Mich Mathews

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Mich Mathews, senior VP-central marketing group at Microsoft Corp., has led the marketing group's efforts to reinvent itself so that marketing plays a much more critical role at the engineering-based company.

The vision for changing the direction of marketing came from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. "About three years ago, Steve Ballmer said, `I want marketing to play a much more central role, partnering with engineering,' " Mathews said.

"We have had to very concretely lock down the role that marketing would play, make sure we have the right leaders in the right jobs and make sure they are organized in the right way," she said.

To help drive the changes, Microsoft about two years ago created a new organization called Marketing@Microsoft, which is responsible for creating best practices for marketing, as well as recruiting and training marketing professionals.

In January, Microsoft reorganized its marketing group, bringing previously separate disciplines such as advertising, events and relationship marketing into one global marketing communications group, with a goal of more tightly integrating marketing operations.

This year, Mathews had several priorities for the marketing group at Microsoft. One of the key priorities was reaching the midsize business segment, Mathews said.

"We established a midmarket proposition, including marketing, sales, telesales and orchestration across all areas, which provides an integrated way in which we could talk to midmarket customers," she said. "It is a very big opportunity for us."

At the Microsoft Business Summit in September, Microsoft introduced a new brand of products called Microsoft Dynamics, business software solutions that are aimed at midsize business and IT professionals. Another priority was communicating the benefits of Microsoft's security solutions, including quality and reliability, Mathews said, which it did through offline and online campaigns.

Mathews said another key focus for Microsoft this year was continuing to build up its developer community. In September, Microsoft hosted its annual Professional Developers' Conference, which attracted more than 6,000 developers. It also built up its developer site,, with Webcasts, online workshops and forums.

An upcoming challenge for Mathews will be marketing Vista, the follow-on to Windows XP. Vista is now in beta 1 testing; the final release is scheduled for the second half of 2006. (Mathews said it was too early to discuss the marketing plans for Vista.)

Mathews has been with Microsoft for 13 years. She joined the company as corporate PR manager, then worked her way up through the marketing organization to eventually head all of corporate communications. In 2000, she was named head of marketing for Microsoft's U.S. subsidiary, and in 2002 she was promoted to her current position, which includes global marketing responsibilities.

-Kate Maddox

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