I am incredibly proud of what we have been able to achieve and what we are setting out to achieve. India has always been a vital part of Microsoft India’s plans and the country’s potential excites us. With 6,500 employees, the largest workforce outside of US, and six business units in the country, Microsoft India represents the complete Microsoft product and services lifecycle.
How has been your journey so far with Microsoft? How is India different from the other global markets for Microsoft?
I joined Microsoft seven years ago, and received the opportunity to don several hats across enterprise and public sector. Since becoming the Managing Director last year, my focus has been on growing the sales and marketing operations, driving strategic partnerships and alliances with global platform partners, channel partners, international and local OEMs services, telecommunications industries and the system builder community. I love the energy in this company, and the pace of the transformation. I am incredibly proud of what we have been able to achieve and what we are setting out to achieve.
India has always been a vital part of Microsoft India’s plans and the country’s potential excites us.With 6,500 employees, the largest workforce outside of US, and six business units in the country, Microsoft India represents the complete Microsoft product and services lifecycle. These include Microsoft Corporation India (Pvt) Ltd (the marketing division), Microsoft India Development Center, Microsoft Global Technical Support Centre, Microsoft IT, Microsoft Global Services India and Microsoft Research India. Since we first began operations in India 24 years ago, we have had a strong focus on education, digital inclusion, and cyber security, among others.We continue to work in close partnership with several stakeholders, including governments, Indian IT industry and academia, to ensure that technology is leveraged as a catalyst to make a real impact in people’s lives. Through our education and entrepreneurship programs such as Project Jyoti, Imagine Cup, Microsoft Innovation Centers, DreamSpark, and BizSpark we have engaged more than 50 million students, academicians and entrepreneurs over the last 20+ years.
What are Microsoft’s drivers for growth?
Our passion is to enable people to thrive in this mobile-first and cloud-first world. With more than 250 million Indians using internet-connected devices today, there is an incredible opportunity for cloud services. From a market segment standpoint, we are witnessing very high growth from SMBs and I see our largest opportunity here, especially from a cloud perspective. The adoption of cloud in the SMB segment is closely connected with the evolution of the partner community which is being nurtured by Microsoft towards delivering superior value to customers.
Furthermore, the government’s vision of a digitally empowered economy opens incredible opportunities for us. Our business will continue to be driven by building great digital work and life experiences in the most personal, intelligent, open and empowering ways so our customers can leverage the full potential of the cloud era.
What value does the acquisition of Nokia add to your overall business strategy? How is the integration coming long?
The Microsoft-Nokia partnership holds tremendous synergies for our first-party phone portfolio. The real value from this integration is bringingcapabilities from two globally sized organizations together to transform the devices business. The mobile phone is not just becoming the first device for millions of Indians to access the Internet or conduct transactions, but the only device to do so, making the devices business is a perfect fit in Microsoft’s ‘mobile-first’ global strategy. As this integration moves forward, the opportunity for Microsoft to be both a devices and services companyis manifold.
Microsoft recently launched the MS Office as a free application on Android. What is the idea behind this? Also is the focus gradually shifting from PCs to mobiles and tablets?
We are a productivity and platform company and our endeavor is to consistently extend the Microsoft experience across all devices and platforms. With over a billion Office customers worldwide, and over 40 million downloads on the iPad, it is clear that when people look at getting things done, the Microsoft Office suite is preferred by users across the board. While PCs continue to be the primary computing device for many, our aim is to extend our productivity offerings to the new-age mobile computing users alike.
What are your major challenges that you face while the company transforms?
I believe that the true challenge that we face as we go through our journey of transformation is to draw and secure human attention, which is a truly scarce commodity in a mobile-first, cloud-first world where computing power is almost limitless. In this new world, there will soon be more than 3 billion people with Internet-connected devices, and while it may appear daunting, I consider this to be a huge opportunity for us as we focus on reinventing productivity and platforms to empower every individual and every organization to realize their full potential.
I am a firm believer of the fact that tremendous opportunity abounds behind every challenge. India is home to 250 million Internet users but this accounts for under 20% of the total population of the country. The challenge before us is to extend the power of IT and affordable computing to enterprises and consumers alike. As the government seeks to empower the citizens of our country with the vision of Digital India, our commitment to the country’s accelerated growth remains steadfast. We have announced the availability of commercial cloud services through datacenters in India, which would open new possibilities in e-governance, financial inclusion, healthcare and education, and will help us positively impact the lives of a billion people.
Does the industry in general face any significant people related challenges in terms of talent availability, training & attrition? How does your company manage these challenges?
Talent is a critical engine for our business; acquiring and retaining top talent is always a business priority. Over the years, we have observed that senior individual contributor talent is hard to find in the industry. While we consider compensation key to acquiring and retaining top talent in the country, we also focus on talent management, which is based on the core principles of diversity and inclusion. In addition, we also assess and develop leaders across the company through various methods and career planning modules.
For example, with a commitment to invest in key talent, we run several programs, including the Microsoft Bench. This is a development program specially designed for high-potential employees and targeted at four audience groups – Emerging Leader Bench, Leader Bench, Senior Leader Bench and Executive Bench.
How do you tackle the menace of piracy and counterfeits? Do you think that the nature of the Indian market being price sensitive limits your options of being innovative and providing better services/products?
Piracy is an issue that has impacted the entire technology landscape, for which, price may not be the only cause. If you look at the brighter side however, we are operating in an era of transformation catalyzed by new-age technologies like cloud computing, mobility and enterprise social. Microsoft in this regard, has made considerable contribution in empowering the ecosystem with these technologies, we have made it real in India. Our cloud offerings seamlessly address the needs of businesses of all sizes, while addressing the concern around piracy. Technology has moved beyond bundled and boxed solutions to open licenses and OTA deployments, wherein customers are leveraging the cloud to make the most out of their time and resources. We firmly believe that this transformational journey will help address piracy concerns to a great extent.
How do you see the industry shaping up in the next 24 months? Do you foresee some major changes in terms of regulations or overall strategy of players in this sector?
This is an exciting time for the country, as well as the technology industry.With technology being a key enabler to India’s accelerated growth as recognized by the Indian Government, the opportunities for the industry are huge.India is a very exciting market for the cloud business, and we are committed to harnessing the full potential of our cloud services. From a segment viewpoint, SMBs are the biggest opportunity. From a devices perspective, the market is growing tremendously. With the “Digital India” initiative, the government has shown clear intent in realizing the potential that technology can bring. Through our cloud services, we see this as an opportunity to contribute to India’s growth story in an even more meaningful manner. An important step in this direction will be the regulatory clarity on the use of public cloud.
What are your views on cross-hiring from other sectors? What are the key aspects you look for in an individual when hiring for leadership positions?
The IT industry has reached a maturity phase where a diverse skill-set has become a mainstream requirement. For instance, with design and experience becoming a key differentiator for our offerings, the focus on acquiring talent with robust design experience has become crucial. Microsoft India’s workforce consists of 6,500 employees who bring with them a diverse backgrounds and skill-sets, from software developers and program managers, to sociologists, ethnographers, designers, marketers, accountants, physicists and more. When we interview candidates, we look at an overall success model for the ideal hire. This includes profiling candidates for technical and functional competencies, and importantly, alignment to company culture of being customer obsessed, the ability to ideate, being agile and responsive to the dynamic business environment, and embracing data to drive predictive decisions. In general, the ideal hire for Microsoft demonstrates alignment to culture and values of being respectful, accountable, passionate and a growth hacker.
Finally on an informal note, how are you when you are not at work?
I love traveling with my family and visiting new places, watching movies and catching up with old friends, an extravagance that one seldom gets to savour in today’s world! I consider myself quite the connoisseur of fine dining and am always open to trying out the latest restaurant in town!