Expert Speak

Microsoft Witnessed Exciting Developments In 2014


—By Bhaskar Pramanik

Management guru Tom Peters said, “Celebrate what you want to see more of.” And, as we stand on the threshold of 2015, I want to reflect on the string of positive moments we have seen over the past 12 months. It is a year that I wish had lasted a little longer!

Reinventing productivity

Triggered by new leadership, both India and Microsoft saw exciting developments in 2014. As part of Microsoft’s transformation journey, we focused on helping people and companies all over the world thrive in this mobile-first, cloud-first world by reinventing productivity and providing platforms to work from.

When we talk about productivity, we are not just referring to being more productive at work. We see productivity as the engine of human progress, and helping people get more out of their time, whether it be for work, family time or to conquer their own pursuits. It’s not just a software category, and it’s not about simply producing more technology, but rather having the right tools and platforms to help anyone make the most of any moment.

The ambitious goals set by the new Indian Government, including the focus on technology to promote economic growth, are heartening. India is on the path to becoming a digitally empowered knowledge economy and the landscape in India is evolving at a rapid pace. The mindset of users across the board has undergone a significant shift. This demands innovation at every step, and that is our driving force.

Strong performance

So what made it such a successful year for us? Backed by strong performance across commercial and consumer segments, we delivered global revenue of $23.20 billion for the quarter ended September 30, 2014. With 47 percent growth in global devices and consumer business, and 10 percent growth in global commercial business, we ended the year as the second most valuable company in the world.

Cloud for everyone

2014 has been all about our users and what they need. As a company, we embraced openness so that users – companies and consumers – can do what they want to do, when they want to. Our Azure cloud platform is more compatible and open than any other cloud platform in the world. Our strategic partnerships with SAP, Oracle and Salesforce, and most recently, the availability of Windows software on Google Cloud, are making the cloud available to everyone and on every device.

We are actively helping to propel the adoption of cloud in India, which is fast transforming India’s IT infrastructure, and adding 2000 commercial cloud customers in India every month. We believe that cloud computing will help businesses across the board succeed and scale faster.

Through cost savings on IT infrastructure investments and flexibility to scale, we see cloud propelling the growth of start-ups and SMBs in India. Today, we have the most comprehensive cloud offering available for everyone – from private, public to hybrid – capable of addressing the requirements of a diverse range of industry verticals and segments.

In 2015, we will extend our commercial cloud services through datacenters in India. This promises to open up new opportunities for banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) companies, state-owned enterprises and government departments to adopt the public cloud. This move will also create new avenues for Microsoft India’s 10,000+ partner ecosystem, and help make Digital India a reality.

Digital democracy

An economy’s growth lies in the efficiency of its people. In a country of massive change, digital divide can pose serious challenges. Making computing ubiquitous and universally available is integral to our vision in India.

Last month, we launched Microsoft Lumia 535 which comes with our Office software, Skype and OneDrive, among others. We were thrilled to bring Xbox One to our broad fan base here in India in September. Xbox is more than a gaming platform – it brings movies, music and news to an integrated platform. These are two examples of making technology available to all and helping them use technology the way they want.

We have placed our users at the core of what we do. We took one of the greatest productivity tools of all time, Microsoft Office, and made it even more widely available, extending to Android and iOS devices. This is helping enhance the mobility of people – across devices, across all of life – to create, share and collaborate from anywhere. Along the same theme, we announced unlimited OneDrive storage for all Office365 subscribers, and entered a strategic partnership with Dropbox. This is very relevant in an era where consumers are fast moving to the adoption of smartphones and demanding services that are in sync across devices.

Endless possibilities

With issues like illiteracy and unemployment plaguing the country, the Government’s focus on growing SMBs, promoting entrepreneurship and ‘Digital India’ promise endless possibilities. We are committed to India’s growth and enthused by the government’s recognition of technology’s role in bridging the digital divide.

As the industry comes together to help realize this vision with new technologies, we firmly believe that one such technology is TV White Spaces (low-frequency spectrum between TV channels). This technology can offer cost-friendly and accessible broadband to rural India, delivering the much needed last-mile connectivity.

At Microsoft, we will continue to partner with several central and state government departments, as well as NGOs to address challenges faced by our youth. We continue to work with the youth of India through our YouthSpark programs which have already helped 50 million people. We recently launched our ‘Women in Tech’ initiative to help attract, retain and grow women in the IT industry.

We are at a turning point in how technology can accelerate the dreams of individuals and organizations across India, and around the world. Our zeal to provide you with tools and platform that make an impact, as well as make a difference in the communities we serve, will continue to anchor us over the coming year.

(Author is the Chairman of Microsoft India)

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