Ballmer on HealthCare

My last post covered the opportunity I had to meet with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in a small group setting.  He said a couple of things about healthcare that I though were noteworthy.

Firstly, he said that Microsoft develops technologies that are intended to be used across all industries.  He said they were a horizontal software company.  But, he went on to say that healthcare is the one vertical that is fragmented among many software providers.  Since there are no SAPs, Microsoft is making investments in this industry.

I have had time to reflect on this and I have 2 thoughts:hvscreen

  1. Epic is nearly reaching the point of having the same market clout as an SAP (maybe they are at Lawson status).
  2. Microsoft might want to examine why that is the case and what happened to all of the other big companies that thought healthcare would be low hanging fruit for a big company (IBM, Alltel, American Express, Siemens and Ameritech come to mind).  Healthcare is complicated.

Ballmer also talked about Microsoft HealthVault.  While he was clearly a believer in a web-based Personal Health Record for patients (PHR) he wondered out loud how Microsoft would make any money doing this.  Clearly a question he has asked without getting a satisfactory answer.  Even when I suggested that the EHR incentives from the federal stimulus bill would bring new opportunities he did not sound optimistic about the contributions that investment would bring to the bottom line.

My next post will be on Ballmer’s advice for CIOs, which I loved.

Steve and Me

Last month I was asked by Microsoft to attend an event in Chicago that featured their CEO Steve Ballmer.  I really didn’t understand the details, but Chicago is a convenient train ride from the land of cheese, so I agreed.  I rarely attend any events, vendor sponsored or otherwise.  But I am glad I went to this one.

Steve Ballmer was speaking to the Executive Club of Chicago (or some such thing).  There were 1,400 people there.  After introducing each of the 20 people sitting at the head table with him he spoke for about 30 minutes.  I tweeted his presentation live:

  • Ballmer: we borrowed our way to prosperity, the next economic boom will be built on innovation and productivity.
  • Ballmer: our job is to make the virtual world as good or better than the real world. In 10 years I want to speak to this group digitally.
  • Ballmer: we spend about $9B a year on research and development.
  • Ballmer: breakthroughs will come through modeling the physical world in the virtual world.
  • Ballmer: …does a quick commercial for and encourages people “to click on one of the ads, otherwise we don’t make money.”
  • Ballmer: In our industry people give up too soon. Windows took 5 years to catch on.
  • Ballmer: I wish we would have seen the search business model. My one do-over is to start search business sooner. Will increase 8% share.

Let me say this about Steve Ballmer, he is not like you and me.  I fancy myself a competent speaker with an ounce of charisma.  Ballmer oozes charisma while coming off very genuine.  While it was clear he has a few talking points that he would back to (primarily creating buzz regarding, he spoke eloquently without notes and without sounding rehearsed.  He is what you would expect at the top of one of the world’s largest corporations.Me and Steve Ballmer

After the luncheon I was invited to Microsoft’s Chicago offices for a CIO forum.  I knew Ballmer would be there, but little else.  When I arrived I was escorted to a small conference room with 5 other mid-market CIOs.  We stood around and mingled, then Ballmer walked into the room, looked me in the eye and apologized for being late.  Much to my surprise  he sat down and gave us a full hour of his time.

In my next post I will recap some of that discussion, including his recommendations for CIOs; the future of cloud computing and Microsoft’s view of the healthcare market.