Our partners make us stronger in the market: GM of Partner Ecosystem, Microsoft India

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Rajiv Sodhi, General Manager – Partner Ecosystem, Microsoft India

By Sudhir Chowdhary of Financial Express

Microsoft has created a unique organisation within the company worldwide, namely the ‘One Commercial Partner’ organisation. It is meant to make it easier for third parties to build their products or solutions on the Microsoft platform, and assist them in going to market. Microsoft’s ‘One Commercial Partner’ organisation is aimed at addressing the digital transformation opportunity, pegged by IDC at $4.5 trillion globally by 2023. “We are investing in the partner ecosystem and working with them very closely,” said Rajiv Sodhi, general manager, Partner Ecosystem, Microsoft India. “Going to the market and creating an approach of selling with partners not only helps expand capacity but makes us stronger in the market,” he tells Sudhir Chowdhary of Financial Express in an interview. Excerpts:

How would you explain the ‘One Commercial Partner’ structure of Microsoft?

Microsoft, since its inception, has been a partner-led organisation. We have invested further in our founding principle with the creation of the One Commercial Partner organisation, which is structured to deliver three functions to our partners:

—The ‘Build with’ team which helps our partner ecosystem build solutions. Under this function, Microsoft technology experts help partners build intellectual property and their tech capabilities.

—The ‘Go-to-Market with’ team, to help partners market their solutions. Under this function, Microsoft marketing experts help partners differentiate themselves and develop business models.

—The ‘Sell with’ team, to help partners connect with customer opportunities. Here, Microsoft channel managers bring to customers partner solutions that fulfill latent needs of customers.

With the One Commercial Partner structure, our offerings are not limited to first party solutions. We can jointly take end solutions built on top of Azure to the market to a broader BDM (business decision maker) audience.

Who are the ‘partners’ Microsoft is working with?

The ‘partners’ are:

—Independent software vendors who build software applications using Microsoft cloud capabilities, like an ‘Executive Assistant’ that provides analysis from a database, built by Rockmetric.

—System integrators which include consulting companies that define the technical requirements for an IT system that meets an organisation’s business needs, such as Cognizant and Wipro.

—Managed service providers which manage a customer’s IT infrastructure and end-user systems, such as NIIT and Netmagic.
—Channel partners which develop and enable a channel to service customers directly, such as Sonata Software and Redington.

How is Microsoft helping its partners use technologies like Artificial Intelligence?

Microsoft has created a global Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Research group to bring AI to every person, organisation and company, to empower them to achieve more with the help of AI. Microsoft organises for partners trainings and hackathons on AI, Machine Learning, robotic framework and IoT, and also offers practice resources to help them develop capabilities inhouse. Around 650 Microsoft partners from India are using the Microsoft AI platform and cognitive services to build solutions for India.

What are the opportunities and challenges in selling cloud services, especially to SMEs in India?

There are over 50 million SMEs in India, most of whom have little online presence. This is more an opportunity than a challenge to build their awareness of how cloud services can make a positive impact on their business.

A recent survey by Microsoft and TARI, on socio-economic impact of cloud services on SMEs, brought out the correlation between increase in cloud adoption and increase in socio-economic indicators of SMEs. There would be a 3x increase in asset utilisation, 2.6x improvement in employee productivity, 3.1x reduction in operating expenses. There would be a 2.8x improvement in customer satisfaction, 2.4x improvement in customer base, 3.6x improvement in footprint in national and global markets.