Indian American Satya Nadella Anointed as the Third CEO of Microsoft; Expected Challenges Ahead
Satya Nadella, ECO of MicrosoftREUTERS/Microsoft/Handout via

We saw India's two eminent personalities - Scientist Dr. CNR Rao and cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar - getting honoured with the nation's highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna, on Tuesday. And just a few hours later, on the same day in the USA, another Indian - Satya Nadella - was anointed as the new CEO of software technology giant Microsoft, making him the most influential Indian tech-executive in the world.

Microsoft board of directors, after five months of scrutiny, finally chose company veteran Satya (aka Satyanarayana) Nadella, 46, as the replacement for the retiring CEO Steve Ballmer.

"During this time of transformation, there is no better person to lead Microsoft than Satya Nadella," said Bill Gates, co-founder and former chairman of board of directors, Microsoft.

"Satya is a proven leader with hard-core engineering skills, business vision and the ability to bring people together. His vision for how technology will be used and experienced around the world is exactly what Microsoft needs as the company enters its next chapter of expanded product innovation and growth," Gates added.

Ballmer has officially relinquished the CEO post (though he will continue to be part of the board of directors) and Gates has passed the chairman of board of directors baton to John Thompson. The company founder has been assigned to the new position of technology advisor.

Meanwhile, newly crowned Microsoft CEO Nadella said: "Microsoft is one of those rare companies to have truly revolutionized the world through technology, and I couldn't be more honored to have been chosen to lead the company.

"The opportunity ahead for Microsoft is vast, but to seize it, we must focus clearly, move faster and continue to transform. A big part of my job is to accelerate our ability to bring innovative products to our customers more quickly."

[Also Read: 10 Facts You Should Know About Microsoft's New CEO, Satya Nadella]

New Microsoft CEO's Challenges Ahead:

  • New CEO Nadella's immediate challenge will be to form a core team to envision future technology to move forward the Microsoft business. It also means that he will be tested to show his co-ordination skills with the board members, including his internal competitors (Skype head Tony Bates and company COO Kevin Turner), who both lost the CEO race to him.
  • Nadella will also have the responsibility of pivoting the company's transformation phase as Microsoft completes the acquisition of Nokia later in March.  
  • Another sector which is expected to get his attention would be the Windows Phone OS ecosystem, which is way behind market leaders, such as Apple and Google (they account more than 90-percent smart devices globally). If the company wants to consolidate its foothold in the ever-growing smartphone business, Nadella is expected to infuse the same driving force, using Nokia's branded Lumia series, in emerging markets like Africa, South East Asia (including India) as the developed markets begin to saturate in coming years.
  • Apart from smartphones, Nadella has his task cut out to turn the loss-making Surface tablet series to profits, as well as improve the marketing of company's flagship Xbox gaming console, which is in competition with the Sony PlayStation series.
  • With the advent of low-cost smart devices (like smartphones and tablet PCs), we have already witnessed a drop in desktop PC sales globally, and further adding to the woes is the disappointing response to the new Windows 8 PC OS. Nadella will be expected to infuse some driving force to revive the lost sheen of Windows OS, like he spearhead Microsoft's 'Cloud and Enterprise' in 2011; the division has grown from $16.6 billion to $20.3 billion (as of June 2013).