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The internal desire to conquer all world markets in the software business is very challenging but Microsoft has proven it can be done with careful planning in regard to rapid change. Externally, the information technology sector changes quickly so Microsoft operates a good portion of their resources to keep up with these occurrences. Each locale around the globe is a different market which has to be catered to accordingly. In order to accommodate to these specific markets Microsoft is flexible to change goals rapidly if the local market doesn’t seem lucrative for the future of the company. Sound business planning and monitoring ensure such rapid changes have an advantage for the company.
Microsoft’s global development section has put a great deal of effort into creating software to be used in every country around the world, thus creating an external factor within the planning function. They have standardized operating systems so the whole world is on the same page. Many reasons exist for Microsoft to develop their products globally, including: increased revenue and profit potential, lower support costs, increased customer satisfaction, and moving ahead of the competition (Microsoft Corporation, 2008). Developing software that is world-ready is a way to deliver products quickly and at a lower cost for international markets. Software must have the capability to support all languages in order to be effective in the global market, especially in regard to the input of data using a keyboard. Some of the difficult languages with characters instead of letters (i.e. Japanese) pose a challenge to even the best programmers.
Technology can be viewed as an internal and external factor within the planning function at Microsoft.
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An external factor that impacts the planning phase of management within technology is competition. With the rapid changes in technology as well as the abundant resources, companies such as Apple are beginning to serve as an adequate competitor of Microsoft. Microsoft’s management is constantly seeking the next big trend within the technology environment. A journalist at BusinessWeek (Green, 2008) published a statement by Microsoft’s CEO Steve Braham: “"We're very persistent," said Ballmer at a wireless conference last year, "If we don't get it right, we'll keep coming and coming and coming." Planning management at Microsoft is constantly in action to remain competitive, therefore, planning is in continual motion revolving around the latest trend.
Consumer demands along with competition have caused Microsoft’s financial gains to stall. The shortcoming is forcing Microsoft management to plan for a way to make up for the loss in profit (Schenker, 2007, p.1). Electronic business is an external trend that has developed rapidly changing the way in which businesses market their products. These changes have influenced Microsoft’s management to make plans to pursue the advanced abilities the Internet has created. Microsoft’s current goal is to achieve acknowledgement in the business arena of advertisement via the online market. “Microsoft (MSFT) aims to stitch together its software, ad serving, and media properties to become a formidable online power with many of the marketing pieces that advertisers look for as they embark on Internet ad campaigns” (Schenker, 2007, p.1). Microsoft is currently aligning a strategic and management plan which will appeal to its customers by using their reputable name and powerhouse infrastructure.
Innovation continues to affect different planning functions of Microsoft. Innovation is defined as the “introduction of new things or methods” (Dictionary, 2008). Therefore, planning must be calculated in a strategic, tactical and operational manner in order to be effective. With strategic planning, Microsoft must think of long-term goals and strategies for its corporation (Bateman-Snell, 2007). Tactical planning is developed to specify goals and plans that target a majority of the corporation and its consumers (Bateman-Snell, 2007). Lastly, operational planning identifies the specific procedures and processes to execute the goals and plans of Microsoft which are required at the lower levels of the corporation (Bateman-Snell, 2007). These three planning functions co-exist to benefit Microsoft to target the consumer’s necessities and wants along with the desires of technology.
Microsoft recognizes they have employees of all races, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and cultures. They feel the diverse perspectives of their employees are of immense value to making Microsoft a true global leader. Microsoft wants a balanced workforce that allows them to use all the different ideas and solutions that a diverse workforce can provide.
A talented and diverse workforce can adopt and react to changes taking place daily in the information technology field. Microsoft needs to react and have thinkers in addition to innovators to survive in today’s market. Microsoft’s strategic planning and organizational structure is built on the belief of obtaining and retaining a diverse workforce. Microsoft’s customers are also a diverse mix and the company believes the diversity they embrace will help them understand their customer’s needs and respond to them with the appropriate planning.
Microsoft has an office of Global Diversity and Inclusion. The Office of Global Diversity and Inclusion’s strategy is to hold management accountable and to take ownership. This office serves as an educational resource to diversity to include courses, seminars, books and multimedia. To succeed at Microsoft, employees must embrace and understand diversity. A formal mentoring program is also available in which all employees are encouraged to participate in.
Microsoft also has what are called Diversity Advisory Councils. The councils are made up of specific groups of employees with the same gender, religious beliefs, cultures and countries of origin. They have also created councils that target specific types of situations that an employee might encounter. For example, they have a council for adoptive parents, working parents, and the visually impaired employees. The individual councils help mentor the members. Specific seminars and speakers are targeted to the unique diversity of that group. The groups help the employees to network themselves to aide in developing new opportunities and ideas. This is a worldwide network for all employees and is high regarded as well as supported by management.
A code of ethics is important for leadership and employees to follow ensuring a company adheres to maintaining a high level of standards. Ethics is a simple means of appropriate human action and decision. In the business world, “business ethics comprise the moral principles and standards that guide behaviors.” (University of Phoenix, 2007, Ethics and Corporate Responsibility, para. 13). Whether decisions are made to benefit an individual or group within a business, they need to be ethical for long-term success of a business; maintaining a positive image. Today’s business environment is paying closer attention to purpose, goals, action and financial measures; working to create and maintain strong business ethics. Accountability has a stronger presence in the business world, working for strong future vs. difficult failure. Paying attention to operations and detail is important, watching for different signals that may reflect unethical choices or behaviors.
Today’s leadership structures help ensure ownership, influence, and control throughout the organization; reducing total control at the top. Creating and maintaining ethical practices within an organization can be complicated, many ethical dilemmas surface at any given time. The work environment is a key factor in ethical outcomes, determined by identifying and communicating expectations to employees. These same standards also need to be demonstrated by leadership, practicing strong ethical behaviors.