Users own data in Office 365 as our AI empowers them: Microsoft

When it comes to AI, CEO Satya Nadella is betting big on it and the outcome could potentially have a huge impact on the software giant's future.
Users own data in Office 365 as our AI empowers them: Microsoft
Users own data in Office 365 as our AI empowers them: Microsoft
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By Nishant Arora

Amid increasing data breaches, tech giants are today busy deliberating on how to ensure privacy and security for the users. Where Microsoft is concerned, however, data ownership clearly remains with its customers - protected by enterprise-grade security solutions.

Microsoft's Cloud-powered Office 365 - which according to the CEO Satya Nadella is the biggest growth opportunity for the company in its history -- makes up the bulk of what it calls its "Commercial Cloud" services.

According to Rajesh Jha, Executive Vice President, Office Product Group at Microsoft, there are nearly 120 million "Commercial Cloud" users globally and over 29 million of them are Office 365 enterprise subscribers -- and the onus is on the company to keep its data safe and secure.

"The data ownership belongs to the customers. We are just the custodians. Our Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms run on massive data sets in Office 365 and show the insights back in the application to the customers - allowing them to enhance their businesses. We have hundred of capabilities today running in our Cloud," Jha told IANS in an interview here.

According to Jha, who is part of the senior core team that reports directly to Nadella, data should always follow the users and remain in their control.

"We take the data from the users, run AI and give the inputs back to them. This is what Office 365 does -- working across platforms and giving customers evergreen capabilities to keep them up-to-date, helping them innovate in a secure and safe atmosphere," Jha explained.

Redmond-headquartered Microsoft has three local data centres in India to serve the increasing demand coming from big enterprises, small and medium businesses (SMBs) and governments.

"India is an interesting market with hundreds of millions of connected devices and a robust mobile-first workforce. Microsoft Office in earlier days catered to knowledge or information workforce but now modern workplaces with first-line, mobile-only workers are our focus in the country," Jha emphasised.

It has been a multi-year journey for Microsoft when it comes to its Office product.

"Its roots were in the desktop, which we used to deliver as on-premise software to the customers. With Office 365, we made it cloud-enabled that can be delivered on any platform. We are very happy with its quick adoption globally, including in India," Jha noted.

Riding on its growing Cloud business, Microsoft reported revenue of $28.9 billion for the fourth quarter that ended December 31. Office commercial products and Cloud services revenue increased 10 per cent, driven by Office 365 commercial revenue growth of 41 per cent.

The State Bank of India (SBI) has deployed Office 365 to improve communication and collaboration among its workforce -- one of the largest deployments of Office 365 in the country.

"SBI was looking for a new platform for a modern workplace -- a solution that would empower their employees to work in a collaborative way on the go, bring the culture change and tap individual talent. They have moved entirely to Office 365," Jha said.

Now this is a customer, said Jha, which sets a high bar when it comes to enterprise-grade security and privacy, and Microsoft is successfully able to give SBI that.

Not just SBI, "Office 365 is across the board, be it healthcare, transportation, government, education or small businesses. It has broad-based appeal," the Microsoft executive added.

When it comes to AI, Nadella is betting big on it and the outcome could potentially have a huge impact on the software giant's future.

"We get billions of signals from Cloud. We take those signals and, after using AI insights, we give the results back in the customers' core products -- be it government, small businesses or enterprises," Jha told IANS.

In December 2016, Microsoft completed the acquisition of LinkedIn, for which it paid more than $26 billion.

"You will soon hear about Office 365-LinkedIn integration. It is already there internally at Microsoft, allowing us a unified experience. LinkedIn will also come in Dynamics 365 soon," he added.

Dynamics 365 is a product line of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) applications.

The next big thing is Microsoft 365 - an intelligent solution including Office 365, Windows 10 and enterprise mobility and security that the company has recently announced.

(Nishant Arora can be contacted at

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