Digital India: How cloud business powered Microsoft growth in country

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Digital transformation is real and some of the forward-looking Indian enterprises are making it a reality with the Microsoft cloud. For evidence, take a look. State Bank of India (SBI), the largest public-sector bank of India, has chosen Office 365, the cloud-powered productivity solution from the world’s largest PC software company to improve communication and collaboration among its workforce, addressing the banking behemoth’s requirement of transforming it into a modern workplace.

Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics and more—over the Internet (“the cloud”). Companies offering these computing services are called cloud providers and typically charge for cloud computing services based on usage, similar to how you are billed for water or electricity at home. Microsoft officials claim this is one of the largest deployments of Office 365 in India, spanning SBI’s countrywide network of 23,423 branches, enabling 263,000 employees and servicing more than 500 million customer accounts.

SBI employees will now experience a modern digital workplace platform that will empower them to collaborate effectively from any device anywhere (Android, iOS, Mac and Windows), provide an integrated experience and reduce complexity. “We are able to use familiar and easy-to-use tools naturally in everyday work,” says Rachna Gupta, an assistant manager at SBI branch in Chandni Chowk, New Delhi. The Redmond, Washington-headquartered IT giant has also consolidated SBI’s messaging and collaboration server infrastructure in 17 countries.

Helping hand for farmers

The Karnataka government has collaborated with Microsoft to empower smallholder farmers with technology-oriented solutions that will help them increase income using cloud-based technologies, machine learning and advanced analytics. The MoU will experiment with the Karnataka Agricultural Price Commission (KAPC), department of agriculture to help improve price forecasting practices to benefit farmers. Microsoft ,with guidance from KAPC, is attempting to develop a multi-variant agricultural commodity price forecasting model considering the following datasets—historical sowing area, production, yield, weather datasets, etc. TN Prakash Kammardi, chairman, KAPC, said, “We are certain that digital agriculture supported by advanced technology platforms will truly benefit farmers.” The alliance is aimed at using digital tools to help farmers get higher crop yields in the state. In collaboration with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Microsoft has deployed a sowing advisory service in the kharif season on a limited pilot, under the Bhoochetana project.

AI push into healthcare

Thanks to the Microsoft Cloud, the government of Telangana has become the first state to use artificial intelligence for eyecare screening for children. The state government has partnered with Microsoft to adopt cloud-based analytics for Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram, its healthcare screening programme for children. The state has also agreed to adopt Microsoft Intelligent Network for Eyecare (MINE), am AI platform to reduce avoidable blindness. “We are fueling innovation and accelerating India’s digital transformation with our global and local cloud services. As many mobile-only and cloud-only collaboration and productivity scenarios emerge in the workplace, we are working with our customers and partners to accelerate movement to the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge in 2018,” said Anant Maheshwari, president, Microsoft India.

According to Microsoft officials, 70 of the top 100 Bombay Stock Exchange listed companies are using Microsoft cloud to drive their digital transformation. Microsoft works with over 200,000 large, medium and small enterprises, 29 state governments and over 5,000 start-ups in the country. In the last 18 months, it has seen many of these customers start their digital transformation using the hybrid cloud. The only provider of all three clouds—Microsoft has now launched Azure Stack for India.

Azure Stack is an extension of Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, and brings the fast-paced innovation of cloud computing to on-premise environments and enables entirely new hybrid cloud scenarios. All the major Azure Stack partners—HP, Dell, EMC, Lenovo and Cisco— have started shipping Azure Stack to customers in India. Microsoft has three of its 42 global data centres located in India in Mumbai, Pune and Chennai. Financial services and IT have emerged as the top Microsoft cloud adopters followed by the manufacturing industry and the start-up segment. It has also witnessed significant uptake of its cloud in the education sector.

“As the pace of digital transformation picks up this year, we recognise that many customers prefer to evolve gradually by first moving to a hybrid cloud environment before fully embracing the public cloud. With Azure Stack, we will help our customers move forward in their preferred digital transformation path at a pace they prefer,” the Microsoft president added.