Interview with James Murray, Search Advertising Lead for Microsoft UK – Launch:TMA NextGen North – First Direct Leeds Arena


Guest speaker James Murray, Search Advertising Lead for Microsoft UK

Following months of hard work and thanks to the team at Legatus Law and committee members, Thursday 21 April saw more than 75 businessmen and women come together at the First Direct Arena in Leeds to celebrate the launch of TMA-UK NextGen North.

Welcoming headline speaker James Murray, UK Search Advertising Lead at Microsoft, the audience was all set for an insightful evening. James after his talk kindly did a Q&A session with the President of the TMA NextGen North Rashmi Dubé of Legatus Law.

1. What do you most enjoy about your job?

I’m very lucky that I have an amazing job that allows me to play with cool technology and talk to customers every day. People have a lot of preconceived ideas about Bing and by extension about Microsoft, so it’s my job to surprise them and to change perceptions about our products. The best part of my job is when you can see people have their own lightbulb moment; that they have discovered something new and that sets off a chain reaction of possibilities in their own mind.

2. How do you feel the digital marketplace has changed in recent years?

There are loads of changes in the marketplace from big data to the growth of mobile that have had a huge influence on shaping the industry as we see it today. Perhaps the biggest overall trend though is the proliferation of new digital devices. For consumers, the ubiquity of these devices creates ever increasing expectations of what technology can achieve.

For marketers the challenge is to ensure that the experiences they deliver are worthwhile and meet with these escalating expectations, however high.

3. Why do you think it is important to share the Microsoft story with other businesses?

In order for Microsoft to continue to be relevant it’s critical that we share our story and show people some of the amazing innovations and life-changing technologies we are creating.

As a company we are always looking to the future and sometimes we are so busy focusing on the next innovation we don’t take time to shout loud enough about the achievements we have made today. Sharing our story and the journey we are on helps to redress the balance and open people’s eyes to some of the great strides we have made.

4. How important is regional business and in particular networks to the company?

Incredibly important. Historically, digital in the UK has always been viewed through a very London-centric lens. What we have realised is that we can’t just presume that everything that is important will happen in the capital.

As a result, we are Investing a lot of time and resource into making sure that we have regional hubs and teams to give the same level of service wherever our customers are based. We want to make sure that we are there to have the exciting conversations that lead to new innovations that change lives. There is a lot going on in northern powerhouses such as Manchester and Leeds and we need to be there.

5. In your opinion, what are the biggest barriers to business today?

The hardest thing for most businesses right now is to use technology to empower their employees, whereas too often the technology restricts them. As a technology provider we need to ensure that our products are enablers for productivity rather than bogging people down.

Consider email, which is a great example. Email is, at its heart, a phenomenal tool that aids more rapid communication and collaboration, but when it is wrongly applied it becomes constraining. You will hear people say that they have had a productive day because they have cleared their inbox. When you think this through that hasn’t been a productive day at all, it just suggests that rather than making things simpler, technology has added another level of admin. Instead of liberating us to achieve more email ends up restricting our creativity.

The fault here is not with technology but with us humans who have used the tools available for a purpose they were never intended. We have to rethink the way that we use technology and companies need to think about how they give their employees the best experience that they can by using the tools in the most effective way.

6. What key challenges do you feel Microsoft will face in the next five years?

Our mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. That is one heck of a challenge! The problem we face if we are going to be successful in our mission is that we have to think carefully about the needs of everyone, not just early adopters who love technology.

That mission only works if we can truly empower every person, including those with disabilities. One of the latest innovations we recently revealed in Search was an image recognition software that could help the blind to see the world around them. The technology takes photo snapshots and describes the images enabling a blind person to read a menu in a restaurant or navigate a busy high street without assistance. It is these kinds of innovations that are helping us to deliver on our bold ambitions.

7. What do you predict for the future of Microsoft?

We’re at a really interesting time for the company as we seek to transform the digital marketplace as we know it today. We are not content with just being the company that provides Windows and Office, we need to go beyond this so that we can inspire and delight our customers to make them more productive at work and play.

The great thing for us is there is already a momentum shift where Microsoft is shedding the image of a corporate entity that just services the enterprise to a company that is becoming cool again. Surface has been a great example of us delighting consumers in the hardware space, and we have loads of things in the pipeline like HoloLens – holographic computing – that will change the way we interact with technology.

The future for us is bright as we constantly drive to achieve our mission. It is this mission that pushes, motivates and inspires the people at Microsoft to change the game whether that is in coding, design, gaming, search or new innovations that will make lasting and positive change.

We like to thank James for his kind time in answering the questions and providing a very interesting and entertaining talk.


The next event will in Manchester. To find out more about the TMA NextGen North please email or call 02078732279 or 01133021330
#NextGenNorth @LegatusLaw @james3murray @UK_TMA photos by @BeckyJoyPhoto