The need for blockchain in India: Mumu Pande, Eka Software Services

Blockchain is rapidly transforming several industries across the world. In an interview with DataQuest, Mumu Pande, CTO, Eka Software Services, explains why Indian companies must adopt the technology

Why do Indian companies need to focus on building a Blockchain-based market place?

With markets becoming integrated globally and in India, a critical component for success will be how companies choose to build their marketplace. A successful marketplace is one that is built to ensure that everyone is ‘connected’. An effective and fool-proof way would be a Blockchain-based marketplace which allows secure and seamless upstream/downstream transactions, speedy conversations and transparency – critical elements in today’s context for B2B and B2C players alike.

In India, like the west, Blockchain is rapidly transforming the BFSI space when it comes to fund transfers, digital identity and payments infrastructure. Sectors like Healthcare and Education are also seeing Blockchain making strong inroads in the country. However, if large Indian establishments and desi start-ups want to compete at a global level and up their A-game, establishing a Blockchain-based market can contribute to their growth on many-levels:

  • Greater transparency
  • Enhanced security
  • Improved traceability
  • Increased efficiency
  • Speedy transactions
  • Cost reduction

Take the example of tea or coffee. For these commodities to be tagged as premium in the global export market, ‘traceability’ of the product’s origin becomes a key parameter. Prior to tech intervention, tracing the product’s origin was tedious and often impossible. With a Blockchain-based marketplace, this has become possible and India can now compete at the international export-level.

How are AI, ML, and Blockchain transforming the Indian tech space and how can businesses leverage these technologies?

Whether you are a big enterprise or a start-up, chances are that you are invariably in the business of data. What you choose to do with that data and the way you harness it defines the road to success. Over the years, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Blockchain have transformed the very meaning of ideas, innovation, and inventions. To truly harness these new-age technologies, businesses need to leverage them together rather than in isolation. ‘Platforms’, therefore, are increasingly becoming critical in allowing businesses to leverage data in a way that will truly benefit them.

Be it AI, ML or Blockchain, a platform approach allows modern technologies to converge; enabling users to harness data for impactful decision making. Using this business model, companies can build multiple products at the same time and customize them without having to build them from scratch; saving time, effort and money. Earlier companies would take 12 to 14 months when building multiple products, whereas using this approach, the time to market can be reduced to 3-4 months. Also, players with platform-based business models have the flexibility to scale their business at effective costs, while boosting overall efficiency and productivity. This allows businesses the freedom to respond to newer opportunities faster and add/integrate new technologies whenever they want.

Highlight the journey and challenges of Eka’s women techies

The challenges a woman faces as a technology or product expert are multi-fold. This exists globally across industries and we are no different. Firstly, the field of Commodity management is a traditional one where bringing in tech innovation is an uphill task. Being a woman in this old-school space can be all the more challenging. At Eka, however, we are fortunate to work in an organization where ‘workplace diversity’ is among our core values.

As a woman tech leader, I often see women grappling with striking the right balance of being focused and assertive while being able to stand up for themselves. There is a constant struggle of ‘Am I being taken seriously?’ or ‘Will I be perceived as being pushy?’ or ‘If I am soft-spoken, do I come across as weak?’. The key point here is about being true to oneself, whether you are naturally assertive or prefer a passive approach, a woman needs to figure out how to be heard and communicate clearly. Also, women need to remember there is nothing wrong about being assertive and driven to achieve your goals. Helping the women of my team stay true to oneself and getting them to be assertive has been a key part of my journey here.

Eka has an extremely dynamic work environment, where we are innovating at a tremendous pace. This constant innovation often requires long and unplanned working hours. So, one might end up asking ‘Is this all worth it?’. There is also the question of ‘How I can dedicate time when I am married or have a child?’ or ‘How can I take care of my family, parents, and home?’  – all of these overall can bring down motivation and conviction. It is, therefore, critical to build a strong support system at home and work. At Eka we are lucky to have a very supportive environment with adequate mentoring, women-specific initiatives and leaders who are empathetic.

To sum up, we can easily get caught up in all these challenges, but it is important to take each challenge as a hurdle that can be crossed. Women techies across the world and at Eka are breaking barriers every single day.

Learnings Mumu Pande can draw from her experience in R&D that other brands can adopt?

Technology and Product innovation are key for any software organization to be successful and to be able to provide a competitive edge. An organization needs to be dynamic and nimble enough to be able to change a product or business plans to suit changing times, and most importantly be ready to embrace change.

Additionally, people are an organisation’s biggest asset. A great set of engineers can do magic. So, invest in your people. Be a continuous learner and always hire people who are smarter than you so you can learn from them. Learn to accept your failure, learn fast and course-correct every single day.

Elaborate on Eka’s Blockchain-based market place

The world of commodities is highly volatile and sadly many industries still use out-dated solutions. Eka for the past 14+ years has been successfully helping companies leverage technology to modernise their processes. One of the key game-changers in this transformation has been ‘Blockchain’.

When it comes to trading applications, given Blockchain’s lightweight attribute, it is both scalable and easily accessible. At Eka, we believe Blockchain has a ‘substantial advantage’ which includes supply chain transparency and traceability. Marketplaces built on Blockchain have proven to be very efficient and seamless. We partnered with The Coffee Board of India to build the country’s first Blockchain-based coffee marketplace. Our Blockchain marketplace app is used by farmers, curers, roasters, and exporters to access market data, thereby increasing visibility. The app employs a public Blockchain network to help farmers find the most profitable trading partnerships and create better buyer networks. The app has a fast and transparent mechanism that helps provide farmers access to better prices. The response from farmers and grower associations has been heartening and we continue to see huge interest in registrations. The simplicity, transparency, and ease of access to information have impacted the numbers of signups from farmers.

Through Blockchain, we have not only helped streamline their entire supply chain process but by using our Machine Learning-based apps, the liaison officers are helping farmers access information on weather predictions, disease identification, crop input optimization, etc.


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