In a recent interview with Marc Israel, Office Division Director for Microsoft West, East and Central Africa, I was made aware that there is quite a lot of progress for Microsoft in the country this year. Marc Israel was in Kenya to speak with retail and distribution partners about Office 365 and other related products by Microsoft like Lync and Microsoft Cloud.
Marc was very enthusiastic about Office 365 progress over the last three years. Office 365 was introduced in Kenya some two and a half years ago in June 2012 and the journey has been interesting. It did not start with bread and butter and there was quite a struggle in the first year as users struggled with the idea of paying for a service they already had purchased one-off and didn’t have to worry about future payments, the product was different, but users would learn this later.
“Initially, uptake was very slow for the new product, Office 365 and the market was not ready. Questions about security and data privacy were the main questions by Kenyans and the first year was almost flat,” said Marc at the interview. “The second year was for early adopters and it’s in the third year that Office 365 saw huge growth.”
Marc added that Office 365 has experienced a 1000% year over year growth in Kenyan market, and the last year saw very large customers come on board with smaller customers also starting to get in. “The Office business side has realized growth in every size of enterprises from mom n’ pop shops (one or two users) to mammoths like Kenya Ports Authority.” said Marc adding that in the education section Google came in earlier and has been very active, still is very strong but Microsoft has been making headway in there as well.
Marc mentioned an interesting point that 4 years ago when Microsoft launched Office 2010, the company had a mantra that they needed to be where the users are, but the company was shy in that they didn’t want to compromise the Windows franchise. The new CEO Satya Nadella who was previously leading Cloud at Microsoft came in with a cloud vision and said that “we did not want to compromise anymore”. Microsoft, according to Satya missed the bus of mobile users, and that’s the thinking behind embracing all other platforms even at the risk of losing money in subscriptions. Microsoft released free apps on iOS and iPad to get more users onboarded to the Microsoft environment wherever they are.
Marc also commented on the move for Microsoft to develop Office apps for rival Dropbox, just days after announcing unlimited cloud storage for Onedrive users, a move that really hit it hard for Dropbox. He said that Microsoft has this big dream of being the market leader in productivity, storage and file sync and still recognized that the world is not 100 percent Microsoft. That there’s people in Dropbox and are happy on Dropbox that can still be reached out to and ensure they experience Microsoft from where they are.
Microsoft does co-opetition where if it’s a service that they compete on but the rival doesn’t have a complementing service that Microsoft already has, they propose to blend in their service. That’s what they did with DropBox. Marc also quoted another example with Oracle which did not have a cloud strategy in four or five years ago. As much as the two companies are competitors in Dynamics and CRM, Oracle Online is based on Azure after an agreement for co-opetition where products align. As long as Oracle still don’t have their own product for cloud, there is still room for co-opetition.