Small and mid-sized businesses are the central focus for nation’s economic growth path. And technology is the torch bearer for such expected economic growth. Discussing some top trends that are influencing the needed digital transformation, Samik Roy, Executive Director – Corporate, Medium and Small Business, Microsoft India interacted with Dr. Faiz Askari Chief Editor of SMEStreet. Here are the edited excerpts of the exclusive interaction.
Faiz Askari: What developments/big projects were undertaken by Samik after he was appointed as the Executive Director for Corporate, Medium, and Small Businesses?
Samik Roy: World over, SMBs are an important focus area for Microsoft, and our investments in India mirror this. We are focused on empowering SMBs with technology solutions, support, and skills to help them succeed – today and in the future. Our products are designed especially for SMBs to address their unique requirements, irrespective of the stage of growth and lifecycle they are in, and give them the flexibility to plan purchase, deploy, and manage their entire IT roadmap with the help of Microsoft and our partners. Our vast ecosystem of more than 17,000 partners in India help SMBs in every step of their journey. We have a long-term, strategic partnership with Jio aimed at leveraging Microsoft Azure cloud platform to develop innovative cloud solutions and Microsoft 365 to increase productivity and efficiency focused on the needs of Indian businesses.
Earlier this month, we announced two new initiatives to bolster our support for SMBs in India – an SMB focused website that aims to bring together business owners and entrepreneurs in India to network with peers, enhance their skills and achieve holistic growth, and a Digital Transformation helpline that offers dedicated support to help SMBs navigate their technological adoption and deployment journey. We have also been conducting digital transformation expos called TechMart, to give SMBs a first-hand experience of tools and programs to help accelerate their digital transformation. These expos have received tremendous response so far, reaching over 450,000 businesses across three cities and covering 23+ ISV solutions, as well as numerous one-on-one consultations across key focus areas of SMBs such as Cloud Migration, ERP, Collaboration, Security.
We have also been working towards ensuring that every business not only has access to digital technologies, but also the right in-house skills to use those technologies effectively. For this, we launched a skilling initiative last year by centralizing all our relevant skill-building resources. Tailored specifically for the country’s SMBs, this effort builds on the global skills initiative that had helped close to three million people in India acquire digital skills during the pandemic.
Lastly, our recent advancements in Artificial Intelligence and these integrations across Microsoft’s suite of tools are grounded in our mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more — from helping people be more productive to solving society’s most pressing challenges. We’re committed to making the promise of AI real, and doing it responsibly, while democratizing this technology so people can use, build upon, and benefit from AI innovation.
Faiz Askari: How is Microsoft helping Indian SMBs in technology adoption and ensuring their growth? How is Microsoft’s wide range of value propositions for SMBs enabling ease of doing business and flexibility for Indian SMBs. Please share a few Indian use cases.
Samik Roy: To deliver on our mission of empowerment, democratization of technology for SMBs across their growth cycle is crucial for us. We build products specifically for SMBs and ensure our solutions can scale as an SMB grows, in terms of features, functionality and volumes. We are the only company that offers digital technologies that integrate by design, across all areas of an SMB’s organization.
We offer organizations:
- World Class Security and Innovative Office Apps with Microsoft 365 Business that enables seamless collaboration, always-on security, simplified and AI enthused tools to drive business productivity and efficiency.
- All-in-one business management solution to help them in customer management, enhance customer service, manage topline revenue, and drive business sales with Microsoft Business Central.
- An affordable, professional meeting solution designed to communicate and collaborate in an easy, secure, and reliable manner with Microsoft Teams Essentials.
- Endpoint security solution (Microsoft Defender for Business) was designed especially for SMBs to address their needs of endpoint security to ensure that the company’s devices are better protected from ransomware, malware, phishing, and other threats.
- Intelligent tools to identify and respond to market opportunities such as Power BI and Power Apps.
- Hybrid cloud solutions with Microsoft Azure to help them maximize their investment by taking care of issues like latency, regulations, data sovereignty, or complexity in moving large volumes of legacy data to the cloud helping them simplify data protection with built-in backup management at scale.
SMBs not only need technologies to remain resilient, but also the skills and support to get the most from those technologies—which can mean bringing in outside expertise. Microsoft has one of the most expansive partner ecosystems in the industry covering over 17,000 partners to help SMBs in every step of their journey—from helping them build their transformation plan to running as a virtual IT department to ensure users, data, assets, and devices are all running smoothly and securely. Our partners also offer finished applications available through our marketplaces, with deep ‘out-of-the-box’ industry expertise, providing solutions customized to the needs of SMBs in any sector. And because their solutions are based on Microsoft cloud technology, they offer the flexibility, ease-of-use, and scalability that are so important to any small business. Microsoft’s long-term, strategic relationship with Jio aims to leverage the Microsoft Azure cloud platform to develop innovative cloud solutions and Microsoft 365 to increase productivity and efficiency focused on the needs of Indian businesses. This is testimony to our commitment towards making SMBs successful.
Our technologies are powering end-to-end digital transformation journey of over 200,000 organizations while aligning with their business model, unique needs, and specific outcomes. For example,
- Senco Gold and Diamonds, one of India’s oldest and most trusted jewelry brands with a legacy of more than 50 years, has been leveraging Microsoft Dynamics 365 for a standardized solution that collects data from all customer touchpoints and records it in a centralized system. The end-to-end platform provides both ERP and CRM, enabling Senco with omnichannel engagement, out of box integrations, real time access to customer data, AI-driven customer insights and end-to-end process enablement. It is now working with Microsoft to carry out retail store analytics.
- Magicrete, India’s frontline manufacturer of lightweight concrete (AAC) blocks is a flag bearer of leveraging technology to optimize business operations and create value. It has been using Microsoft solutions since its founding years. They had been using Dynamics NAV since 2011 before transitioning to Dynamics 365 Business Central in 2021 as enterprise-wide ERP solution. The company also uses Dynamics CRM to streamline sales and customer management activities and Power BI to get a real-time view of business and make agile decisions.
- Cycle Agarbatti, the largest manufacturer of incense sticks in the world, adopted the solution by our partner factoHR. By adopting the cloud-based modern workplace solution by factoHR using Microsoft Azure, Cycle Agarbatti improved its employee efficiency and productivity by 40 percent. The mobile-driven, plug-and-play features of factoHR combined with Azure platform capabilities helped the fragrance creator streamline and automate its weekly payroll process and track attendance and business expenses along with other recurring office tasks.
- Kinara Capital is an NBFC that offers fast and flexible loans without collateral to small business entrepreneurs in India. Over the last 11 years, the company has disbursed over ₹3,500 crore across 70,000 loans, leading to more than 250,000 jobs being supported in local economies, and an incremental income generation of ₹700 crore for small business entrepreneurs. While Kinara Capital was growing in full swing, its finance management solution was not keeping pace with their evolving requirements. The company implemented Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance to streamline its systems and drive efficiencies, including:
- Earlier uploading 1,00,000 transactions used to take close to two hours daily. Now, the company manages four times the transaction load with the same number of resources within the same time.
- The task is fully automated unlike earlier when a lot of manual intervention was required. Kinara Capital can manage Rs. 1,700 crore worth of assets under management in small and medium business loans smoothly without glitches due to seamless integration with the loan management system.
- Higher efficiency with reduced costs – The solution has ensured that a single system manages Kinara Capital’s internal financial transactions and its external transactions with customers and vendors, allowing it to do more with less.
For more customer success stories, please visit Microsoft Customer Stories.
Faiz Askari: Could you provide details on the recent SMB India study launched by Microsoft? What does the data reveal compared to its counterparts?
Samik Roy: The years since the pandemic have truly highlighted that the higher-performing SMBs were those that accelerated digitization, reorganized, and reskilled for operational efficiency, and increased the pace of product and business model innovation. We commissioned research with SMBs from 10 different markets last year to examine the relationship between SMBs’ technology adoption, technology partners, and business results. The India findings revealed that:
- Indian SMBs lead in tech spending and cloud adoption and are also the most optimistic about future cloud adoption — 27% of SMBs in India are all or mostly cloud based – a percentage that is expected to become the global average in 2-3 years.
- 26% of SMBs in India being early adopters of new technologies. They lead their counterparts in other countries when it comes to spending on technology with around 35% of them spending over 10% of their revenue on technology. Of these, 22% SMBs in India are most likely to plan on an increase of over 10% over the next year.
- Competition intensity remains a major obstacle for India SMBs (35%), and a greater challenge in India than elsewhere; supply chain issues come a close second. Customer loyalty, cash flow, cloud migration and regulations are equally challenging to approximately a quarter of SMBs.
- SMBs in India look to technology to help them to grow their customer base (39%) and improve customer retention (38%).
- Due to the impact of the pandemic, SMBs are more willing to invest in managed IT services and cloud solutions. Managed Service Provider (MSPs) and Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) are the most preferred technology partners for a third of SMBs
- SMBs in India (45%) are most likely to want to improve environmental sustainability vis-à-vis 37% SMBs across the markets.
It is evident that linking technology investments and adoption with business strategies, as well as close collaboration with partners are crucial to deliver success for SMBs. Our investments and efforts are geared toward empowering organizations, big or small, with technology so they can stay ahead of the curve by becoming more agile, resilient, future-ready businesses.
Faiz Askari: How is Microsoft refining its approach to SMBs and MSMEs in FY23?
Samik Roy: At Microsoft, our focus remains on democratizing technology for the smallest to the largest of businesses across the length and breadth of the country. We continue to work closely with our partner ecosystem to empower these businesses in their digital transformation with technological solutions that are secured, affordable, and easy to deploy. Whether it is specially designed solutions, cloud, devices, dedicated initiatives such as our website and digital transformation helpline, extensive partner network, or offers, training and resources, no other company can offer the breadth and depth of Microsoft. We will continue to deliver on our promise to bring trust technologies to SMBs, and organizations at large, to help them do more with less. Our recent new age AI integrations span the entire company and it’s our goal to ensure every organization and individual can benefit from these advancements, be more productive, and solve the most pressing problems of our society. For instance,
- Dynamics 365 Copilot puts CRM and ERP to work for business users to accelerate their pace of innovation and improve business outcomes in every line of business, be it sales, service, marketing, operations, or supply chain.
- Copilot in Microsoft 365 combines the power of large language models (LLMs) with your data in the Microsoft Graph and the Microsoft 365 apps to turn your words into the most powerful productivity tool on the planet. Copilot is integrated into Microsoft 365 in two ways. It works alongside you, embedded in the Microsoft 365 apps you use every day — Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams and more — to unleash creativity, unlock productivity and uplevel skills.
- Copilot in Microsoft Viva, along with Microsoft Viva Glint, aims to help organizations create a more engaged and productive workforce. With Copilot, Microsoft Viva takes advantage of next-generation AI to accelerate this new performance equation, where engagement and productivity lead to better business outcomes and success. Copilot in Viva is built on the Microsoft 365 Copilot System, which combines the power of large language models (LLMs) with your data in the Microsoft Graph and the Viva apps to give leaders an entirely new way to understand and engage their workforce.
- Microsoft Security Copilot Microsoft Security Copilot is the first security product to enable defenders to move at the speed and scale of AI. Security Copilot combines this advanced large language model (LLM) with a security-specific model from Microsoft. This security-specific model in turn incorporates a growing set of security-specific skills and is informed by Microsoft’s unique global threat intelligence and more than 65 trillion daily signals. Security Copilot also delivers an enterprise-grade security and privacy-compliant experience as it runs on Azure’s hyperscale infrastructure. Security Copilot also integrates with the end-to-end Microsoft Security products, and over time it will expand to a growing ecosystem of third-party products. So, in short, Security Copilot is not only a large language model, but rather a system that learns, to enable organizations to truly defend at machine speed.
- GitHub Copilot is an AI-powered pair programmer that helps developers write code more efficiently, reduce the time spent on repetitive tasks, and minimize errors.
We will continue to support businesses of all sizes do more with less and unlock limitless opportunities through our breakthrough technologies, tools, and programs.