Why Collaboration Is So Important At The Top Of Tech Companies

At the end of October Apple announced that they were cutting ties with iOS chief Scott Forstall. Many reports since have portrayed him as someone who was difficult to get along with, had a huge ego, focused on office politics and himself, and was at odds with other top level executives including Jony Ive and Bob Mansfield. Last night, Microsoft announced that they have given the boot to Windows President Steven Sinofsky who has been the most influential force behind Windows 8 and the Microsoft Surface tablet.

Sinofsky has been reported to be at odds with other top level executives with growing tension after picking a number of fights. Some are citing parallels between Sinofsky and Forstall as both are talented, but their personalities were their downfall at their respective companies. Both instances bring up one consistent goal at Apple and Microsoft which is collaboration at the top. Microsoft has stated Sinofsky wasn’t the team player the company was looking for, and Apple has realigned their top management to have three heads that work together for hardware, software, and services.

The reason collaboration at the top is so important because the top tech companies are looking to create a unified offering. Microsoft’s Windows 8 is a big leap ahead in an attempt to unify the look and feel across desktop, tablet, phone, web, and Xbox. All four adopt the metro tile interface, and it makes it so once a consumer buys in to one, they’re more prone to buy into the rest. Apple is looking at the same approach, but is moving in that direction in a more methodical approach since they’re playing with a lead on mobile. Apple is still aiming to have iPhone, iPad, Mac, iCloud, and Apple TV all interconnected so that once a consumer buys one they’re more likely to buy the others.

All of the top tier tech companies are selling the complete user experience. When you buy an iOS app, song, or movie these files are restricted to Apple devices so it makes it tougher to switch in the future. It’s interesting how Forstall and Sinofsky have played such a big role in the most dominant factors at each company, and both are on their way out. For the main product categories to connect to one another for consumers, the top level management for the products need to connect with one another. Top level executives who are in constant battles looking out for their own interests and team are at odds with the entire company’s vision of everything working together.

Apple now has Jony Ive, Craig Federighi, and Eddy Cue handling hardware, software, and services respectively, and all three are working together to make each piece tie intrinsically to each other. iOS and OS X continue to merge while iCloud and iTunes ties everything that happens on each together. Microsoft has already pushed ahead with one operating system that runs on each respective device, although early reports say that it’s not that smooth of an experience with the classic desktop, RT variations, and traditional desktop elements not translating to touch. Still, Micrsofot’s direction is clear, and their top level executives are now working towards Windows 9 to further unify their product categories.

Apple and Microsoft are showing their clear path forward, and a unified vision at the top is needed to follow that path.


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