Disruptive Forces: Microsoft
Location: Redmond, Wash.
CEO: Steve Ballmer
Revenues: $51 billion
What they do: This maker of Windows, Office, and a host of commercial and enterprise software, game and music systems has aspirations for Web services, search and mass media.
Disruptive qualities: Just when you think Microsoft has done all it can to ruin any goodwill it had, the software giant comes up with a winner. Xbox and Zune were winners—even if they were more stabilizing than disruptive. Now Microsoft is engaged on multiple fronts as it bids to acquire Yahoo and Digg; churns out hosted applications for SMBs; retools its Great Plains offerings, now called Dynamics, for enterprise resource planning, financial, customer relationship management and supply chain management applications; and develops cutting-edge Surface touch-screen devices.
The tech that makes them tick: Microsoft uses IT very differently from most companies because it uses tech to sell tech. As a result, the one thing you rarely find in Microsoft’s 4,000-person global IT organization is stability. The operation, which famously serves as a test bed for the company’s own products, has been through four CIOs in four years. Earlier this year, Microsoft hired Tony Scott, the former Disney and General Motors chief technology officer who ran mixed-platform shops and used his huge IT budget to push Microsoft and Sun to improve interoperability. As Kevin Turner, chief operating officer and Scott’s boss, puts it: The new CIO will not only be expected “to run a world-class IT department [and] drive our solutions and deployment throughout our enterprise,” he’ll also be asked “to connect and collaborate with CIOs around the world to regularly share best practices with our customers and partners.”
Who they are disrupting: Microsoft is going after search and media companies on the consumer end, plus, in the enterprise arena, wannabes such as Google and established players such as IBM, Oracle and SAP.