I had the opportunity to recently spend a week in both the Los Angeles and San Francisco/Silicon Valley areas attending customer meetings, partner meetings, hosting a women’s luncheon and attending the Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit. I always come away from my field visits feeling refreshed and energized. Here are a few examples of what our customers are saying and my thoughts around what I heard.

Customer #1 – Large Media Group: “I’m interested in using Xbox to create custom content and curated 2nd screen applications like the one we did for one of our most popular prime time TV shows on the web.” My take:  Media companies are moving very fast and the technology providers need to keep up. The VP that I met with is literally transforming how they do sales and marketing… and all of his innovation is driven through technology.

Women’s Luncheon: “We want to partner with Microsoft on community and citizenship initiatives and we want to learn from what you are doing.” My take:  Everyone at the luncheon was interested in the topic of how to impact, mentor and develop students (especially females) in STEM. We discussed our Microsoft Apprentice Program for High School students and the idea of partnering non-profits with corporate partners on such programs. Did you know the HS dropout rate is 31% and we need a 34% annual increase to maintain the current number of US STEM students? Let’s ACT NOW and change these trends!

Customer #2 – Semiconductor Company: “We are in the midst of an intranet refresh. 86% of our employees come to our homepage every day but don’t do anything on it. We need to make it more modern and social and drive interaction instead of just publishing.” My take:  I shared with this customer how I use technology enablement internally within my team at US Marketing & Operations (USMO) to drive business productivity and connection through our SharePoint portal, M&O gamification, our online library of training videos!

Customer #3 – Global Pharmaceutical: “Social is on every CIO’s roadmap.” My take:  Microsoft needs to be in there as well telling the full Microsoft story. We need to know our CIO’s roadmaps, when budgeting and planning decisions take place, and how Microsoft can add value and engage.

Partner #1 - SI National Partner: This was a very interesting discussion that validated a lot of the comments that I heard over the week. My take: We need to have a strong pitch for line of business that brings together social, multi-platform, and business productivity. Some interesting quotes:

  • “SharePoint is big right now – it’s 40% of our business.”
  • “In the Bay Area, 20-40% of end-users devices are Macs and Box.com. They are in every customer here in the valley.”
  • “Microsoft needs to focus their messaging more on the coolness of your technology and not just the pain of the customer.”
  • “Customers want a hybrid cloud. They want to dabble in public cloud first before they jump in with both feet.”

University #1: “Microsoft is the clear choice for privacy and security, but we have to listen to our students who are using other products.” My take:  We are working hard at Microsoft to reach the student. We are doing everything we can to get Microsoft software in our universities starting with departments that depend heavily on privacy and security such as medical schools. Be on the look-out for a bunch of exciting Windows 8 devices through university bookstores! What an exciting week! It made me realize what an amazing opportunity our current wave of Microsoft products is creating. We are working hard to help customers join us in this new era!


To top it all off I had the opportunity to attend the Stanford – Arizona football game and my alma mater, Stanford, pulled out a squeaker of a victory. Go Cardinals!

What do you think? 

Allison L. Watson