American tech major Microsoft will be focusing more on the government and the small business segment to grow its India revenues, a top official has said. “The SMB (Small and Medium Businesses) segment and the segments around digital India (and) government would be clear areas of focus for us in addition to all the work around enterprise and consumer that we have been doing,” Microsoft India president Anant Maheshwari told PTI. He pegged the overall information technology opportunity in the country at $107 billion, but declined to break down the contribution of the government and small businesses in it. Refusing to disclose the revenue contribution from the country, he said India is one of the top 14 priority regions for the company and a “faster growing market”. The company has two lakh enterprise customers in the country, apart from 9,000 partners and also works with 5,000 startups. On the government side, it serves the centre as well as 29 states, he said.
When asked about home-grown IT companies’ reservations about working with the government, especially with the way contracts are structured and also with regard to timely payments, Maheshwari conceded that there are “challenges” in every market. “In any exciting geography in the world, there are always challenges to do business and India is no different,” he explained. “The government has recognised that over the last couple of years with all the focus on ease of doing business, there are some improvements,” he said. When asked about the implementation of GST (Goods and Services Tax) resulting in some tax notices to IT players, Maheshwari said Microsoft sees the indirect tax reform as a big opportunity.
“There may be some challenges as the tax regime transitions, but broadly for me, I would think of GST as a massive opportunity for anybody who is trying to do digital transition,” he said. The company employs over 8,000 people in the country who work out of nine offices in various cities. Apart from serving the local market, its staff, the largest in any country outside of the US, also serves the global needs, especially on delivery, research and innovation. On the rising protectionism and whether its business is affected by the stance of the US president Donald Trump administration, Maheshwari seemed to suggest that it has not had a major impact. The issue around visa fees, one of the major concerns for the industry, is not a “significant” topic for the company, he said, underscoring that its view on the issue is in sync with the industry lobby Nasscom.
The company’s cloud customer-base has risen in the last few months from India, which will result in a review of the infrastructure capabilities, he said. However, it may not necessarily result in any new data centre or facilities here, he said.
“We have seen a very strong uptick on the public cloud in the last six months, which automatically causes us to look at our capacity and our capacity planning going forward,” Maheshwari said. “The way to look at capacity planning is not to look at new locations. But also existing locations by ramping up. That is something we will continue to do as we go forward.” The company competes with tech giants like Amazon and Google for cloud play. Last week, it disclosed that it works with 70 of the 100 top listed companies.