New CEO Nadella pushes data culture at Microsoft

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New CEO Nadella pushes data culture at Microsoft

Steers company from Ballmer's approach.

Microsoft's new CEO has claimed the company needs a "data culture" to thrive in the new computing environment.

Satya Nadella, who took the helm in February, is seeking to push Microsoft further toward mobile and cloud computing. That marks a shift from his predecessor, Steve Ballmer, whose world view was more tied to personal computers and the Windows operating system.

"Every aspect of Microsoft's business is being fundamentally transformed because of data," Nadella said at a presentation in San Francisco. "You have to build deeply into the fabric of the company a culture that thrives on data."

From managing its own heating costs to analysing customers' website usage, Nadella set out Microsoft's plan to play a central role in gathering, storing, processing and presenting data, taking advantage of its database products, data centres and its Office suite of applications.

"Think of Office as the canvas, or the surface area, or the scaffolding from which you can access the data," said Nadella.

His comments about a data-driven computing environment - while not ground-breaking - form a part of a striking new approach at Microsoft, which Nadella calls "mobile first, cloud first."

Broadly, that means focusing on making Microsoft's internet-friendly software widely available as services rather than traditional products, and playing a role in all realms of computing rather than just attempting to dominate markets with Windows and Office.

Nadella made his latest appearance to boost this week's launch of SQL Server 2014, the latest version of Microsoft's database software, worth more than US$5 billion in sales per year.

He also announced an early public test version of a cloud-based system for managing data automatically generated from machines, and the release of Microsoft's Analytics Platform System, which lets customers analyse large chunks of information, attacking the big data market.

Organisations could save US$1.6 trillion over the next four years by unifying their data collection and analysing it better, according to a report by tech research firm IDC, commissioned by Microsoft.

"To be able to truly benefit from this platform you need to have a data culture inside of your organisation. For me, this perhaps is the most paramount thing inside of Microsoft," Nadella said.

"It's not going to happen without having that data culture where every engineer, every day, is looking at the usage data, learning from that usage data, questioning what new things to test out with our products and being on that improvement cycle which is the lifeblood of Microsoft."

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