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Fail fast to keep up: Microsoft

Adam Bender | Sept. 5, 2013
Rapid release cycles reflect need to be responsive, Microsoft officials tell TechEd.

Yammer CTO Adam Pisoni says disruptive companies beat companies that are not responsive to change. Credit: Adam Bender
Yammer CTO Adam Pisoni says disruptive companies beat companies that are not responsive to change. Credit: Adam Bender

On day one of TechEd, the Microsoft mantra was that failing fast is the best way to succeed.

At the opening keynote of the Microsoft TechEd Australia conference on the Gold Coast, Microsoft highlighted its own movement to rapid release cycles as it called on customers to become more responsive organisations.

"You have to deploy, you have to build faster than the technology is coming out," said Michael Kordahi, developer evangelist at Microsoft Australia.

"Failure is now cheap," said Kordahi. "That is the way you keep up with the pace of the technology, by just doing stuff over and over, and taking ideas and executing them."

Microsoft Azure and Office 365 have monthly release cycles, allowing the software company to quickly fix problems and release new features as customers demand them, he said.

Kordahi pointed to startup Project Tripod as a model for all organisations to follow. The startup took two months to go from concept to product on a Windows Phone app that lets users align multiple photographs, creating the effect they were taken using a tripod. Kordahi also highlighted for developing a Windows 8 app in five weeks.

Adam Pisoni, chief technology officer of Microsoft subsidiary Yammer, also urged businesses to move fast and be responsive to change.

"There are so many stories of companies getting disrupted because they failed to keep up, they failed to take advantage of the rapid increase in change technology."

Westfield became a responsive organisation when the shopping centre chain set up a network inside each centre allowing shops to communicate, Pisoni said.

"On one occasion, the pipe burst during business hours in one of the shopping centres, stopping everything," he said. "Historically, that would have been very difficult for everyone to coordinate. But because they were all connected as a community, they were able to respond faster and get cleaned up and get back to work and lose a lot less revenue."

Leadership is critical to building a responsive organisation, he said. "Managers tell employees exactly what to do. Leaders give a vision and a direction and then empower people to get there the best way they know how."

Microsoft appeared keenly aware of disruptive cloud companies in its own industry in a kickoff session for IT professionals. There, the Redmond company positioned itself as a one-stop shop for all things cloud, offering Azure and Office 365 for public cloud and Windows Server and other services for private cloud and cloud service providers.


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