In an exclusive interview with SupportBiz, Bhaskar Pramanik, Chairman, Microsoft India, shared his views on some key trends influencing the technology market and how SMEs are gearing up to accept the next level. Pramanik also emphasized on the features and capabilities of the latest version of Office 365 and its appeal for SMEs.
What are the key issues that businesses are facing with regards to technology infrastructure?
Businesses of today are experiencing a great need for enhancing the productivity levels of their workforce. This trend is significantly visible among SMEs.
Secondly, businesses demands are such that agility in business processes has become a must-have feature.
What are the key trends that you are noticing in this context?
There are four major trends that are becoming very visible in India.
Firstly, there is the need for mobility, which is all about accessing and sharing information on corporate networks. Mobility is being demanded among several verticals, including SMEs, because it empowers employees.
Secondly, social media has become a great phenomenon among Indian businesses. This new medium has great attraction because of its unmatched capability to engage and build connections with end consumers. This direct connection between the brand and the end consumer has become very important in the last few years.
Thirdly, the regime of big data has created great opportunities for businesses to analyse business-sensitive trends. Business intelligence capabilities are becoming more articulated with the advent of big data analysis.
The fourth trend which I witness in the market is – related to cloud-based technology. Organizations – both large and small - are becoming extremely value-sensitive.For such organizations, cloud-based solutions are extremely appealing. With cloud-based solutions, SMEs are becoming well-equipped with best-in-class technologies that can enhance their business operational capabilities.
From the perspective of technology buying behaviour of SMEs, what are the changes you are noticing over the last few years?
SMEs in India have become more value-conscious than price-conscious. If they see a clear value proposition in any new technology or solution, they do not hesitate in investing their resources in it. So, the market perception of price being a barrier in the SME segment is just a myth.
Microsoft has introduced the latest version of Office 365. What are its key attractions for SMEs?
The latest version of Office 365 has the capability to address all the four major trends that I discussed earlier. Office 365 has intelligence-driven functionalities, which include quick analysis. It is also backed by Office Store applications.
It is a comprehensive suite with Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote and Access, which enables a collaborative environment within the organization. It provides seamless sharing of data across multiple devices like desktops, laptops, mobiles and tablet PCs. Since the solution is cloud-based, users can access their mails and files while on the move.
The solution also includes some innovative features like updated Microsoft Lync Online, Exchange Online and Yammer. It is priced at Rs. 4,199 per year for an individual user, while enterprise users will need to shell out between USD6- USD22 per month, depending on what solutions they opt for.
How has Office 365 been performing, overall?
At the global level, Office 365 is one of our fastest-growing products. It was launched in the middle of 2011, and now, every fifth Microsoft enterprise customer globally uses Office 365. The number of small and medium businesses using Office 365 has grown by over 150% year-on-year. In India, we have a significant amount of Office 365 users, and we are getting great response from customers. All service plans are supported by IT-level Web support, 24/7 phone support for critical issues, and financially-backed 99.9% up-time guarantee.