Bill Gates Envisions Strategy of “Knowledge Workers Without Limits” At Microsoft’s Third CEO Summit

REDMOND, Wash., May 19, 1999 — In a speech today to leading chief executive officers from around the world, Microsoft Corp. Chairman and CEO Bill Gates outlined a strategy and demonstrated leading-edge technology that he envisions will make up the digital future, where knowledge workers are empowered with information and tools that can help them serve customers any time, anywhere. During his keynote titled
“Knowledge Workers Without Limits,”
Gates announced that in one year the entire Microsoft campus will have a wireless communications infrastructure as part of Microsoft’s commitment to empowering its own knowledge workers.

More than 100 of the world’s top global 1,000 business leaders and CEOs gathered in Redmond to take part in presentations and interactive discussions exploring emerging technology that will empower knowledge workers in the next millennium. Knowledge workers are not limited to those employees who sit behind a desk, but include members of every department in an organization, from headquarters to the field.

“We are honored to have this distinguished group of business leaders on the Microsoft campus to explore the latest developments in information technology,”
Gates said.
“The companies represented here today employ more than 6 million workers, and technology is a growing part of the way they relate to each other and to customers. Our goal is to help create an opportunity for companies to explore best practices and innovative ways of empowering these knowledge workers so they can be more productive and better serve their customers. When knowledge workers have no limits, entire organizations can stay one step ahead of the competition and provide benefit to their customers.”

Knowledge Workers Without Limits

Outlining Microsoft’s approach to knowledge management, Gates described how workers will use information technologies in a variety of ways that are now being pioneered at Microsoft and various other enterprises. Many of the tools that will enable these future work advancements are already available today. As a cornerstone of his speech, Gates outlined six strategies for empowering knowledge workers:

  • Corporate memory. Today, all corporations have an infrastructure composed of different ways to store data – systems that rarely work well together and often do not provide knowledge workers with a complete picture of where company data, knowledge and resources reside. To overcome this challenge, businesses need a rich, contextual corporate memory that is accessible any time, any place. Gates highlighted a solution at KPMG that enabled the firm to tap into its corporate memory bank to provide the right people with timely, targeted information.

  • Connectivity to the office on any device. Information needs to be accessible to knowledge workers regardless of their location. Mobile phones, tablet PCs and Palm-size PCs all need to be part of how people collaborate.

  • Digital dashboard. This technology proactively provides people with a single place to go for all personal information, such as e-mail, schedule and tasks, external data from Web sites, and corporate memory data, including sales tracking and customer contact information. A highly powerful tool, the digital dashboard will enable knowledge workers to obtain information within 60 seconds of posing a question.

  • Meetings without walls. By taking advantage of smart wireless devices and software solutions such as videoconferencing, e-mail and intranet technology, IT can remove the physical barriers between people, enabling information-sharing and problem-solving to occur any time, anywhere.

  • Electronic paper. While most of today’s information is stored electronically, reading that information online has never been broadly practical. Gates previewed a new technology, called ClearType, that will make reading text online as easy as reading text on paper – essentially combining the appeal of paper with the power of the PC.

  • Computers that see, listen and learn. When computers can communicate with people, knowledge workers will be empowered to spend less time trying to solve problems with their computers and more time innovating and sharing ideas with fellow knowledge workers to best serve the customer .

Participants at this year’s CEO Summit explored, from a high-level strategic perspective, emerging technology that has the power to remove barriers to learning and empower knowledge workers to collaborate and share information easily with one another. In addition, by viewing demonstrations of the latest advancements in digital and wireless tools, attendees experienced a world where computers see, listen and learn. They also shared their own experiences of how technology has improved their businesses and addressed key concerns ranging from global growth and reducing overall costs to facilitating rapid adaptation to change.

The CEO Summit was established in response to business leaders growing interest in IT issues. Many CEOs, while recognizing the business benefits made possible through the deployment of complete IT solutions, are also beginning to view technology as a strategic business tool. As such, these leaders are looking to become more knowledgeable about IT issues, so they can be empowered to take part in the technology decisions that have the potential to shape the future of their organizations. The CEO Summit provides these leaders with an opportunity to expand their IT knowledge in the company of peers from around the world. Gates, who recently authored
“Business @ the Speed of Thought,”
a book about success in the digital age, and his company’s shared mission has been to create technology that removes barriers between information and people.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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