Gates Speaks to CEOs

Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates addresses more than 100 business leaders from around the world at the seventh annual Microsoft CEO Summit.

IT departments are having a hard time determining how much they should invest in new technologies to help their information workers do their jobs effectively, Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates said Wednesday in a keynote address to more than 100 business leaders from around the world at the seventh annual Microsoft CEO Summit.

In a talk titled "The Agile Business: Balancing Strategy and Execution," Gates told the CEOs gathered at Microsofts Redmond, Wash., campus that it is a "very big challenge for IT departments to step up to these new things.

"Historically, the IT department knew that its equipment was all in the glass house and understood how to deal with that. Today, its cell phones that people are carrying around and downloading information to. Its portable devices, its spreadsheets that people have on different desktops, and in a sense, the scope of their responsibility and how much they should invest in making those people more effective is something that a lot of companies have had a hard time seeing exactly what that level should look like." he said.

The idea of enterprise applications as the panacea that will allow users to really dive into data in a way that is meaningful to manage, or to run complex processes like sales analysis and forecasting in the most effective fashion has not yet been realized, Gates said.

"And so many people looking at these harsh realities sometimes say, well, this IT stuff, its messy. Lets outsource all of this. Lets get somebody else to do it. They can get the benefit of Moores Law, and well just sign a five-year or 10-year contract that drives that outside," he said.

While there is validity in that type of approach for those parts of IT that are very measurable and for repeatable type things, Microsoft is from the camp that feels when it comes to defining new applications and thinking about business processes "IT is so central to the way work gets done and the quality of that work, and there are so many opportunities to do that better, that staying in control of this to have it as part of the overall business strategy is very, very important," he said.