Lillian Barnard, MD at Microsoft SA. Picture: SUPPLIED
Lillian Barnard, MD at Microsoft SA. Picture: SUPPLIED

In this edition of Business Day Spotlight we’re talking to one of the country’s top business leaders in technology about her experience operating in the current coronavirus-induced economy. 

To discuss the issues, our host Mudiwa Gavaza is joined by Lillian Barnard, MD at Microsoft SA. 

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The discussion begins with Barnard talking about her experience of running a technology business such as Microsoft through this Covid-19 crisis. 

She says the crisis has been hard on all businesses. The main issue was making sure employees were made safe and given the resources to continue operating away from the office. For the most part, she says Microsoft has been able to continue operating as normal.

Business Day Spotlight host Mudiwa Gavaza. Picture: DOROTHY KGOSI
Business Day Spotlight host Mudiwa Gavaza. Picture: DOROTHY KGOSI

The move to more remote working has increased the demand for cloud computing and remote working tools, such as video-conferencing. Barnard says Microsoft has seen a big uptick in usage for its Office 365 products and Microsoft Teams as a result. She gives details about the usage of Teams around the world, such as there being more than 200-million people a day participating in meetings online using the platform. 

Barnard also explains how they have gone about coping with the increased demand for services with their partner network and customers, as well as working with the government in putting together Covid-19 healthcare systems. 

Given the increased use of its platforms to conduct classes and lectures, Barnard says Microsoft is investing a lot in education, having partnered with companies such as Vodacom on these projects. 

She says the current crisis provides an opportunity for society to re-imagine how education will be delivered in the future, likely driven by the use of technology. As corporate structures have been disrupted by the lockdown, education is likely to undergo a shift. 

Barnard also gives her thoughts around the future of work and education; how Microsoft’s partnerships with companies such as SAP have been affected by lockdowns; a new LinkedIn skills programme in SA; and the arrival of Surface computer products in the local market slated for later this year. 

For more episodes, click here.

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Business Day Spotlight is a MultimediaLIVE production.

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