Dharmesh talks about trends: where/why/how files are being saved across devices, classical social networks, smaller mobile social networks, smaller devices, flexible displays, touch exploding further. He further delves into Microsoft as one the largest telecom companies, strong advancements (Bing to Skype to SkyDrive to Outlook.com), Skype tied with Outlook.com, Outlook.com as the fastest growing e-mail service, SkyDrive and SkyDrive Pro, and changing behaviours.
To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link
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 Hotmail and 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 two sons where they enjoy travel and exploring the outdoors.
Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic
What are some market trends, demographics, statistics that would surprise us?
"…..There are a lot of photos that people share, there are a lot of emails that are in the cloud, but if you look at the vast majority of people’s files, they are still locked up on some device. I think the next couple of years are going to be a very important inflection in how people change where the default place is of where they save their files…."
Do you have any idea of the psychographic makeup of the people that are out there? One of them is this whole movement of spending hours on social media for many people. Are there others that you can think of?
"….People talk about the shift to social media and there’s talk about how much of your time is spent on classic social networks like Facebook versus some of the smaller mobile social networks that are popping up like Instagram or Path or things like that. But there are also a set of core activities that people continue to spend a ton of time on, which sometimes gets forgotten, things like email. In the amount that many things change, some things actually don’t change as fast and continue to remain super-critical in people’s lives…."
I know Microsoft is making tremendous investments in online space. You see all of the advertisements and the bring your own device stuff that’s out, like the Microsoft Surface (all are really cool and useful). Can you talk about the value of those investments, for example Microsoft’s online services?
"….When we think about investing in our services, first and foremost we invest a ton in the product….There are a couple of reasons that those are important, but it’s important to remember that all of these have to start with an end consumer who loves your product and wants to use it every day…."
Microsoft is now one of the biggest telecommunications companies because of Skype. Do you see any other kinds of services coming out and in terms of these services how are you better than the competition?
"….There are many different offerings we have in this space from Skype to Outlook to SkyDrive to Bing to a number of services. You think about how you connect something like Outlook and Skype to the largest communications services in the world so you can seamlessly switch between email and video calling and back and forth….You’ll see continued innovation like you’ve seen in Outlook.com and how to make this ‘the’ best mail service out there, keeping up with the latest features and things people want and providing them with the kind of things they may not have realized as being possible…."
You’ve already talked about this, but do you have any additional items to add to the conversation about why our audience should use these services?
"….If you think about Outlook and SkyDrive for a second, first they are free personal services that you can pick up and try any day and when you want. These services are designed to be modern services and they are designed for you and the things that matter to you….The end user is our primary customer, not the advertiser, not the device maker, not anyone else. How do we deliver a great service for you — that’s a very important thing to think about…."
What updates are in the planning for 2013 and 2014 that you can talk about?
"….One is something I was talking about earlier in terms of how we are going to bring Skype directly into the Outlook.com experience….Second, we talked about Outlook.com and how it is the world’s fastest growing email, and how do we bring more and more people into that and how we are upgrading every Hotmail customer from their Hotmail experience to this new Outlook.com experience — new UI and a whole bunch of new features, faster and more performance….."
In your view what are the new emerging technologies that will surprise us?
"….We talked about devices getting smaller and more portable, flexible displays, but with touch becoming quite mainstream, particularly with smartphones and tablets but expanding even beyond that….I talked a little bit about files and that the vast majority of peoples files today are still locked up in some device. Pretty soon, we believe, that one of the core things for SkyDrive is that it will be just a new way to save your stuff and you’ll do that because you will always have it with you wherever you go on any device, any internet enabled browser, phone, PC or anything else….. "
What specific technologies should business and IT executives be embracing today and in two years?
"….Whether you are using SkyDrive in your personal life and SkyDrive Pro is part of the organization, Outlook.com and Outlook web app, we want them to be very familiar experiences but also make it very easy for an IT administrator to be able to have the right tools, policies and administrative capabilities on top of the organizational. That is very important both in how we design solutions for the end user, but also design for the IT professional….."
If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask, and then what would be your answer?
"….How fast do you think the world will flip where you say, if today the vast majority of people’s files are sitting on a PC, when does that flip begin in the cloud?…."
I guess this brings up this whole question about security. If you are putting everything into the cloud what are some of the innovations that Microsoft is doing in the security area?
"….Very important for us is that this is your data so it’s private by default. When you think about all those dimensions and you think about all we can do when we are doing this for hundreds and millions of people and the redundancy of data and the reliability of that, it far, far exceeds what an average person can do with a hard drive. It’s obviously very important, but I think you get some good benefits because of the scale…."
Dharmesh, with your extensive history of successes, we are indeed fortunate to have you come in and do this interview. Thank you.
"….Thank you very much. It’s a very exciting time and I hope you give both Outlook.com and SkyDrive a look…."
Music by Sunny Smith Productions and Shaun O’Leary