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We desire to bring digital technology to all organisations: Microsoft Worldwide President for SMB

At a time when India is in the cusp of digital revolution, US tech giant Microsoft also wants to be a part of the nation’s technological journey. The company is not only is a partner with many top business houses in the country, but also wants to become a part of SMBs to participate in India’s growing digital economy. Over the last few years, Microsoft India has roped in 200,000 SMB customers and has 17,000 partners. In an interview with businessline, Kevin Peesker, Worldwide President for Small, Medium and Corporate and Digital, Microsoft, shares more on the plans of the company. Excerpts:

There have been several changes in the Indian digital space, especially in the last few years. What is your take on the Indian market right now with a lot of new policies/ regulations being put in place?

I think there are a couple of core foundational ones. Obviously, the biggest one is the way in which the financial system has been digitised, unlike anything we have seen in other markets around the world. The second is the engagement of adoption of digital technologies, with 850 million Indians being able to access the Internet and 750 million devices. That is an extremely high penetration, and makes for a marketplace that creates considerable foundation for innovation and growth moving forward. And the third is the emergence, which definitely was not the case of India earlier around the start-up ecosystem.

What role is Microsoft seeking to play in this digital journey in India?

We desire to bring digital technology to all organisations, not just the big ones, but to all that provide the capability for all organisations to participate in the digital economy. And, therefore, it’s a key focus for us. We operate here in India with 17,000 partners, who support our efforts and partner with us in bringing technology to the India ecosystem and supporting us in that endeavour. It is apparent to me that the India market is a completely different market and ecosystem from what I saw a decade ago. The move to digitisation for both the overall ecosystem, in terms of the fabric of capability, and also the way in which technology is being embraced in India, is frankly world class.

What are the challenges here in doing business. Google also tried to bring small shops online, but could not do much. How different is your plan?

For us the advantage is that every customer, regardless of the economic situation or economic environment, is looking to optimise the way they run their business and the way they engage with customers. Another way of saying that is how are they doing more with less, how do they achieve greater outcomes with less. We recently surveyed small businesses around the world, the number one aspect of what they are looking for from their organisation — 70 per cent said it was growth. And, when we looked underneath the covers of it, well, what does growth mean? Those organisations that were digitally enabled, that were early adopters of technology, they believed they would achieve their growth aspirations four times greater than organisations that were not. So, for us, bringing organisations online is to bring them into the digital environment, which truly means that they are utilising and benefiting from the power of the Microsoft cloud, which enables them to collaborate internally, seamlessly. And, also to be able to leverage the technologies, we have seamless back-up and recovery, all with consistency of security, across each aspect of how they operate their business.

What’s your take on the draft Digital Personal Data Protection Bill?

I have been really impressed and well briefed on this. I have also seen and participated in other jurisdictions around the world. It’s really impressive to see the way in which the Indian government has had outreach to industry. When I say industry, the telecom companies, financial services, and other industries, plus the technology industry, to have the dialogue, understand and take feedback. It looks like there will be a very productive outcome that will be driven. What is important from a Microsoft perspective, we’ve stressed this very publicly is that data, in the privacy of a person’s data privacy of an organisation’s data, the intellectual property of an organisation is of critical importance.

And, in that regard, we support the or governments and organisations in how they want to best manage data within their jurisdiction. A great example of that is GDPR throughout the European Union, where we have, and we actively engineered our products, to ensure that we comply at the highest of levels. I think it is very important that there is appropriate legislation in place as the globe moves towards digital economies, digital connections and digital enablement. 

Published on December 12, 2022

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