Technology Plan of Microsoft Corporation
This paper is devoted to the analysis of technology planning of Microsoft Corporation. The business context of the company was analyzed. A 5-year budget was provided.
Microsoft Corporation should provide adequate opportunities for all parties. Technology plan enables the development of mutually beneficial relationships between the company's customers and its personnel. Resource allocation should be effective in order to adjust technological resources to the customer needs.
Technology planning aims at increasing the probability of successful implementation of a particular innovation. In this respect, IT life cycle should be examined.
The technological plan of Microsoft Corporation seems to be a broad and complex one. It is deeply integrated into the company's global strategy and includes a number of possible measures and programs that a company may implement under different circumstances. It includes a 5-year budget plan that may be modified in accordance with a macroeconomic situation and the dynamics of market demand.
Keywords: technology planning, global strategy, customer needs.
Technology planning is a process that allows specifying the ways with the help of which it is possible to reach technological objectives. In order to formalize a process, it is reasonable to use a specific document that will help to create an efficient educational environment. The company under study is Microsoft Corporation. The purpose of this paper is to create technology plan for the company which will allow providing modern technology services for the company's customers.
Every company operates in a specific business context. Therefore, it is impossible to analyze the company's operation and create the technology plan without taking into consideration other market forces. Microsoft Corporation implements both traditional and emerging IT technologies. Therefore, the business context of the company is very complex. In relation to traditional IT technologies, Microsoft Corporation has some monopoly power based on IP legislation. It provides serious competitive advantages for the company in the long run. Moreover, traditional IT technologies are primarily insourced rather than outsourced. It makes their development and control more predictable and safe for the company. The situation is more difficult regarding emerging IT technologies. In this segment, Microsoft Corporation has no monopoly power and serious competitive advantages in comparison with other IT companies. The majority of emerging IT technologies are outsourced, and efficient management is more difficult. However, the main market opportunities are closely related to emerging IT technologies as they are the source of potentially high rates of profit.
Technology plan is supposed to help Microsoft Corporation in providing high-quality services that meet and exceed the customers' expectations (ITS, 2013). In order to reach this objective, the technology planning process should be properly organized. It may be presented in 5 key stages (Anderson, 1996).
Recruiting and organizing of a planning team. Different groups of stakeholders should have their representatives. In this way, the team will be able to make objective decisions and analyze the situation objectively.
Research. It is necessary to understand technology needs of the potential customers (organizations and individuals). Then, it is reasonable to determine technologies that may be used for satisfying the specified needs. The methods and ways of applying technologies should be understood, as well.
Construction of the technology plan. Technology plan may help to identify the key objectives that may enable successful realization of the company's strategy. Technology plan should be closely related to the previous research.
Formalization of the planning. It is reasonable to present planning outcomes in a specific form. Therefore, it is necessary to develop a document which will help to identify the main objectives, resources, and methods used by the company.
The implementation of the plan. Any technology plan is highly practically oriented. Therefore, its implementation is a significant stage of the overall process. It is possible that some shortcomings will be detected during the implementation of the technology plan. In this case, it is reasonable to revise the plan accordingly and implement it once again. Moreover, it is desirable to construct a complex multi-optional plan when different ways of implementation of the company's objectives are possible. The process of implementation, evaluation, and revision should be permanent.
Implementation is a complex process that includes the following elements: the mission, the vision, and the specified objectives. Microsoft Corporation should provide adequate opportunities for all parties. Technology plan enables the development of mutually beneficial relationships between the company's customers and its personnel. Resource allocation should be effective in order to adjust technological resources to the customer needs. Moreover, a schedule for the technology plan is typically needed. It will allow coordinating and controlling different stages of technological process. Motivational strategies should also be modern and adequate in relation to the company's objectives.
It seems that technology plan of Microsoft Corporation should not be exclusively commercially-oriented. It should be focused on social issues, as well. In particular, it will contribute to the company's reputation and non-material assets if it will realize more technological projects regarding students and other social groups. For instance, it is possible to encourage the use of technology in the process of post-secondary education for the US students (Oceanside Union, 2013). Microsoft Corporation may contribute to staff development of different educational establishments. It is possible to provide some instructional assistants and computer specialists for these purposes.
The effectiveness of technology organization of the company is affected in 3 different ways. They are as follows.
The limited resources. Although Microsoft Corporation is a developed multinational company, its activities are also subject to monetary calculation, and it should allocate its resources effectively. Therefore, it is necessary to select the most efficient options and projects.
The relationship between the central office and different departments. Microsoft Corporation is one of the largest companies of its industry. In this respect, the relations between different departments of the company play a significant role. On the one hand, the adequate control is needed. On the other hand, decentralized structures are typically more efficient and profitable in the long run. Therefore, effective balance should be determined in this context.
The need for a system that will allow determining the most promising projects. For this purpose, it is possible to use econometric and statistical computer programs and other modern techniques. However, this process should include some subjective elements, as well. Entrepreneurial and managerial decision making are important in this regard.
It seems reasonable to classify all technological projects in three main categories (Educational Technology Services, 2011).
The projects that are implemented or may be implemented in the near future. Microsoft Corporation currently realizes a number of hi-tech and computer projects. For example, the company is working on different game controllers, personal computer hardware, media players, etc.
Projects that may be demanded by customers in the near future. Microsoft Corporation should be oriented on the potential needs of its customers. The company should be oriented on the future rather than the current structure of the market. On the one hand, Microsoft Corporation should analyze the actions of its competitors (Apple Inc., Samsung Electronics, etc.) and be able to respond to them in an effective way. On the other hand, it is reasonable to develop the company's own independent strategies. More market-oriented strategies may lead to additional market share and power for the company.
Projects that should be realized in accordance with existing regulations. Microsoft Corporation operates in a specific environment. Therefore, the company should adjust its activities to legislation requirements. The majority of these projects may not be highly profitable, but the company has to realize them in order to stay in business.
The company operates in the global environment. Thus, the aspects of global and cultural diversity in technology should be taken into account. Some researchers suggest that global and cultural diversity has a positive impact on decision making and some negative influence on intercultural communication (Shachaf, 2008). It seems to be correct for a number of reasons. First of all, diversity leads to different proposals and perspectives concerning a specific issue. Thus, the management of the company has more options and is able to make more objective and correct decisions. However, different cultural groups have different preferences, and intercultural communication may become more problematic. Therefore, the effectiveness of communication should be maintained with the help of other methods.
Nowadays, it is possible to create a global virtual team. It seems that some problems of knowledge sharing among different workers in the process of software development may be related to the fact that local culture influences the patterns of acquiring information (Huang, Trauth, 2007). Intercultural communication is a difficult process that should be analyzed from different perspectives.
In order to manage these processes, cultural diversity should be properly analyzed and classified. It is reasonable to introduce three different dimensions of international software activities. They include the following: the work, the virtual workplace, and the workers (Huang, Trauth, 2007). All these dimensions are interrelated and affect each other in a specific way. Only global software work does not influence other dimensions but experiences the influence of the work environment and workers. This system is presented in Chart 1 (Huang, Trauth, 2007).
Global and local characteristics are influenced by a particular cultural context and lead to the formation of unique cultural environment within the company. Modern software development work may be considered as a part of the general globalization processes. At the same time, local cultural context also affects the work environment of Microsoft Corporation. It seems that the company should be concentrated on the transformation of existing cultural aspects in order to address the global issues of cultural diversity worldwide.
Moreover, social and cultural context is not homogeneous. It represents a number of levels attributed to the company and local communities. Some cultural factors are typically more influential than others and some of them are subject to permanent changes. It seems that long-term outsourcing relationships between Microsoft Corporation and other companies should be based on deep understanding of cultural and ethnic cultures. National level of culture is often dominant in comparison with other (regional or international) levels. It is primarily due to a high level of government intervention in modern economies. However, in the process of social evolution, the team culture may become very different in comparison with national or initial organizational cultures. In this respect, Microsoft Corporation should be oriented on new global opportunities and markets.
Software and technological infrastructure should satisfy some basic requirements in order to create a basis for successful implementation of the technological plan. Software and technological infrastructure refers to the integrated framework of computer networks, data centers, and an operational system which enable the operations of digital networks. The key requirements of infrastructure under consideration are as follows.
Facilitating the informational exchange between different users of information. In relation to Microsoft Corporation, it refers to efficient informational communication between the company, its customers, and partners.
Contributing to safety and privacy of users. Privacy issues are important for the majority of users, and modern software infrastructure may contribute to higher standards of its assurance.
Creating a competitive environment for companies. Infrastructure makes the process of determining the most efficient companies more evident. Customers are able to compare the quality of services of different companies with the help of a market infrastructure.
Satisfying the needs of all parties in the best possible way. Infrastructure creates the foundation for mutually beneficial satisfaction of the customers' and producers' needs.
Creation of diverse products united under one common regulatory system. Infrastructure allows combining the interests of different parties and emerging the system of market prices.
These requirements are presented in Chart 2.
Microsoft Corporation may utilize the additional opportunities emerged as a result of technological infrastructure. At the same time, the company is not a passive recipient of infrastructural opportunities. Microsoft Corporation affects the technological environment in a number of ways. The company influences the industry trends when it creates innovations. However, the company is not isolated in its decision making. Microsoft Corporation analyzes the measures of its competitors and the reaction of the company's customers.
Technology budget is an important element of the company's technology planning. It may be provided for the following 5 years. Thus, the technology budget of Microsoft Corporation is presented in Table 1.
Thus, the technology budget is supposed to increase every year to reach the company's strategic objectives. Interest payments are not included in this budget. Adjustments for inflation have not been provided, as well.
The planning process includes additional consultations with the company's managers and department leaders. All departments may present their technological needs, estimate their expected budget, and propose ways for solving their technological problems and fundraising. The Technology Committee may be formed in order to analyze the key technological processes within the company and general supervision regarding the planning process. The company's top managers and leaders are supposed to provide guidance in the process of implementation of the plan. The planning process is supposed to be organized on a permanent basis. In this way, all new trends will be estimated and the most efficient and profitable technologies will be determined.
Instructional Software Standards will be approved by the company's top and middle managers. Special software needs are supposed to be estimated on an individual basis. At the same time, all software decisions should be integrated in the general software strategy of the company. Some instructional software may be developed in order to satisfy the needs of actual and potential customers worldwide. Implementation plan will help to organize all available resources in a proper way.
The company is supposed to provide other equipment, as well. It may include CPS systems, PDAs, electronic slates, etc. It is reasonable to be aimed at international software markets as the global markets have a number of additional opportunities for a multinational company. Adaptive devices for particular needs of the company's customers may be developed. They are supposed to be in a higher price segment in comparison with other products of Microsoft Corporation. Some additional services should be organized in order to help the company's customers with evaluation, installation, and maintaining of new devices. New technological department may be created for this purpose.
The number of computer technicians should be increased in the long run as the market demand for these services is supposed to increase. Moreover, Microsoft's technicians have strong competitive advantages in the market, and they may contribute to higher rates of technological and financial growth for the company. An optimal ratio of computers to technicians should be estimated and realized. Microsoft's technology trainers may provide additional services for customers in different countries. In particular, they may be helpful for other IT organizations that are aimed at establishing their own regional computer centers. Microsoft Corporation should also provide a number of technology trainers that will fulfill administrative functions and support for other subjects during the implementation of the technology plan.
Microsoft Corporation will also need additional technology administrators who will not participate in direct customer consultation. Laptop and tablet PCs should be available for administrative purposes, and their technical characteristics should be constantly increased. Microsoft Office is the most widely used computer software in the majority of regions worldwide. Therefore, new versions and upgrades are supposed to be in high demand among customers. At the same time, the technological parameters of these versions and upgrades should be superior from the point of view of the final consumer in comparison with the new products of the company's competitors.
However, it is impossible to predict all possible technological needs regarding the subsequent 5 years. For this purpose, it is reasonable to establish a new selection committee that will be analyzed all orders and needs of the company's departments. System analysts and data system coordinators may be included in the selection committee in order to provide high-quality expertise. At the same time, the implementation of technologies should be constantly evaluated and analyzed. In this respect, it is necessary to compare the costs of specific technological decisions and their impact on the company's material and non-material assets. In other words, it is important that marginal revenue should be higher or equal to marginal costs. It will lead to efficient allocation of the company's resources among potential technological projects. Some analysis may be provided with the help of special software programs, but the most significant decisions should be made on the basis of the experts' analysis. Quarterly and annually reports will be needed in order to estimate the effectiveness of a particular technological program.
Modern technological environment is constantly changing. New technologies permanently appear in the market, while inefficient and old technologies tend to disappear from it. Microsoft Corporation will monitor all new trends and the possible changes in consumer preferences in order to create the most efficient technological program. Technology staff should attend different training programs and courses in order to increase its qualification and see new methods of solving the existing problems. Some technology experts are supposed to be present in negotiations with major suppliers and customers as the high-quality technical expertise may be needed.
In relation to the most significant and expensive initiatives, some pilot technological programs may be realized. They may include the work with a particular consumer segment or the company's product. If the pilot program proves to be efficient, then this practice may be expanded to the national or international level of Microsoft's operation. Moreover, new technology may be modified in some way if it does not meet all customers' expectations.
Technology committee will clarify strategic issues regarding hardware and software programs that are supposed to be introduced during the subsequent 5 years. The committee may be sub-divided into additional structural units in order to deal with different functional spheres. Top and middle managers will have the option to submit their recommendations to the committee, and their suggestions will be examined. The general structure of the committee will be dependent on the types and quantity of available recommendations. Thus, it seems reasonable to introduce highly flexible structures that may change their operations in relation to the market situation and demand for its services. Technology planning is the main element of the implementation of the global Microsoft's objectives. Secondary structural units may provide their own products and technological decisions in accordance with the basic principles of the company's operation.
The process of technology organization consists of a number of levels. The main of them are as follows (Washington County Public Schools, 2011).
Building level. It is the lowest level where technology team may be placed. This level may exist in organizational structure of Microsoft's partners. Administrative personnel and organizational leaders may be present in this level. With organizations of this level, Microsoft Corporation may develop local projects. Efficient control is also necessary as these technology partners are typically recently established companies. However, some efficient technological solutions may originate on this level of the overall structure.
Division level. This level plays an important role in the overall structure as it represents a "bridge" between the global and local systems. Division manager is responsible for the development of the department plan. Personnel on this level have enough responsibility for technology planning, analysis, and revisions. This level is closely related to the company's information department and middle managers. The division level is not as flexible as the building level, but it has more opportunities for complex technological solutions.
Information systems level. This level may provide informational support for the company's general technological structure. A number of technicians and technology coordinators should be present on this level and they are responsible for current technology issues. This level is related to the industry infrastructure.
Instructional technology level. This level provides consultation services for the company's partners. Microsoft's technology teachers may participate in the technology education and other programs of other institutions. Technology education is supposed to be actively developed during the subsequent 5 years.
The company is supposed to use technology in a way that will make the use of information safe and effective. Technological solutions will strengthen Microsoft's market position in the long run. Moreover, modern technologies are a necessary aspect of almost all workplaces. Therefore, Microsoft Corporation has a very large set of potential customers.
It seems that once a year a general assessment of the strategy by all key stakeholders should be provided. New trends should be analyzed, and new options of technologies should be developed. Technological development should take into account the interests of all parties including the company's managers, workers, partners, and customers. Main objectives and strategies should be revised if it is necessary.
Microsoft Corporation is supposed to provide some warranties for its computer systems. However, the users may also be responsible for losses related to the misuse of the equipment. In general, liability issues should be correctly specified. Security of the computer systems should be permanently maintained by the company and its partners. System administrators may be responsible for all major problems in the local level. Microsoft Corporation is supposed to contribute to internet safety as the majority of its products are closely related to the use of Internet. The legal and intellectual property rights issues are important in this respect, as well.
Technology planning includes the problem of obtaining necessary financing from internal and external sources. Microsoft Corporation has the possibility of directing its profit surplus in technological development. However, technology planning should contribute to financial results of the company as Microsoft Corporation acquires the main fraction of its profits through technological products. Thus, technological planning is a process that should be aimed at reaching long-term results.
All technological responsibilities should be correctly assessed according to previously outlined levels of technology planning. Planning technology decisions may require deep technology understanding and additional cooperation with other companies. Technology plan includes a number of Microsoft's initiatives within the company's broad strategy that is supposed to enable Microsoft Corporation to implement its vision of becoming the technology leader when opportunities and innovations will be on the highest possible level.
A modern broad infrastructure increases the company's market potential and opportunities for increasing its market share and provides additional services regarding training necessary for technology implementation (The City of Chicago, n.d.).
Technology plan may be considered in relation to different growth strategies. In particular, work environment of the company should become more open and efficient. Data-based decision making is supposed to reduce the company's average costs and prices. It will create additional competitive advantages. New technologies (including social media and mobile ones) will help to increase the number of actual and potential customers of Microsoft Corporation. Data science may enable developing completely new solution to the customers' needs. Product innovations may strengthen technology positions of the company.
Technology plan of the company should also take into account the perspectives of technology industry growth. Thus, the perspectives of the company are dependent on the stage of the global business cycle and the aggregate consumer demand worldwide. Macroeconomic information may be used during the long-term technology planning. Microsoft Corporation may help to promote efforts aiming at establishing smart communities worldwide. Digital technologies may help to coordinate activities among the users from different countries. It is also possible to attract additional stakeholders who appreciate the values of the company. Microsoft Corporation may cooperate with public organizations, as well. Moreover, the company closely cooperates with a number of government structures regarding legislation, intellectual property and other issues.
Creative and educational resources may become more widely available as a result of the implementation of the company's technology plan. Educational assets are supposed to become more attractive after new Microsoft's products will be delivered in the global markets. International entrepreneurs are another target audience for Microsoft's technological strategy. IT modeling may be used in the main current entrepreneurial aspects. Microsoft Corporation is able to create a specific technological entrepreneurial product on an individual basis.
Local private and government data centers may be consolidated with the help of new data technologies. The company may provide unique solutions in this sphere of the market. However, innovative technologies are supposed to generate the largest fraction of the company's revenue. Therefore, key efforts should be directed to development of the most efficient innovations in the market.
From a broad perspective, technology planning should be realized together with academic partnership worldwide. Microsoft Corporation may supply the products of the highest quality. At the same time, different research institutions also have new technological ideas. It seems that mutually beneficial exchange is possible in this field.
The company's technology stuff should evaluate the key issues related to computer system maintenance. It is necessary to analyze monitoring and upgrading of hardware systems. Technical support is supposed to be present during the process of remotely diagnose. Technology planning should address the issues of remotely control as it allows monitoring the entire situation from a particular center. The control site systems may include modern power sources to ensure that necessary information will be saved.
Monitoring and security systems should be realized in order to guarantee the adequate use of different technology units. The company's support staff should also be able to identify general problems that may arise in the process of the practical use of specific technological decisions; additional trainings may be provided for this purpose. It is reasonable to introduce some form of examination in order to guarantee the high level of knowledge and skills by the company's personnel.
In the process of technology planning, the term "technology" should be understood in a strategic sense, i.e. a way of performing things (McCreary, 2002). It will allow maximizing the long-term effects of innovations in technology. For some projects of Microsoft Corporation, it seems reasonable to create additional volunteer committee in order to diversify available resources (Carnegie Mellon University, n.d.).
Technology planning aims at increasing the probability of successful implementation of a particular innovation. In this respect, IT life cycle should be examined. It includes the following four phases (Hickman, Schmaltz, 2008).
Planning. Technology planning is typically performed on this stage.
Selection and acquisition. It refers to technological decisions, partner agreements and contracting.
Implementation. It includes technical design, actual implementation, testing, management education, post-implementation analysis, etc.
Support. It refers to permanent technical support of Microsoft's customers.
The integration points and key data should be strictly determined (Haydamack, 2008). It will allow comparing management expectations with actual results. Therefore, it may be reasonable to organize a new data center for dealing with strategic information (Hoit, 2012). In this way, IT challenges may be met and the company will be able to reach its strategic goals. A correct planning process enables determining the exact amount of resources needed for implementation of the company's technological strategy (Hinton, 2012). Successful technology solutions require a focus on organizational and tactical issues.
Strategic technology planning should also closely analyze the successful experience of other companies and introduce some effective solutions from other industry leaders. For a formal assessment of the technology planning, it is possible to use the STREET framework (Fenn, Linden, Fairchok, 2003). It allows comparing a specific technological project with a typical one. However, it is also necessary to use more sophisticated methods such as statistical and econometric modeling. In general, the technological plan of Microsoft Corporation seems to be a broad and complex one. It is deeply integrated into the company's global strategy and includes a number of possible measures and programs that a company may implement under different circumstances. It includes a 5-year budget plan that may be modified in accordance with a macroeconomic situation and the dynamics of market demand. It seems that the company will be able to use its technology planning for strengthening its competitive advantage.
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