Microsoft Success Story
Moving Faster than the Market at Microsoft
Strategic Innovation, Microsoft
How does a market leader always stay one step ahead of the market?
I joined the Research and Development arm of Microsoft’s CTO Office to help Microsoft uncover new opportunities for emerging tech that will transform our products, services and business models. My goal is to find the untapped areas of potential and make the case to our business units on how to get into that market, whether it’s via investing, acquiring, partnering, or even building products on our own. I’m always looking for our next big idea and opportunity.
In order to uncover those opportunities, I need to keep a pulse on ongoing and emerging trends across multiple industries, and then become an expert almost overnight on what we’re seeing. With how fast the market is evolving, I can’t use months-old data locked into a spreadsheet. I can’t rely on what was written a year ago about a new technology and ignore the advancements made since then.
I also need to trust the data I get. I have to pitch the business units on major changes, from creating new products to reimagining business models. If I don’t have data I believe in, I can’t do that.
I became a CB Insights client after subscribing to the newsletter and reading public research for years. I knew the platform was valuable, but there’s so much more than just good research.
Building Technology Focused Solutions
I have to figure out where our business units need to go next, and often, that’s not a well-defined space. I’m often looking at the “in-between” spaces, adjacent to our existing spaces today. CB Insights helps me define and understand those spaces with data-driven research, and then quickly turn those insights around into a pitch presentation to stakeholders.
We’re also looking at what other large enterprises are doing in these spaces, which makes a compelling data point for our business units. How can we differentiate? What are the strengths that we can use? For example, drones are an area of interest for us. We were able to learn that Walmart is already investing, and now it’s easier for me to make a recommendation to executive stakeholders on whether or not we should be looking at that market and what the opportunities are. It’s information we can’t get without CB Insights.
Getting the Big Picture and the Smallest Details
My role is to not just understand the markets and megatrends, but also become an expert on the companies and startups in the space. Both tell the story of the momentum and market need for a product or service and help me to craft recommendations to the Corporate Development team.
I start by trying to estimate the market size of the market I’m looking at, as well as adjacent markets, to understand product-market fit. This clear, data-driven evidence helps me substantiate my Proof of Concept.
Then, I can take that market and start showcasing all the companies within it, by building my own market map within CB Insights. It’s a simple, effective way to paint the full picture of a market for my pitch presentations internally.
Once I start diving deeper into the companies, I need to start looking at their financial and operational data, including the press mentions.
I also use the Mosaic Score as my key indicator of the company’s potential, and a way to compare companies in the same space. The Mosaic Score is an objective, single source of truth to evaluate companies, based on the company’s market size, financial position, strength of the management team, and the overall momentum based on news sentiment and other factors. It’s immensely valuable. Financial data can only tell you so much when evaluating startups; this is why I use and sort my company shortlists by the Mosaic Score.
And in one such case, we decided to build it ourselves. We uncovered an opportunity via my daily interactions with CB Insights and built a product related to AI, data and privacy which is now in private preview, the stage before it is available to the public.
Getting Buy-in from Business Units
After I pull all this information together, my next step is to persuade our executive decision makers; I need to push the organization forward with big, bold ideas that will keep us as the market leader for years to come. I can’t do that if I don’t get their buy-in. And I can’t get their buy-in if I don’t have confidence in my own recommendations.
It’s the expert second opinion I rely on for emerging tech. And it’s one that I know I can trust.
Strategic Innovation, Microsoft
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