Microsoft has outlined its Asia-Pacific strategy in regards to public sector vertical markets.
In a Worldwide Partner Conference 2010 keynote, Microsoft general manager Asia-Pacific public sector, Colin Timm, said the governments of the region would continue to see similar challenges moving into 2011, while the vendor and its partners would see a growth in opportunities.
“Governments will look for growth that is driven on productivity and innovation, not private debt and lending as it was in the past,” Timm says.
“What is changing is the social drivers – an aging workforce and citizens having greater levels of expectation from the Government. Governments are also taking a far more active stance on economy.”
There was an 18 percent growth in the Asia-Pacific region around healthcare and government, according to Timm. This compared with a software growth rate of six percent.
It meant there would be massive opportunities in the market into 2011, he says.
“It's about securing the future. The vision for us is clear – together with partners we want to help Government raise productivity and national competitiveness and readiness.”
The Asia-Pacific education market has about 157 million students and 7.5 million teachers. PC shipments in emerging markets will grow by at least 20 percent year-over-year.
In additional, the World Bank is doubling its investment in education in the region, and the Asian Development Bank is also increasing its own investment to $400 million between 2010-2012.
It's a big pie that Microsoft wants an equally big slice of, Asia-Pacific education director, Neil Jackson, says.
“In the region there is a rapid move to cloud computing with services like Live@edu, and that's being driven by efficiency promises,” he says.
“We're going to do a lot more by engaging with the analysts that inform donors, and the donors themselves to make sure IT is on the forefront for investment.”
There are opportunities in markets that are looking at digitising textbooks – such as Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. There are also opportunities in large-scale notebook or PC rollouts such as the DET Lenovo rollout here in Australia.
Microsoft has a three-pronged approach to the education market and encourages partners, both global and local, to engage with it to hunt down opportunities, Jackson says.
It wants to empower educators and engage students by creating smart technologies that are entertaining to use, such as the Xbox 360 Kinect project. Microsoft claims this will have a broader reach than the console living room, and the Kodu programming language specifically targeted for use by children.
Secondly, it is looking at developing agile infrastructure – through Azure.
Finally, it's keen to build connected learning communities, such as the recent global students to business project.
Healthcare continues to grasp at anything that can help simplify its operations, Microsoft Asia-Pacific healthcare director, Gabe Rijpma, claims.
“No other industry struggles with IT more than healthcare,” he says. “So, cloud is going to be big in this sector.”
In addition, the nice thing for partners working in the field is that wasn't overly competitive, according to Rijpma. There were plenty of opportunities for partners to get together and work in collaboration.
Microsoft has a four-pronged approach in this area. Partners should be looking to optimise ICT infrastrucutre in healthcare. They should also look for ways to improve health and wellness – for example, chronic diseases such as diabetes are a major burden on the health system, so providers will be looking for ways to better manage those.
Moving to the cloud and improving operational efficiency are the other two initiatives. Rijma said they were the two that healthcare naturally looked to ICT to provide, anyway.
Public safety and defence
As Microsoft industry market development manager, Warren Prentice, says the military budget for some Asia-Pacific nations is measured as a percentage of GDP, not a raw number.
It is a major opportunity for the ICT industry, and spans police/fire, justice, homeland/internal security, intelligence and defence.
“Why is Microsoft interested?” Prentice says. “It's a valid question, but creating connected systems, building information-driven software, rich interfaces and a ubiquitous presence in most countries in the world mean there's a lot of room for IT in this sector.”
One of the challenges for this industry is based around exporting local talent, but it's something that Microsoft is focusing on moving forward.
“If you're an ISV in Australia trying to break into Malaysia the key is building consortiums with local partners and jointly attacking the market,” Prentice says.
“Our job is to match you up with the right types of partners so you can bring your capabilities into the market.”
The three chief needs for the defence sector were communication and collaboration, transformation and optimised infrastucture and mobility, Prentice claims.
Public safety spending will be around citizen safety solutions, emergency response, and information sharing and cross agency collaboration.