By Srinath Srinivasan
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, who was in Mumbai for the company’s flagship CEO summit called Future Decoded, laid out a roadmap for it’s India operations. After Nadella took over as the CEO, the firm has been on a transformational trajectory to leverage digital technologies. So far, this has been restricted to large businesses which were capable to invest in cloud migration, AI and IoT.
Nadella identifies India as one of the most important markets and Microsoft estimates that over 8,000 SaaS start-ups drive the start-up ecosystem in India, which is expected to grow at the rate of 3X over the next ten years or less. Talking about how Microsoft structured its Azure cloud infrastructure to power the ‘tech intensity’ in India, Nadella said, “we will have a platform approach that will encompass some really important aspects and help businesses become technologically independent.” Nadella believes that the age of associations is over and it is time for companies to build their own independent technologies for which Microsoft’s Azure ecosystem will serve as a seabed.
According to Anant Maheshwari, president, Microsoft India, the country has the third-largest start-up ecosystem in the world and has a smartphone user base of 450 million. The company believes that this can help serve the global market which is expected to have 50 billion connected devices by 2030 and a whopping 175 zeta byte of data generated by 2025. This translates into a huge digital opportunity for Microsoft. In order to do so, the company has also announced the launch of 100x100x100, its start-up accelerator programme. As per the announcements, Microsoft will bring together 100 committed companies and 100 early and growth start-ups that have enterprise-ready solutions to offer.
Each participating company will commit $100,000 over a period of 18 months. This will be invested in the SaaS solutions made by the start-ups. “This initiative will help start-ups scale and get mentorship, access to Microsoft platform and partners and support for go-to-market activities,” said Maheshwari.
Apart from the cloud infrastructure provided by Azure, in the next ten years, Microsoft will focus on making it intelligent and enable edge computing as it wants to take the services to the point where data is actually generated. As important components of the Azure platform, Trust and Security, AI, Office 365, Dynamics 365, Linkedin and tools for citizen developers will be given importance in the digital journey.
Nadella mentioned that new unicorns in India benefit the most from Azure cloud. Azure has focused on building limitless data estate to help businesses scale. This makes analytics capabilities equally important, which in turn necessitates AI. Azure aims to democratise AI and make it available like a commodity. According to him, the real task is creating tools and frameworks for customers to make the most of AI. For instance, AI works in tandem with sensors in use cases related to driving, entertainment and healthcare. In India, Apollo Hospitals, which has pact with Microsoft, takes out clinical data and convert it into AI models on Azure platform.
Nadella claimed that 72% of jobs for software engineers in India will be outside tech industry in the coming years. Hence, Microsoft will push toolchain as part of Azure for enabling citizen developers who are domain experts to create apps in their domains. During this journey, Linkedin will help in reskilling and upskilling talent. Data collected from Linkedin as presented by Nadella, show that 54% of all employees will need reskilling or upskilling by 2022.
The professional social platform will also help generate a partner and employee pool. The productivity and communications aspects of a business will be powered by Dynamics 365, which will also integrate crucial business processes, automating several activities that are manual and occurring daily today. This platform based structure will be protected and secured by Microsoft Defender, which will take care of the trust part that will ensure that businesses can make the most out of data and commoditise it.