Microsoft vs. Google: A Tale of 2 Philosophies in Manufacturing Technology

Written By: Eric Kimberling
Date: June 4, 2024

In the realm of manufacturing technology, two giants—Microsoft and Google—stand with markedly different approaches. Having recently delved into their philosophies and strategies, particularly in the context of their partnerships and solutions for the manufacturing industry, it's clear that their fundamental differences shape how they address manufacturers' needs.

Google's Partner-Centric Approach

Google, known for its innovative prowess, embraces a partner-centric model. They recognize the limits of their expertise, especially in specialized fields like manufacturing. Instead of positioning themselves as the sole proprietors of knowledge, they collaborate with a diverse array of partners. This humility allows Google to leverage external expertise effectively, ensuring that their solutions are both relevant and comprehensive.

For instance, Google's approach with their MDE (Machine Data Exchange) technology is a testament to their collaborative spirit. By engaging with partners who bring domain-specific knowledge to the table, Google can create more targeted and impactful solutions for the manufacturing sector. This strategy not only broadens their reach but also enhances the quality of their offerings.

Microsoft's Technology-First Stance

Microsoft, on the other hand, is renowned for its software development capabilities. Products like Excel and OneNote highlight their proficiency in building robust, user-friendly software. However, this strength also underscores a significant blind spot—their approach to industry-specific solutions, particularly in manufacturing.

Unlike Google, Microsoft tends to lead with their technological innovations, assuming they inherently understand the needs of their users. This is exemplified in their development of platforms like Azure IoT. Despite the technical brilliance behind these products, they often fall short because they don't necessarily align with the practical needs of manufacturers. The fundamental flaw in this approach is the presumption that their technology, by virtue of being advanced, will naturally find a market.

Conversations at Hannover Messe

This difference in philosophy was glaringly evident in conversations at Hannover Messe, a premier industrial technology event. Interactions with two world-class architects—one from Microsoft and one from Google—highlighted the stark contrast.

The Microsoft architect, despite his brilliance, focused heavily on the technical aspects of their solutions without delving into the specific problems faced by manufacturers. This conversation revolved around what their technology could do, rather than what it needed to solve.

Conversely, the dialogue with the Google architect was rooted in understanding the problems manufacturers were facing. Google's representative consistently inquired about the specific challenges in the industry, demonstrating a genuine interest in crafting solutions that addressed real-world issues. This approach not only fosters better solutions but also builds stronger relationships with clients who feel understood and valued.

The Pitfall of Presumption vs. the Power of Inquiry

Microsoft's presumption that they know best, fueled by their technological achievements, often leads to solutions that miss the mark because they are not grounded in the actual needs of their users. This was highlighted by the failure of Azure IoT, which Microsoft attributed to a lack of sales. However, the real issue was not the product's visibility but its relevance to the market's needs.

Google's method, which begins with identifying and understanding customer problems, results in solutions that are more finely tuned to the demands of the industry. By building solutions based on real-world problems and iterating on them, Google can create products that resonate with and are adopted by their target market.

Conclusion: Manufacturing Technology

For manufacturers seeking to navigate the complexities of modern technology, the choice between Microsoft and Google hinges on understanding these philosophical differences. While Microsoft offers robust, technologically advanced solutions, their approach may not always align with the practical, nuanced needs of the manufacturing industry. Google's strategy of starting with the customer's problem and working backward ensures that their solutions are not only technologically sound but also practically relevant.

Ultimately, the values, mission, and philosophy of the organization you choose to partner with will significantly impact the success of the solutions implemented. Manufacturers should seek partners who prioritize understanding their problems and crafting tailored solutions over those who lead with technology for technology's sake. In this light, Google's approach presents a more promising path for addressing the real challenges faced by today's manufacturers.

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Kimberling Eric Blue Backgroundv2
Eric Kimberling

Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.

Author:
Eric Kimberling
Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.
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