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Tech adoption cycle in India still has good legroom: Salesforce CEO

There is significant legroom in India for tech demand – which remains “robust” – across new age technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning despite some “cautious” undertones in client conversations, Arundhati Bhattacharya, chief executive of Salesforce India, told ET. Bhattacharya said there was massive scope for the Indian public sector and enterprise segment to adopt Cloud solutions and that the banking and financial services sector remains a key growth driver.

“(Globally) When they don’t know what the future holds for them economically, at that point of time, everybody turns cautious. So, they are trying to take longer to deliberate on the value that they’re getting out of investments. They (clients) will try to make investments over a longer period,” she said. “In India, the reason why we are seeing robust demand is because the Indian economy itself is growing quite robustly. And have a lot of catching up to do as well (industry perspective),” she said.

During its second quarter results announcement in August, Salesforce lowered its global revenue guidance.

Earlier this month, the company also
unveiled rationalization measures for its global employee base as it seeks to deal with a slump in enterprise Software as a Service demand. However, the global cautious behaviour is not reflected in demand seen in India, she added.
Bhattacharya said she sees massive opportunity in the small and medium enterprise segment.

“If you look at any of the global tech companies, the major group of their customers are always the BFSI sector. And to that extent, my knowledge of the BFSI sector helps me identify their requirement, customer issues,” she said.

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Bhattacharya has overseen a rapid growth in India headcount to over 7,500 employees from 2,500 earlier. On concerns over ‘moonlighting’ by technology professionals, Bhattacharya added that employees should be able to pursue their passion, provided they disclose these matters in advance and are subject to any client conflict issues.

“Doing something different can be an antidote to burnout. I believe that if an employee wants to do something that does not conflict with their existing employer and has taken prior permission, they should be able to pursue it. Employees are subject to certain productivity requirements anyway. If they are taking a risk of wanting to do something different, I don’t see why it shouldn’t be allowed,” she said.

Ensuring an open policy framework around these issues will foster transparency within the sector rather than driving such issues underground, Bhattacharya said.

On the issue of return to office, Bhattacharya said she expects the “hybrid” mode of working to become the de facto standard.

“Being at home, sometimes you feel that you’re more productive. But I think qualitatively, you’re more productive when you are in your physical space. And, therefore, I think we’ve got to adopt this hybrid mode to find a more effective way of doing it,” she said.

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