Many people think that IT companies are naturally the fastest adopters of technologies. While that is not necessarily correct for all IT development companies, Microsoft is proud to embrace (its own) technology early. Employees get to be early adopters way before the software goes out the door; often most of the workforce is migrated to a new Exchange, Windows, or Office version more than a year before the products are released into the market. By "eating their own dog food" and working closely with actual customers participating in beta programs, Microsoft ensures that its products are used and tested in a real environment well before shipping to customers.

This access to early technology innovations means that the average Microsoft workspace is usually more advanced than you would find at most companies. Always looking for a new edge, Bill Gates published an internal study in the early 2000s. One point the study made was that the average productivity of an employee can be increased by 25 percent simply by adding a second screen to the workplace. Multiple monitors immediately started springing up on desks all over the Microsoft campus. Those departments with bigger budgets skipped the multiple small-screen tactics and went with one very-large-screen monitor. To some, size mattered.

It makes sense that the IT industry and IT service providers have the most advanced and mature business infrastructures. IT is their ...

Get Agility: Competing and Winning in a Tech-Savvy Marketplace now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.