'Azure Stack will help us play much bigger role'

'Azure Stack will help us play much bigger role'

Microsoft India, with five business units in the country, spread across 11 cities, has their platforms, technologies and solutions driving digital transformation across Indian startups, businesses of all sizes, and government agencies to build new digital capability.  Anant Maheshwari,  President of Microsoft India explains to  Furquan Moharkan  of DH, how the company is taking forward its India strategy around growth of the digitisation. Edited excerpts:


Microsoft's business in India is showing lot of traction. Is there any plan of uptake in your workforce in India?

We have always been bullish on India, and we have been hiring a lot in the country. We will continue to do that.

I wouldn't have any specific numbers on this, because it is a combination of multiple things that we do in India. It is not just that we are doing only India capabilities here. The development centre, we are sitting in (Hyderabad), it does a lot of work for Microsoft globally. In addition, we have our customers support, our IT teams also. So it would be difficult to ascertain an exact target.

What are your plans for Bengaluru?

We are moving to the new office in Bengaluru -- larger one. That is it.

What are your plans for recently launched Azure Stack?

We are working with multiple partners, channels and system integrators to create capability around Azure Stack. Initially we have signed up with three of them.

How many clients do you see in that segment?

To me that is completely a new opportunity. And therefore the hybrid and the private cloud is a new area that will grow in the country. I don't have any prediction on that. But if you take the total cloud market in India -- public, plus private, plus hybrid -- Azure Stack will help Microsoft play much bigger role, than we already have been.

Google has been focusing on India First strategy. What is your strategy for Microsoft in India?

Our general philosophy is not to do too much branding around this, but focus is on to get some stuff done. Take the example of Artificial Intelligence (AI). We have democratised AI and embedded it in everything that we do. Similarly, on all our India efforts, its really getting lot of specific work done. Let me give you some examples. I think Kaizala is a great example. It didn't happen all of a sudden. It was two years of work, that got Kaizala fruition in July this year. Clearly, something was in play more than two years back for us to have got Kaizala out. Similarly if you look at eye care initiative, where AI is being applied to provide better healthcare solutions on eye surgeries. Again it is something that has been in operation since a long period of time.

The work that we are doing in agriculture, the work that we are doing in education, in skilling and jobs, these are the core needs of India.

And we have been working on each one of them independently and individually, bringing best of breed solutions globally and building unique capabilities in India. To me it is combination of all of these factors. But, is the geography a priority with us? That is very obvious for at least three decades that we have been underground.

All the five Tier-I IT companies in India are your clients. There is slowdown seen. Has it impacted your business?

The best way to think about it is that what is happening to the broader IT/ITeS sector in India. The sector is transitioning, from providing pure-play services to a lot of digital transformation capabilities, to their customers. How do they do that? They do that on the back of the cloud. The bring together all three together -- the modern workplace cloud, the business applications cloud, infra and data AI cloud -- that they bring to their customers.

Who provides that to them? That is where Microsoft is pivoting. To me, the transformation of the ITeS sector in India is much more an opportunity for Microsoft to play an even bigger role in their success.

There was a lot of controversy over automation versus layoffs. How do you see to it, as you are the providers of AI and automation?

Whatever is happening in the IT sector regarding hiring, Nasscom has indicated very clearly that it is the part of natural rebalancing that happened in the industry over the years. So it is the rebalancing of the skill sets, it is rebalancing of service offering. So there is a perception problem there.

The second bit on how Microsoft is partnering on that front. I would not limit ourselves to the providers of automation. Because when we provide for a modern workplace, we are in fact providing better solutions for the collaborations.

We are providing better solutions to get more productive. To me, our focus is on getting more from the existing workforces of the ITeS companies, rather than replacing them.

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