Stephen Elop: Microsoft Business Intelligence Conference

Remarks by Stephen Elop, President, Microsoft Business Division
Microsoft Business Intelligence Conference
Seattle, Washington
Oct. 6, 2008

STEPHEN ELOP: (Applause.) Thank you. Good morning. Good morning and welcome to Seattle. My wife and children have recently just followed me here to Seattle, and I announced to them this weekend that the rain that began really just a couple of days ago will continue until the 4th of July next year, which is something that I forgot to mention in the whole pitch to bring them to the Redmond area.

Anyway, it’s great to be here at the BI conference today. As I was introduced, I’m responsible for the Microsoft Business Division. So, just to tell you a little bit about what that means: Our role within Microsoft is essentially to represent the information workers, be that in a corporate setting or in a personal setting, to make sure that information workers can be more productive, to do interesting things and essentially get done what they need to get done.

If you think about the area of the business for which I’m responsible, it breaks down into two broad categories. The first is the traditional Office productivity applications — Excel, PowerPoint, Word, and so forth — which are a big part of our business. But then there is a whole collection of products which are targeted at improving the productivity if information workers in complex ways. For example, SharePoint to help simplify collaboration, enterprise search and document management, or our Unified Communications stack, which is all about getting teams of people to interact more effectively together. And of course, this is where business intelligence fits in, to really empower information workers, to really help them make decisions that they need to make.

As was mentioned, I am a relative newcomer, and there is no question that I have joined Microsoft at an incredibly exciting time. There are a lot of things going on, so many changes within our industry. I’ll give you a few examples. The business models, they’re changing out there with the advent of software plus services. There’s new competitors, competitors who are consolidating various assets and companies and trying to bring new solutions to market.

There are all sorts of new economic challenges in the world today that somehow are going to affect us. So, indeed, it’s an incredibly exciting time, and I’m very honored to be a part of Microsoft at this time. Now, I thought it would be helpful as a relative newcomer to give you just a little bit of insight into Microsoft from the inside. These are observations of mine based on a great deal of interaction over the last ten months with certainly employees, but a large number of customers and partners all over the world. So there’s a few things I wanted to share with you.

First, I have been incredibly impressed with the absolute strength of the Microsoft ecosystem, a strength that is truly unique. Now, that ecosystem is both a combination of the talent within Microsoft, the competitive spirit, the drive, everything that goes on within the company, but it’s also the strength of the more than half million partner organizations out there that work with Microsoft every day to support our customers. And I know there’s a lot of partners in the audience today, which is great.

And, of course, throughout this ecosystem it is the collective belief in the magic of software and how that magic can continue to change the world, that’s what galvanizes us. So seeing the power of that ecosystem and engaging with it has been incredibly, incredibly exciting for me.

A second thing, and this is something that came up very much when I was going through the interview process because, you know, you sit on the outside of Microsoft and you have some perceptions that some things are going well and some things aren’t so good and all of that. And you want to get a sense as to whether, you know, does Microsoft get it? Because I know they have a challenge here or doing well there, like do they really embrace that?

So, a second area that has really impressed me as I’ve dug into it is Microsoft’s sense of what I call intellectual integrity, where intellectual integrity refers to the willingness to look inward, to assess what’s going on, to say, you know what? That’s going great, that’s not going so well. We’ve got to fix that. Here are some different ideas. Here’s someone else’s idea. How can we apply that? Being willing to engage in that. I’ll tell you, within Microsoft, the level of honesty and self criticism is unmatched relative to anywhere that I’ve been in the industry. This ensures that everyone at Microsoft is constantly dealing with the challenges. Because, you know what? Inside, we’re able to talk about them, confront them, and therefore, ultimately do something about them.

Third thing. I was very impressed and continue to be with Microsoft’s tenacity. And the word tenacity, it’s kind of a nice word, but I’ll tell you, for most of my career, I have been a competitor with Microsoft, so tenacity has a bit of a different edge to it. I spent time at Lotus during a particularly difficult time of that company’s history. I was at Macromedia, and then at Adobe. So I understand very much what it means when Microsoft says it intends to compete in a particular market.

I understand their willingness to compete hard and to invest for the long term and just keep going and going and going to deliver the solutions that customers are looking for. Microsoft is very selective about where it places its bets. But once those bets are placed, we have an unparalleled ability to follow through and deliver on that vision.

Finally, across Microsoft, there is this incredible shared belief in the opportunity to have impact, the opportunity to positively impact business customers everywhere in the world through the magic of software. Clearly, today, there are many disruptive forces impacting businesses. And it is during these times of great disruption that the opportunities for all of us to have impact is, in fact, the greatest.

The toughest decisions can be made today, the big move can be made today. These are the opportunities that really have impact. So that is something that exists for all of us as we head back to our various businesses. We can have a big impact, and we at Microsoft believe that opportunity exists.

Now, if you reflect on the various strengths that I’ve talked about, the things that I’ve described here today, what that means to me and to Microsoft is that we have great hope. Great hope that we can further empower information workers.

Let’s talk about the data challenge for a little bit. As we all know, data is pervasive in our lives. There’s so much information available to us. And yet, it is so hard to pinpoint the critical information that we actually need when we need to make a decision.

In most organizations, that information is not in the ERP domain, nor is it even in a database. I mean, we’re all familiar with the term – certainly we are here at Microsoft – the term ‘Excel hell’ where we realize that some of the most important information that we have is in a spreadsheet making its way through the organization on a memory stick or an e-mail or whatever. And that’s hard. And of course the tools required to find this information, to work with it, they’re often rigid. They’re hard to use – it’s a real challenge. So it continues to be in our challenge, indeed our opportunity, to bring the right information to the right people when they need it as they’re making decisions.

Now, you know, if you reflect on what’s been happening in the business intelligence world over the last few years, a lot has changed. We’ve seen very significant changes in the industry. Ten years ago, business intelligence was a relatively immature category, dozens of pure play vendors competing on all sorts of different ways. But then we saw something very different begin to happen.

We witnessed recently the whole consolidation and rollup of the industry. Where we end up today with the situation where many small companies have been acquired and integrated, and just a few large vendors remain. Microsoft is one of those vendors. It’s not at all clear, certainly to me, that this consolidation has actually helped further empower the information worker.

It’s certainly not helping the roughly 75 percent of workers out there who have virtually no access to meaningful business intelligence capabilities. It’s not making a difference there at all, the needle is not being moved. And broad business intelligence solutions of yesterday, what’s happening to them? They’re being lumped into larger collections of notoriously impenetrable application suites. Doesn’t make it any easier.

And of course a couple of the big vendors, during these times of economic uncertainty, have made the decision that this is the right time to start to crank up the crisis. You know, doggone it, there they go again, that’s just not right. There’s something the matter with that.

We’ve got to change that. Microsoft is focused — and this is the most important word I’ll say today — on the democratization of business intelligence. The goal of putting business intelligence capabilities into as many hands as possible in a way that is suitable to the needs and level of sophistication to the user. We are uniquely positioned to deliver on the promise of democratization across the enterprise.

Let me give you a few reasons for that: First, Microsoft offers business intelligence solutions that are comprehensive and interoperable from SQL Server and Performance Point Server in the back end, through SharePoint and Excel on the front end. These solutions have all been designed to work will together in contrast to other cobbled-together, disparate solutions that folks are trying to bring together.

Second, Microsoft offers business intelligence solutions with an experience that is familiar. People know how to engage with our technology because they’ve been engaging with that familiar experience for a couple of decades at this point. This lowers barriers to adoption for all classes of users.

You know, some companies talk about, hey, we’ve got features to integrate with Excel or just like Excel. At Microsoft, we talk about Excel, we evolve Excel to meet the needs of the business intelligence users.

Third, to further democratize business intelligence, Microsoft is focused on delivering great value, enabling employees to continue to utilize existing investments in SQL and Excel and SharePoint or whatever, that lowers software acquisition costs. So you can go further with your deployment. Building on familiar infrastructure further reduces cost because you’re lowering the expenses related to training, related to support, upgrades, and all those types of things. This is a real opportunity.

Now, with all of this, while Microsoft has been on this journey, what, for more than ten years. More recently, we’ve made a very deliberate decision to accelerate the pace at which we democratize business intelligence. Some of our growth has been organic, but just in the last couple of years, you’ve seen us make a number of moves to actually pick up the pace and accelerate this whole trend.

For example, the acquisition of ProClarity in 2006, Stratature in 2007, and DATAllegro in July of 2008, all moves designed to really pick up the pace and put more of this into the hands of more people. And of course there have been some very large announcements just in the last couple of months that are directly relevant to the business intelligence community.

For example, the release of SQL Server 2008, with key investments in areas of scalability and performance. We now have a more scalable business intelligence infrastructure designed to allow you to develop reports and analyze at levels of size and complexity that are virtually unlimited, huge step forward. But while we’ve done that, we’ve also taken great steps to ensure that all of this integrates well with the Microsoft Office environment so that people can deal with a familiar experience and you can extend your capabilities further and deeper within the organization.

Finally, in terms of recent announcements, although it’s about a year ago, Performance Point 2007 was announced since the last BI conference, and we’ve seen tremendous momentum around this and its integration with so many other elements of the Microsoft offering.

You know, it’s really interesting. When you actually get out there and start talking to customers and start seeing is there momentum, are great things happening, the answer is: Absolutely, yes. You can see, you know, coming up on this next slide, a bunch of customers that are absolutely beginning to embrace the new advances within our business intelligence offerings. A whole bunch of great customers are really driving momentum.

But to really reinforce this, I want to talk about two customers in particular. First of all, I’d like to talk about the global pharmaceutical leader Ely Lilly. They recently launched a project code-named ‘Orion’ which was focused on tracking all of their potential drugs, all of the new drugs that they’re developing. This application enabled 350 R&D business managers to actually analyze every aspect related to those new drugs, everything from the cost of testing to results and the expected return, business risk, all of those different types of things.

This particular project based on Performance Point Server is saving hundreds of man hours every single month because of the reduced amount of effort required to bring reports together and to actually support the decision-making process at Ely Lilly. It’s a great example, and they have many more coming.

A second customer that I wanted to mention was Pilot Travel Centers. So you might ask, why a truck stop? Why a chain of truck stops across the country? What are they doing with business intelligence? Well, as it turns out, they are a great example of democratization because what they’ve done is taken Performance Point Server and SQL Server through the use of SharePoint to actually extend business intelligence capabilities all the way down to the truck stop, to the managers who are running each of those locations.

So individuals in each of those locations can now make decisions about cross-sell and up-sell opportunities, employee performance, a whole variety of factors to actually improve the business on a stop-by-stop location. The result, they’re reporting to us a 116 percent return on investment relative to the BI investment that they recently made, which is exactly the type of result that we should all be striving for with each of our implementations.

Now, all of these customers are great examples of democratization, but they’re also great examples of end-to-end business intelligence solutions, making use of the whole collection of capabilities that we can bring to the market.

I’d like to share a bit of that with you through a demonstration, so I’m going to invite on stage Mr. Bruno Aziza, who’s going to come up here and give us an example of end-to-end business intelligence capabilities. Bruno, come on up here.

BRUNO AZIZA: Hi, Stephen. Hi, everyone. (Applause.) So I’m very excited to be showing you this end-to-end business intelligence demonstration today because it is based on a real-life example from one of our enterprise customers which is using the latest version of SQL Server, Performance Point Server and SharePoint Server.

STEPHEN ELOP: OK, just for clarity, so this isn’t just a standard, cooked demo? This is actual real customer stuff?

BRUNO AZIZA: That’s right.

STEPHEN ELOP: Changed the name to protect the innocent?

BRUNO AZIZA: That’s right. We have masked the names on the data, but everything you’re going to look at today is software you can use at your own company today.

Let’s face it. Business intelligence is more than just reports and analytics applications, or just data. It is about providing anybody inside your enterprise with access to great experience across content management, collaboration, unified communications, and business intelligence. In order to show you how all this comes together, I’m going to assume the role of an operations manager. This is somebody who runs already in the south region of the United States.

And I start my day here by looking at my SharePoint site, 100 percent thin, Web-based application, and it’s personalized for me. It is really a reflection of my day. You can see here on the top left I’ve got access to my calendar items keeping me up to date on the latest things that are going on throughout my day.

At the bottom here, you can see my shared documents. Now, this is a list of unstructured information, my work documents, my sales documents, everything I need to have on hand here so I can make better decisions throughout my day. On the bottom right, I have access to my key people, members of my team, and I can see how available they might be so that if I need to ask them a question, they are right here in this application.

Now, I’m going to start my day by taking a look at production. And essentially here what I’m opening is a great scorecard and a great dashboard right here inside SharePoint, an application that’s very easy for me to interact with, something that’s familiar to me already. You can see I can simply get inside here by putting my pointer on the top of metrics and finding out that oil sales are problematic, I also can see that my production of barrels is going south.

I can further gain insight here by looking at the historical information on the top right. And you can see, again, how easy it is for me to find out more information without having to do much. Here I’m simply putting my mouse on the April month, which is this month, and I can see we’re about 40 percent off of production.

So I want to further investigate that. And what I’m going to do is simply now go over to my old production variance report and just click one time. When I do that, now you can see it’s going one level deeper and it’s giving me the specific oil rigs that are in trouble in this typical area. I can mouse over again and now see that Cimeron (Ph.) is one of the oil rigs that is causing an issue.

Now, this is why Microsoft is so different. You see, I didn’t need a PhD in analytics here to get any data insight from this application. Very easy for me to know what’s going on. Further, now I can go and further analyze this information in a much more visual fashion if I wanted to. So what we’re doing here, same data coming from SQL Server now projected on a visual map.

And you can see this is a live map and I can see all the information relevant to the business performance coming from my central information layer inside my company. But as you know, finding information coming from outside your company and sometimes layering additional information can give you great insight.

Let me show you what that would look like. I can simply now point to temperature, and now I’m overlaying on top of this map information coming from my systems as well as information coming from external sources. So it gives me great insight very quickly on what my business is doing. Again, this is why Microsoft is so different, because I’ve been able to get access in a very simple, straightforward manner, but it’s still very rich information.

So I can mouse over the oil rigs that are doing well, you know, you tend to not worry about those. I want to focus down now to the Cimeron line. You can see I’ve got metrics, I’ve got additional information about the geographical location that might be useful for me to know. I’m going to further my analysis now, go down the production trend. And you can see, again, very easy for me to click through the different areas to gain insight.

Now I’m looking at the four key metrics running particularly Cimeron. I can see my oil production, I can see my gas production, and I can see that this metric here, the whole pressure trend is going down. Now, how do I know that this metric is actually performing for me? Well, the best way to do it might be to compare it to an oil rig that’s doing well. So let’s do that right here.

I’m now going to go ahead and add what it should look like. And now you can see now the data is overlaying and I can see clearly this whole pressure trend should be flat.

STEPHEN ELOP: That would be bad.

BRUNO AZIZA: That is terrible, terrible. And we need to work on it. But as I mentioned earlier, I’m an operations manager. I’m not an engineering expert. So I don’t really know what causes this problem. To do that, I need now to connect with a person that might know a lot more about what’s going on and, again, showing you how great it is to use SharePoint as a great platform for collaboration, I’m going to go ahead and ping Steve Masters and ask him what he thinks might be causing this problem.

So we’re asking him, we’re telling him the problem, and you can see he’s entering his note here. You can see how good a multitasker I am.

STEPHEN ELOP: I was going to say, you’re a hell of a typer.

BRUNO AZIZA: Without even using my hands, I’m able to type all these things. (Laughter.) But essentially what he’s telling me here is that sand is probably clogging my oil rig. So he is advising me to go out and find a vendor to go to the particular oil rig and solve the problem.

Now, I don’t know about you, but typically finding a vendor requires that you have access to external information, maybe ratings of the vendors and so forth, that seems to be a very complicated process. You have to go through procurement, and so forth. Again, showing you how easy it is for SharePoint to show this type of information, now I’m going to go ahead and click on my contractor database. And you can see here, the same visual you saw earlier, but now I have access to information coming from my contractor database.

So I’m going to say the oil rig that has a problem is the Cimeron one, I need to work on equipment maintenance. I’m a little bit in a hurry because nobody likes for an oil rig to be down. I’m going to say find somebody fairly reliable within 250 miles and search for that. See what just happened on the map? Very easy for me to really take quick action on the information being displayed. In fact, you know, if you could find movie times on any Web site today, you could probably use this application yourself.

That’s really why Microsoft is different. You know, we make this accessible to any information worker, requires very little training for them to adopt it.

I’m going to be aggressive here and say that I want somebody highly reliable. Now, great performance here, and gives me access to mission-critical information here, things that I need to act on right away. So I’m going to mouse over each of these vendors here, and I find one of the vendors that I’ve worked with in the past, I’ve got additional information about what they specialize on, the actual core of their rating, I’m probably going to use them.

Now, up to here, what I’ve been able to show you is how you can use Microsoft to find, search, use information throughout your day, but also connect with people to make better decisions.

At this point, you can see I’m putting this oil rig on hold because while it’s being repaired, its production is going to go down, definitely. So I want to be truthful to my management and let them know that my forecast on this oil rig is probably going to go down. Well, what’s the best way for me to do that? Well, go back to my portal here and you can see all the documents. One of them is my production plan, which I’m going to open here.

Now, this looks very familiar to all of you, this is Excel 2007, an application that as an operations manager, I didn’t have to learn how to use it, I use it on a daily basis. I trust this application. So the thing that’s different about it is that it’s followed by Performance Point from in the background. What does that mean? That means that the data, the business logic, the definitions, everything you’re looking at here is centrally managed and secure. I don’t have to know much about the numbers themselves to be able to work with them.

STEPHEN ELOP: So the power of Excel without the whole challenge of e-mailing spreadsheets all around, well integrated?



BRUNO AZIZA: And this is really what Performance Point Server is going to do for you is the ability to give your information workers and anybody across your organization the great applications they know today with a little extra power and allow you to manage some of the issues you might have had in the past.

So what I’m going to do here is I’m going to set Cimeron here to low. Again, very easy for me to do that. And I’m going to send these numbers up to Performance Point Server. What happens here? The numbers go up, they get calculated through a central model, and Performance Point Server now is giving me back the logic, the numbers not only for Cimeron, but maybe for the other oil rig so we can look at the forecast all up and still make it.

Now, I’m happy with this forecast so I’m going to go ahead and submit it. But before I close that, I want to be able to work with my team here and let them know that I’ve made this change. So I’m going to add a new announcement here, and you can see here, again, my great ability to type very quickly, I’m going to save this and now this is great because my team knows that I’ve made this change, but think about the scenarios for compliance here, this is all stored here, you can search it and find it and you know what changes have been made.

With that, I’ve been able to show you how you can use Microsoft in a very different way to find, search, use information, connect with the right people to make better decisions. Have a great rest of the conference.

STEPHEN ELOP: Thank you, Bruno. (Applause.)

OK. So just to recap, what did we just see? We saw business intelligence delivered through a single integrated environment where people can simultaneously communicate, collaborate, analyze and search, bringing all of those pieces together, planning and forecasting in Excel, communication within the portal, a personalized dashboard, parameterized search using Virtual Earth and bringing all of those pieces together.

Behind the scenes, SQL, Performance Point, SharePoint, Excel – all of those things working together, all very familiar to our end users, therefore supporting our goal of democratization.

That’s all what we’re doing today. But clearly, our journey continues. There are many exciting announcements that are being made right now at this conference, and I’m really excited about a number of these, in particular one that relates to something called Project Gemini. You’re going to hear a lot more about this. We’re going to have someone talk to you about this in just a few moments. But what it is is essentially a set of self-service business intelligence capabilities that will further expand our vision of making business intelligence available to all users within a corporation. That is really where we’re trying to get to.

So in a few minutes, Ted Kummert’s going to come out here and give you a demonstration and a lot more information about that and a series of other big announcements that are being made here at this conference.

So, clearly, at Microsoft, we are thinking very much bigger intelligence. We need your help to do exactly the same thing to drive forward on this vision. Thank you very much, please, enjoy Seattle. (Applause.)