Mumbai: Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani and Microsoft Corp. chief executive Satya Nadella on Monday expressed hope and excitement about their nascent technology alliance, with Ambani terming it the “defining partnership of the decade".
“What this decade will offer is that we go from no technology to pole-vault in tech and adopt a full service," Ambani said during a fireside chat at the Future Decoded Tech Summit in Mumbai. “Between Jio and Microsoft, we will give the full stack of service that will propel India forward in the coming decade," he said at the summit organized by Microsoft to engage with Indian industry leaders.
In August 2019, Reliance Industries announced a 10-year technology partnership with Microsoft for its subsidiary Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, including for cloud-based solutions.
“A tech-enabled society will not only be better for business, helping improve the ease of doing business, but also improve the ease of living and build a society that is equal and empower everyone to find their potential," Ambani said at the chat about how technology has evolved over the last decade.
Ambani, who shared his vision for development of a tech-enabled society, expressed optimism about India’s future as a gaming nation, saying that gaming has huge potential and can become bigger than music, movies and TV shows put together.
According to India-born Nadella, the two companies will expand their partnership to bring more offerings to India. The Redmond, Washington-based technology giant will work with Reliance to leverage its Azure cloud platform for these offerings to address the needs of Indian business, and thereby help power India’s digital economy, he added.
“Microsoft is working with Reliance across the entire stack of technology and it is impressive how the Ambanis have taken a platform approach to use technology to build more technology," said Nadella.
He added that Indian companies have to build their own tech capability. “Whenever I speak to CEOs in other industries, I always say you will never be cool by association. Just because you do a press release with us you are not going to be cool. You have to build your own tech capability and solutions that are inclusive."
Nadella also spoke about how Microsoft was looking to empower small businesses in India in their cloud journey with Reliance Jio.
Though the partnership could help accelerate India’s move to a digital economy, analysts said the relationship may prove disruptive for competing businesses. “We may have all missed tracking the scale and significance of this partnership. Reliance and Microsoft together can make a deep sectoral impact," said Prasanto K. Roy, a technology and policy adviser.
The partnership for a “tech platform for businesses of all sizes" could be as disruptive to the business-to-business space as the e-commerce giants have been to retail in India, he said.
Another analyst said that while both companies will gain from such a partnership, neither should rely too much on the other.
“It’s good for Microsoft to have a strategic partner like Jio so that if there are any regulatory changes, the business doesn’t get impacted, an issue that has been sensitive for most technology vendors given the recent spate of changes by the regulators and the government, especially around data localization," said Sanchit Vir Gogia, founder and CEO of Greyhound Research.
“However, Jio will have to invest towards ensuring a multi-cloud environment, which is going to be absolutely critical since enterprises are looking for multi-cloud access," he added.