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Last Updated : Oct 03, 2015 04:05 PM IST | Source: CNBC-TV18

Bullish on India; eye Digital India, skill dev: Microsoft

Jean-Philippe Courtois, President, Microsoft International told CNBC-TV18 that the company will expand its research & development (R&D) base in India post its data centre launch.

Microsoft continues to remain bullish on the India and expect accelerated growth in the near term.

Jean-Philippe Courtois, President, Microsoft International told CNBC-TV18 that the company will expand its research & development (R&D) base in India post its data centre launch.

The company is looking to scale up investment in its cloud based data centers in India. So far, it has invested USD 18 billion in data centers globally.

Microsoft said it will use the cloud-based platform for ‘Digital India’ mission and plans to set up digital dashboard in Surat, Gujarat. The company is in discussion with the government for a broadband tie-up.

Microsoft also plans to contribute to the government’s Skill Development mission and has invested close to USD 100 million for digital literacy, Courtois said.

Microsoft’s Office 2016 will be launched in India in a phased manner, he said.

Below is the transcript of Jean-Philippe Courtois’s interview with CNBC-TV18's Kritika Saxena.

Q: This is a game changer of sorts not just for Microsoft but even for India and its overall technological landscape. Let me understand what the plan is? We already have a idea about the landscape, the infrastructure, there will be first three cities, but I wanted to understand from you how significant this would be and how would this be a crucial point for Microsoft to be able to leverage its India presence?

A: It is a great moment for Microsoft and for India coming together. We have been in the country for 25 years, we have got a pretty small presence as a company, 6500 people doing not just sales and marketing but R&D, research, development, lot of innovation and we have defined or I should say our CEO Satya Nadella has redefined our mission as a company. It is about empowering every individual, every organisation on the planet to achieve more. Our strategy which relates a lot to that announcement in India is about building best in class qualitative services and platform in mobile first, cloud first world.

Here we are in India, we announced the opening of the Data Centres in India which is part of the global scale data centres footprint we have. It has been an investment of more than USD 18 billion globally of more than 100 data centres in 40 countries. This is very big news because it is going to enable and trigger even more innovation out of India not just for India as a country but for the world. That's what this announcement is all about.


Q: What is the kind of breakup that will come into India? Give me a ballpark amount as to the kind of investment that will be put in over 3-5 years into Data Centres?

A: Unfortunately we are not going to breakdown our numbers. However it is a very sizeable investment we are making which will continue to scale over time. We see a lot of scenarios including hopefully  not only some large enterprise in India but also start-up companies, small businesses and government entities as well would be more than welcome. India will be able to leverage the global scale out of India where they would be able to have data sovereignty benefit of the local data centre in the country.

Q: I wanted to understand from you in terms of where India stands right now in Microsoft's global footprint? Will this announcement push India further up in the overall global presence of Microsoft?

A: Absolutely and it does in the following way. We have got some of our largest global customers using IT, who have invested tremendously in India for the last 10-15 years. They have got their own innovation centres out of India.

There is a very vibrant community of start-ups in India. They travel the world, they want to sell their services to the planet and here we are to connect. We even have an incubation venture accelerator circle in India where we help them raise some money and access the global market place with our cloud platform. So, this is another example.

The third example we would give you as well about the interest  is the ability to use that platform for Digital India for smart cities. There is a big ambition of smart cities to enable cities to be smarter in everything they do and we have got a couple of examples going on, like the city of Surat as an example with digital dashboard to manage much more efficiently many of the abilities of a city in India. So, there is a lot of opportunities we see across commercial, government education, skills as well that we can actually help.

Q: Satya Nadella in the Prime Minister Modi's meet in the Silicon Valley gave a teaser, and I spoke to him as well - he gave a teaser about how Microsoft would contribute by bringing low cost broadband to about 500,000 villages in India. Could you give me a sense or give us some details as to how this would work?

A: We have been innovating for last couple of years across the world, both in India, Africa and other places to make sure we could use some unused TV frequencies, what you call the TV white space to enable many remote villages who don't have any connectivity today to have access to broadband connectivity.

That is a technology that has been proven today in a number of places in the world. We are willing to support the Government of India to see how it could meet the needs of many of those villages.

Q: Where does India stand in the overall Microsoft R&D capability? Is India the second largest market or is it the first?

A: We have got the US, which is the largest footprint and then we have got India, then we got China, but India is certainly the largest we have there.

Q: So, in that case let us look at a three to five year time frame. Given the kind of capability if India is ahead of China in terms of R&D capability, are you gradually looking at strengthening that presence making it the largest market perhaps?

A: We will keep adding more in India. Again the last announcement we made which we just discussed together on the cloud data centre - it is a huge one.

Q: India versus China, Brazil, the entire Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) pack. Given the volatility in the other market, does India stand out in that case?

A: India does very well these days, and more and more.

Q: You are still not telling me if it stands out or not?

A: India stands out in a very good way absolutely, I confirm.

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First Published on Oct 1, 2015 05:26 pm
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