Interview with Herbert Lewy - General Manager, Microsoft Caribbean

Tell us about some of the main focus areas for Microsoft in Trinidad and the Caribbean?

Expand on the following key areas - Creating more personal computing, reinventing productivity and business processes and building the intelligent cloud platform.

Microsoft is very excited about extending our impact in Trinidad and Tobago, and the wider Caribbean. There is certainly significant room for opportunity in this marketplace, and our solutions can be key to driving innovation that will be central to the region’s development, and especially to help solve some of the region’s challenges.

Microsoft’s intelligent cloud platform, Azure, is central to enhancing efficiency, reinventing productivity and business processes, and empowering users to tap into their latent capabilities. We are in the process of expanding our datacentres, which brings Azure to 42 regions globally with 69 compliance offerings, the most comprehensive compliance coverage in the industry. This means that customers across the Caribbean are able to comply with national, regional, and industry-specific requirements governing the collection and use of individuals’ data, while taking advantage of the scalability and flexibility the cloud provides to them. We are very pleased to bring this world-class capability and security to our valued customers in the Caribbean. This certainly levels the playing field for companies, allowing small and medium businesses (the engine of our economies), access to enterprise-grade technologies.

Can you say more about the Caribbean being treated as a distinct region now?

The Caribbean region is a testament of a strategic decision Microsoft made to be a Global company, with local reach. Right now in Caribbean we are serving 33 countries through 5 offices, and having one of those offices in Trinidad and Tobago exemplifies further our commitment.

We appointed in late 2017 a new Country Manager for Trinidad and Tobago, Ms. Racquel Moses, and she is also leading Public Sector efforts for the Caribbean Market. In her role, she executes Microsoft’s vision of digital transformation throughout the Caribbean region, and facilitates the enhancement of the customer experience and public outcomes through an emphasis on people and sustainable solutions. We look forward to a more focused approach to growing not only Trinidad and Tobago, but also the entire Caribbean region through technology. In addition, we’re able to have teams that work across the Caribbean leverage each other’s ideas, and work alongside our partners across the Caribbean to create technology solutions that help our customers in their digital transformation journeys.

What would you say to customers who are doubtful about moving to the cloud?

Some of the key things to consider when moving to the cloud are the scalability and costs savings, and the privacy and security of their data. In terms of scalability, companies that move to the cloud can save up to 60% on storage costs; they can deploy solutions faster using what they already have, and go to market 4x faster; they can reduce travel and communication costs, seeing up to 40% reduction in travel expenses; and, among others, they can reduce cost of training and deployment by up to 30%.

Now, privacy and security are extremely important. Microsoft has decades of experience in running some of the largest online services in the world, which translates to decades of continuously working to improve security-aware software development, operational management, and threat-mitigation practices that are essential to the strong protection of services and data. Our customers can be confident in the security of Microsoft and our commitment to protecting data. The security and peace of mind of our customers is paramount, and as stated before, we are in the process of expanding our datacentres, ensuring that our customers have the security of the most comprehensive compliance coverage in the industry with regard to the collection and use of data.

What is coming in the future from the Microsoft Innovation Center in Trinidad?

Our partnership with CARIRI to launch the Microsoft Innovation Center (MIC) has been incredibly successful and the results so far are wildly exciting. The innovation center has served over 10 cohorts with more than 75 graduates. Fifty (50%) of those graduates have implemented their ideas, which continue to grow and gain momentum. Examples of successful projects include the Hyperglycemia in Pregnancy Trinidad and Tobago (HiPTT)¹ application that utilizes Microsoft Azure technology. Diabetes is a major public health problem with pregnant women being a particularly vulnerable group. This app launched in October 2016 is a collaborative effort that allows doctors, laboratories and patients to manage and review medical results on a mobile device or computer.

The MIC has also launched a pilot program in biotechnology, which is showing real promise. All of these are the tip of the iceberg. Microsoft has 116 such innovation centres worldwide. We are currently working to connect our local MIC with the others to share ideas and innovations. We have as much to share as we have to learn, which is truly exciting as our projects have the ability to generate international recognition for the work we are doing here.

Briefly what is BizSpark and how can local entrepreneurs access this?

We recently announced the launch of Microsoft for Startups. Microsoft for Startups, is a new initiative that aims to accelerate the growth of startups around the world. With the program, we are committing globally $500M over the next two years to become the first major cloud provider to offer co-selling options to startups, along with expanded access to our technology, increased technical and business support, and new community spaces that promote collaboration within local ecosystems. On the technology side, we continue to invest heavily so startup developers can iterate quickly and easily with the open source tools and resources that they already know.

In this recent interview Satya talks about "mixed reality and AI" being the next big waves. Any words on this and will the Trinidad public be able to experience these? Maybe a Holo Lens demo and setup in one of the malls?

When Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft more than 40 years ago, their goal was to bring the benefits of software for computing — then largely locked up in mainframes — to everyone.

Today, Microsoft is aiming to do something similar with artificial intelligence. Our AI systems are designed to augment what people do and our goal is to make AI available to everyone. And we’re committed to making sure that our AI tools and technologies earn the trust of all.

AI is already having a tangible, useful impact on many people’s day-to-day lives, including in Trinidad and Tobago. For example, it could be helping someone quickly create an impressive PowerPoint presentation or allowing people from two different countries to communicate across language barriers. There are plenty of other examples where anybody around the world can already experience AI, and in order to make Microsoft AI accessible to everyone, we have created APIs and other tools that developers, customers and data scientists can use to add intelligence into existing products and services, or to build new ones.

¹ Video infomercial - Microsoft & HiPTT (Hyperglycemia in Pregnancy)