I just got out of Steve Ballmer's talk at Sloan. It was excellent. Some highlights:
1. My absolute favorite example of future technology was a system in which, if you were watching a sporting even on TV, you could say "Hey, Dad! What did you think of that call?" and it will automatically connect you with whomever you say. If anybody out there has ever watched a game with me or my family, you know we are on the phone pretty much the whole time. I want that technology!
2. In the future, there will be a "better architecture of big pieces of software," rather than more, smaller products.
3. Microsoft Windows' primary customers are software developers
4. Someone asked Ballmer what as a CEO he controls and what he delegates . He controls the culture of the company, the choice of excellent people to 3-4 levels below him, the overall vision of the company, and the external image of the company as a company.
5. When asked about open source, Ballmer noted this was a "forever" competitor, unlike the fleeting nature of some commercial competitors.
6. To compete with open source, microsoft must innovate, build a better ecosystem (i.e. environment around software), build strong security, and increase overall customer value.
7. Ballmer kept emphasizing software as a service. Very pertinent to me considering my current work at MITRE
8. When asked about competing with Google, Ballmer brought a laugh to the audience by calling them a "search and advertising business."
9. The next big vision is the "Backpack PC," a cheap, rugged tablet notebook for students.
10. Healthcare needs great software innovation. It is the least automated of all the categories
11. Companies today have a big advantage when competing, as the internet gives them much more "sensory input," including blogs.
12. Typical Ilana humor: a guy in a red hat asked a question. He wasn't a Linux guy, but of course his attire made me laugh.
13. As for emerging markets, Ballmer noted three levels: developed (e.g. competes with a company in US), emerging middle class (target market), and the "out of the economic mainstream" (needs to do "computing by the drop:" internet kiosks and cafes"
14. When asked about an alternative career, here were his choices: professional basketball player, pro tour in golf, and lastly a professor at a business school, to which he said "that was such shameless pandering it nauseated me, too."
Robbie will write his notes up later. Yoav, I'm sure, will comment as well =)
Oh, and I love panda bears! (I'm trying to see if the google ads will pick up on all the panda bear stuff I've blogged in the last week. Little geeky experiment for me. Sorry to my readers and to panda bears.)