In a matter of days since launching Lync locally, Microsoft has already attracted 20 interested parties, who are currently performing "proof of concepts," for this new offering, the umbrella brand for the company's family of communications servers, according to Microsoft Sri Lanka's Country Manager, Sriyan de Silva Wijeyeratne.
He was speaking to the Business Times ahead of the local office's seventh anniversary celebrations next week, a number made especially relevant because it coincides with promotions for Windows 7.
Microsoft's official statement on Lync bills it as having one interface which works across all applications, a "single platform that integrates instant messaging, presence, audio, video and web conferencing and voice."
Meanwhile, Mr. de Silva Wijeyeratne also revealed that local adoption of Windows 7 was on par with international rates, while there was also a 100% uptake in attached rates. This refers to customers buying new computers with Windows 7 pre-installed.
Additionally, noting the 2009 results of a study commissioned by Microsoft and carried out by international research agency IDC, which encompassed 52 countries, he indicated that 47% of Asia Pacific companies said they were dependent on Microsoft software. Also, for every US$ 1 generated for Microsoft, US$ 9 was generated for its partners. While Sri Lanka was not included in the study last year, it will be from 2010 onwards.
Mr. de Silva Wijeyeratne also suggested that 60% of local revenues for Microsoft partners was a result of services, customisation, etc, and that demand for this area was still high. The other part of the equation was support and deployment of Microsoft products. Further, it also emerged that demand for Microsoft Sharepoint was so high, the local office was "struggling to keep up."
He also revealed that, in the last seven years, the local office had met or exceeded all of its key performance indicators, this despite a few tough years at the start. In fact, business had grown a few times over; reach, or the inclusion of people as a esult of Microsoft's grass roots capacity building programmes, often carried out with NGOs or the country's Ministry of Education (MOE), had topped 1.5 million; partner capacity, referring to a certain number of Gold or Silver certified partners, had grown last year to a degree that should have taken two and a half years to achieve; the use of Microsoft's Enterprise stack was one of the highest in the Asia Pacific region; and there was 100% customer retention as well as 40 to 50 new partners added every year.
At the same time, there were also a number of other indicators, mostly social. Mr. de Silva Wijeyeratne added; "In our brief 7-year history, we have spent over Rs.500 million in cash, which was used for developing IT capacity and skill levels in education through our partnership with the MOE, through NGO's on many community initiatives, and through other various initiatives such as 'Gamata IT,' etc. Our efforts have influenced over 1.5 million people and considering that we are a pretty small outfit in Sri Lanka, this is saying a lot. All these initiatives were developed based on the needs of the government and the nation to boost IT literacy and develop modern ICT skills within our workforce. We have funded training for around 100,000 people during this process."
He also added that "over $1.6 million has been spent on education, where we have trained over 12,000 teachers extensively and engaged over 80,000 students and teachers within the last year alone, through our 'Innovative Teachers and Students Competition,' which is held annually in partnership with the MOE. This competition began with less than 200 applicants in our initial year. Around 25% of the entire student population has benefitted from our activities. What is most interesting is that over 95% of the beneficiaries of our engagement are outside of Colombo."
Further, he also noted that "'Gamata IT' alone has so far reached over 80,000 people in small villages, and trained 27,000 people, which are good contributions towards boosting rural IT literacy... We have also addressed the needs of many communities who need our support and engagement, and our software donation programmes have been mind boggling. Through our 'Software for the 21st Century' programme we enrolled 16 state and six private universities and over 25,000 students and lecturers have received software worth over US$ 40 million, absolutely free from us. During the past three months alone, we have donated a million dollars worth of software, free, to several locally registered NGO's to help them carry out the great work they do in Sri Lanka."
Concluding, Mr. de Silva Wijeyeratne suggested the main focus for Sri Lanka into the future would be in the area of collaboration or shared computing products such as Microsoft's Office 2010, Sharepoint, etc.