Although hard to believe, it's been one year since the Obama administration came to office. In that time, Greg Myers took on his current role as general manager of Microsoft's Federal Civilian and Healthcare Sales. Over the past 10 months in particular, Myers has steered Microsoft's civilian and healthcare teams to ensure their approach aligns with the tenets of the administration. As the Obama administration enters its second year, ExecutiveBiz recently caught up with Myers. Here, he shares how his team has worked to foster the administration's commitment to openness, collaboration, and transparency, and what we can expect from Microsoft over the course of 2010.
ExecutiveBiz: Obviously, the administration has been heavily focused on transparency over the past year. How have you been answering the call?
Greg Myers: We've always maintained an emphasis on data transparency and eliminating silos, making sure there's a premium not just on data but on actionable data. Whether by leveraging legacy systems or using Microsoft or non-Microsoft technologies, we have the ability to bring data together in an interoperable, secure environment to drive value for the federal government and obviously its citizens as well. For example, Microsoft technology is used extensively throughout Recovery.gov.
“The issue our government clients face is: How do you marry the convenience, cost savings, and flexibility of the cloud with unique operational and security needs? Toward that end, it's all about choice.” “” Greg Myers, Microsoft
ExecutiveBiz: Another trend we've seen in this administration is collaboration, breaking down walls not only between but within agencies. How is your team responding?
Greg Myers: Microsoft's secure collaboration tools “” Exchange, SharePoint, and Office Communication Server, for example “” are broadly used across the federal government. With that in mind, we're providing resources like our Government 2.0 Kit for agencies to use as they work on leveraging the tools they own to comply with the administration's Open Government Directive.
ExecutiveBiz: What solutions are you delivering to the civilian marketplace?
Greg Myers: Our solutions are broad and deep ““ and they are focused on enabling agencies to drive tremendous productivity as well as reducing the extensive integration costs and risks of piecing together disparate offerings. My civilian team really knows the agencies' business, missions and challenges ““ well beyond technology. They have earned the ability to partner with the agencies to drive enterprise value based on their priorities.
ExecutiveBiz: Cloud computing means different things to different people. What's your take?
Greg Myers: We wholeheartedly endorse the cloud. You are looking at a company that has $2.5 billion invested in data centers throughout the US. With a proven history of offering services like Hotmail, Microsoft Office Live, as well as our enterprise Business Productivity Suite (for Exchange, Sharepoint, and Live Meeting) we've got over 400 million users who've been leveraging Microsoft technology in the cloud for several years.
The issue our government clients face is: How do you marry the convenience, cost savings, and flexibility of the cloud with unique operational and security needs? Toward that end, it's all about choice, flexibility and promoting interoperable systems ““ it's not an all-or-nothing strategy. Agencies may want to segment data from a certain application community. They may want a mix of approaches. Some are taking an iterative approach to ensure that they are optimally set up to exploit the cloud when it makes sense for them. Choice and flexibility are such pivotal issues for so many of the clients we talk with every day.
ExecutiveBiz: What steps are you taking for stronger cybersecurity?
Greg Myers: We have a government security program to help government and industry alike better improve security in their environments. We have been involved in a trustworthy computing campaign inside and outside the company for well over five years now. We have also invested $9.5 billion in R&D for products and services. Security is priority one for us especially as clients are moving toward cloud architectures.
ExecutiveBiz: As the recent events surrounding H1N1 demonstrate, the federal government is placing more emphasis on telework and contingency planning. How are you adding value to that space?
Greg Myers: We see tremendous promise here. There's a whole suite of Microsoft solutions developed specifically for the federal government aimed at the areas of telework and correspondence management. We are leveraging our web applications portfolio “” things like Microsoft Presence and instant messaging, to support online collaboration and make it much more palatable for an agency to drive productive workers at home. And with the upcoming release of Office Web Apps “” web versions of Word, PowerPoint, etc. “” collaboration gets even easier. The release of Windows 7 also makes remote work easier “” with no headaches of VPN while still ensuring state-of- the-art security. The ability to manage desktops from a central console, from inside the government, should be steps ahead of what they have done in the past.
ExecutiveBiz: You've been in the tech industry now for 23 years. How does this period look?
Greg Myers: Five years ago you couldn't go down the Dulles Toll Road without seeing hundreds of software companies. That has vastly changed with acquisitions and mergers. In the federal civilian and healthcare space, it is a very ambitious and exciting time, as our government customers take on new societal challenges yet they're also being tasked with driving increased transparency against tremendous budget pressures. Microsoft and many of our partners ““ from the small firms to the tested System Integrators ““ have the privilege of partnering with government to bring new advances to this marketplace in a way that will make a long term difference for the citizens of this country.
One good example from our healthcare portfolio shows how technology is helping to shift approaches to achieving government and citizen results is Microsoft's HealthVault, our personal health application platform. It speeds up things like disability claims and promotes better patient visibility into and latency out of the patient- provider process. Agencies throughout the government are using HealthVault as a tool to manage health information but also to empower consumers to take better control of their health care.
ExecutiveBiz: How, if at all, is Microsoft being affected by the growing competition for IT talent?
Greg Myers: We're fortunate at Microsoft to have an extremely tenured group of people here who know their government customers inside and out. Yet we have been able to balance that strategic advantage with our competition for new talent. Microsoft is consistently a (if not the) top recruiter of talent at the elite technology schools. This speaks to the attractiveness of our overall mission, which goes beyond selling a piece of software.
ExecutiveBiz: Getting a return on investment is something you've repeated a lot in our talk. Are there any books you can recommend that pick up on this theme?
Greg Myers: There's a book, In Search of Business Value, that speaks about ensuring a return on your technology investment. It's all about ensuring that you focus not on technology for technology's sake but on crafting a joint business proposition that strives for customer delight and value as central to any customer mission.
ExecutiveBiz: What would you like to accomplish next in your role?
Greg Myers: To continue to show customers what kind of new solutions $9.5 billion in R&D can bring to bear for them. My job is to make sure our civilian and healthcare clients are getting value out of their relationship with Microsoft. That's plenty to keep me busy.