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Nadella talks G20, Make in India, AI innovation

Briefing the media after the Future Ready Technology summit in Bengaluru, Nadella said “India is taking the leap to contribute both in the digital technology as well as the soft side of it-the policy side of it, as to how this came about.”

Nadella talks G20, Make in India, AI innovation
Satya Nadella meets PM Modi

BENGALURU: Looking to help in “amplifying” the India story, Microsoft Executive chairman-CEO Satya Nadella on Thursday said the country’s technology story and the policies that helped it reach here is a tale that needs to be told to the world.

Briefing the media after the Future Ready Technology summit in Bengaluru, Nadella said “India is taking the leap to contribute both in the digital technology as well as the soft side of it-the policy side of it, as to how this came about.” “That story needs to be written about, talked about so that everyone else in the world can also benefit from it. I think India’s leadership of the G20 is obviously a great moment for that. And we at Microsoft want to be as helpful as possible in amplifying what is essentially the output of India,” he said.

Emphasising often on the growth of digital public goods in India, Nadella said India has created a “virtuous cycle of digital public goods that raises the bar on private enterprises, increases competition, reduces transaction costs for the citizens of the country and a set of governance, principles and policies that reinforces all of these.”

“Whether it is about financial inclusion or whether it is about anything else. And so I feel this is India’s moment,” he added.

Talking about Microsoft’s India focus, Nadella said it was the second largest place where the company has its own employees, while there are lots of others who are contributing to the ecosystem in the country.

“More importantly we are investing in the capital in India in building up data centres. We got a fourth one coming up. These are massive investments growing rapidly. We are no longer just a software company, we are a full systems company which is very capital intensive. These data centres are the modern day digital factories and we are making them in India. And we are making them in India so that others can make them in India,” Nadella said.

Indicating Microsoft’s range of collaborative investments in India, Nadella said “whether it is a small business or a public sector project developing state of the art AI, whether it is the largest conglomerates, like the Tatas, Jios or the Adanis using this to scale employment, whether it is SBI or HDFC or any bank using it...not just making in India for India but making in India for the world.”

Stating that technology can play a key role in helping with the global inflationary situation, Nadella said in a world where we have some inflationary forces there was a need for world class technology where we can act as a deflationary force. Everybody wants lower transactional force, everybody wants innovation in every economy, he added.

Indians have taken the first and second space in development and AI space going by usage on the platforms owned by Microsoft.

“When I think about the future of technology, clearly AI is the trend that we are going to be talking about for years to come...the real thing is not the technology breakthrough but it is the technology as applied to real things that have impact.”

“In GitHub (a Microsoft cloud-based software platform) India is already number two in the development community and it is number one in terms of the AI RePose, which means already the Indian developers are reaching out and saying that they want to be part of the AI movement,” Nadella pointed out. Further, what is happening in India is not just an extrapolation of what happened in the past but something “very different” and there is “no parallel” to the Indian market in 2023, he said.

“It is a very different time. I grew up here and have worked all through my professional career in India...somehow India is different. In 2023...there is no parallel in our history with the India market. This is not just an extrapolation of what happened in the past.” When asked about what are the focus markets in the country and Microsoft’s investment outlook in the country, Nadella said, “India is a mainstream market for us. We build with India design, India customers, partners, front and centre. When I think about what is happening in (Microsoft) Azure we think about how Flipkart is using it, how is INmobi using it, how Tata digital’s Super-app is using it. These are like front and centre.”

Speaking about the importance of growing businesses based on how India responds, Nadella said the feedback cycle is much more real time. “ the end of the day I think about my license to operate in India comes from our ability to create local surplus. That is, we make in India, so that others can make in India to make for the world.”

‘India’s tech spend is now becoming normalised with the developed world’

India could probably be among the top 10 countries in the world going by its GDP to tech-spend ratio, according to Microsoft’s data, the company’s executive chairman-CEO said on Thursday. To a question on Microsoft’s future in helping the Indian economy, Nadella said “there is overall economy, economic growth and there is tech spend. That gap is bridging. India’s tech spend as a percentage of GDP is now becoming normalised with the developed world.” “India (In GDP to tech spend) is sort of definitely in the top ten in the world at least in our data. If that is the case, then the question is what is next. What is the output of that tech spend. Is it the same,” he said while briefing the media after the Future Ready Tech Summit here. Delving into Microsoft’s role in India’s growing tech spend, he said “...if India has a GDP of X and a percentage of that is what is the productivity gain from that (tech spend), that then the world can benefit the way for people to think about, write about... lowest cost transactions for payment.” “That is a pretty phenomenal thing for a tech spend. That’s a deflationary force. So that to me is the way at least I look at it. So we want to be the infrastructure providers for it. We want to be the developer amplifiers for it. We will build every part of our stack to basically help give that leverage,” Nadella added.

‘Age of celebrating technology for tech sake is over’

Suggesting that the age of celebration of technology for technology’s sake is over, Nadella said it is now about technology and its use for everyone in the world, where India can contribute immensely.

Speaking at the ‘Microsoft Future Ready Technology Summit’ here, he also highlighted the “magic” of government programmes and India Stack “co-evolving” in the country.

“I had a chance to have a brief conversation with the Prime Minister yesterday, his vision and all the programmes, the yojanas and the India Stack. In fact the thing I’m realising is the magic of India Stack, because everything needs feedback. The yojanas or the policy and the technology stack co-evolving, that’s just like a virtuous cycle that is unlike anything I have seen and it’s just tremendous,” Nadella said.

He said, “I absolutely think both of these are perhaps the greatest contributions that India can make to the world quite frankly. The idea that there is digital public good is great, but also there is some sort of new way to use them to make it possible for every society and economy to be more inclusive.”

Nadella was in conversation with IT industry veteran and Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani as part of the summit.

Stating that what he learns from India every time he comes here is the common man being able to use the greatest technology to do something that is useful to them, he said, “and it is not about tech for tech sake. That to me is what I think India can contribute.”

“The age of celebration of technology for technology’s sake is over, it is about really thinking about technology and its use for everyone in the world, and that I think will be the greatest contribution,” Nadella added.

Further pointing out that the original vision of the internet was that it was a great leveller, so that everyone can build and create, and there would be frictionless access, Nadella said, at some level some of the new protocols and the stack work is re-bringing those ethos.

He also said it is also fostering the right amount of competition at the right layers, so there are no “incumbencies”.

Earlier addressing the summit, Nadella said Microsoft stays grounded in its mission to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more.

“Ultimately for me is being able to put the technology into the hands of other technologists so that they can go on to create more technology to have real impact in the world, across every small, large businesses, non-profit and public sector. Couldn’t be more excited to be here in India, to be able to talk about all of this, to see all that is being developed here,” he said.

Nadella also spoke about the use of digital technology to solve the hard problems faced by our people, the society and organisations.

“That to me is at the gist of what we as developers, people participating in the digital ecosystem should get really energised by...How can digital technology help us achieve more but with less resource is going to be key for- energy transition, tackling inflation, also it is going to be key to reach every citizen of India and the globe,” he said.

Nadella also listed out six imperatives that are key for technologists, they are - migrate to the cloud, unify data and apply AI models as platforms, empower fusion teams, re-energise your workforce, embrace collaborative business processes, and prioritise security.

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