Eric
Eric Odipo, Microsoft Country Manager East and Southern Africa

We are starting this week off with an interview with the Microsoft Country Manager for East and Southern Africa, Mr Eric Odipo who talked to us about Office 365 and some of the strategies to make it succeed in Sub Saharan Africa.

I usually start off my interview with a fun question. So What motivates you to wake up in the morning?

I’m naturally an early riser so I’m always in the office by 7:00 am. One of the things that motivates me to is my current role. I have a really strong team who are good at what they do, are able to work independently and are highly motivated. We have a great diversity in the team – and in the partner and customer community as well. In the region we cover, each country has a unique culture, business practice and set of priorities, which makes my role very exciting and the interaction very stimulating.

Microsoft recently launched office 365 in more than 18 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. What is special about it and why should people and businesses care?

Microsoft Office 365 provides businesses anywhere access to familiar Office applications, email, calendar, video conferencing and most up-to-date documents, all optimized to give the best experience across virtually any internet-connected device – from PCs to smartphones to tablets.

Office 365 gives businesses the productivity tools they need to succeed in a fast-moving world. With up-to-date Office applications for Windows-based PCs, tablets and mobile phones, end users can keep things moving forward from anywhere. Powerful, easy-to-manage online services including Exchange, SharePoint, Yammer and Lync give any business enterprise-grade capabilities.

Office 365 also offers businesses control without hassle through a reimagined deployment model for Office apps and a common management experience across the platform. The service also provides peace of mind with data loss prevention as well as data retention and eDiscovery.

What are some of the strategies you are putting in place to increase the success of Office 365 in sub-Saharan Africa.

One of the advantages of Office 365 is that it allows us to deliver more regular updates to our customers, so they’re always up to date with the latest service features. Office 365 customers are already benefiting from quarterly updates. Our market research shows that people are incredibly enthusiastic about productivity as a service and having 24/7 access to their documents and contacts, no matter where they are.

We believe that a combination of the right technology and a collaborative corporate culture enables employees to do their very best work from wherever they are.

Office 365 gives customers the familiar productivity tools you use every day in the cloud and roams with you from device to device, creating the flexibility to pick up where you left off no matter where you are. This flexibility makes our working lives more manageable, leading to greater business productivity, cost savings, improved talent retention, higher employee satisfaction and many other benefits. Office 365 is about making people productive, whenever and wherever they need it.

Why has the next release of Office for Mac delayed because I understand the last release was in 2011? 

(I am sure you are referring to Outlook for Mac) Our principle is to deliver value to subscribers as soon as it’s available. We are now more responsive to our customers than ever before and we want to deliver high quality products when they’re ready. While the engineering team were working on Word, Excel and PowerPoint for iPad, the Outlook team completed work on the Mac platform.

We have had several small and large beta programs to make sure that the product was up to the expectation of enterprise customers and we’re now confident about releasing Outlook for Mac today as a standalone app.

Currently, we are looking at second half of calendar year 2015 for the launch of the new Office for Mac.

Office 365 now has apps on the iPad, Is there going to be an Office 365 suite for Android?

There is a preview available for Android tablets. As you know Microsoft is making the core productivity capabilities of Office available to more people across more platforms and more devices. This latest milestone includes:

* Office is now on the most popular devices:  Office for Android Tablet preview opened up recently with availability early next year

* Core viewing and editing: You now get the core editing experience, in addition to viewing, available on all phones and tablets without a subscription. We’re also delivering a consistent Office experience across phones and tablets (Office for iPhone).

* Office across Services: Dropbox users can browse and edit Office files with native Office editors on iOS and Android devices, Windows mobile and Web devices by early next year.

As Satya outlined earlier this year, at our core, we are focused on reinventing productivity for the cloud first, mobile first world. This transformation is well underway with Office 365 and today’s announcements are examples of our relentless focus on and commitment to building great digital work and life experiences with a specific focus on dual use.

I understand Microsoft Azure is another offering for the enterprises from Microsoft. Do you think Businesses are going to adopt to using the Microsoft Cloud?

Yes I do.

Microsoft has both real public cloud scale experience and a deep understanding of customers’ legacy infrastructure. That’s the perfect combination to provide the right cloud solution for businesses. We can adapt to a client’s cloud roadmap and meet their business needs for compliance, security, and high availability. Our hybrid cloud lets our customers extend their IT team’s existing skills, from running on-premises datacenters to Microsoft Azure or a hosting service provider’s datacenter. Our experience in datacenters and cloud lets us offer a hybrid cloud that gives them the best of both worlds. Even better, we know that some of the first things that businesses want to move to the cloud may be workloads like SharePoint and Exchange that are critical to their business activity.  We believe that no one else understands Microsoft products and supports them better than we do.