Business Standard

500 customers in India have adopted AI, GenAI: Microsoft India MD Ghose

According to Microsoft and LinkedIn's Work Trend Index, 92 per cent of India's knowledge workers use AI at work, as compared to the global figure of 75 per cent

Irina Ghose, MD, Microsoft India

Irina Ghose, MD, Microsoft India

Shivani Shinde Mumbai

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[This report has been updated]

The momentum that Microsoft has seen in India in embracing artificial intelligence (AI) and generative AI (GenAI) is turning out to be one of the best phases for Irina Ghose, Microsoft India’s managing director.

“This has been a great phase. I keep saying that I've been in Microsoft for about 22 years, but this is the best phase that anybody would be having,” said Ghose to Business Standard on the sidelines of the launch of the Work Trend Index along with LinkedIn.

There are reasons for the company’s exceptional AI momentum in the country.

“We've seen about 500 of our customers have adopted Azure OpenAI and they are from across industries such as banking, insurance, healthcare, education, and technology. That is a lot of positive momentum and the engagements that we are having with customers towards shaping this,” said Ghose.

In the buzz of AI and upskilling of employees on AI, the one aspect that is bringing the Indian tech firms on focus is the trend of work from office. When asked if work from home will be the new normal, Ghose said ‘the work of the future is hybrid’.

“What we have seen after Covid-19 is that hybrid work is the way the work of the future will evolve. However, hybrid work involves a few things. This includes how every employee interacts in that hybrid environment, how are they able to use tools to ensure that the work is a lot more inclusive,” added Ghose.
She explained: “The way the nature of work will evolve in the future, GenAI-led tools such as Microsoft 365, Copilot will play a pivotal role in making that a reality as well.”

When asked if the pressure tactics that some of the IT firms have been using to bring back employees to the office was right? She said: “The intent is always to have a very vibrant culture in any organisation and how you make that happen by the use of technology or interaction with people is a reality and that will keep evolving.”

According to Microsoft and LinkedIn’s Work Trend Index, 92 per cent of India’s knowledge workers use AI at work, as compared to the global figure of 75 per cent.

However, despite these high figures, the challenge that the tech industry in India (IT/ITeS and startups) faces is the dearth of unearthing AI-skilled professionals.

Ghose believes the skilling and upskilling initiatives that the companies are investing in will over time solve this talent gap issue. “The changes that we are seeing in AI are quite transformative and it is like never before. We had a similar wave when Cloud adoption happened. That was also a time in which we had to make a lot of changes for skilling, cultural changes, business-led thinking in terms of how people think about it. This is even many more times disruptive,” she added.

To address the need for upskilling, Ghose says that Microsoft is focusing on letting individuals upskill themselves first and calling upon senior members within the company to take on the onus of spreading the word on AI.

“We're looking at seniors, to create AI practitioners, for each department like marketing, finance and how can that role benefit from the power of AI. Second, we are working with our partner ecosystem and upskilling them,” she added.

She added that along with the government of India Microsoft is looking at skilling 2 million people by 2025 on AI skills.

The firm is also working with 10 states along with the Ministry of Skill and Entrepreneurship, with 100 vocational institutions towards upskilling them. “We're looking at skilling about 100,000 women with 5,000 trainers. That's the way we are trying to ensure that it is very inclusive,” Ghose added.

Ghose said the AI wave was so strong that none of the companies wanted to be left behind.

“Business leaders are seeing the impact driven by AI for businesses and hence this is being driven from the top. The RoIs are visible for businesses. For every dollar spent companies are getting a 3.8x return, which is happening within 14 months,” she added.

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First Published: May 16 2024 | 7:26 PM IST

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