For Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, a man tasked with running one of the most integral — and most valuable — companies in the world, the basis of success is simple: make sure what they do is what their customers and employees want.
"Our success is aligned with the success of the world around us," Nadella told Cheddar's Hope King in an exclusive interview this week.
"Each of us comes into the workplace with a passion, with a personal philosophy, in terms of what we want, in terms of the meaning in our lives" he added. "That's, to me, the biggest unlock any corporation could do."
And with the innovative leaps on Microsoft's horizon, particularly in cloud and artificial intelligence, Nadella said to achieve that success means to build products that are easy to use — "really all one platform."
Although cloud computing — and its Azure platform, in particular — remains the biggest driving force for Microsoft's businesses, Nadella avoided giving too much credit to just one product.
"When we say we want to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve, more fundamental to that mission is not celebrating any success we have," he said."
Customers don't care about specific product lines, according to Nadella.
"Azure is a super important part of what we're doing, but when we think about what's happening, whether it is a Game Pass or xCloud, whether it's Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, LinkedIn or Azure, it's really all one platform effect," he said.
Nadella's comments come amid news of major deals struck with AT&T and Kroger earlier this year, as well as a $1 billion investment from Microsoft in OpenAI, the artificial intelligence research startup co-founded by Elon Musk, who has since stepped down. That funding is meant to jumpstart supercomputing abilities for Azure, which has grown 64 percent since last year, according to the company's latest earnings. Azure competes against Amazon's Web Services, which dominated the sector for years, although Microsoft Azure is number two in market share and has grown steadily to about 16 percent in the first quarter of 2019 according to Synergy research.
Moreover, Microsoft's intelligent cloud services boasted about $11.4 billion in revenues — beating analyst expectations.
Nadella emphasized that ensuring all these technologies are cohesive is key.
Azure's new effort with OpenAI aims to scale general artificial intelligence — AI that can master a human field to an "expert" level — on an Azure-supported platform. But Nadella cautioned that these new technologies will require determining ways to reduce or remove bias from artificial intelligence systems and how we select the tasks artificial intelligence should be responsible for.
"Let's start with a set of ethical design principles," he said. "As AI develops, let's not just celebrate what AI can do. We should also really ask ourselves what should AI do?"
"The human should always be in the loop. What that means, in terms of being in the loop, will change in definition."
For part two of the interview click here.