Microsoft on Business Intelligence


“Every single recession generates economic opportunity. The concept of the personal computer was developed in a recession, as was the Internet. Companies need to show courage in times like these,” said Joseph Williams, chief technology officer for Microsoft’s Worldwide Enterprise Sales organization. Williams’ visit to the Darden School of Business yesterday was part of the Leadership Speaker Series.

Williams recently returned from a 30-day trip around the world to five continents and 12 countries to visit Microsoft’s Fortune 100 customers. “Everybody in this economy is scared,” he reported. “Companies aren’t investing in innovation and that worries me.”

An academic and author of three books and over 50 research articles on the strategic management of information technology, Williams told Darden students that companies should step up and shed their conservative views by pushing the boundaries of innovation and technology.

“Technology is an enormous enabler,” he said, citing the example of President Barack Obama whose bid for the presidency involving tweeting, blogging and texting. Williams believes that in the future technology will play an increasingly important role in marketing and customer care.

Right now, though, cash-rich Microsoft is waiting on the sidelines to see what will happen with the economy. Williams predicts the company will ultimately make some “value-based purchases – to use a Warren Buffett phrase.”

On the subject of “the Consumerization of Business Intelligence,” Williams shared Microsoft’s challenge to both mine customer information, to analyze it and then to build decision models that will help guide companies’ decisions.

“Business intelligence (B.I.) is all about having information,” he said. “We’re trying to build B.I. into tools that you’re already familiar with so that you can do the analytics yourself.”

Williams and his team of 2,800 are investigating new ways to drill down for data by dragging and dropping databases.

“I see B.I. in the cloud,” he concluded. “Put it in the cloud, and you’ll have a big opportunity.”

Founded in 1955, the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business is a professional school that improves society by developing principled leaders for the world of practical affairs.

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