Microsoft in Asia: Empowering individuals, businesses and countries

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On the daily commute on the train to work, an executive takes out his mobile phone to catch up on e-mails and the latest news. Meanwhile, his kids are in school taking selfies with their friends and sharing it over social media. These are commonplace scenes that reflect an increasingly hyper-connected world, and one that’s particularly booming in Asia.

The region is home to 1.27 billion Internet users, that’s more than the combined total of 1.05 billion users in the Americas and Europe. It comes as little surprise that Asia is where you can find the world’s fastest-growing Internet population, the Philippines, which has risen 530 percent over the past five years. Asia is also where we have the most active Twitter city (Jakarta, followed closely by Tokyo) and the most Facebook users (Bangkok, followed by Jakarta).

With so much potential, it’s no wonder many of the world’s top businesses want to be part of the action. The region houses the headquarters of over one-third of the world’s top 2,000 companies. This has contributed to making Asia the largest regional e-commerce market out there.

Nowhere else can you find the concept of a mobile-first, cloud-first world more evident than in Asia. Consumers here are more connected, more informed, and hungrier to adopt new devices and solutions that will help them to achieve their business and personal goals.

As the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. To do so, we aim to create more personal computing for everyone, reinvent productivity and business processes and lastly, build the intelligent cloud where data and services reside. We strongly believe that our mission is closely aligned to the ambitions of nations, businesses and people in Asia.


Microsoft growing in and with Asia

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“Innovating and helping people get things done in
a mobile-first, cloud-first world is core to Microsoft’s purpose in Asia”

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Microsoft is committed to building on its rich heritage in Asia. Since starting operations in the region more than 30 years ago, the company now has over 16,600 employees across 18 subsidiaries in the region.

updated-mapClick here to access an interactive map of Microsoft’s presence across Asia

We are poised to play a big part in the rapid growth of Asia, whether it is realizing the potential of individuals, businesses or nations. Microsoft has been there at every step of the way as Asia has transformed into the vibrant economy we see today. We are committed to helping the region’s smart, young and innovative people lead more prosperous and productive lives.


Innovation: Advancing the world with technology

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“Delivering products that transform the way consumers engage with technology, helping them be more effective, more creative and more connected to the people and information that matters to them.

What’s next? To answer that question, we spend more than 10% of our revenue every year on research and development.

Finding the answers involve a balance of invention, re-imagining and evolution. We seek to re-imagine, take existing ideas from inside and outside the company, and rethink them as we incorporate new technologies and anticipate changing customer requirements.

Driving innovation in Asia for Asia and around the world, we have over 65 world class innovation centers in the region. These hubs support promising technology initiatives, helping innovators bring their transformative solutions to market and launch new local startups. Over the years, Microsoft has cultivated a rich and diverse network of developers and start-up businesses. These partners are now part of a growing ecosystem of more than 140,000 companies.

We understand the importance of empowering Asia’s innovators of the future. These are the smart, curious and ambitious youngsters who have the desire to dream big, code creatively and boldly bring their ideas to life.

One of those platforms created for them is the Imagine Cup, a premier student technology competition aimed at providing opportunities for students, developers and aspiring entrepreneurs to create solutions that can make a difference in society. The 2015 competition saw one of the strongest showings by Asia which was represented by 11 teams. Australia and Singapore won first and second place in the Citizenship category, and Australia went on to take runner up spot in the grand finals. Team China took third place in the Games category.

Microsoft Research Asia, located in Beijing, China, houses more than 250 researchers and developers and more than 300 visiting scientists and students today
Microsoft Research Asia, located in Beijing, China, houses more than 250 researchers and developers and more than 300 visiting scientists and students today

There are two Microsoft Research labs in Asia. Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing (China) is the fundamental research arm, exploring areas such as natural user interface and next-generation multimedia. Microsoft also runs joint labs across China with the Ministry of Education. Microsoft Research India in Bangalore (India) focuses on broad, encompassing fields such as algorithms, cryptography, systems and natural language processes.

One of the results of our research and development is the Skype Translator app, a prime example of how Microsoft continues to innovate its technology to help make things easier. It translates speech in near real-time to another language, removing barriers to communication as well as opening new opportunities for collaboration.

This is an example of one of the many basic research areas we have been investing in for more than a decade – speech recognition, automatic translation and machine learning technologies. Now they are emerging as important components in this more personal computing era.

Youth & Education: Empowering youth to build a better future with technology

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“Helping students and educators realize their full potential
and enable anytime, anywhere learning for all

Khadiyah Amanakun, an English teacher from a school in the southernmost province of Thailand, proved that with creative engagement in technology, students can be encouraged to learn the language no matter where they are, with or without the Internet. Her after-school program “5 Steps to Mastering English Public Speaking” sparked the interest of her students in the English language and helped improve their exam scores. Khadiyah was subsequently selected as the only Thai “Expert Educator” of 2014, received the Thailand Innovative Teachers Leadership Award, and was selected from 90 teachers nationwide to join Microsoft’s Partners in Learning program — a partnership project between with the Ministry of Education.

Khadiyah’s story is but one of many inspiring success stories that showcases our efforts to go beyond the business of technology to encompass education and youth programs in Asia. We believe that productivity is driven by the new skills needed to power a changing workforce—collaboration, digital literacy, problem solving and creativity. Therefore, it is important to create opportunities for young people by enhancing their access to technology and learning, to help develop the skills that will support the region’s future.

Through a series of Microsoft Education Programs, we have reached more than 42 million teachers and students in Asia alone. Microsoft YouthSpark, which was launched in late 2012 to provide assistance for young people, has already helped over 26 million youth in Asia receive opportunities through the network.

Here’s another example where Microsoft collaborated with graduate students from Thailand to develop an app that provides information about accessibility and wheelchair facilities in Bangkok and surrounding areas, including at government agency offices and attractions:


Urbanization: Enabling Cities in Asia to do New with Less

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“Leveraging technology enables city leaders
to do “New with Less” and drive real economic impact
by moving beyond infrastructure to engage citizens

Cities in Asia are facing daunting issues as the march towards urbanization unleashes a new wave of challenges; from the need to modernize aging infrastructure in older cities to scaling the demand for natural resources and sustaining the health and safety of their citizens.

All of this is unfolding in the midst of an extended global economic downturn. While the need to do more with less is evident, especially in Asia’s already aging populations, it is imperative to broaden today’s conversations around smart cities to doing New with Less to deliver both economic and social opportunities to their citizens. Because at their core, cities are about people.

Microsoft is partnering with companies such as Advantech to build smart cities and businesses with Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Click here to understand how IoT is taking shape in Asia today
Microsoft is partnering with companies such as Advantech to build smart cities and businesses with Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Click here to understand how IoT is taking shape in Asia today.

Microsoft’s goal, through our CityNext initiative, is to empower cities and their citizens to work together to improve the way they operate and how they support their economies.

There are many ways we are already doing this in Asia. In Thailand, for example, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has reduced the time it takes to investigate criminal cases from two years to 15 days, thanks to the implementation of a Microsoft Big Data solution that has improved DSI’s data management capabilities.

Typhoon Haiyan

In the Philippines, after Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) made landfall in November 2013, Microsoft worked with the Department of Science and Technology, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and local governments to provide an immediate on-the-ground communications network for victims of the disaster, using TV White Spaces technology. The initiative was able to connect 5,000 rescue workers and 500 residents in affected areas, facilitating more than 75,000 hours of Skype connections.


Trust & Security: People do not use technology that they do not trust

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“An experienced and principled approach to delivering
the most trustworthy cloud services that help
customers feel confident in their computing experience

Microsoft firmly believes that delivering on the trust customers expect is paramount to the nations, businesses and individuals in an age where computing devices and services is at the front and centre of our lives. After all, people won’t use technology they don’t trust. And in the cloud era today, trust is now more important than ever.

Click here to find out more about the cybercrime fighters Microsoft has in place in Asia to create a safer computing environment for nations, businesses and individuals
Click here to find out more about the cybercrime fighters Microsoft has in place in Asia that create a safer computing environment for nations, businesses and individuals

To gain that trust, there are many levels of assurances put in place. For instance, cybersecurity and data privacy are engineered into Microsoft products and services from the initial design stage using the Security Development Lifecycle. This is a holistic and comprehensive software development process for writing more secure and privacy-enhanced code, enabling more reliable products and services.

In light of growing concerns over government access to data, Microsoft is breaking new ground to not only expand its technological protections but also provide choice and transparency on where data is stored for government and business customers. In addition, the company maintains and is continually expanding a rich set of third-party certifications to help demonstrate compliance readiness to customers, auditors and regulators.

As part of its global fight against cybercrime, Microsoft opened a Cybercrime Satellite Centre in Singapore in early 2015. This is one of five such Microsoft facilities in the world (with the others located in Beijing, Berlin, Tokyo, and Washington), and will serve as the regional hub for Microsoft’s cybercrime fighting activities and cybersecurity initiatives in Asia. The company hopes to step up efforts to fight malware, reduce digital risks and protect vulnerable populations, to create a safe digital world for consumers, governments and businesses in this region.

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Asia is the “new centre of gravity” with technology set to propel the region into an innovation leadership position within the next decade.

Key technology trends across Asia are similar to those across the world. We have the global perspective and, with our partners and customers, the local expertise to understand and deliver around these trends.

What’s next? We have always focused on how our technology can enrich consumers’ lives, build businesses, entertain, inspire and change the world.

We have the unique ability to harmonize the world’s devices, apps, documents, data and social networks in digital work and life experiences so that people are at the center and are empowered to do more and achieve more. That’s why our three main ambitions are to reinvent productivity and business processes, create more personal computing, and build the intelligent cloud.

Microsoft is well positioned in the ICT industry with the right solutions to drive the Asian economy and make a real change.

We share Asia’s vision of a future that is competitive, innovative and inclusive, and have a stake in the success of Asia, through the staff, partners, customers and investments that we have built up here in the last 30 years.