Wes Anderson serves as vice president of worldwide public sector services at Microsoft and leads a team that offers information technology services to U.S. and international government agencies.
Anderson, an inductee into Executive Mosaic’s Wash100 list for 2015, previously held the VP title for U.S. public sector services at Microsoft and also created and led the software maker’s national security services business.
ExecutiveBiz recently caught up with Anderson to discuss his outlook for the big data and analytics market within GovCon, Microsoft’s efforts to make data interactive for users and how agencies are looking at cloud and mobile technologies.
ExecutiveBiz: Within the federal marketplace, what have been the most significant drivers of the technology landscape?
Wes Anderson: The most significant driver of technology is the push towards an always connected, mobile-first, cloud-first world. I have seen the development of new products and services, as well as changes in the products we have always offered, to continuously adapt in ways that leverage emerging technologies.
While the drivers for technology are always changing, the drivers for government stay practically the same; the need to be transparent to its stakeholders, the citizens of this country, and the continuing reductions to appropriated budgets, that run many of the programs on which its stakeholders rely.
In essence, there is a need to do more with less; to enable the government to work smarter in meeting its missions. The importance of investments in the advancement of technology is at an all-time-high and Microsoft has the solutions and on-premise services to meet anyone's needs. Technology is also becoming more driven by customer interactions and needs.
Microsoft is working with our customers to create more sophisticated customer interfaces that make interactions simple and direct.
ExecutiveBiz: How has Microsoft evolved in that landscape over the past five years?
Wes Anderson: The landscape has evolved to Satya Nadella's vision of being mobile-first, cloud-first. Microsoft is now a contender in this space with our Azure cloud solutions, an accelerator for many business modernization needs, which helps the federal government reduce the cost of technology and increase the role, reach and impact it has on citizens.
One fantastic thing that Microsoft does is offer service support for all products we sell. Our employees, and the employees of our broad partner network, work side by side with our customers to architect enterprise solutions. Microsoft is dedicated to supporting our customers drive to adoption and optimizing the value derived from the products and services in ways that can better enable delivery of their mission.
ExecutiveBiz: With agencies starting to accelerate the pace of cloud adoption, what should they do to ensure the process goes smoothly?
Wes Anderson: It is important for agencies to take stock of their people, their processes, and the technologies, and to understand their gaps. They need to know where help is required and develop trusted partnerships that will provide that help. One way we reassure and assist our customers is by reiterating that they do not have to figure it all out alone.
For example, we provide a proven and repeatable cloud on-boarding process. We have moved millions of customers to the cloud and we can leverage the expertise, insights, best practices, and know-how from those who have previously moved to the Microsoft cloud.
ExecutiveBiz: What areas of mobile technology is Microsoft starting to focus on?
Wes Anderson: Obviously, many folks know that we have been engaged in devices like the Surface, which has been a tremendous hit, and recently we offered our first wearable device: the Microsoft Band. Another area that we have been and continue to evolve our position in is the phone market. We released the first Microsoft-branded phone this year. We are also becoming more hardware-neutral through Microsoft Office Suite for iPhone and Android.
We recognize how important the shift in work style to a mobile and on-demand environment is for our customers and consumers, so that is a top priority for us.
ExecutiveBiz: With many changes in the big data and analytics markets, what trends are you watching?
Wes Anderson: The user experience is evolving from spreadsheets and reports to interactive visualizations. With touch screens, users pinpoint data points within vast data sets and analyze and mash the data with their hands, rather than a series of clicks to “drill down.” This type of experience stimulates creativity on how to use the data.
Another area in big data and analytics is the advancement of machine learning, which enables data to become the basis for predictions. Imagine seeing developing and predicting trends, providing insight into how changes of critical business functions within your agency will result in cost and efficiency savings, prior to those changes being made.
With Bing Predicts, we are able to use data and predict the outcomes of events, like the World Cup. Bing Predicts is a consumer-facing experience which leverages big data (including search and social) and machine learning algorithms to “play forward“ existing data in order to predict and explain future outcomes in sports, news, entertainment and more.
Another area in big data that will be a big hit is the product we are calling Delve. Delve takes the activities from the different people that are closest to a user based on his or her interaction with them and posts the activities in a user's very own Delve portal. So, with one click, a user can see what his or her boss or coworkers are doing. It is an incredible way to be in the know instantly without having to ask or wait for an answer.
Microsoft is developing new tools and enhancements to existing tools that promote fun and interactive ways for people to share information, build on the ideas of others and make workplaces a more efficient and cost-effective enabler of innovation and productivity.