Microsoft Canada president: ‘We’re deeply committed to openness’

“Today’s world is more customer-centric than ever before. We know that customers are looking for solutions that work for their lifestyle and they want to be able to make their own choices. As an organization, we’re deeply committed to openness and we want our customers to be empowered with choice and flexibility when it comes to their technology.”- Janet Kennedy, president of Microsoft Canada


In a world where enterprises are looking for user-centric IT solutions that interoperate with one another, Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, has painted his vision of evolving to a more open platform. Nadella understands that enterprises desire application simplicity and flexibility – particularly when it comes to increasing worker productivity and collaboration. This leads to the notion of the API economy when enterprises are actively seeking solutions from for CRM or Box for cloud-based collaboration with best-in-class security for enterprise file sharing and content management. Cloud applications are often preferred by end users for ease of use, but they also desire harmonious co-existence with Microsoft’s productivity suite and the Azure platform. For example, Box provides a well-documented set of API integration tools for developers to integrate the cloud service with existing on-premise infrastructure investments and other cloud applications.

Janet Kennedy, president of Microsoft Canada knows intimately what this means for IT strategy development at Canadian organizations. Keenly aware of the changing business dynamics, Kennedy is taking a leadership approach to driving innovation in a “mobile-first, cloud-first world.”

Brian Clendenin: Satya Nadella speaks of the “Bold Ambition” for Microsoft … what does that mean for organizations in the future?

Janet Kennedy: “Even from the beginning, Satya has been clear that Microsoft will strive to innovate with a challenger mindset. Our company culture has been evolving under his leadership to be faster, more partner-centric and laser-focused on the customer. He’s carved out a tangible strategic direction for Microsoft as a productivity and platform company within our mobile-first, cloud-first world. This really shines a light on what Microsoft can do differently as a company – reinventing productivity and empowering every organization and person to do more and achieve more. In turn, I think this will challenge organizations not only in Canada but around the world to work to be courageous in their approach to not only meeting but exceeding customer expectations.”

Clendenin: Microsoft is moving to an open ecosystem strategy by allowing third-party applications to co-exist in harmony. Why is this an important transition and message for organizations to understand?

Kennedy: “Today’s world is more customer-centric than ever before. We know that customers are looking for solutions that work for their lifestyle and they want to be able to make their own choices. As an organization, we’re deeply committed to openness and we want our customers to be empowered with choice and flexibility when it comes to their technology. Our Microsoft cloud solution supports any device and OS and any development language – this makes it easier for customers to innovate and drive business growth. We’re also continuing to deepen partnerships like Docker that help to grow our ecosystem of apps and tools. I think it’s important that customers be able to rely on flexible technology solutions that give them the freedom to focus on their business, rather than upkeep – this is something all organizations need to keep in mind.”

Clendenin: What would you advise Canadian CEOs with respect to adopting cloud computing?

Kennedy: “I’d say it comes down to four words: don’t get left behind. When I first came to Canada, I was seeing some of the same concerns and reluctance that I experienced years earlier in the U.S. when the shift to the cloud was just beginning there. But I also saw the quantum leap that the cloud offers in terms of productivity, innovation and the ability to take an idea to market virtually overnight and with no capital cost. For instance, our Azure cloud-based development tools can put the kind of technology that only Fortune 500 companies could afford to access just a few years ago into the hands of any business today, whether an established enterprise or an entrepreneurial start-up. Through the cloud, we take the hardware cost and support headaches off your plate, your data is most likely more secure than if it’s kept on-premise, and if your competition has already made the move they’re already that much further ahead of you. So that’s why I say ‘don’t get left behind.’”

Clendenin: In Canada, the mobile workforce is a security challenge for many CIOs while at the same time offers tremendous opportunities for improving organizational productivity. What is top of mind for you when you think about a mobile-first world?

Kennedy: “We’re sensitive to the privacy, security and data sovereignty concerns that Canadian CIOs and other key decision-makers have, and we understand them. But at the same time, I have seen first-hand the tremendous improvements in productivity and efficiency that the cloud offers because it means you’re always connected to every tool you need in your day-to-day work – whether you’re in the office, in the field or on the road. I had a seven year head-start in the U.S., working with some of the biggest customers to move them to the cloud, so I understood the value proposition and the capital expense savings (no more on-site server rooms) and the ROI that we can bring to this country. Over the past 12 months, mobile and cloud solutions have exploded in Canada and it’s exciting to be leading this huge transition.”

Clendenin: What is your goal for Microsoft Canada to drive innovation?

Kennedy: “It’s to have Microsoft Canada be the go-to trusted partner for Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs, helping to see them through this tremendous transformation to the cloud first, mobile first world. When we take our customers into the cloud, I believe we have a different level of responsibility to them, because they’re trusting us to run their most private, secure data – and they expect to be always on, always connected and that we’ll never go down. We help with that commitment every day. But it’s also about giving Canada’s business leaders and entrepreneurs the tools and the support to fully achieve the tremendous potential that we know they already have – so that they can compete with the rest of the world from right here, right now. We’re working with some of the biggest players out there across business sectors and in governments and public institutions, while also freely giving our expertise and technology tools to the innovation incubators and technology-based entrepreneurs who are generating the ideas of the future here in Canada today.”

The evolving business landscape:

All companies are becoming technology companies in some form in the digital world. And, this is an exciting time for business innovation in Canada. More than ever, business leaders and IT leaders need to move forward together in order to create more productive, agile and competitive organizations in a “mobile-first, cloud-first world.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Brian Clendenin
Brian Clendenin
"We are at one of the most exciting moments in history when it comes to innovation in IT driving innovation in business." Widely recognized as a powerful speaker intertwining storytelling and expertise, Clendenin writes and speaks on the topics of leadership, cloud, infrastructure, monitoring & analytics, DevOps, AI, machine learning, security, mobility, IT strategy, and digital transformation. Invests his time interviewing engaging thought leaders. (Connect with Brian Clendenin on LinkedIn)

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