This week, I showcase this exclusive interview with Dharmesh Mehta.
As senior director of product management and product marketing for Outlook and SkyDrive at Microsoft Corp., Dharmesh Mehta is responsible for driving business and product strategy, marketing campaigns, PR and evangelism for Outlook and SkyDrive, a set of leading services for personal email and cloud storage.
Dharmesh and his team are chartered with a worldwide business through a combination of global execution and local innovation. They drive the business strategy and marketing execution for Outlook and SkyDrive.
Dharmesh has worked at Microsoft since 2005 in a variety of product management, marketing and strategy positions. Most recently, he oversaw product management for Windows Live Messenger, the world’s most popular IM service. Prior to that, he drove the strategy behind Microsoft’s entry into the enterprise hosted messaging and collaboration services industry as a part of Microsoft’s Corporate Strategy Group.
Dharmesh has dual Bachelor’s degrees in Electrical Engineering and Finance and a Masters of Engineering in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Masters of Business Administration from Harvard Business School. Dharmesh lives in Seattle with his wife and son where they enjoy travel and exploring the outdoors.
To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link
Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic
Dharmesh, you have a remarkable background with many successes. Thank you for sharing your considerable expertise, deep accumulated insights and wisdom with our audience.
"….Thank you Stephen for having me here today…."
How are the current top technologies impacting our lives?
"….On one hand you have the massive expansion of devices and the power of those devices….the phones, tablets and PCs. Secondly, core to what I spend a lot of time on, is how those devices are increasingly powered by the cloud…."
What are the emerging trends that will surprise us?
"….We are going to be putting more of our files in the clouds….and will increasingly have more stuff in the clouds as opposed to on our devices. I think we’re at the tipping point there…."
What market segments are you supporting in 2013 and why are they important?
"….What we are trying to do with Outlook is give people a modern email experience, and with SkyDrive give people great storage — both of these are very important to us….I think it’s that nuance in some sense; design these services to scale to the billions and reach everyone, and also be very powerful for those enthusiasts who want the power user features…."
Can you profile the benefits of key technology solutions you are supporting how they are differentiated?
"….Some of the things that I talk about with SkyDrive is any file, anywhere….Outlook: it’s clean and intuitive, connected, very smart and powerful, and lastly it respects and prioritizes your privacy…."
How do you see yourself and these products compared against the competitors? There’s a lot of value delivered, so do you see the market just exploding with these products and services?
"….Relative to the many other options, a lot of the other solutions in the marketplace are overly invested in an individual company’s own devices or services as opposed to starting with the consumer. It’s very important for us to have SkyDrive, but we start with the consumer and what they want and then make SkyDrive fit the devices, the services and the things they are doing….On the Outlook side….I think what you’ll see is that over time people start seeing what they can do with Outlook, the powerful tools it has, the way it’s connected to the other things you do. As we do more to help people to switch you’ll similarly see growth there as people really have an email account they like…."
What is new, cool and useful for 2013 or 2014?
"….I think in 2013 there will start to be a very fundamental shift in people’s minds. Outlook and SkyDrive will play very strong there, where all of a sudden you just expect to be able to connect to a device and see all your people and be able to connect with them….I think you will see it not just take existing metaphors that exist on a hard drive in your device and transform them to cloud, but it will also let you unlock some scenarios that weren’t possible before…."
How can those consumers who are also employees of companies take all of those things you’ve mentioned, all of those cool technology trends and create a flexible environment that they can use at home, on the road and at work?
"….Very much at the core is having Outlook as the brand and a product experience that spans both, but have unique aspects because organizations and individuals have different needs. The same thing with SkyDrive. There is SkyDrive for the individual and there’s SkyDrive Pro as part of the new Office….. I think this is pretty powerful what we are doing with both Outlook and SkyDrive, and having a single brand and a single familiar user experience and set of notions and set of features that span both, but making sure we are tuning both because there are different needs there…."
I guess this really ties into this whole idea of consumerization of IT and Bring Your Own Device and all these other things like social media.
"….Absolutely. In some sense there was Bring Your Own Device and now it’s Bring Your Own Cloud…"
In your current role, what are your top challenges and top opportunities?
"….The thing that’s always a challenge is how do you pick the right things to do, and then how quickly do you want to change your plans and be agile versus stick to things because some things just take longer to get done right….I think there is an unique opportunity that we are lucky to have the chance to be able to build at that scale, take the time and investment to go design it for what people really want rather than just getting stuck around just our ecosystem…."
You have this interesting career and have been on this rise through your corporation and you are now a senior director for Microsoft Corp. — what’s your next step?
"….We are having a great time with Outlook and SkyDrive and the consumers are having a lot of fun. Both of them have a ton of room in front of them in terms of how to make that product better and better and to get it into the hands of more and more people, so for now that’s what I’m focused on more than anything…."
What specific technologies should business and IT executives be embracing today and in two years?
"….The thing I always think about is I’m also an employee of the business and every employee of the business is also a consumer….I think that will continue to be something that is very important both to the end users but also to the IT professionals, in terms of how do they enable that in a way that it retains the security and integrity and privacy and the set of things that are very important for the organization…."
Do you feel computing should be a recognized profession on par with accounting, medicine and law with demonstrated professional development, adherence to a code of ethics, personal responsibility, public accountability, quality assurance and recognized credentials?
[See http://www.ipthree.org and the Global Industry Council, http://www.ipthree.org/about-ip3/global-advisory-council]
"….Computing is a very exciting industry, in some sense moving faster than pretty much anything else on the planet, and at the same time there is a ton of risk in that….There is the power of technology and the amount of data that’s out there about people and about their personal lives and I think that it’s very important — not just morally and ethically — I think it’s the right thing to do in terms of giving people the choice…."
If you were conducting this interview, what questions would you ask, and then what would be your answers?
"….What is your favorite feature in SkyDrive?….What is your favorite feature in Outlook?…."
Dharmesh, with your extensive history of successes, we are indeed fortunate to have you come in and do this interview. Thank you.
Music by Sunny Smith Productions and Shaun O’Leary