In an exclusive interview to CRN India, Venkat Krishnan, Executive Director, Global Partner Solutions, Microsoft India tells about how partners can capitalize on the vast opportunities associated with the cloud and its services
CRN India: In the light of the increasing importance of cloud adoption, how is Microsoft transforming its partners in driving cloud adoption in India? How can one capitalize on the vast opportunities associated with the cloud and its services?
Venkat Krishnan: Microsoft has always been a partner-driven company and we believe that partners make more possible. Our partners lie at the center of how we bring technologies and business transformation to our customers and markets around the world. Hence, the combination of Microsoft technology, along with our partners helps us create overall customer impact, making our partner community an incredibly unique ecosystem.
Partnerships are built on a foundation of trust, and we secure that trust by designing and delivering thoughtful customer-first, partner-led initiatives, and programs. Microsoft offers more ways for partners to grow their business by offering an unmatched range and depth of cloud offerings combined with the breadth of Microsoft’s technology portfolio. We are enabling partners to build solutions to virtually empower any scenario, of any function, for any customer, anywhere. No other technology company has this type of global reach that Microsoft has built through its partner ecosystem. Our commitment to partners is based on a large and powerful ecosystem, the innovative products and services on the Microsoft Cloud, and the shared commitment to growth and profitability and driving customer success.
Overall, there is a pretty strong growth momentum in cloud adoption and the underlying driver for this is digitization. As our CEO says, digital technology is the most malleable resource at the world’s disposal to overcome constraints and reimagine everyday work and life. At Microsoft, we are seeing the demand signals across security, cloud infrastructure, business applications and solutions like Teams to be quite strong.
Talking about the Indian market opportunity, IDC predicts the overall cloud market to be around $4.5-5 billion. The overall Indian public cloud services market is expected to reach close to $11 billion by 2025, which is a CAGR of close to 24% for 2020-25. This is where Microsoft sees a huge opportunity of working closely with partners to jointly achieve more. Through various programs and offers, Microsoft is constantly supporting partners to bring more innovative solutions to the market and help them grow their business, connect with more customers, and enable them to solve their unique needs. Through Microsoft’s go-to-market programs and resources, partners can engage with customers and support them, or co-sell joint solutions to customers in India, as well as across the globe.
Microsoft’s commercial marketplace enables partners at all levels to build intelligence solutions, helping them accelerate their access to the market, to reach new customers. Moreover, Microsoft’s cloud innovation is unique, helping partners shape the next phase of the innovation divide by tech intensity.
CRN India: How are Microsoft partners looking at incorporating digital transformation strategies with more partners embracing the idea of remote working? How challenging would it be for them to adapt?
Venkat Krishnan: An emerging trend is the transition of digital transformation to digital acceleration in the hybrid era. For this, organizations should have the combination of the best cloud and edge infrastructure along with the best tools to support their teams while working together to build new solutions.
Another emerging trend is the need for organizations to build a hyper-connected business where data and intelligence are flowing freely to tackle the challenges of supply and demand. With this, every business process will be collaboratively powered by data and AI and will bridge the digital and the physical worlds. While organizations accelerate this digital transformation journey, they are also aware that one of the biggest threats to digital transformation today is cybercrime. There is a need for comprehensive tools across identity, security, compliance, privacy, as well as management. Organizations also need a cross-platform and zero trust architecture. A digital company needs a distributed computing fabric to build, manage, secure, and deploy applications from anywhere. Therefore, every business needs to become a hyper-connected business, unifying data, processes, and teams across their organization.
During the pandemic, businesses have reimagined and re-implemented their operations, right from sales to customer service to marketing, supply chain, or digital manufacturing. There’s going to be a completely new cycle of business process automation that is going to be AI-first and collaboration first. There is also a great intersection between Power Platform, Dynamics, Teams, and Azure that provides competitive differentiation that Microsoft already has at scale today for better customer outcomes. Hybrid is here to stay; every organization today needs that digital fabric to connect and empower people inside and outside the organization. To operate in a hybrid modern work environment, customers are leveraging the technology solutions and organizations are using Teams to run their businesses with more collaborative applications that bring the business process data right into the flow of work.
The monthly usage of third-party applications and custom-built applications on Microsoft Teams has seen a huge growth in the last two years. As hybrid becomes the norm, every organization will need to redefine its approach. Teams is helping the ecosystem of devices to grow and help people stay connected and participate fully in meetings from anywhere. With Mesh for Teams, Microsoft has brought metaverse for Teams, helping employees at organizations across to have a shared immersive experience, and have water cooler conversations. Microsoft Teams is driving a lot of this hybrid work as a platform and the integration of Microsoft’s data and AI, and business process tools is making it easier for customers to collaborate and operate in a hybrid world.
CRN India: How can partners use Microsoft competencies to highlight their technical expertise to customers across the globe? Do you see any changes happening on the competencies front?
Venkat Krishnan: Microsoft is extending support to partners to help them enhance the overall customer relationship by creating opportunities for the partners to build on top of the Microsoft cloud. This is one of the biggest investments that Microsoft is making with partners and for the right reasons. There has been a rapid change associated with the customer’s journey to the cloud. This evolution is creating incredible opportunities for Microsoft, as well as for partners to co-develop and deliver solutions combined with the larger technology forces to bring digital transformation.
The Microsoft cloud, which consists of Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, LinkedIn, GitHub, Microsoft Azure together with Power Platform, is providing a comprehensive offering of connected industry-leading clouds. It is built to enable an organization’s digital feedback loop by design. This spans application infrastructure, data, AI, developer tools, security, compliance, business process, productivity, collaboration. The interconnected nature of this platform and its experiences is what enables Microsoft’s customers to drive the key outcomes that make up their digital feedback loop.
The key differentiator of the Microsoft cloud is an integrated, comprehensive identity security management and compliance offering. Microsoft has a shared commitment towards not just building the capacity but also honing the ability to build solutions on top, to differentiate their offerings which allows them to grow and showcase their skills and connect with customers and generate more business.
Microsoft competencies let partners demonstrate the area of their capabilities by letting them focus on the business that they want. Competencies and specializations provide partners with the tools that are available to help them stand out in the competitive marketplace, very specific to the target market that they want to play. Microsoft continues to introduce newer specializations based on the new cloud innovations. There are 18 competencies that allow partners to show their expertise in a specialized business area and attract new customers. Partners must accomplish these milestones and exams, to achieve silver or gold level competencies after showcasing their skill sets.
After achieving a certain competency, partners start demonstrating best-in-class capabilities within an identified solution area. The highest level of competency provides the partners with better access to go-to-market programs and offers that exist in the marketplace. By building the right set of competencies and capabilities, Microsoft is connecting the demand with its partners and therefore, driving a better successful customer outcome from a digital transformation perspective.
CRN India: Are there major goals that Microsoft is setting out for its large partner ecosystem, especially looking at the partner journey during this pandemic?
Venkat Krishnan: Microsoft is absolutely committed to helping customers get the best business outcome by leveraging technology and solutions. Through technology interventions, Microsoft is helping partners scale, innovate, or focus on their growth profitability and other parameters with the breadth and the depth of the Microsoft cloud offerings. Using Microsoft technology and the right type of skillset will equip partners to understand customers’ needs and solve their problems and work towards a solution-driven perspective.
To support customer success and drive digital acceleration, Microsoft has a dedicated team of services partners, devices partners, system integration partners, advisory partners, or ISVs and startups. These qualities make Microsoft’s goal achievable, the offerings unique, and the impact of a very high order of magnitude. The Microsoft cloud is the foundation for the sustained growth on which partners can build, co-sell, and go to market. The only way to succeed is when partners have the tools and the support, they require to deliver the transformation solutions so that customers can achieve more.