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Microsoft (4338) SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / MBA Resources

Introduction to SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix for Microsoft (Hong Kong)


Based on various researches at Oak Spring University , Microsoft is operating in a macro-environment that has been destablized by – technology disruption, there is increasing trade war between United States & China, central banks are concerned over increasing inflation, increasing transportation and logistics costs, talent flight as more people leaving formal jobs, increasing inequality as vast percentage of new income is going to the top 1%, competitive advantages are harder to sustain because of technology dispersion, increasing commodity prices, banking and financial system is disrupted by Bitcoin and other crypto currencies, etc



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Introduction to SWOT Analysis of Microsoft


SWOT stands for an organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats . At Oak Spring University, we believe that Microsoft can use SWOT analysis as a strategic management tool to assess the current internal strengths and weaknesses of the Microsoft, and to figure out the opportunities and threats in the macro environment – technological, environmental, political, economic, social, demographic, etc in which Microsoft operates in.

According to Harvard Business Review, 75% of the managers use SWOT analysis for various purposes such as – evaluating current scenario, strategic planning, new venture feasibility, personal growth goals, new market entry, Go To market strategies, portfolio management and strategic trade-off assessment, organizational restructuring, etc.




SWOT Objectives / Importance of SWOT Analysis and SWOT Matrix


SWOT analysis of Microsoft can be done for the following purposes –
1. Strategic planning of Microsoft
2. Improving business portfolio management of Microsoft
3. Assessing feasibility of the new initiative in Hong Kong
4. Making a Software & Programming sector specific business decision
5. Set goals for the organization
6. Organizational restructuring of Microsoft




Strengths of Microsoft | Internal Strategic Factors
What are Strengths in SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis

The strengths of Microsoft are -

Analytics focus

– Microsoft is putting a lot of focus on utilizing the power of analytics in business decision making. This has put it among the leading players in the Software & Programming industry. The technology infrastructure of Hong Kong is also helping it to harness the power of analytics for – marketing optimization, demand forecasting, customer relationship management, inventory management, information sharing across the value chain etc.

Ability to recruit top talent

– Microsoft is one of the leading players in the Software & Programming industry in Hong Kong. It is in a position to attract the best talent available in Hong Kong. The firm has a robust talent identification program that helps in identifying the brightest.

Organizational Resilience of Microsoft

– The covid-19 pandemic has put organizational resilience at the centre of everthing Microsoft does. Organizational resilience comprises - Financial Resilience, Operational Resilience, Technological Resilience, Organizational Resilience, Business Model Resilience, and Reputation Resilience.

Diverse revenue streams

– Microsoft is present in almost all the verticals within the Software & Programming industry. This has provided Microsoft a diverse revenue stream that has helped it to survive disruptions such as global pandemic in Covid-19, financial disruption of 2008, and supply chain disruption of 2021.

Operational resilience

– The operational resilience strategy of Microsoft comprises – understanding the underlying the factors in the Software & Programming industry, building diversified operations across different geographies so that disruption in one part of the world doesn’t impact the overall performance of the firm, and integrating the various business operations and processes through its digital transformation drive.

Superior customer experience

– The customer experience strategy of Microsoft in Software & Programming industry is based on four key concepts – personalization, simplification of complex needs, prompt response, and continuous engagement.

Strong track record of project management in the Software & Programming industry

– Microsoft is known for sticking to its project targets. This enables the firm to manage – time, project costs, and have sustainable margins on the projects.

Ability to lead change in Software & Programming

– Microsoft is one of the leading players in the Software & Programming industry in Hong Kong. Over the years it has not only transformed the business landscape in the Software & Programming industry in Hong Kong but also across the existing markets. The ability to lead change has enabled Microsoft in – penetrating new markets, reaching out to new customers, and providing different value propositions to different customers in the international markets.

Highly skilled collaborators

– Microsoft has highly efficient outsourcing and offshoring strategy. It has resulted in greater operational flexibility and bringing down the costs in highly price sensitive Software & Programming industry. Secondly the value chain collaborators of Microsoft have helped the firm to develop new products and bring them quickly to the marketplace.

High brand equity

– Microsoft has strong brand awareness and brand recognition among both - the exiting customers and potential new customers. Strong brand equity has enabled Microsoft to keep acquiring new customers and building profitable relationship with both the new and loyal customers.

Training and development

– Microsoft has one of the best training and development program in Technology industry. The effectiveness of the training programs can be measured in – employees retention, in-house promotion, loyalty, new venture initiation, lack of conflict, and high level of both employees and customer engagement.

High switching costs

– The high switching costs that Microsoft has built up over years in its products and services combo offer has resulted in high retention of customers, lower marketing costs, and greater ability of the firm to focus on its customers.






Weaknesses of Microsoft | Internal Strategic Factors
What are Weaknesses in SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis

The weaknesses of Microsoft are -

Low market penetration in new markets

– Outside its home market of Hong Kong, Microsoft needs to spend more promotional, marketing, and advertising efforts to penetrate international markets.

Compensation and incentives

– The revenue per employee of Microsoft is just above the Software & Programming industry average. It needs to redesign the compensation structure and incentives to increase the revenue per employees. Some of the steps that it can take are – hiring more specialists on project basis, etc.

No frontier risks strategy

– From the 10K / annual statement of Microsoft, it seems that company is thinking out the frontier risks that can impact Software & Programming industry. But it has very little resources allocation to manage the risks emerging from events such as natural disasters, climate change, melting of permafrost, tacking the rise of artificial intelligence, opportunities and threats emerging from commercialization of space etc.

High bargaining power of channel partners in Software & Programming industry

– because of the regulatory requirements in Hong Kong, Microsoft is facing high bargaining power of the channel partners. So far it has not able to streamline the operations to reduce the bargaining power of the value chain partners in the Software & Programming industry.

Ability to respond to the competition

– As the decision making is very deliberative at Microsoft, in the dynamic environment of Software & Programming industry it has struggled to respond to the nimble upstart competition. Microsoft has reasonably good record with similar level competitors but it has struggled with new entrants taking away niches of its business.

Slow decision making process

– As mentioned earlier in the report, Microsoft has a very deliberative decision making approach. This approach has resulted in prudent decisions, but it has also resulted in missing opportunities in the Software & Programming industry over the last five years. Microsoft even though has strong showing on digital transformation primary two stages, it has struggled to capitalize the power of digital transformation in marketing efforts and new venture efforts.

High operating costs

– Compare to the competitors, Microsoft has high operating costs in the Software & Programming industry. This can be harder to sustain given the new emerging competition from nimble players who are using technology to attract Microsoft lucrative customers.

High dependence on Microsoft ‘s star products

– The top 2 products and services of Microsoft still accounts for major business revenue. This dependence on star products in Software & Programming industry has resulted into insufficient focus on developing new products, even though Microsoft has relatively successful track record of launching new products.

Increasing silos among functional specialists

– The organizational structure of Microsoft is dominated by functional specialists. It is not different from other players in the Software & Programming industry, but Microsoft needs to de-silo the office environment to harness the true potential of its workforce. Secondly the de-silo will also help Microsoft to focus more on services in the Software & Programming industry rather than just following the product oriented approach.

Employees’ less understanding of Microsoft strategy

– From the outside it seems that the employees of Microsoft don’t have comprehensive understanding of the firm’s strategy. This is reflected in number of promotional campaigns over the last few years that had mixed messaging and competing priorities. Some of the strategic activities and services promoted in the promotional campaigns were not consistent with the organization’s strategy.

Slow to harness new channels of communication

– Even though competitors are using new communication channels such as Instagram, Tiktok, and Snap, Microsoft is slow explore the new channels of communication. These new channels of communication can help Microsoft to provide better information regarding Software & Programming products and services. It can also build an online community to further reach out to potential customers.




Microsoft Opportunities | External Strategic Factors
What are Opportunities in the SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis


The opportunities of Microsoft are -

Building a culture of innovation

– managers at Microsoft can make experimentation a productive activity and build a culture of innovation using approaches such as – mining transaction data, A/B testing of websites and selling platforms, engaging potential customers over various needs, and building on small ideas in the Software & Programming industry.

Buying journey improvements

– Microsoft can improve the customer journey of consumers in the Software & Programming industry by using analytics and artificial intelligence. It can provide automated chats to help consumers solve their own problems, provide online suggestions to get maximum out of the products and services, and help consumers to build a community where they can interact with each other to develop new features and uses.

Changes in consumer behavior post Covid-19

– consumer behavior has changed in the Software & Programming industry because of Covid-19 restrictions. Some of this behavior will stay once things get back to normal. Microsoft can take advantage of these changes in consumer behavior to build a far more efficient business model. For example consumer regular ordering of products can reduce both last mile delivery costs and market penetration costs. Microsoft can further use this consumer data to build better customer loyalty, provide better products and service collection, and improve the value proposition in inflationary times.

Developing new processes and practices

– Microsoft can develop new processes and procedures in Software & Programming industry using technology such as automation using artificial intelligence, real time transportation and products tracking, 3D modeling for concept development and new products pilot testing etc.

Better consumer reach

– The expansion of the 5G network will help Microsoft to increase its market reach. Microsoft will be able to reach out to new customers. Secondly 5G will also provide technology framework to build new tools and products that can help more immersive consumer experience and faster consumer journey.

Lowering marketing communication costs

– 5G expansion will open new opportunities for Microsoft in the field of marketing communication. It will bring down the cost of doing business, provide technology platform to build new products in the Software & Programming industry, and it will provide faster access to the consumers.

Reforming the budgeting process

- By establishing new metrics that will be used to evaluate both existing and potential projects Microsoft can not only reduce the costs of the project but also help it in integrating the projects with other processes within the organization.

Identify volunteer opportunities

– Covid-19 has impacted working population in two ways – it has led to people soul searching about their professional choices, resulting in mass resignation. Secondly it has encouraged people to do things that they are passionate about. This has opened opportunities for businesses to build volunteer oriented socially driven projects. Microsoft can explore opportunities that can attract volunteers and are consistent with its mission and vision.

Reconfiguring business model

– The expansion of digital payment system, the bringing down of international transactions costs using Bitcoin and other blockchain based currencies, etc can help Microsoft to reconfigure its entire business model. For example it can used blockchain based technologies to reduce piracy of its products in the big markets such as China. Secondly it can use the popularity of e-commerce in various developing markets to build a Direct to Customer business model rather than the current Channel Heavy distribution network.

Creating value in data economy

– The success of analytics program of Microsoft has opened avenues for new revenue streams for the organization in Software & Programming industry. This can help Microsoft to build a more holistic ecosystem for Microsoft products in the Software & Programming industry by providing – data insight services, data privacy related products, data based consulting services, etc.

Remote work and new talent hiring opportunities

– The widespread usage of remote working technologies during Covid-19 has opened opportunities for Microsoft to expand its talent hiring zone. According to McKinsey Global Institute, 20% of the high end workforce in fields such as finance, information technology, can continously work from remote local post Covid-19. This presents a really great opportunity for Microsoft to hire the very best people irrespective of their geographical location.

Increase in government spending

– As the United States and other governments are increasing social spending and infrastructure spending to build economies post Covid-19, Microsoft can use these opportunities to build new business models that can help the communities that Microsoft operates in. Secondly it can use opportunities from government spending in Software & Programming sector.

Loyalty marketing

– Microsoft has focused on building a highly responsive customer relationship management platform. This platform is built on in-house data and driven by analytics and artificial intelligence. The customer analytics can help the organization to fine tune its loyalty marketing efforts, increase the wallet share of the organization, reduce wastage on mainstream advertising spending, build better pricing strategies using personalization, etc.




Threats Microsoft External Strategic Factors
What are Threats in the SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis


The threats of Microsoft are -

New competition

– After the dotcom bust of 2001, financial crisis of 2008-09, the business formation in US economy had declined. But in 2020 alone, there are more than 1.5 million new business applications in United States. This can lead to greater competition for Microsoft in the Software & Programming sector and impact the bottomline of the organization.

High dependence on third party suppliers

– Microsoft high dependence on third party suppliers can disrupt its processes and delivery mechanism. For example -the current troubles of car makers because of chip shortage is because the chip companies started producing chips for electronic companies rather than car manufacturers.

Consumer confidence and its impact on Microsoft demand

– There is a high probability of declining consumer confidence, given – high inflammation rate, rise of gig economy, lower job stability, increasing cost of living, higher interest rates, and aging demography. All the factors contribute to people saving higher rate of their income, resulting in lower consumer demand in Software & Programming industry and other sectors.

Backlash against dominant players

– US Congress and other legislative arms of the government are getting tough on big business especially technology companies. The digital arm of Microsoft business can come under increasing regulations regarding data privacy, data security, etc.

Increasing wage structure of Microsoft

– Post Covid-19 there is a sharp increase in the wages especially in the jobs that require interaction with people. The increasing wages can put downward pressure on the margins of Microsoft.

Instability in the European markets

– European Union markets are facing three big challenges post Covid – expanded balance sheets, Brexit related business disruption, and aggressive Russia looking to distract the existing security mechanism. Microsoft will face different problems in different parts of Europe. For example it will face inflationary pressures in UK, France, and Germany, balance sheet expansion and demand challenges in Southern European countries, and geopolitical instability in the Eastern Europe.

Trade war between China and United States

– The trade war between two of the biggest economies can hugely impact the opportunities for Microsoft in Software & Programming industry. The Software & Programming industry is already at various protected from local competition in China, with the rise of trade war the protection levels may go up. This presents a clear threat of current business model in Chinese market.

Increasing international competition and downward pressure on margins

– Apart from technology driven competitive advantage dilution, Microsoft can face downward pressure on margins from increasing competition from international players. The international players have stable revenue in their home market and can use those resources to penetrate Microsoft prominent markets.

Regulatory challenges

– Microsoft needs to prepare for regulatory challenges as consumer protection groups and other pressure groups are vigorously advocating for more regulations on big business - to reduce inequality, to create a level playing field, to product data privacy and consumer privacy, to reduce the influence of big money on democratic institutions, etc. This can lead to significant changes in the Software & Programming industry regulations.

Environmental challenges

– Microsoft needs to have a robust strategy against the disruptions arising from climate change and energy requirements. EU has identified it as key priority area and spending 30% of its 880 billion Euros European post Covid-19 recovery funds on green technology. Microsoft can take advantage of this fund but it will also bring new competitors in the Software & Programming industry.

Technology acceleration in Forth Industrial Revolution

– Microsoft has witnessed rapid integration of technology during Covid-19 in the Software & Programming industry. As one of the leading players in the industry, Microsoft needs to keep up with the evolution of technology in the Software & Programming sector. According to Mckinsey study top managers believe that the adoption of technology in operations, communications is 20-25 times faster than what they planned in the beginning of 2019.

Stagnating economy with rate increase

– Microsoft can face lack of demand in the market place because of Fed actions to reduce inflation. This can lead to sluggish growth in the economy, lower demands, lower investments, higher borrowing costs, and consolidation in the Software & Programming industry.

High level of anxiety and lack of motivation

– the Great Resignation in United States is the sign of broader dissatisfaction among the workforce in United States. Microsoft needs to understand the core reasons impacting the Software & Programming industry. This will help it in building a better workplace.




Weighted SWOT Analysis of Microsoft Template, Example


Not all factors mentioned under the Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats quadrants in the SWOT Analysis are equal. Managers at Microsoft needs to zero down on the relative importance of each factor mentioned in the Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats quadrants. We can provide the relative importance to each factor by assigning relative weights. Weighted SWOT analysis process is a three stage process –

First stage for doing weighted SWOT analysis of Microsoft is to rank the strengths and weaknesses of the organization. This will help you to assess the most important strengths and weaknesses of the firm and which one of the strengths and weaknesses mentioned in the initial lists are marginal and can be left out.

Second stage for conducting weighted SWOT analysis of Microsoft is to give probabilities to the external strategic factors thus better understanding the opportunities and threats arising out of macro environment changes and developments.

Third stage of constructing weighted SWOT analysis of Microsoft to provide strategic recommendations includes – joining likelihood of external strategic factors such as opportunities and threats to the internal strategic factors – strengths and weaknesses. You should start with external factors as they will provide the direction of the overall industry. Secondly by joining probabilities with internal strategic factors can help the company not only strategic fit but also the most probably strategic trade-off that Microsoft needs to make to build a sustainable competitive advantage.



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