“We are seeing a lot of demand for Office 365 and cloud services”

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Microsoft, the world leader in software technologies, has launched the Office 365 in Nepal.  The new Office is a subscription-type package that consists of software plus services providing productivity software and related services to its users. Users can now access the services online through their PCs and mobile devices as the company provides storage on its cloud service. Byron Rader, General Manager of Marketing and Operations for the Asia-Pacific region at Microsoft Office Division and Michelle Simmons, General Manager of Microsoft's Southeast Asia-New Markets division were present during the official launch of Office 365. Sanjeev Sharma of New Business Age talked with Rader and Simmons regarding the features of the new Office and Microsoft's entry into the Nepali market. Excerpts:
How are you promoting the Office 365 in Nepal?
We have recently launched the Office 365 with Colors mobile with their new device in Nepal. We are constantly looking to grow with the devices we have in the Nepali market. Lumia to other third party devices is important for us. From the Office perspective, we are much focused on cross platforms. We are thinking of how the Office 365 app can be pre-installed in the next version of Samsung smartphone.  We will be focusing more on Android, IOS and Windows phones as it is important for the users to have a similar experience whatever devices they are using.
What is your sales target?
Actually, we do not share specific market information. But we expect our business to grow in Nepal in the coming years. In general, we will achieve a market growth somewhere in between 20 to 30 per cent year-on-year as Microsoft will reach out to more new customers in the country. In new markets, we try to connect with the new businesses and entrepreneurs. We intend to help them by using Microsoft technologies to get their businesses started and growing. Globally, we expect 75 to 100 per cent growth in Office 365 and cloud service. Talking about Nepal, we will see a triple-digit growth for the years to come.
How can you achieve success in a market like Nepal where there is a widespread use of pirated software? 
We are well aware of the difficulties that lie ahead in such conditions. It will be a journey for us to encourage people to use genuine software and that is not going to happen overnight. Many software packages earlier were expensive as well as difficult to maintain. So, many users would go for pirated versions. The Office 365 has addressed this issue. The package comes in various affordable price levels and helps small businesses to manage their work easily. Now, they no longer have to maintain the server to keep things going. Microsoft will manage the IT side for them. So there is already an added value in Office 365. It is a subscription type package and the users are required to make payments on a monthly or yearly basis as per the model used. This time we have made a big push in the compliance and security side of the software. Our cloud service is much secured and we ensure customers that their data is well protected.
What are the key features of Office 365 compared to its previous iteration? 
In Office 2013, users were required to work and store their tasks in their machines. Now, it’s the data that is saved in the cloud which can be downloaded to machines. It allows the users to save their documents online. For example, you can put three e-mail addresses and it will be sent and you can work on your document in real-time. One can see the documents being edited with the names of the users at the same time. This will save time and increase the productivity of users. Office 365 is built for the new world of the mobile.  Even if you do not have a PC, you can login through the web app and easily work on the mobile devices. 
How's the response been from customers so far?
Our Office 365 and cloud business in the Asia-Pacific grew by 100 per cent in the first six months of this fiscal year. In December we again logged the growth rate at 100 per cent. The Office 365 and cloud business now represents the one-third of the total Office business in Asia-Pacific.  The growth is not only in the mature markets, it is in the emerging markets too. We are seeing a lot of demand for Office 365 and cloud services. We have almost two couple dozen customers here in Nepal after the initial launch a few months back. The number is rising as more Nepalis are attracted towards the flexibility and functionalities of Office 365.

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