Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is overhauling its research arm with the goal of quicker technological development and delivering products quickly to customers before competitors can replicate them. Microsoft research teams have often been criticized for not bringing their products to life and this is what Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, is looking to change.
Nadella has had some critical successes on that score already. During Nadella’s first month as CEO back in February 2014, he became interested in a project that used artificial intelligence and speech recognition to translate a live conversation to another language. Nadella told the research team in charge that he needed this tool combined with Skype and that it should be ready in three months’ time.
The company’s research group was set in isolation from the product team, and the Skype translator was designed within the set period.
In order to integrate its research wing with the rest of the company, Microsoft moved more than half of its research staff to a new group called MSR NExT. This group was to focus on high impact projects rather than pure research. The move was made back in September 2014.
Recent Microsoft innovations have not only helped Skype but have been useful for a variety of products. These include Cloud productivity tools in Office, faster servers running Bing and the development of HoloLens, the world’s first holographic computer.
Microsoft’s latest innovation is a new feature for Cortana. Microsoft is planning to release an update of the digital assistant. This will give Cortana the ability to scan e-mails for various tasks users have set themselves to accomplish.
The overhaul comes at a time when Microsoft is in a race with both Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) to develop technologies relevant to people’s lives, not exactly a simple task even in the tech age where new technologies are developed seemingly every day.