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October 20, 2015updated 21 Oct 2016 5:21pm

What was Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella really doing at Dreamforce?

CEO analysis: Mr Nadella was given a keynote slot at last month’s Dreamforce event – he used the time to cover some surprising topics

By Sam

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft was given a Q+A session at the Salesforce Dreamforce conference and in between product demos used the time to talk about culture and success at a business level and throughout society.

His emphasis was on time and getting it back. One way he sees of of doing this is knowing what will happen next.

"Revenue and profit are lagging indicators of success not leading indicators. The question is how is data helping you stay in touch with what is happening," he said.

Mr Nadella said to find the metrics that are the leading indicators of success is where Microsoft puts its smartest people…’ not on building features but on building leading indicator metrics.’

"I look at a chain of questions which I think we should all ask. What happened? Why did it happen? What is going to happen? What should I do? And to be able to have the tools to help with those questions is the culture you need to propagate."

Mr Nadella laid out some of his views on the role of technology in society and put the emphasis on productivity, partnerships and forward looking analytics.

This was part of his three big ambitions for the company.

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He said: "The first one is a reinvention of productivity in business process. To me economies make progress, societies make progress, because of how productive they are. So to me contributing to that in terms of digital technology to drive individual, organisational and economic success for societies is one big ambition of ours."

The second Microsoft ambition is intelligent cloud.

"One of the real benefits of digital tech and where we are going is to harness the data assets and convert them into intelligence that powers all of the activity around us."

The third Microsoft ambition is interfaces. How people interact with technology.

"[The ambition is] to make computing more personsal, more natural. We’re going to see that over the years computing is just going to be ambient.

In productivity terms Nadella, in common with other tech leaders pitches productivity as buying back time.

"When we say productivity, ultimately it is for each one of us to get more from every moment of our lives, because in all this abundance, , we talk about computing everywhere, data everywhere, what’s scarce is time."

The questions he raised are how can software and self services come together with the tools available to give back time in order for people to enjoy work and life.

"For me to be in Salesforce, that is key to what the Microsoft identity is. We’re a platform company and to be a successful platform company we must do one thing and do it very well and that is harmonise the multiplicity of interests."

"Historically I’ve talked about bringing developers and end users together to make the organisation successful. Now that is what platforms do, that is where the magic is. Now there are more constituents. There are regulators and governments and platforms bring all those constituents together and that’s why to me, working with Salesforce, with Workday, with anyone else, partnering is very critical."

Diplomatically Mr Nadella went on to tell the audience that partnerships were very important, even those from the ‘previous era’ with SAP and Oracle and that "Google wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t Windows, Facebook wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t Windows."

"So the notion that other people can build their success on our platform is fundamental."

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