Cloud adoption by SMBs a question of when, not if: Microsoft India’s Geeta Gurnani

Technology for MSMEs: For small and medium businesses (SMBs), adopting digital or collaboration tools today is about when they want to start their cloud journey instead of questioning whether they are required or not, said Geeta Gurnani, Country Head for Modern Work business at Microsoft India. Usage of digital solutions including cloud or software-as-a-service tools has improved even among traditional small businesses that earlier had a company website and a custom email ID for the sake of technology adoption. 

Speaking at the MSME Business Conclave earlier this week, Gurnani noted that two decades ago having a website was a good to have tool for SMBs while around a decade back having a custom domain ID and email ID became the need to have solutions. “However, today a lot of digital touch points where SMBs interact with their customers make adoption of CRM solutions and productivity and collaboration tools a must-have. Hence, for SMBs, I see at least initial investment going into these tools.” 

While the cloud gives SMBs flexibility to use digital tools as per their requirement and on the move, it is critical for businesses to ensure that they are able to manage their costs effectively. Hence, choosing the right platform is important for SMBs.

“SMBs should very carefully plan their cloud investment so that they are in control of their cashflows,” said Gurnani. In addition to the cost, SMBs should also look at solutions that offer multiple benefits in one place. 

“Don’t look at doing different things from different areas because manageability will become a big challenge tomorrow when you become a large business,” she added. Hence, adopting tools augmenting the business and employee engagement with the best cost control should be preferred. For instance, “Microsoft’s communication platform Microsoft Teams has nearly 800 apps from the company’s independent service vendors or partners so that employees don’t have to go outside their workflow for various tasks.”  

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According to Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index out in March this year based on an external study of 31,000 people in 31 countries, 67 per cent of leaders in India said their company is planning a return to the office full-time in-person work in the year ahead due to the negative impact of remote work on productivity and being out of touch with employee expectation. On the other hand, 63 cent employees preferred the flexibility of remote and hybrid work.

However, India saw three trends with respect to SMBs post Covid – first, adoption of digital tools for remote work; second, making collaboration and communication frictionless; and third, having the right device security in terms of identity and access management, said Gurnani. “During the beginning of the pandemic, Microsoft Teams was at about 32 million users that increased to around 270 million (monthly active) users (globally) in April this year.”

In December last year, Microsoft launched Teams Essentials for SMBs to collaborate and connect in the hybrid working environment. The company had priced Teams Essentials at Rs 100 per person per month in India.

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