Satya Nadella’s been way too busy to make a trip to his homeland after his crowning as the next supremo of Microsoft—but it didn't prevent India’s current favourite son from addressing Microsoft’s first Azure Cloud Conference in India via web telecast that was apparently streamed to a collection of developers, business and technology decision makers and IT professionals who were invited to the event.
"Having grown up in India, the idea that I would have the opportunity to talk to all of you as CEO of Microsoft was beyond my wildest dreams. Admittedly, my interests at that time were a bit more focused on cricket than on technology," he said.
Today, you can bet that his focus is not so much on cricket, which I wrote about here, but on how to get Azure, which was part of the Cloud and Enterprise group that he spent the last three years running, to become the number one cloud platform in India.
So far, it isn’t doing shabbily at all. According to the company, much of its growth in this country is thanks to its cloud business with client wins across a range of sectors including big private banks, automobile manufacturers, and health care organisations. "India is among the fastest growing markets for Azure," Microsoft India Managing Director Karan Bajwa told Business Standard. According to Bajwa, Azure was a trend two years ago, but today it is 'the new normal,' adding around 2,000 customers every month.
Next in Microsoft's crosshairs: the huge (1.2 million) small and medium businesses (SMBs) in India who have been operating without any enterprise technology and are ripe to be plucked as customers. Yet, as mouthwatering a target as this group may be, they are also mom and pop shops that are extremely cost conscious and resistant to change.
So, in order to make the pot a little sweeter, Microsoft announced a trade-in scheme a few days ago for SMBs in India, which gives them opportunity to bring in any legacy hardware that they may have lying around for monthly credit than can be applied towards Windows Azure.
With its 10,000 strong partner network the company can reach SMBs in over 250 cities in India which puts it in a very strong position to win deals. However, you can be sure that Amazon, which has been jockeying for business in India though partners such as Ramco and 8K Miles, is not sitting idle.
In which case, maybe Microsoft sales teams need to carry a picture of India’s current favourite son with them to these SMBs in order to clinch those deals a little bit quicker.