Windows 8.1 Update and App Store: Microsoft’s Devices and Services strategy -weakness indicator

A week after Microsoft Level 1 help called and escalated to Level 2 with a scheduled callback for same day between 2pm -4pm, still can’t reach Microsoft App store.  Figured I’d upgrade to Windows 8.1 as inference was it would fix the problem while waiting for a callback.  Small problem; Upgrade to 8.1 links you to Windows 8.1 app store which doesn’t work.  Hmmm guest they’re really not interested in the Small and Medium Business market as much as the profess or readiness is an issue.


Over the past several weeks I’ve been tracking the various vendors: Microsoft, Apple Google, and Amazon as far as service quality; part of my Industry Analyst and IT Service Management (ITSM) background**.  A strong component of that is incident handling.  While uptime the customer experiences is the most important metric, handling a response in a timely manner is likely number two on the priority list, closely followed by customer communication.  Based upon that criteria Microsoft readiness to fulfill it’s new Business Strategy of Devices and Services is lacking.  Or may be Small and Medium Business (SMB) is just not the demographic it is going for now; instead using SMB as a buffer to its large enterprise customer business, as large enterprise is now in a transformation to Bring your own Device (BYOD) and virtual working, despite the fallback of Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard to an “on campus” policy.

On the flipside I can see why Apple is able to charge premium rates for products and services.  The AppleCare service representatives my wife and I talked with over the course of two weeks to resolve contact syncing issues, ICloud setup, and updating her IPhone to the new OS were impressive.  They continually pushed to ensure their systems and product issues were resolved, scheduling calls, and calling back numerous times throughout the week.   It looks like they are using consumer service as a training ground for moving to Enterprise Services.  If they make a move into enterprise services, they are likely to become the Mercedes-Benz or BMW in the market.  If Apple become the BMW of services, Amazon is likely to take on the role of Toyota or GM role, leaving Microsoft in the Ford, Nissan, or Chrysler position as it works out its ITSM issues.  Between Amazon and Apple, Microsoft is going to have a significant challenge is the services business if all they do is focus on the technology side the equation.

**yes, I event keep response records for the IT support I give my wife throughout the year and track support hours using QuickBooks -though she doesn’t get an invoice from me.  I might have to reconsider that some day 🙂

Structure in Threes: Capabilitiy Models

Most of yesterday was dedicated to continuing to fix my wife’s IPhone contacts and syncing with desktop.  By 10pm I had finally reloaded a restored copy of her contacts to both laptop and phone.  Later today its back to AppleCare to restore her apps.  Apple is still suggesting using ICloud to sync multiple devices, but at this juncture its unlikely she will trust any cloud provider.  This has taught her a lesson businesses are either about to learn the hard way or have Enterprise Architects, like myself, developing disaster contingency and continuity plans prior to jumping to the cloud:  Technology changes that you run your business on require serious change management.  And even then the a poor implementation can require many hours to recover.  Another lesson or side benefit, she’s starting to see what my career really is about: enabling others,  preventing crises, and recovering from crises.  The unfortunate thing about the Enterprise Architecture profession is that goals one and two are what enables goal three, but goal three is the only one that gets other’s attention.

This morning before jumping back on IPhone recovery, I’m reading through the COBIT 5 management guide.  It’s rather odd how most standards, processes and models now take the form of the CMMI maturity model.  While I’m a supporter of the maturity model construct it has it’s deficiencies or rather I should say poor adaptation of the concept leaves deficiencies in the applied domain.  Often I’ve seen various organizations adapt the maturity model construct for their domain of expertise but as a marketing tool to infer gaps which their product or service naturally fulfills.  However, these capabilities are often not completely filled by the product or service as the capabilities have to be built with these tools, knowledge, processes and behaviors.

The COBIT 5 generic capabilities model points to level characteristics, level generic enablers, and generic level enabler capabilities.  However, it appears the rating of conformance is a subjective exercise.  May be that is acceptable at present as this field become more defined.  However, linking performance to organizational design then become more subjective also.  It may be the design methodology I’m working on will have to include the concept of tolerance and performance ranges (similar to physical product engineering) for the results of selecting the various design attributes.  I’ll have a better handle on that when I encode the governance model into a spreadsheet and link it to the organizational design spreadsheet.  The results should give me a more robust assessment criteria as well as a diagnostic tool for clients that will guide them to a more specific areas to address rather than a shotgun approach.


Steve Jobs remembered

Steve Jobs Feb. 24, 1955 – Oct 6, 2011

Entrepreneur, Reinventor, Stylist, Visionary

I was on the exhibition floor of SharePoint 2011 yesterday when someone gave me the news about Jobs’ passing.  My first reaction, you have to be kidding.  Sure he was ill, but he’d bounced back before.  How can he be gone, he’s Steve Jobs?   I was nonplused.  My next reaction was to check out the news on IPhone.   The report of his passing was true. 

I am not an Applehead, I purchased an IPhone reluctantly as my wife thought other smartphones were too complicated to operate.  It’s been several years now, I’m still using an IPhone 3G. I still prefer a Windows Laptop to a Mac though many of my relatives in creative industries are confirm Mac users.  The one thing that differentiates my thoughts regarding Apple vs. Microsoft is that my decisions are not techno-religious in nature.  I can point out the technical reasons why I prefer one over the other.  These reasons are based upon attributes of the design philosophy of each.  Sure there are some emotional aspects to that in regard to which attributes I prioritize higher.  However, what I believe makes my thoughts on the topic different is making those explicit.

Jobs and Apple had been written off years ago when the Windows operating system and Microsoft Office took off.  The company looked to collapse or at least fade off into history as a has been.  Those that wrote the company and Steve off didn’t understand this wasn’t the end, nor was the future caving in to business pressures and become another PC clone.  Steve had a design philosophy that he was sure would be successful in the long run.  Fast forward a decade or two Apple has surpassed Microsoft in market capitalization.  It has become an admired corporation again, though many would argue they’re not a PC or technology corporation. 

I would say to those critics; you’re right.  Apple is not a high tech firm, though they consume high technology.  Apple through Jobs guidance has become an experience and stylist firm with technology.  If Apple were in the food industry I would say they’d be Starbucks.  Both focus on all the details of providing an intentional experience.  As I sadly end this post and say good-by to an industry colleague and competitor by proxy with a modified quote by Steve: Where ever you are now I’m sure you’ll make it insanely great.  Bless