Increased government regulation, the complexities introduced by globalization and explosive growth in data are major issues, Briggs said at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Monday evening.
Microsoft recently completed a project that encapsulates those three factors -- a master customer database, containing records for 100 million corporate customers and some 2 billion identities, Briggs said. "That's a big deal."
Outside factors like legal compliance spanning many countries globally make such efforts even more complex. In an effort to keep in line with the rules, Microsoft has a chief privacy officer for every line of its business, Briggs said. "We're fanatical about the privacy of our customers."
Globalization and Microsoft's drive for new business is affecting IT's role in the supply chain as well. Some emerging countries gain 25% or 30% of their overall revenue from import duties, he said. "You better get the paperwork right."
Moreover, those new markets mean Microsoft's IT strategy has to change, Briggs said. "What is the profile of our next billion customers? If they're in emerging and developing countries ... they probably won't buy in the traditional way. That has significant implications for how we build our systems."
Meanwhile, Briggs has a substantial workload running Microsoft's sprawling internal systems. The company has some 228,000 SharePoint sites in its corporate intranet, according to Briggs. "SharePoint is in our DNA. We use it for everything," he said. The company has made it easy for employees to spin up a SharePoint site as needed. "It takes for minimum case, not any more than five minutes. We've made it a utility."
Briggs also discussed Microsoft Azure cloud-computing strategy, including its Azure utility computing and development platform, which competes with the likes of Amazon Web Services. Concerns about security in the cloud persist heavily among the people Briggs speaks to, he said. It's less of a technical hurdle than "a psychological thing," he said. "Where's my data? Who controls my data?" Microsoft has been forced to mold its Microsoft Azure strategy in response to customer concerns. "We have a separate instance of Microsoft Azure specifically for the U.S. government," Briggs said.