Worldwide Partner Conference: Microsoft wants to change how you work Richard Hay

Worldwide Partner Conference: Microsoft wants to change how you work

Microsoft has some very strong ideas about how you should work. Not how you do work. How you should work.

This isn't news to Microsoft-watchers: Satya Nadella said in his Ignite keynote back in May that Microsoft planned to reinvent the nature of work via productivity and business practices.

And he said that reinvention would emphasize collaborative tools and habits, plus a hefty dose of machine learning to put the information you needed at your fingertips before you even knew you needed it. During that keynote, Cortana, Power BI and Delve were all name-checked as important to Microsoft's future of work.

And in this keynote, Nadella doubled down on how he wants Microsoft to change the future of work. First, he said that Microsoft's recognized that the processes people use to be personally productive are not separate from business processes; they're interdependent.

Then he went on to establish the keynote's theme -- erasing boundaries and "breaking down wall" -- by positing that with the right set of (Microsoft) tools, people could move seamlessly between personal productivity and professional progress.

Then he went on to establish the keynote's theme -- erasing boundaries and "breaking down wall" -- by positing that with the right set of (Microsoft) tools, people could move seamlessly between personal productivity and professional progress. How? Again:

That segue provided a great bouncing-off point for Julie White, whose two addresses to the audience provided th best clues for how Microsoft thinks you'll be working.

Microsoft's definition of productivity involves being on-call to receive data constantly. It erases the physical restrictions of being in an office environment for a set number of hours daily. Microsoft's definition of productivity steers time management away from the person whose time it is, to the tools the person uses. Microsoft thinks that everything you do, you're doing in collaboration with someone else.

In effect, the trinity of Cortana, Delve and BI aims to assume the role your executive function used to. Where once your brain was responsible for planning, execution, task management, problem solving and prioritizing, your software will do it for you.

It'll be interesting to test-drive GigJam to see how -- or whether -- it streamlines the way people work in the real world. And I'm looking forward to seeing how all these productivity tools translate to a world where the software ecosystem is made up of several different, competing vendors with their own interests; a world where different time zones mean different schedules and different starting and stopping points for work; a world where I want the final say in how I tackle my to-do list. 

So far, 2015 has been informative because it's setting out the ways Microsoft would like us to work. I'm itching to see if their definition of productivity actually improves mine.

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