The use of Aadhaar on Skype Lite and LinkedIn will allow Microsoft to bring on board millions in small towns and rural areas lacking e-mail IDs. Sheetal Agarwal reports on Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's Mumbai visit.
Microsoft has become the first global information technology company to adopt Aadhaar, the Indian citizen identification, as an identity tool for LinkedIn, the professional networking site. And, for Skype Lite, its video conferencing interface, as it tries to tap the growing number of Indian users without direct e-mail access.
The use of Aadhaar on Skype Lite and LinkedIn will allow Microsoft to bring on board millions in small towns and rural areas lacking e-mail IDs, a crucial identifier in Western markets. And, connect with potential employers in a largely mobile-first country.
The majority of India's billion-strong population have leapfrogged to use mobile phones as their first computing device, without using personal computers. So, many of them would not have an e-mail ID.
Skype Lite works on patchy internet networks, while project Sangam would engage users in smaller towns to learn skills both offline and online. LinkedIn owns Lynda, an online learning company that offers courses on several such skills. India is the largest market for such courses in the world.
The government's move to mandate telecom companies to use Aadhaar as a Know Your Customer (KYC) mechanism would also make phone numbers unique for each individual.
The government has begun talks with Google and Apple to allow fingerprint Aadhaar-based authentication for users on their smartphones sold in the country.
"Nandan (Nilekani, who headed the Aadhaar project) articulated to me that every Indian should be empowered with their own data, so that they can be data-rich, and that journey does not begin if the identity system of the services that you use is not controlled and Aadhaar offers India that opportunity," said Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft, at an event here.
This push of Microsoft to use Aadhaar for identity would help it map consumers better and cross-sell higher premium products to those who could afford these.
This would help the company to push more services on rent and engage with customers for longer periods of time.
And, help it battle piracy of its products here.
"With the transformative power of the cloud, we are enabling Indian start-ups, businesses of all sizes, and government agencies to build new digital capability, find new growth and seize the opportunities ahead," stated Nadella.
The India-born CEO concluded his three-day visit to the country after signing deals with a number of companies and start-ups to host their applications on Microsoft's Azure cloud.
And, discussed with Union IT minister Ravishankar Prasad on the use of Microsoft technologies in government projects.
He also announced State Bank of India, this country's largest lender, had signed a deal to use his company's Office 365 on the cloud.