The man who sells the future for Microsoft

Çağlayan Arkan, Microsoft’s Industrial Metaverse Global Sales Leader, has been at the forefront of supply chain and manufacturing innovation for 20 years

Çağlayan Arkan leads global industrial metaverse sales at Microsoft. If you are unsure what it is, exactly, that Arkan is selling, then join the club; I had to look it up, which is a fair guide to just how cutting-edge his role is.

For the record, the metaverse is a massively scaled and interoperable network of real-time rendered 3D virtual worlds that can be experienced individually by an unlimited number of users.

The industrial metaverse blends the digital and physical worlds through engineering, manufacturing, and field service. Though still in its early stages, the vision is for it to enable real-time collaboration, connectivity, and spatially-aware context within industrial environments

And Microsoft is in the vanguard of this, with Arkan key to its efforts.

“My team and I have a deep understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities that companies face in this rapidly evolving landscape,” he says. “Our ability to bring the power of immersive experiences into the world of work has the potential to empower millions across the globe and our commitment to supporting our customers along this journey is unwavering.”

This bleeding-edge role is one Arkan has held for just two months. Prior to that, he was Microsoft’s VP Global Strategy & Sales Lead, Manufacturing & Supply Chain. There, he led the company’s manufacturing and supply chain business globally, helping manufacturers run complex global supply chains. 

In that role, Arkan said it was his job to “help all customers rethink how they operate and rethink their workforce”. This included everything from supply chain, security, data and cultural shifts.

Arkan has a deep experience of manufacturing, and says he is inspired by the role Microsoft plays within the partner ecosystem. 

“I’m so fortunate to be doing what I’m doing, because it’s a historical point,” he says of his work in this area, which has included stints at Microsoft as VP, Global Lead, Manufacturing Industry, as well as Global Lead, Manufacturing and Resources Industry.

In his career he has worked across Turkey – though is now based in Bellevue, Washington – and has had a hand in manufacturing from all sides. 

After undertaking internships and projects on factory floors, he went on to gain an MBA in Industrial Engineering.

“I had over a decade of entrepreneurial time, owned a bunch of companies with partners, walked away from that and joined Siemens. That was me coming back to automation, energy, manufacturing and high tech.”

But, now, Arkan is a part of Microsoft’s transformation. 

“Microsoft has one of the most ambitious and broadest mission statements, and that really is very attractive for people like me, that are all about leading with their vision and helping others,” he says. “Technology has changed both personal lives and how businesses operate. It’s part of Microsoft’s mission, in terms of, ‘we democratise technology and now, we’re going to democratise digital transformation’. 

“Being part of that, being able to influence something that is so impactful – I don’t know how life gets any better.”

Arkan has spent half a lifetime travelling the globe, talking to customers from all industries and verticals. Not all leaders understand what Microsoft technology has to offer, he says. It has been his life’s work to help such people grasp the importance of what’s on offer. 

“If everyone knew what technology had to offer we would already have a sustainable world, with sustainable operations and supply chains,” he points out. “We would have moved our workforce to the digital age and reskilled them.”

It is part of his job at Microsoft to create awareness and inform everyone, from individual users to large enterprises, about how to become a digital entity. 

“My role is to meet them where they are, go through their journeys and move them towards their own ‘art of possible’, however they define it,” Arkan says. 

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