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The Two-Trillionaire

Microsoft's landmark year when it not only entered the exclusive dollar-two-trillion club but also became the world’s most valuable company, saw India operations contributing its share. The company believes that the two factors working in its favour are its business model and its culture, as also seen in its India strategy

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In June 2021, Microsoft made the global headlines when it hit the $2 trillion market valuation for the first time. In October 2021, the tech major beat revenue expectations, reporting a 22 per cent growth, and in the same month, it surpassed Apple to become the world’s most valuable company with a market cap of nearly $2.49 trillion. If one thought 2020 was Microsoft’s historic year, 2021 did raise the bar several notches higher.

In fact, a look at the last few years show that Microsoft’s growth rate has been steady in its global profile, revenue base as well as market cap.

“If I go back to the seven years that Satya (Nadella, CEO, Microsoft) has led the company, there has been a fundamental change in the way Microsoft is perceived and how it has shown up with all of our customers, partners, all the people that we work with, across the geographies we operate in,” reflects Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India, as he takes a walk down memory lane.

Interestingly, specific to India as well, this was exactly the period, when Microsoft got to hit refresh. “We lived that moment transforming our business and our culture to empower organisations and individuals. Our core business model is focused on enterprise, customer and partner. We have a culture pivoted on a growth mindset. Those are the two big reasons – business model and culture – due to which we've done well, globally and in India,” Maheshwari explains.

Making You Look Cooler

Microsoft’s business model of enterprise, customer and partner is eventually about its ability to work with other companies not just in efficient and problem-solving ways, but also in ushering in future-readiness.

“Satya said it beautifully when he was conversing about this business model to people who wanted to work for Microsoft. He had said then --- you join Microsoft, not to be cool yourself but to make others look cool. It is said simply but it captures the essence of who we are to our enterprise customers that could be from Fortune 500 companies to (SMBs) small and medium businesses that we work with,” says Maheshwari.

This persona of ‘we are here to make you look cool rather than be cool ourselves’ is a very big part of the company’s business, and Maheshwari emphasizes that it is different from where Microsoft’s peer group in the tech industry may be perceived. The way the company puts this in action is by essentially driving tech intensity in each one of its enterprise customers. “Every company is becoming a tech company, whether it is in manufacturing or banking or retail or healthcare or transportation or any other sector. They’re infusing technology into their core business. This is also spurred by digital natives who have grown up across the world, what we call unicorns and startups, who are challenging established business models,” the company’s India president informs.

Microsoft’s success sauce on this count lies in the fact that it works with both sides of the spectrum, which is the digital natives and the traditional companies in increasing their tech intensity, and it does so by the power of the cloud.

Tailored to Fit

“We are the biggest cloud player in India like we are globally. To give a sense of the scale at which we operate, if you look at the top 10 banks in India, all 100 per cent of them operate on Microsoft Cloud. Same for top 10 IT companies, nine of the top 10 manufacturing and six of the top 10 unicorns, all are our partners. If you look at the scale at which we are operating, it is truly empowering every part of India. From there, you turn around and look at the SMBs and the startups, there again, we have a very strong scale to support them. We work with leaders in every industry and with the mass in every industry to develop tech intensity,” states Maheshwari.

It is not just that it works with these companies, but that the solutions are tailored to meet their needs. In line with this, a significant step that Microsoft took in the year, was of going down the path of making cloud that was horizontal so far, to be more vertical and industrial specific.

Maheshwari insists that this strategy stands distinct from its peer in the space. Microsoft is driving separate industry-specific clouds and some that are already in play include financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, retail and nonprofit. The tech major argues that different sectors have specific requirements, some of them unique to that sector. Hence the need for building up verticals.

Very Vertical Versions

Microsoft has based its vertical cloud on a very strong foundation of its horizontal cloud. Pointing out once again that it has the “largest commercial cloud offering on the planet”, Maheshwari says, “because our offerings inside the cloud itself are very big, they could stand up on their own as very specific horizontal clouds. On top of that end-to-end capability of the horizontal cloud, we are creating custom verticals. Within this, you get the benefit of the scale and the uniqueness and the depth of the vertical.”

As the tech world order evolves, Microsoft is banking on this “combo” to keep it relevant among its partner companies. Maheshwari sees this as logical progress. Pulling out yet another chapter of the past to indicate the transitional trend, he reminds of the ‘as a service’ terminologies.

“A decade ago in the tech world, this was a very interesting terminology. Essentially, if one took infrastructure from the on-prem world onto the cloud, it became infrastructure as a service. This same applied to software and platform. That is how the industry transitioned. Those terms are very powerful for a tech buyer because they work in that level of silos. However, this has changed,” Maheshwari informs.

Today, the cloud decision is no longer just the tech buyer’s within the company but at a chief executive and a board-level level. These leaders do not concern themselves with terminologies; they want a commercial cloud. They want an end-to-end play for their data and that’s what the cloud is for. The likes of Microsoft make this data travel across infrastructure, platform, software --- but it has to be seamless.

“The second piece is that many industries would always want is the hybrid cloud because they would like certain things on the public cloud, but others on the private cloud,” informs Maheshwari. Microsoft holds a unique position here because the company came from the world of leading the private cloud, and today, as per Maheshwari, is the number one

public cloud player as well. “We were the first ones to speak about the hybrid cloud a decade ago. For us, it has been a long journey but we are seeing many born-in-the-public-cloud providers taking the hybrid way. This is because they realise that is what the customers need. We are driven completely by what our enterprise customers want, and we have the widest offering base for that enterprise customer,” asserts Maheshwari.

New Inroads

In India, Microsoft’s role as a partner can be seen in several partnerships, an interesting one being formed with Jio a couple of years back. “It was a very unique model, where we took take Microsoft technology and created a cloud offering, which will be fully owned and operated by Jio. So in a way, it’s still the Azure Cloud that is coming through Jio.” We did this recognising that Jio does not fit any traditional industry paradigm.

Jio was undertaking some unique moves in thinking about its business model and Microsoft supported that. “We did not have that construct so we created what Jio need. It's this flexibility we bring up to our enterprise players, who are our partners and customers, and a hallmark of who Microsoft is,” says Maheshwari. Another example here is Apollo 24/7 driving healthcare in the country with the power of the Microsoft Cloud and Royal Enfield that uses Dynamics 365 for the entire customer management capability.

L&T uses Microsoft’s IoT capabilities as well to drive its frontend infrastructure, which is based on Microsoft Azure. Myntra is running everything on Azure, and ICICI Lombard, which is in a very different sector, with the power of AI brought a virtual inspection feature to get AI-enabled claims back as soon as possible.

Culture – the Growth Mindset

In Microsoft’ growth drivers, culture is critical. “When I go and meet a chief executive of a customer or a buyer company, while they love our technology, the opening question generally is about our culture. This has become a big calling card for us as to how Microsoft has transformed in the last seven years. This culture is really about a growth mindset. We have truly transitioned from a company that may have been perceived in the zone of a know-it-all to becoming a learn-it-all.

The learner mindset, it appears, played a role in Maheshwari’s joining the company as well. “I had no idea about this industry about five years back. When I asked why me, who had no relevant experience, I was told that it was due to a trend line of a learning attitude in my career journey. I think this fits very well with Microsoft. This has been the most phenomenal five-year learning period in my life. I enjoined it and we look to propagate this culture to every new person who's joining our company today,” Maheshwari states.

Microsoft Spokesperson Quotes

Rajiv Sodhi, Chief Operating Officer, Microsoft India

Organisations around the world are undergoing transformation fueled by cloud, data and artificial intelligence. These technologies are helping businesses across industries reach new heights – healthcare is becoming more predictive and preventive, banking is becoming more seamless and retail is becoming more personal.  At the heart of these incredible stories of transformation are Microsoft partners. Our powerful partner ecosystem in India, with more than 14,000 organisations, is at the centre of how we bring technologies and business transformation to our customers. The remote-work and business continuity solutions they’re delivering during the pandemic will be the foundation of workplace productivity moving forward. We are squarely focused on delivering a true, two-way partnership with our partner network. We’re deeply invested in providing the programs, tools and resources our partners need to innovate, grow and differentiate their business, to deliver the promise of digital transformation for our customers across industries.

Rohini Srivathsa, National Technology Officer, Microsoft India

Microsoft is deeply committed to enabling digital skilling for all. As we rapidly move towards a digital economy, the skills of the future will look very different from the skillsets that are needed today. The last 15 months have shown that ‘tech intensity’ is the key to building resilience for both individuals and businesses. Digital fluency will not just be a competitive advantage, but a necessity. This requires a massive effort to skill India’s talent and workforce. In early 2020, we launched a global effort to help 25 million people worldwide acquire new digital skills. Over three million people have been skilled in India through this initiative so far. We are working closely with the government and industry partners like NASSCOM and National Skill Development Council (NSDC) on several skilling initiatives that contribute to creating a vibrant skilling ecosystem in India.

Keshav Dhakad, General Counsel, Corporate, External & Legal Affairs (CELA), Microsoft India

Our approach to cybersecurity is fundamental to how we build trust with our customers and partners to meet the demands of tackling modern cyber threats. Microsoft has three unique value propositions-a global threat intelligence platform that tracks over 8 trillion signals a day, an integrated built-in security approach and enterprise-grade cloud-powered AI and automation. With a 360-degree approach to protect-detect-respond readiness, including fighting and disrupting cybercrime, we have built deep capabilities and solutions to simplify and streamline security, compliance, identity management, info protection, and threat management as an inter-dependent whole. In security, a silo is an opportunity for an exploit. Today’s organisations, be it governments or businesses, need a new zero-trust security model and mindset that more effectively adapts to the complexity of the modern environment, embraces the mobile workforce and protects people, devices, apps, and data wherever they’re located.

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