Q&A: New Microsoft Services VP Rick Devenuti Sets Focus on Security, Deployment, Integration

Rick Devenuti, Corporate Vice President, Chief Information Officer, Worldwide Services Organization.

REDMOND, Wash., March 8, 2004 — Rick Devenuti, Corporate Vice President, Chief Information Officer Worldwide Services Organization, is bringing his brand of operational excellence to an expanded role which includes leading the Microsoft Worldwide Services organization — in addition to overseeing Microsoft’s information technology (IT) operations. Looking forward, Devenuti plans to enhance Microsoft’s Services offerings by improving internal knowledge transfer and sharpening the organization’s focus on customer and partner satisfaction.

With more than 16 years of Microsoft experience, Devenuti brings the ideal background for efficiently building on the solid foundation laid by his predecessor, Mike Sinneck. What’s more, as Microsoft CIO for more than four years, Devenuti learned first hand the requirements for running a large IT organization and the importance of service and support resources.

Devenuti’s first step will be to establish processes for sharing more of the knowledge Microsoft IT gains from running beta versions of Microsoft software in production environments. Devenuti spoke with PressPass about his background, management style and future plans for Microsoft Worldwide Services.

PressPass: You’ve been on this job for just under two months. What have you been up to?

Devenuti: I’ve been focused on looking in-depth at the Microsoft Worldwide Services organization. I’ve had an opportunity to talk to the leaders worldwide, both in the services industry and in our organization, to review where we are on a country-by-country basis for virtually all of our practices. We’ve talked at length about the current state of the organization and where we need to go.

PressPass: How does your background prepare you for this new role?

Devenuti: I’ve been with Microsoft for 16 years as of last December. I started in Finance, where I spent about four and a half years in a variety of roles, ranging from U.S. controller to director of Financial Analysis. I then spent two years in sales running our call center business, our inside-sales business, distributor sales, and sales operations. From there, I become general manager of North American Operations, which included manufacturing, finance, and our direct customer interaction functions. I was in this role for two years in North America, prior to becoming vice president of worldwide operations, a position I held for three years. This experience has given me a deep understanding of Microsoft’s internal structure and business processes.

Now, I am coming up on four and half years as CIO, a role that is the same as many of our customers. This experience gives me a personal understanding of their challenges and needs in all aspects of running IT in an enterprise.

PressPass: Looking back on your career at Microsoft, how would you describe your management style?

Devenuti: My individual management style tends to be pretty simple. It starts by having a great team of diverse talent with a team that’s willing to argue about what’s right and passionately drive what’s right. My management style includes encouraging people within a framework of empowerment, with clear delineation of what team members can and cannot do, what the expectations are, as well as agreed upon deliverables. Once this groundwork is laid, I get out of the way to become a resource for helping them meet their goals.

My history at Microsoft has been about operational excellence. This is achieved when you’ve got a well organized team that knows what it’s trying to accomplish and where people know their roles, what they’re accountable for and are given the resources to be successful. I find my job is mostly about making these things fall into place. As in any organization, part of my job is to clear the path as individual groups work to meet their goals within a more global corporate mission.

PressPass: In addition to Microsoft Services, you are still leading Microsoft IT. How will you handle both jobs?

Devenuti: Over the past two month I have been focusing on learning the Microsoft Services business, metrics and issues.

I have spent very little time with the IT business.

Due to the strong management team we have built in IT over the past four plus years that I have been CIO, I am completely confident in the team’s ability to thrive without my day to day involvement.

Over the next month as we finalize plans for our business going forward, I will determine the final organization structure to enable us to achieve our goals.

Regardless of whether I keep the CIO title or a new CIO reports to me, I see great synergy in bringing the talent and experiences of the IT and Service organizations together.

To be sure, I will remain very involved in our IT strategy at Microsoft.

PressPass: How do you see the Microsoft IT organization integrating with Services? What are the benefits to customers?

Devenuti: I am excited about the opportunity to bring more of IT into the Services family and vice versa.

About four years ago, we changed the priorities of the IT organization to be Microsoft’s first and best customer. This means that we run Microsoft on beta software. To do this, we work extremely close with the product groups in testing, evaluating and pushing the limits with a product so when it is time to ship it to customers; we know it is enterprise ready. Microsoft’s IT is the best place for product testing with over 75,000 end users, 280,000 devices, in over 400 sites around the world. Our products are really put through their paces before they are shipped.

To make sure that this information and learnings are shared with Services as they work with partners and customers, we’re kicking off an IT Fellowship program that allows consultants and partners to work side by side with IT as we deploy new technologies internally. This will help to get that learning out more quickly than it is today.

One example is our Exchange environment. We have reduced the number of servers in half, along with the number of sites, by a factor of 10 from 74 to 7. Our Exchange servers reduced from 110 in 76 different sites to 38 e-mail servers in sites worldwide transporting 6 million e-mails per day through 92,000 mailbox server accounts. These are tremendous cost savings I’m describing. This is the type of information that needs to be documented and shared with customers, consultants and partners. I don’t pretend to tell you we’re the best IT organization in the world, but I think we’re one of the earlier adopters of Microsoft software, if not the earliest. I think we scale our products earlier than virtually any other environment. So the opportunity is to take that learning, both good and bad, and get it back to our customers.

PressPass: What changes do you foresee at Microsoft Services in terms of overall mission and organizational structure?

Devenuti: Basically, the current mission is on track. What’s more important is how well we’ve been executing against that mission. We also have a strong and talented team across the board and there are many opportunities for growth in the organization.

Fundamentally we’re still a services organization within a software company and, to be clear, we’re not trying to be an independent services company or anything else along those lines. Under the umbrella of Microsoft Services there is the IT organization, there is consulting and an array of custom, packaged, and self-help choices to support businesses, IT professionals, developers, home users, and our partners.

PressPass: Partners play a critical role in delivering the comprehensive support customers require. How do you plan to evolve the partner delivery model?

Devenuti: At this point, I think we have an opportunity to consolidate resources with the goal of making our structure simpler and easier for partners and customers. We are not a services company, we’re a services division of a software company, and, as such, I think we need to be very coordinated in the way we go to market. I intend to spend some more time talking about this subject internally and with partners over the next few months.

PressPass: One of your themes seems to be integration. Switching to a more inward view for a minute, how do you see Microsoft Services integrating with other groups within Microsoft?

Devenuti: There are a number of areas that I will be looking at where customers could benefit from enhanced integration and coordination. For example, I don’t think it helps customers to have one strategy for sales and another one for services. There should be one strategy, the Microsoft strategy, and we’ll work to deliver that.

One area in particular where I see this providing benefit is stronger integration with product groups. A goal of the first and best customer strategy in IT was to feed product information back to the product group on how well the beta products were performing in the enterprise before they shipped, so that the products our customers buy are in fact
“Enterprise ready.”
It is essential that we have one voice back to the product groups so that the best information and feedback we have on product performance is being integrated into the next version of our products.

PressPass: What are your immediate priorities for the Microsoft Services organization?

Devenuti: The first area is clearly security and making sure we have enough depth to help customers manage through the rapidly changing and evolving requirements of deploying and maintaining our products in a very secure manner. Across the company, security is our top priority and adding value to our customers in this area is absolutely key.

An additional priority for the Services organization is setting internal metrics and goals. We need to make it clear to the organization that their role is around customer and partner satisfaction, product adoption and excellence. I will be focused on getting that message out to the organization and getting our practices aligned to what our customers want which is security, deployment, and, most of all, specific Microsoft knowledge on new technologies.

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