid cloud.

“I firmly believe that the cloud will be one of the biggest disruptive forces across every industry,” Visser says. “It facilitates machine learning, analytics, IoT – the list goes on.  A recent implementation at ThyssenKrupp Elevators provides an apt example. The company created cloud-­connected elevators built on Microsoft Azure and it’s transformed the business considerably.”

The third area of focus is around personal computing. “We are continuing to innovate in order to offer the best solutions that enable people to achieve more in this cloud-first, mobile-first world,” says Visser.  “We’re making huge progress. Office 365 has been accepted by a huge number of people, and Windows 10 has proved to be the fastest adopted operating system in the world.”

Indeed, since its launch on 29 July 2015, Windows 10 has achieved remarkable uptake. In the first 24 hours after its release it was installed on 14 million PCs – a number that had risen to 110 million by the beginning of November 2015.

“Windows 10 was developed in a unique way,” Visser explains. “We created the ‘Windows Insider Program’ whereby 1.5 million people were able to test the platform before it was launched. With their valuable feedback we were able to iron out any issues before it was released to the general market.”

The result was an operating system with an improved user interface, a new start menu, universal apps, task view functionality and more. “These changes have made a huge difference to users,” Visser says. “But, for me, the biggest feature of Windows 10 is its built-in security. Windows Hello, for example, offers a biometric alternative to passwords which removes the risk of breaches. Meanwhile, Microsoft Edge has been designed to be the most secure browser that we’ve ever released. What’s more, SmartScreen and Windows Defender are both in place to protect users from phishing attacks and defend them from advanced malware.”

Overall, Visser says that Microsoft’s three key areas of focus will ensure that today’s businesses, across every sector, can move forward into the new, digital world. “We’re specifically working to translate our vision to specific industries,” he explains. “In manufacturing it’s impacting everything from product design to marketing. Meanwhile, banks are better meeting customer expectations and governments are offering services to citizens in ways we’ve never seen before. Healthcare workers are transforming the way they meet patient needs and retailers are reaping the rewards of truly omni-channel experiences. An exciting future lies ahead.”




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