Karl Moore: This is Karl Moore of the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, Talking Management for The Globe and Mail. Today I am delighted to speak to Craig Mundie who is the chief research and strategy officer of Microsoft.
Social media is a huge growth area. How is Microsoft beginning to think about social media in terms of how you do business better and not just how we connect with our friends?
Craig Mundie: For us there are two social network graphs that, I think, are interesting. One is the one that has already emerged in the popular environment, the personal one, or Facebook-like, you could say, and the other, we think, is going to be the business social network graph.
Microsoft has more intrinsic assets, you could say, in the yet to emerge business one but if you look at the latest version of Office, for example, there is a convergence of these two things where we are taking the social networking techniques and applying them to the way that people want to get stuff done in business, where their communities of interest are more oriented around the problems of business and not just, “I like this restaurant,” or “I had this bottle of wine last night.”
There is also recognition that people have an individual life and they have a business life. So we also allow interaction with the social networks that are the general public ones and the co-mingling of those. Those are the two ways we are primarily trying to utilize or participate in that social network phenomenon.
KM: Has social media changed how you do business at Microsoft? Do employee’s tweet each other about problems or do they do YouTube videos for people to see? Is there a sense that you are using it for real business issues?
CM: We do those things, but we do them more in these special social network mechanisms that exist within the confines of the company. Most of the time you don’t want that to be observed publicly and, of course, the social networks started broadly with no way to discriminate your real friends from your pseudo-friends. In business you couldn’t tolerate that level of ambiguity so we have built things that mirror many of those, but we provide them in a more controlled way within the context of the business.