So according to extensive research published yesterday by Microsoft as part of their annual Future Decoded jamboree, digital transformation is a matter of changing people and behaviours rather than merely technology. Wow. Who knew?

But here, it seems to me, is the rub. The sort of decision making in organisations that chooses Microsoft to provide its core technology platforms is, by nature, conservative. Incremental. Not wanting to rock the boat. Microsoft is the status quo, the new IBM. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just that if you are promoting an organisational move that is focused on changing behaviours by acting in the same way as you have before, well. There’s a discontinuity between message and action.

Not only that, but implicitly Microsoft push the idea of continuity and reducing the need for changing behaviour as part of the USP as to why Office 365 (in particular) is better than competitors’ services. Outlook and Word and Excel and PowerPoint are pretty much the same as you’re used to, so no rocking the boat. And so the easy option for people is to continue as they were, and that means that they, well… don’t change.

And yet if you ask people today “do you send much email outside of work?” or “do you create many documents outside of work?” they quickly realise that the answer is “no”. They’re too busy WhatsApping or sharing photos on Instagram or transacting directly with Amazon to have time to create a word processing document.

The power of the status quo in working life is a big challenge. And whilst Microsoft at last might be recognising it, the uncomfortable truth is that they are the status quo, and how they might help change to happen is by doing exactly the opposite of what it is that their customers are actually buying. It’s going to be an interesting few years…

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