Microsoft Marketing Strategy: Why Bill Was Better Than Steve
This article will not beat about the bush, mentioning what Steve Ballmer Doesn’t have that Bill Gates had in terms of marketing but rather a bitter truth about the difference between their marketing strategies. Two persons can neither be same nor think in exactly the same way. Thus there is going to be a difference between the two persons.
The computer industry focused on hardware in the early 1970s.This was the era when the software was given less importance and the PC software did not exist at all. It was Bill Gates and Paul Allen who had a vision of making the software reign supreme to make the personal computers an all purpose machine. In fact Bill Gates and Paul Allen wanted to build software industry when it never existed and by 1990 not only did the software industry exist but Microsoft became the undisputed leader of the software revolution. The margin of profit in the software industry was huge in comparison to that of hardware. Moreover the competition in the software industry was not as intense as that in the hardware industry.
Microsoft grew to be valued over $7 billion with the gross income going over $1 billion annually. The personal worth of Bill Gates was more than $2 billion but this sky rocketed to $7 billion in 1992 making him the richest person in the USA. The profits of the company stood at $7.79 billion in 1999 while its work force was more than 31,000. The growth slowed down in the year 2000. This was because of anti-trust proceedings and heavy spending on the Research and Development.
It was in this year of 2000 that Steve Ballmer came into limelight by being appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft. Steve Ballmer joined the Microsoft in 1980. Bill Gates hired him as the first business manager at Microsoft. He has headed nearly all the Microsoft division including operating systems developments, operation, support and sales. He was made the president of the company in 1998 but promoted to CEO in 2000.
There are basically two views about the comparison of Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. With reference to marketing some say that Bill Gates was better while some say that Steve Ballmer is better. Some even go to the extent of saying that Steve Ballmer has always played a second fiddle to Bill Gates and that is why he is the current CEO of Microsoft. What either one lacks depends on one’s own perception.
Some say that the marketing style of Bill Gates was of persuasion and analysis style. On the contrary the marketing style of Steve Ballmer has been of the arrogant and crazy style. This view is correct to some extent because Steve Ballmer has been very aggressive at taking over Yahoo. Microsoft headed by Bill Gates has been known to practice the principle of being genuine, effective and powerful by the strategy of “embracing and extending.” All through those years Microsoft was known to be Humble but dangerous. On the other hand there are some who do not line the aggressive taking over strategy of Steve Ballmer.
Steve Ballmer strictly believes and sticks to the discipline of organizational management. Bill Gates has given a free rein to Steve Blamer to handle the Microsoft in what ever manner Steve Ballmer wants. Steve Ballmer has the right to handle the sales, finance, marketing products and the strategic planning as he wants.
With Steve Ballmer as the captain of the Microsoft ship, a new era has begun. Microsoft is undergoing reconstruction. While Bill Gates was a visionary founder, Steve Ballmer is proving himself to be a perfect leader. He is aiming at a long lasting company.
The new mission of Microsoft as announced by Steve Ballmer focuses on enabling people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential. This mission and its scope are far beyond the realms of what Bill Gates has thought. This is the first time that Microsoft does not just harp about technology. This mission is about overall marketing aimed at improving the relationships with the customers and others in the industry. Steve Ballmer wants the employees of Microsoft to act on these principles and this mission.
Steve Ballmer seems to have struck the heart of marketing by targeting to bridge the gap between the sales and product development divisions of the company. Ballmer has broken from the traditional practices of Microsoft by empowering the second tier of executives to run their businesses with less of supervision. Earlier during the reign of Bill Gates each and every important decision was being taken by either Bill Gates himself or Steve Ballmer. He has ordered the sales force, engineers, and the mangers to improve the quality of the services and products to get rid of the frustration of corporate customers.
Ballmer is bringing drastic changes in the way decision is taken. The employees now have to provide feedback to Microsoft though reporting that includes grading of the supervisors, ranking and filing the employers and even the accounting system for managers. This helps in weighing trade offs and quantifying the contributions of each employee in the organization. This also helps in taking decisions faster. Now the corporate values are a part of the annual performance review of every employee.
Ballmer has put a lot of stress on regain the trust of the industry and customers. According to him the integrity, honesty and respect must be exhibited through partners, customers and the overall industry.
The basic difference between Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates is exhibited by the former being obsessive about understanding each and every detail of the business such as all the details of sales, costs and marketing and each and every factor affecting it.
Ballmer wants his employees to be accountable and respectful to each other as well as outsiders.
One thing that is not liked by people is Ballmer’s tendency to get rid of people who he thinks do not fit in the organization. Some of the employees find him liberating but for some a tough boss.
Ballmer has made the factor of customer trust and customer complains the prime concern in the company, which in a long run is good. Isn’t it?
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