mind the gap: blog


Inkjet Manufacturers Continue to Grow in A3 Business AiO Segment

In April, I wrote that vendors are looking to the A4 SOHO inkjet AiO segment as a place to grow their business. As it turns out, inkjet manufacturers may also be looking to the low-end A3 business inkjet segment as an avenue of growth. With that, inkjet manufacturers will continue to focus their efforts on both A4 and A3 business inkjet segments as demand for consumer inkjets continues to decline.

In an effort to drive demand for A3 business inkjet AiOs, vendors are increasing placements for the devices at the retail level. From May 2010 to May 2013, A3 business inkjet placements have demonstrated significant growth by doubling in retail placements from 9 to 18. Since that time, placements for the segment have remained relatively steady.

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Similar to an increase in A3 business inkjet AiO placements over the years, vendors are allocating more resources to advertisements in the segment. gap intelligence data indicates that retail ad counts at national retailers including Best Buy and the OSS chains have increased year-over-year by a noteworthy 94% from 17 ads in May 2013 to 33 in May 2014.

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The sharp increase in ad counts is mostly attributable to Brother doubling its ad investments to 22 ads and HP growing from zero ads in May 2013 to 5 ads in May 2014. With that, Brother strongly pushed its MFC-J4510DW and MFC-J4710DW, while HP worked to generate demand for its Officejet 7610 over the last twelve months.

While anecdotal evidence suggests that users rarely print A3 pages, some customers may still be inclined to purchase an A3 inkjet for those ‘just-in-case’ situations, especially if the model is on ad with an instant savings promotion.

In addition to a growing retail presence and increasing ad counts for A3 business inkjet AiOs, the segment has also seen a number of new product launches in 2014. The following chart shows year-to-date A3 business inkjet AiO launches:

A3BusinessInkjetAiOLaunches2014

So far this year, inkjet manufacturers have introduced 6 new products in the segment, with the most recent launch by Brother. Just last week, Brother launched three new A3 business inkjet AiOs that come equipped with new connectivity options including WiFi Direct and NFC, a technology that vendors continue to integrate in their new inkjets, as noted in my first blog.

Given that A3 business inkjet AiO manufacturers have increased their retail presence, grown their ad investments, and launched more of these devices than in years prior, vendors are likely to continue to seek growth in this segment.

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Twice: Sears, Samsung Tops In July 4 Ads

New York — Sears and Samsung dominated the Independence Day period in appliance print ads, a study by TWICE market research partner Gap Intelligence showed.

According to Gap home appliance analyst Christine Boersing, Sears accounted for about 21 percent of all retail advertising activity for the holiday period of June 29 to July 11, with more than half of its ads touting its private-label Kenmore brand.

hhgregg was No. 2 in advertising aggressiveness surrounding July 4, with about 18 percent of all holiday circulars, followed by BrandsMart USA at 13 percent, The Home Depot at 12 percent, and Best Buy at 10 percent.

Remaining retailers tracked by gap each earned a single-digit percentage of ad share, including, in descending order, Pacific Sales and Lowe’s (6 percent); R.C. Willey  and P.C. Richard (4 percent); ABC Warehouse (3 percent); and Fry’s (2 percent).

On the vendor side, Samsung repeated its year-ago performance to secure the top position, with a heavy ad emphasis on laundry and refrigeration, while LG was the second-most advertised majap brand with a similar product emphasis.

Indeed, laundry was the most promoted category during the holiday period with more than one-third of all majap ads (34 percent), followed by refrigerators at 27 percent, ranges at 15 percent, dishwashers at 13 percent, and over-the-range microwave ovens at 6 percent.

Advertising grew in the weeks leading up to Independence Day, and peaked in the days immediately preceding it, Boersing said, repeating the pattern from 2013’s Memorial Day and July 4. Gap collected over 1,100 ads from seven major markets across the country for its Independence Day analysis.

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Twice: Overall TV Shelf Placements Dip

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gappy Tumblr 4: The Dreaded Full-Calc

One of the biggest time-sucks out of any gapper’s day is the dreaded full-calc of a large file. Depending on the file it can take anywhere from 2 minutes to an hour, and during that time a gapper is left wondering what to do while they wait – and pray – for the calc-ing to finish. At the end of last quarter, I was fortunate enough to get one of these long calc-ing files, and had to spend some time keeping myself from losing it at my desk. Below is my go-to guide to keep gappers occupied during the many stages of a full-calc:

Start by spending quality time with the high schooler’s in the courtyard

Lip-sync your favorite songs at your desk

Gracefully beat a coworker at ping pong

Take a bath

Still not done calc-ing?

How about…you grab some food from the kitchen?

Or learn a new trick

Become invested in sports

Get to know a new coworker…

…and then engage them in a staring contest

The file still hasn’t finished? Don’t panic!

If you’re getting antsy, try rolling around

Help someone with their groceries

Use a common item around you to distract you

Show off your dance moves

Find a hill to sled down

Only when you’ve reached your breaking point, resort to the following:

Space out at your desk

Think of something you’d rather be doing

Wallow in self-pity

Attempt an escape out of the office

Whatever you do, don’t come up with a brilliant plan to destroy your computer

Wait, it finished calc-ing?

Take this moment to realize that your future suddenly looks a lot better.

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Introducing the Weekend Warrior!

To kick-off the summer season ahead, we here at gap intelligence are unveiling a brand-new component to our blog series…the Weekend Warrior! As a company and as collective individuals, we each strive to contribute to something bigger and better than ourselves day in and day out. Within our office walls and out into the world, our passions, talents, and interests run far and wide.

Here’s what our gappers have been up to the last couple of weeks…

Kim Plavan – Data Specialist

gapper Kim and her son Bo recently set out on a muddy Saturday morning adventure and headed to Camp Pendleton to participate in the Marine Corp’s World Famous Mud Run! The Mud Run helps raise funds for Marines and their families to enjoy various athletic clubs and activities on base.

Bo

Kim Before

Before

Once Kim and Bo arrived at Camp Pendleton, they joined up with several soccer families from Bo’s team. The Mom’s ran (walked) the 5k course, while the kids ran the 1k. Both courses sported several obstacles including walls to climb, tunnels to crawl through, muddy hills to conquer, and nets to climb up, over, and under. Oh…and there were many many mud pits. The last mud pit before the finish line was a doozy! The mud was so thick it felt like cement. Luckily when some of the kids got stuck, the Marines hopped in the pits to pull them to freedom. gapper Kim and her entire team had a great time and can’t wait to get dirty again next year!

After

After!

 

 

 

Scott Peterson – Industry Analyst 

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A couple of weekends ago we celebrated the Fourth of July, but rather than celebrating in the sunshine like many other local San Diegans, Camera Analyst Scott Peterson was using his talent for spinning records as a wedding DJ! Two of Scott’s longtime friends got married at the scenic Tom Ham’s Lighthouse located on the beautiful San Diego harbor. DJ’ing was a great way for Scott to return a favor to the groom, who recently gave a gapU presentation about being a Union Tribune photojournalist. That said, Scott happily found himself talking cameras with many of the like-minded guests at the wedding…all the while pumping the jams that kept the crowd dancing into the early morning hours! With the venue located right along the waterfront, Scott had a turntable with an extraordinary view.

Pasha Skripin – Programmer

This month, gap intelligence is privileged to have two of our programmers visiting from Uzbekistan.  Aside from working on amazing code, Shavkat and Pasha are taking in many of the sights and sounds of San Diego. During our last monthly company meeting, Pasha Skripin expressed his desire to see some live local music while in town. Naturally, no other place would do except The Casbah! Fellow programmer, Shavkat Samatov, and Camera Analyst, Scott Peterson, accompanied Pasha to the infamous venue for a show by the Creepy Creeps and the ever-so entertaining Schitzophonics. After an ear-shattering bout of rock music and slam-dancing into oblivion, Pasha is already looking forward to his next dose of the San Diego music scene…especially the late-night burritos that go along with it!

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Check back often to keep up on what the gappers are up to and feel free to share your own Weekend Warrior activities with us as well!

We are driven to contribute to something bigger than ourselves and trust that our hard work will turn into something great and that we’ll have fun along the way!

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Go North Herbie!

Nothing says summer like a trip to Alaska. While many were basking in the California sunshine, Herbie headed north to Canada this summer where he was met with clouds, rain and cold weather.  From Vancouver, Herbie then embarked on an Alaskan adventure for a week and returned to Vancouver for a few more days of sightseeing. Come travel along to see the sites of the Pacific Northwest and beyond with Herbie as we head north!

Day 1: Vancouver, B.C.

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Herbie in front of the 2010 Olympic Torch at Jack Poole Plaza.

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Herbie grabbing lunch at the Cactus Club Cafe.

Day 2:  Sightseeing in Vancouver before setting sail for Alaska

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Visiting Gastown’s Steam Clock.

Day 3: Sailing in the Inside Passage

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It’s cloudy and cold out here.

Day 4: Juneau, AK

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Herbie at Mendenhall Glacier.

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Herbie is excited to ride the Mt. Roberts Tramway.

Day 5: Skagway, AK

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Herbie was met with beautiful weather and a gorgeous backdrop in Skagway, AK.

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Herbie taking a train ride up the Yukon Pass.

Day 6: Glacier Bay National Park

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Herbie digs glaciers.

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What else did you expect to see in Glacier Bay National Park?

Day 7: Ketchikan, AK

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A little rain can’t damper sightseeing for Herbie.

Day 8: Sailing back to Vancouver
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Herbie is going to miss this view.

Day 9: Back in Vancouver, B.C.

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Enjoying the miniature train ride in Stanley Park.

Day 10: Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain

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Herbie at the Capilano Suspension Bridge in the pouring rain.

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Herbie enjoying the scenery on the cliff walk.

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Herbie on Grouse Mountain ready to head to the top of the Eye of the Wind.

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The view disappearing in the viewing pod in the Eye of Wind.

Herbie had a wonderful time traveling this summer. Thanks for following Herbie on another adventure. Until next time…

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gap intelligence named emerging business of the year by the San Diego Chamber of Commerce

-Market research firm recognized for revenue growth, culture and staying power -

SAN DIEGO – June 24, 2014 – gap intelligence, a values-led market research firm, announced today it was named “Outstanding Emerging Business” at the recent San Diego Chamber of Commerce 2014 Small Business Awards.

gapFive

The firm was specifically recognized for its history as an established San Diego County-based business with significant revenue growth, unique culture and staying power.

“What makes gap intelligence unique is that we’re a values-led market research firm
founded on the idea that business has a responsibility to the people and city that make its existence possible,” said gap intelligence Founder and President Gary Peterson. “That’s why the validation of being honored by our local Chamber is a profound honor.”

gap intelligence recently went through a metamorphosis from a firm focused on what and how to do business to why it’s in business. Finding its “why” led to several culture-first initiatives such an in-house institute of higher education called “gapU” that
translates to increases in retention, productivity, and scalability within the company.

Another company culture standout is its “3T’s” philanthropic committee dedicated to
giving time, talent, and treasure to San Diegans in need. This group organizes monthly and quarterly charity events including serving meals at the San Diego Food Bank, beach cleanups, a blood drive and an annual golf tournament that raised $32,000 to benefit the Emilio Nares Foundation. ENF is a local nonprofit dedicated to helping
navigate families through their child’s journey with cancer.

The firm also experienced a major overhaul this year by bringing data collection and software development entirely in-house. These tools help position the company as a leader in the very complex and constantly changing IT, consumer electronics, imaging and home appliance industries.

The Chamber is the largest nonprofit advocate for the San Diego regional business community. It is the most influential business network and resource for growing commerce in the San Diego region with nearly 3,000 members representing 400,000 employees.

About gap intelligence
San Diego-based gap intelligence is a values-led corporation that works with
manufacturers, resellers and industry players within the information technology,
consumer electronics, imaging, and home appliance industries to bring them up to the minute market intelligence. For more information: www.gapintelligence.com

For Immediate Release
Contact: Elizabeth Ireland
Stalwart Communications
(858) 922-9983
elizabeth@stalwartcom.com

 

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Catching Up with the Aftermarket at the RT Imaging Summit

At the end of May, I had the pleasure of attending the RT Imaging Summit, hosted by Recycling Times Media (RT). The event was designed to discuss questions and issues faced by the North American remanufacturing market, and (hopefully) provide attendees with solutions. Around 100 people attended the event, a pretty respectable turnout for the first event held in North America, for North America (RT is also the host of the RemaxAsia Expo held in China each year). The exhibition room featured table exhibits for the gold and silver sponsors, including MSE, Mito Color, and Green Project, where you could visit with these companies during lunch or the mid-morning and afternoon breaks. While the majority of the attendees came from the remanufacturing side of the industry, there was also participation from OEM representatives who tried to provide a different perspective.

rt promo 2

The content of the show was extremely informative, with presenters ranging from remanufacturers and patent attorneys to chemical producers and printer remanufacturers. Because my view of the remanufacturing world is very specific, it was refreshing to be among people that are living in it every day and have a more robust understanding. Attending provided me with valuable insights and a new perspective that I might not have otherwise had.

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The show started with a discussion about how the aftermarket has changed over the past 5 years or so. Since 2009 and the global financial crisis, there has been an increase in low cost foreign aftermarket products, clones, counterfeits, a decline in quality, and an increase in ecommerce. OEMs have been responding by stepping up patent infringement litigation, introducing new and more complicated chip technology and more complex cartridges, as well as increased printer refresh cycles — all of which provide limitations to the aftermarket’s market share. In particular, with the rise in ecommerce as a preferred shopping method, remanufacturers are increasingly finding themselves and their dealers or resellers competing with other resellers that, for whatever reason, can afford to offer competing products for a much lower price point.

However, while low-price online resellers are an issue and cut into the sales of legitimate remanufacturers and their partners, one of the things that I really respect about many of the companies was their acknowledgement that a main issue holding back the remanufacturing industry is quality, not price competition. Many participants agreed that they are currently very limited by quality, especially with regard to color, because color customers have different requirements and standards, whereas most people using monochrome for everyday office documents don’t necessarily need the highest quality output. Remanufacturers typically don’t have the resources to support a research and production facility that would be comparable to an OEM, and I respected that these companies were so upfront about the fact that they haven’t been able to achieve 100% OEM quality, and that no aftermarket company should say they have.

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The timing of the conference could not have been better, as it happened to take place shortly after Canon filed an intellectual property complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against 18 aftermarket manufacturers, distributors, and resellers in January and took many of the same complaints to the ITC against 33 companies (including some of the same 18) in early May. Litigation pretty much set the tone for the first day of the summit, as we heard from Print-Rite, a large remanufacturer that was also named in the recent Canon lawsuits, and got a lesson in the art of reading patent claims by patent attorney Ed O’Connor. After all of the presentations, open forums, and lunchtime discussions, my insight and understanding of patent infringement lawsuits in general increased significantly, as well as the kind of reaction they generate and impacts they have on the aftermarket from the remanufacturers themselves. There was a lot of back and forth about whether OEMs are bringing these types of lawsuits to shut down the aftermarket or defend their intellectual property. However, regardless of whether these defendants are actually infringing, simply bringing a lawsuit against a remanufacturer causes customers to question their legitimacy and can have lasting impacts on that company.

Because there hasn’t ever been an easy and affordable way for the aftermarket to keep up with OEM patents, it’s been difficult for remanufacturers to even know when they are infringing – an OEM could be filing for a new patent during a remanufacturer’s development of a new cartridge. As a result, Recycling Times developed its own solution to that challenge, announced at the show as the forthcoming Patent Smart (or PatentSmart) portal. This was a solution that I was not aware of before the summit, but it is definitely something worth keeping an eye on. Little information is available, but as far as I know, it will be a subscription-based portal that will allow remanufacturers to stay up-to-date on patented OEM products and components.

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In the end, it was determined that there was at least one thing that was mutually agreed on by both remanufacturers and the OEM representatives: the two industries should be spending more time working together to focus their efforts on targeting those that undermine their legitimacy, such as counterfeits and clones.

From follow-up correspondence, it was clear that the show was a success and that attendees came away with new ideas and inspiration about how to address commonly-faced issues in their industry. While there may have been undertones of fear and concern over the detriments caused by OEM lawsuits, there was also a lot of talk about opportunity. The market is mature, the technological solutions are here, and customers are still looking for value. Although the future of the remanufacturing industry is unknown, it is clear that it’s changing fast and that the aftermarket needs to continue to adapt accordingly to successfully capitalize on these opportunities.

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Scott’s One Cool Thing: Mastering Timelapse with Michron

Some of the most innovative ideas in today’s imaging realm can be found as campaigns on Kickstarter, the popular crowdfunding platform.  The site is a boon to ambitious startups with bold and creative ideas that require an extra push from consumers like us to become a reality.  One of these ideas that successfully materialized into a finished product is Michron from Vivo Labs.  Michron is a tiny unassuming device that endows timelapse capabilities to common digital cameras, providing a new trick for both novice and advanced photographers alike.  I recently had the opportunity to meet with Vivo Labs co-founder Greg, and perhaps fueled by his passion and drive, found myself rushing home to place an order for my very own Michron.  While it is safe to say that I know my way around a camera, timelapse was actually something that I had never attempted.  Using Michron, I take that initial plunge into timelapse photography in this edition of… Scott’s One Cool Thing.

Timelapse is a technique for showing an accelerated passage of time by snapping consecutive photos, and then speeding up the playback frames per second to create a video.  Although timelapse is not new, its popularity is increasing as shooters desire that creative spin to make their videos unique.  Heck, the first ever Vine video posted from space is actually a timelapse sequence!

While I enjoy the perspective that a timelapse made from hundreds of stills can put on everyday events (read: plant growing, sun setting), the advanced setup and high costs associated with it detoured me from attempting the technique myself.  Priced at a mere $59, Michron gave me little financial excuse, and its ease-of-use message comforted me that timelapse would be a snap to pick up.

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At its core, the $59 Michron is an intervalometer, a device that counts intervals of time and used to trigger exposures in a timelapse series.  Michron plugs into any camera boasting an external remote jack, which includes most DSLRs and advanced point-and-shoot models.  Compared to expensive intervalometers adorned with intimidating buttons and knobs, Michron is wonderfully simple, offering all necessary control via the free Michron App for smartdevices (iOS, Android).

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Complicated timelapse setup is replaced by a simple interface headlined by AutoTimelapse.  This Michron App feature lets shooters compose timelapses while not straying away from the camera’s auto settings, an especially attractive element for novice individuals.  The Michron App also contains useful timelapse presets including People, Pets, Clouds, Landscape, Cityscape, Landscape, and Stars, which are selected to match the shooter’s desired subject.  Selecting a preset will configure the appropriate timelapse settings, leaving one last step, which is to simply connect the Michron to the camera.

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Once Michron is connected to the camera, and timelapse-ing away, shooters can actually disconnect their smartphone, and even close the Michron App.  This is a major benefit compared to competing smartdevice-enabled timelapse solutions, which operate only while connected, leaving the Michron user free to level-up in Candy Crush.  The Michron App keeps track of your timelapse progress, clearly displaying how much footage has been captured, and how long of a video it will translate into.

Loading up the pre-programed “People” setting in the Michron App, I pointed my camera at those taking on the challenge of the Wavehouse wave here in San Diego for a neat perspective.

Later on, using my newfound mastery of timelapse, I set my Michron App to “Pets,” as I sought to finally answer the question of what my lizard Pancake does when I am not around.  Conclusion… not much.

Cool, but Not Without Competition

Vivo Lab’s success as a Kickstarter campaign can be traced to Michron’s message of simplicity, mixed with a non-threatening price point, and a sleek smartdevice-enabled interface.  Priced at $59, the module adds a tremendous value to DSLR purchasers that have perhaps struggled to master the advanced functionalities and techniques that would otherwise justify their investments.

However, Michron is not alone as the numerous timelapse apps on the market make for a crowded set of competition, and even Apple’s new iOS 8 will give users basic timelapse capabilities.  While the convenience of having timelapse on a smartphone may reduce the need for standalone solutions like the Michron, they will also raise awareness of time-altered footage.  With that, Vivo Labs’ product stands to shine as a solution that caters to consumers’ obsession with smartdevices, and the desire to squeeze more performance out of their advanced cameras, and that is why it is… Scott’s One Cool Thing.

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Satya’s Search for the Meaning of Microsoft

In interviews during the final months of his life, Steve Jobs gave some of his best advice on business as well as his harshest criticisms.  Jobs’ most potent venom was aimed at once innovative companies that had lost their way by promoting the head of sales to the head of the company.  Jobs’ most specific example of an innovative company gone bad was Steve Ballmer’s reign as Microsoft’s CEO.

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“It happened to Apple when Sculley came in, which was my fault, and it happened when

Sales leaders fail as CEOs simply because of the nature of the role.  The VP of Sales is supposed to find big game, big opportunities, big sales, and big money no matter what it looks like.  It’s up to the VP of Sales to constantly present those opportunities to the CEO, who then filters them through the company’s capabilities.  The CEO determines if the opportunity fits within the company’s strengths, core competencies, culture, and overall strategic vision.  Some opportunities are executed on, but more importantly, the CEO decides which opportunities should be passed.Ballmer took over at Microsoft. Apple was lucky and it rebounded, but I don’t think anything will change at Microsoft as long as Ballmer is running it,” said Steve Jobs.

By promoting the VP of Sales to CEO, the filters for decision making are removed and every big money opportunity is jumped on.  By not filtering opportunities, the business eventually splits into different directions, many of which are outside the company’s core competencies.  There is no better example of a VP of Sales / CEO gone wild than Steve Ballmer’s reign at Microsoft: Office, Windows, Bing.com, Surface Tablets, Zune audio players, Skype, retail stores, Xbox gaming consoles, Nokia phone handsets, and on and on…

During Ballmer’s reign, Microsoft did grow at a pace faster than GE and IBM and was twice as profitable as Google, but the company has been left rudderless.  The company doesn’t have enough consistency in what it does and how it does it.  Microsoft has no unifying meaning of its existence.

Enter Satya Nadella.Satya

Microsoft’s new CEO, who took over for the retiring Steve Ballmer in February, understands that the company is desperate to find a unifying message.  In his first company-wide email as CEO, you could sense that Satya was trying to create that unifying message on his own.  In his email, Satya wrote phrases such as “contribute to the world”, “empowers the world”, “software powered world”, “change the world”, “make the world a better place”, and “best company in the world.”  Satya wrote the word “world” thirteen times in his email to Microsoft employees.  He also used the world “empower” six times and the word “change” four times.  For the record, the words “technology” and “software” were each mentioned just three times.

While Mr. Nadella is trying his hardest to unify Microsoft employees around a cause greater than themselves (“Empower the World!”), his efforts will likely fall short because “empowering the world” is not Microsoft’s true calling – at least not anymore.

How does the Xbox or Surface tablets empower the world?  How is the world empowered through Microsoft retail stores?  (Hint: they don’t empower the world).

Microsoft’s leadership team needs to do some deep soul searching in the months to come.  Satya and his team need to look at all of the different parts of the 100,000 person Microsoft business and find a unifying theme of what exists today.  The exercise may reveal that only some of the company’s endeavors are similar and fall in-line with Microsoft’s core competencies.  The introspective may also reveal that Microsoft has been pretending to be something that it isn’t and needs to get back to its roots.

In a recent interview with CRN, Satya was pressed for his opinion on Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia, a Ballmer decision that he himself was against.  “We are a software company at the end of the day.”, the new Microsoft CEO replied.

“We are a software company.”  There it is.

Microsoft’s long term value and growth may hinge on Mr. Nadella’s ability to identify his company’s unifying theme, “We are a software company”, and weave it into the DNA of Microsoft’s vast array of businesses.  It is daunting task, and Mr. Nadella may have to cut some businesses (tablets, retail stores) to cure Microsoft, but it absolutely has to be done.

“We are a software company.”

He has a start.

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