We take a quick look at some of the top takeaways from the biggest gathering of the enterprises in India, 29th Dataquest Leadership Conclave 2022, and the results of the ICT Business awards.
The annual event celebrates the Next Gen Enterprise across the country, with a host of categories recognising the brilliant work of ICT Industry.
Now, the awards for the 29th year of the event have been handed out at a ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Delhi. Each winner was recognised for the hard work, determination, impeccable service and efforts of the Digital warriors, leaders and professionals that transformed business at an excellent standard.
The event, organised by Dataquest, Cybermedia. CyberMedia, India’s oldest and leading IT media company has lived up its traditions in creating quality media brands and being of the industry in IT and business of IT to the community and society at large.
Pradeep Gupta, Chairman, CyberMedia Group, gave an industry overview. He said: “We have seen many major changes since December 1982. One of them was the introduction of IT. That also brought about a sea-change in almost all of the businesses. The next change was the introduction of PCs. We also launched PC Quest.
You also had a device in everybody’s hands. And then, there was the Internet. A new set of apps started coming in. Next came the mobile phone! This was followed by cloud and related technologies. Now, we are seeing next-gen technologies. There will be complete transformation across each and every business in the future. The change will take place across all levels.
Another big change has been in terms of disruption in business models. It is because of two different factors. One, startups, and two, frameworks and platforms. UPI created a change in BFSI. New technologies came in. Major boost was also given to fintech. Startups are also disrupting. There are already more than 40 startups and unicorns this year.”
The partners and industry associations brought the ICT Business Awards & Dataquest Digital Leadership Conclave this year.
- Powered by Partner: Hewlett Packard Enterprises – Orbit Techsol
- Platinum Partner: Snowflake
- Enterprise IT partner: Site24x7
- Collaboration Partner: GoTo
- Digital Transformation Partner: Accenture
- Connectivity Partner: AT&T
- Network Partner: Spectra
- Academica Partner: Apeejay Education and
- Knowledge Partner: Cybermedia Research
The event was inaugurated with a lighting ceremony by Dr. R S Sharma, CEO, National Health Authority, Arun Seth, former Chairman, BT, and Board Member, Narayana Health, Jubilant, and CyberMedia Group, NK Goyal, Chairman Emeritus, TEMA, P Balaji, Chief of Regulatory, Vodafone Idea and Pradeep Gupta, Chairman, CyberMedia Group.
There was the inaugural fireside chat on upgrading healthcare with next-gen tech. Dr. RS Sharma, CEO, NHA, was in conversation with Arun Seth, former Chairman, BT, and Board Member, Narayana Health, Jubilant, and CyberMedia Group.
Talking about how healthcare is being delivered today, Dr. Sharma said that ICT can solve many of India’s hard problems. UPI is one example, as is Aadhar. There are India-stack products, such as digital lockers, etc. They are scalable, interoperable, frugal, etc. The digital divide issues are many. Any platform built has to be inclusive and in multiple languages. Digital has been a well-known development during the pandemic. We have learnt to use digital. Data prices are cheaper today.
Digital public goods have also been created, such as payment and identities. We need to put in a mechanism so that people can talk to their doctors etc., in a seamless manner. In fact, Aayushmaan Bharat is one such scheme that is in the right direction. Using interoperable video consultation will further improve productivity. Digital prescriptions, digital delivery of drugs, etc., are now there. Every Indian will have a health record. We have 22 crore people with Aadhar numbers. If you do digitization in the health sector, it will make lives easier. It will help in data-driven policy making. We are also generating 1 million health claims per month. We now need to accelerate this effort. India has shown we can have societal-level deliveries.
Seth added that UPI removed the friction. The Cowin platform is also being driven on the healthcare platform. How can we expand the scope of such platforms for healthcare? Dr. Sharma noted that removing the information asymmetricity is very important. We need a digital architecture for doing that. You also have the availability for vaccines on Cowin.
Dr. R S Sharma, CEO, National Health Authority, was presented an award.
Next-gen tech dynamic
The inaugural keynote, accelerating with next-gen tech, was delivered by Anshu Prakash, former secretary, Telecom. He said that post-Covid-19, this has been a first function. The theme is about next-gen tech, a concept that is not static. It is dynamic! Digital comms becomes a base where all technologies are running. We have to adopt and adapt, and transform ourselves to encash opportunities and meet challenges of new technologies.
How do we do all of that? We need timing and speed! Any new technology has to be seen by the industry in terms of the needs of customers that can be satisfied. A consumer never even realizes his or her need, till told. That is the job of entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs need to see the opportunity and seize them. This should be encouraged by the society, and the government.
We need to avail the opportunities created by new technologies. The best will always win. One common theme applicable to all technologies is speed. There are things like instant messaging, e-commerce deliveries, etc. Digital is now being enabled by 5G. Technology will only succeed if we have the infrastructure to support the technology.
Anshu Prakash, former Secretary, Telecom, was presented an award.
The first CXO panel discussion was on multi-cloud: flexibility, agility and economy. The participants were: Anand Sengupta, Director, Digital Technology, Carrier HVAC (South Asia Pacific), Dr. Chander Shekhar Devra, CIO (Speciality Chemicals), SRF Ltd, Prasanna Lohar, VP – Technology (Digital, Innovation & Architecture), DCB Bank, Kamal Kashyap, Director and Country Manager, Storage Business Unit, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Pramod Mundra, CIO, Havells India. Anil Chopra, CyberMedia Research, was the moderator.
The next fireside chat was on disrupting tech to achieve valuation. The participants were Mayank Jain, CEO, CarDekho, and Pankaj Vermani, Founder and CEO, Clovia.
Covid-19 was a disruption that led to further disruptions. Pankaj Vermani, Clovia, said that they used technology to change the game to a whole new level. We also saw the supply chain getting disrupted, which led to further innovation. Customers also went through behaviour change and went the digital way. Consumption started to change. Education is now required in our business. Post Covid-19, the business went up.
Mayank Jain, CarDekho, said that they rely on technology as a backbone. Behavioural changes during Covid-19 were marked. Owning a car is a convenience. There was a marked shift towards owning a car. People also wanted a contactless and faceless experience. Today, we can issue a used car loan through a digital journey. That was a revelation for a lot of customers.
Vermani, Clovia, said that we have to cater to customer needs. We need to hit the right cause. Jain, CarDekho, added that we have built the company around the customer. We added features that addressed what the customers wanted. We have kept the Indian customers at the core. We have been conscious about providing value to customers. By going paperless, we also impacted ESG goals. ESG is a responsibility for every organization. EVs are starting to come around. We are helping create India’s largest EV marketplace. Our business has been at the cusp of providing societal benefits.
Jain, CarDekho, said a lot of good work is happening in AI/ML and big data. As they start investing more, we can leverage more on AI/ML. Another is metaverse. There is a hype around that. It is coming of age now. There may be a lot of opportunities in the metaverse for the Indian firms.
Rise of data cloud
This was followed by a panel discussion on the rise of data cloud. The participants were Vinod Bhat, CIO, Vistara – Tata SIA Airlines Ltd, and Sangh Gautam, CTO, Indian Energy Exchange Ltd.
Sangh Gautam, Indian Energy Exchange, said cloud-native is a bit different than being on the cloud. It brings lot of value for greater deployment. Integration becomes lot easier. One needs to have a speciality in being a solutions provider. Security is another area. In the cloud itself, there are some layers. Every layer needs some expertise. One area is work orchestration. You really need to have niche specialty. Then, there are containers and apps. Development, testing, and deployment cultures need to adapt. We are in a hybrid world. We have to think about how everything will be on the cloud. Demand is going to come, and cloud-native is the way ahead.
Vinod Bhat, Vistara, said that across industries, enterprises are becoming mature. We need to be clear about objectives. We need to use the cloud as a differentiator. We need to have cost optimization, storage, etc. There will be a lot of variants of the cloud. Lot of decentralization is also happening on the cloud. Edge computing and 5G are also there, so there will be edge clouds. Business plans need to align with technology changes. People will know that on the go is the way to go. Lots of streams are opening up for businesses. They will be enablers.
Sangh Gautam, Indian Energy Exchange, said that we have the tools at each level. Even the skillsets are developing. People are trying to get used to those tools. Security is also an aspect. There is dearth in the skillset of developers. For business specific tools, we probably have a long way to go. A lot of training is required for all this. You have to think about cloud native right from the start. We need to have a cloud-first approach. We are catching up. Talent for this niche area has been difficult to find. It is a journey the entire team has to take.
Sunil Rajguru, Editor, Dataquest, PCQuest and CiOL, was the moderator.
Rahul Sharma, Regional Sales Director-North, Snowflake India, presented the industry keynote on mobilizing your data with Snowflake.
Ms. Triveni Rabindraraj, India Sales Head, Go To, presented the industry keynote on understanding the digital next workplace.
Jasper Paul, Senior Product Manager, Site24x7, presented the industry keynote on IT Infrastructure 2.0, driving the growth.
Technologies for digital next workplace
This was followed by a panel discussion on technologies for the digital next workplace. The participants were Sharad Agarwal, CIO, JK Tyres & Industries, Irshad Saifi, CIO, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co., Nitin Kohli, VP and Head, Key Accounts, Spectra, and Ms. Triveni Rabindraraj, India Sales Head, Go To.
Sharad Agarwal, JK Tyres, said some new sessions in manufacturing will be virtual. Irshad Saifi, CIO, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, added that manufacturing will be virtual in some sessions. Now also, people are hesitant to work from the office. Initially, we are looking at a hybrid model today. Some manufacturers did not agree to WFH. After 5 years, we will have to wait and watch. We have to be prepared for disruptions.
Nitin Kohli, Spectra, said that the hybrid mode is here to stay. Verticals like healthcare would largely be virtual, and hybrid. We need to ensure data security. We also need to have a unified experience. We will see increased focus and reliance on manageability, etc.
Ms. Triveni Rabindraraj, Go To, said that we are having some crises. We also don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but we need adaptability. Every organization has tried to accept the cloud in the pandemic. Security will be here for a long time. It has got due credit.
Saifi at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas said we need to see the hybrid challenges and experiences. There are various apps on the hybrid cloud. VC will be used for communications. Today, people have settled in very well. When they come to office, there are setups, with Teams and Zoom, along with some physical presence. It is an area for some improvement. We need to have VC pods to improve the experiences.
Nitin Kohli, Spectra, said new solutions are being arrived at. There are also new VC solutions. Data security also has challenges. There are solutions at the edge. Solutions are being worked upon. We have sailed through two years working remotely, thanks to technology.
Ms. Triveni Rabindraraj, Go To, said that we need to do reskilling. Connectivity is going to be the big thing. Organizations will also need to invest in connectivity. GoTo Meeting, Zoom, and Teams are going to be important. We are trying to see how we can reduce the load on the bandwidth. For VC sessions, we also have small breakout rooms.
Shubhendu Parth, former editor, CyberMedia, Co-founder and Head, Content, Radius Think Tank, was the moderator.
Taking electronics to the next level
This was followed by a fireside chat: Connecting the dots to take electronics to the next level. The participants were Hari Om Rai, MD, Lava, and Vinod Sharma, Deki Electronics.
Hari Om Rai, Lava, said that we need to acquire skills for technology. We are going to be competitive in future. The moment we acquire skills, we will be the most competitive.
Vinod Sharma, MD, Deki Electronics, said that we need to sort out the various issues. We cannot import all of the electronics required for the country. Electronics is a horizontal, embedded through every vertical. Today, it is more true, due to the geopolitical issues.
We are getting electronic components from China. We did not understand the importance of the industry earlier. We are now starting to come back. We now need to build electronics. We have successfully brought back assembly to the country. We have put a lot of money where our mouth is. PLI is very outcome-oriented. We need to do more about manufacturing, especially, deep down. It is our duty to think about all this, and put in some foundation.
Are these PLI schemes enough? Hari Om Rai, Lava, said the PLI scheme came into the mobile sector first. We have progressed backward at a slower pace. India has to export everything, along with electronics. It all boils down to the industry. They have not guided the government properly.
Vinod Sharma, Deki Electronics, added that China is able to give many subsidies and incentives. We have to take the industry further. On PLIs, it is necessary, but not sufficient. People are committing large investments across sectors. PLI is a big boy’s game, with large companies. We need to bring in PLIs for MSMEs. Their strong point is employment. 70% of jobs are casual. PLI is not the only answer. It is mitigating some disabilities. This is a bus that we cannot afford to miss.
Sunil Rajguru, Editor, Dataquest, PCQuest and CiOL, was the moderator.
IT infrastructure 2.0
Next, there was a panel discussion on IT infrastructure 2.0, driving the growth. The participants were Arun Karna, MD and CEO, AT&T Global Network Services India Pvt Ltd, Sanjay Chowdhry, CIO, Hamdard Laboratories, and Jasper Paul, Senior Product Manager, Site24x7.
Sukanta De, Director, Sdela Consulting, was the moderator. He said the major campuses in India are amazing, along with high-end equipment. India is a leader in software. India also has the largest number and skilled professionals in the IT sector.
Arun Karna, AT&T Global Network Services, said that the enterprise space is based on some pillars, such as data and network infrastructure, etc. IT infrastructure 2.0 can be defined by the digital approach. The outermost layer is the digital edge. Enterprises have access to digital marketplace, etc. Flexibility and agility are provided to the enterprise architecture. The real action is at the edge.
We have major components, such as cloud, edge, security, IoT, 5G, etc. Cloud has emerged as the major speed enabler over the last few years. SaaS app market will grow to $200 million by 2024, doubling over 2018. Enterprise is today far more distributed. 5G and edge are now coming together. IoT is seeing massive uptick. Today, supply chains are getting digitized.
Security is also there. The threat surface has widened because of the extended enterprise. We need to secure the end points, data and apps, have threat intelligence built in, etc. Big data is there, and needs to be refined. We need to have more insights with AI and analytics. We need to predict better.
Sanjay Chowdhry, Hamdard, said the buzzword today is digitization. We are making organizations more digital. We need to ramp up the infrastructure. Total digitization has come upon us, and is being done, due to the pandemic. No work gets hampered, while WFH. We also need to have the Salesforce teams raising tickets online. We have moved to the e-commerce platform, as well. People can order medicines now, sitting at home. Today, it is a customer-driven world. RPA, AI, and IoT are also coming up. More productivity enhancements can be done. However, as a country, we are today lacking in data security. We need to improve that.
Jasper Paul, Senior Product Manager, Site24x7, said real-time data, cloud transformation, etc., have generated huge data. We have AI/ML to take care of the enrichment of data. If we have dashboards and collaboration management, we can take care of situations. That information is again sent to the AI model. We definitely need monitoring data. We can get valuable insights from that. Customer experiences also need to improve. We are driving the technology with Site24x7.
Arun Karna, AT&T, said that we need to go hybrid and virtual. We are now having composable infrastructure, by moulding the infrastructure to the business. Jasper Paul, Site24x7, said that containerization and serverless compute have taken over. Sanjay Chowdhry, Hamdard, said the business should drive the infrastructure.
Next, there was another panel discussion on achieving smarter governance with effective cloud strategy. The participants were Ms. Neeta Varma, Director General, National Informatics Centre, and Ashok Gopinath, MD, Technology, Accenture in India.
Ibrahim Ahmad, Consulting Editor, CyberMedia, was the moderator. He said that the cloud strategy has propelled quite a bit in the last couple of years.
Ms. Neeta Varma said that the NIC provides digital infrastructure for the government. Cloud was managed by the government, and adoption was phenomenal. It also took away the effort of the government for preparing files, etc. With cloud, you have ready-to-use infrastructure. Post 2015, we had the Swacha Bharat Mission, Housing for All, etc. We managed the supply chain of fertilizers. All of these concepts were cloud-ready.
With the cloud, we brought the concept of one nation, one platform. With GST, things improved. We also developed open-source software that was generally free. For services, we came up with ServicePlus. Haryana, Karnataka, etc., have leveraged this. Products have also won awards.
Ashok Gopinath, Accenture in India, added that India has achieved a lot in the last few years. Cowin app has shaped up with the underlying cloud infrastructure. As has GST, etc.! Lives have become much better. Industry played a role in cloud adoption. The government took note of all this. Industry has been a user, especially in GST, income tax, etc.
What are the areas that have not yet picked up? Ashok Gopinath, Accenture in India, added that we need to have wider flavours available. We also need unified security policy, and need the industry and the government to work together.
Ms. Neeta Varma, NIC, said the industry has been a supporter for cloud. We can have capacity in Meghraj. With MeiTY, we have done certifications. People have also tried to use the public cloud. They got stuck in some cases. Hybrid is the way to go ahead. We need to come up with a framework. We need to take care of data requirements. Even the procurement model has to move forward. Every department has to understand the information they are having. They can also come up with a cloud framework. We can fast track the services being given.
Ashok Gopinath, Accenture in India, added that we are having three constraints. These are power, capital, and skilled capabilities, that are available for the data centers in India. There are a lot of players that are setting up data centers.
Ms. Neeta Varma, NIC, said that we are moving toward a DC and cloud nation. The physical infrastructure is also coming up. The infrastructure policy is also coming up. DCs also have a carbon footprint. We are seeing investments in alternative forms of energy. We also have to make the country’s workforce ready.
Gopinath said AI can lead to more growth for DCs. For the government, we have data collected via Cowin. There can be scientific assessment of diseases with analytics and AI.
The final session was a panel discussion on the digital ecosystem to enable the $5 trillion economy. Pradeep Gupta, Chairman, CyberMedia Group, was the moderator. He asked, how do you see 5G, etc., as part of the economy?
Ashank Desai, Principal Founder and Chairman, Mastek, and Co-founder, NASSCOM, said that the IT industry’s role is about $1 trillion, out of $5 trillion. We can improve the economy with deeptech. That includes e-commerce, etc. Deeptech will allow Indian IT companies to do much larger business. In India, we have not used technology to that extent. However, it is changing fast. New platforms are emerging. Some of these are impactful economic activities. Multiple technologies becoming mature, and simultaneously impacting is yet to happen. They will, eventually.
CP Gurnani, CEO, Tech Mahindra, noted that IT and communications have merged. Now, there are new businesses coming in. Clearly, online does not work if there is no communication! In this connected world, communications, software, and businesses are all interlinked. You cannot have the dream, without having the skills. A question to ask: is the Indian academia generating cyber security experts? With the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, cyber security is now a huge opportunity. There is an opportunity all over, and we need to get our heads together and make that happen.
Gupta said we have a government where policies are coming in. He asked Desai of his experiences. Desai said there is a learning lesson from software exports. In the early days, India exported about $50 million worth of software. We were lucky to have a bureaucracy that was learned. There were some respected academic leaders, who were heard by the government. Later, NASSCOM played a great role in bringing all of them together. Government listened to us, with support. NASSCOM and the government were the early catalysts. We have been lucky to get good people in the government. We hope that the trust continues for a long time.
Gurnani said that we need to become a little better. We have continued to do well. We now need to leapfrog. We have a very great policy initiative for semiconductors. However, getting Foxconn to set up a plant is not enough. We need to take into account the Make in India program. We need to have the technological edge. We need to have better use cases and foodchains. We have to do a lot more in order to leapfrog.
Ajay Sawhney, former Secretary, MeiTY, said that we are looking at a $5 trillion economy. Electronics manufacturing has to play a significant role. We published a report in 2019 on the digital economy. We have made significant progress. It is now our day to show what we are capable of now. We have looked at examples from WeChat and Alibaba, etc. In China, a number of companies have been exceptionally successful.
India has succeeded in creating the national public digital system, with low entry barriers. UPI is designed to give players a chance to succeed. We have brought the entire banking system together, and created a unified payment system. Google looked at UPI, rather than any other, and preferred that. It has paid off, as Google is among the strong players. We also have PhonePe, PayTM, Bhim, BharatPay, etc.
We need to provide the same system across other verticals, such as agriculture, etc. India has plenty of pain points. Companies that grow on those, the opportunities available are going to be envied. There will also be strong, home-grown companies. There are irrigation-related entities, electricity, fertilizers and crops, etc. All of these have to come together to make something good happen in agriculture. It may probably be the most rewarding for all.
Talking about his Jharkhand experience, Desai said it was an eye-opener. Large groups of families were made skilful. We are now underestimating ourselves. The Jharkhand government was very supportive and gave us permission for skill building. The talent exists in the state. It can be the same for all the states.
Gurnani said that we need to have the $5 trillion economy and ESG go together. We need to marry sustainability goals and ambition. Each one of the areas is a business opportunity. India’s power remains 1.35 billion people. We need to make India stack as a large company.
The conference was followed by Dataquest Digital Leader Awards.
The Dataquest Special Jury awards were also given away
Ajay Sawhney, former Secretary, MeiTY, won the IT Person of Year. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Ashank Desai, Co-founder, Nasscom, and Principal Founder and former Chairman, Mastek Ltd. The Pathbreaker of the Year Award was won by Ms. Falguni Nayar, CEO and Founder, Nykaa. Sridhar Vembu, Founder and CEO, Zoho Corp. was declared the AatmaNirbhar Bharat Champion.
- With inputs from Ms. Aanchal Ghatak.