Imagine a future where software replaces hardware as king and the Internet becomes a true commerce platform.
Microsoft Canada’s new president Frank Clegg painted a picture of an information technology industry that will undergo a tectonic shift in the next 10 years during his address last week to many of Edmonton’s IT elite.
E-commerce has batted its eyelashes at consumers for some time, yet many companies continue to put more into their shiny websites than they’re getting out.
Less than 10 per cent of Microsoft Canada’s product is sold over the Internet. Clegg, who was addressing the Inspired Intelligence conference hosted by the Canadian Information Processing Society, compared e-commerce’s halting ascension to that of ATMs and credit cards, where the initial ad campaigns’ objectives were to get people to take the cards out and try them.
Trust is the big factor, and Microsoft is addressing that issue by filling holes in the web’s infrastructure, security and privacy, Clegg says.
“We’re trying to proactively get out to customers and help them build rock-solid, secure sites.”
Recent world events may help facilitate the perceived security of web-based transactions.
“I think there’s going to be a huge increase in electronic information communication for sure, and it may extend into commerce as well,” says Clegg.
Microsoft did some rethinking of its own following the terrorist attacks. Clegg says there was a lot of discussion internally about whether it was appropriate to go ahead with the upbeat, celebratory launch of Windows XP, Microsoft’s new operating system.
Promotional zest and dollars have not been diminished, but the campaign’s tagline was changed from “Prepare to fly” to “Yes you can.”
The launch event was originally scheduled for New York City, and the Sept. 11 events didn’t change the plans. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, looking for every opportunity to let the world know New York is open for business, told Microsoft he wanted the launch to take place there.
“We’re moving forward and we’re going to aggressively celebrate a great new product,” says Clegg, adding that, despite concerns of consumer confidence, all early indicators of the public acceptance of the new product are great.
Two-thirds of the homes in Canada have a PC and one-quarter have two PCs. This massive market allows the company to continue investing huge dollars into research and development annually.
A slight downturn in the economy will not affect advancements, says Clegg. “We’d have to fall off a cliff (before R&D efforts would be significantly down-scaled).”