Namya Joshi, a 13-year-old schoolgirl from Punjab, like many her age, loves Minecraft. But she does not just play the video game. By building the Egyptian Civilisation using Minecraft as a platform, she made history a “fun” topic for her friends. What’s more, she has trained 100 teachers to use the material designed by her.
Joshi’s was one of the stories Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella shared at the “Future Decoded: Tech Summit” in Bengaluru on Tuesday.
It was all about developers at the summit. Joshi wasn’t the only developer Nadella mentioned. The other one was Suresh Chelladurai from a village in Tamil Nadu. The 21-year-old has discovered vulnerabilities in software recently, for which Nadella publicly lauded him.
The other overlying theme during Tuesday’s conference was the democratisation of technology.
The proceedings started way behind schedule, with Microsoft India president Anant Maheshwari taking the stage first to let the packed ballroom at the Conrad Bengaluru know that there were 700 technology executives in the audience and that it was being beamed live to six tech campuses around the country—Accenture, Cognizant, HCL, Infosys, TCS, and Wipro, and also ICICI.
“Today every company is a technology company or digital company,” he said, clarifying that he wasn’t talking about the 1.5 million startups in the world or the hundreds of IT services coming out of India. “I am talking about the 300,000 companies in India that use tech, with 70% of them getting on to the cloud.”
He said that moving forward, one had to think of every person as a developer, and here he didn’t mean only the 4.2 million developers in India—which is turning out to be the No. 1 developer pool on the planet. Maheshwari said he was talking about the 630 million people under the age of 25 in India, who were using the power of the low code or no code programming available in everybody’s hands, which made every person a developer. Of course, he identified himself as a citizen developer, while identifying Nadella as a professional developer.
Nadella, dressed casually in a checked shirt and jeans, took the stage to thunderous applause, saying it was a “privilege” to be back in India and talking to developers. One interesting part of “coming to India at the start of a new decade” was wondering what developers here would build in the next 10 years. While the last 10 years had been “amazing”, he wondered if one could have a “broad, cross-sectoral impact in an economy like India”. “In a society like this country where we can think about retail to healthcare to agritech, everything being changed by digital technology,” he said.
Nadella said Indian businesses and startups are emerging as innovation leaders, signalling how state-of-the-art technology can drive growth, enhance customer experience, and tackle some of India’s pressing and societal and environmental issues.
“We have an unprecedented opportunity to apply technology to drive economic growth that is inclusive, trusted, and sustainable everywhere, including in India,” he said, adding, “That’s why we are partnering with leaders in every industry across the country to help them build their own digital capability, transform their organisations, and achieve more in this era.”
Nadella, in a recent interview with Fortune, had spelt out how not just the tech industry, but every industry should grow using technology. He had also talked about building trust into technology, and sustainable growth. All three themes found mention in his address.
He talked about embedded technology in the various devices around us like cars and refrigerators and said that this was the first time technology experience was “human-centred”.
But startups and the use of technology were foremost on his mind and he talked about how some of them were using Microsoft’s solutions.
Nadella started off with the Azure cloud and how unicorns Myntra and Udaan were using them. Azure, for example, was helping Myntra scale rapidly for big spikes that occur routinely during festive season sales. As for Udaan, a startup born in the cloud startup, the technology helps them rapidly increase coverage and scale.
Next, he spoke about how Dynamics 365 was helping Royal Enfield improve customer experience, while it helped Eureka Forbes with sales. He talked about how the HAMS (Harnessing Automobiles for Safety) solution, developed by Microsoft Research, in a pilot is using a smartphone attached to the car’s windshield authenticates the driver is the same as the licence applicant. It also monitors the driving test to ensure that the test is fool-proof and objective. At the end of the driving test, HAMS generates the result to show whether the driver has passed the test or not. The implementation has increased the number of driving tests, reduced the time a candidate has to wait to do a test, and also made the tests completely objective both for the evaluator and the candidate.