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New Business Ecosystem: Enterprises step up their IT investment

February 13, 2018

New Business Ecosystem: Enterprises step...

Enterprises enhanced their investments in telecom and IT infrastructure in a bid to further their digital transformation journey. The adoption of next-generation technologies including the cloud, internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and big data gained traction with organisations increasingly relying on them to drive cost and operational efficiencies. There was also a growing interest in augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), robotics, blockchain and 3D printing. However, as enterprises transition to new technologies, security is emerging as a major concern. The IT heads of leading enterprises discuss the key challenges and their technology roadmap for 2018…(from left to right- Vipul Anand, Group CIO, Jindal Steel and Power Limited; Sarbani Bhatia, Senior Vice-President, IT, Jagran Prakashan; Sharat Dhall, Chief Operating Officer (B2C), Yatra.com; Vivian Gomes, Vice-President, Marketing, CSS Corp; Rajat Nigam, Group Chief Technology Officer, Network 18 Media; Neel Paliwal, AVP, IT, Delhi Integrated Multi Modal Transit System Limited; Vishad Rahangdale, CIO, Electrotherm (India) Limited)

What were the key technology trends witnessed in the enterprise space during 2017?

Vipul Anand

With the availability of high speed and low-cost internet, the expectation of being connected at all times has increased. The need of the hour is to stay connected anytime, anywhere. Therefore, in order to provide ubiquitous internet connectivity, organisations have inducted best of communications set-ups and connected the business environment with a seamless network to enable stakeholders to stay connected in a secure manner. They have also introduced mobility-enabled applications so that stakeholders can use their mobile devices for their enterprise mobility needs. This, in turn, has helped organisations to better integrate the workforce, processes and response time.

Sarbani Bhatia

AI and machine learning have made massive progress in 2017 and will soon become a part of every technology-enabled thing, application or service. Intelligent assistants like Siri, Cortana and Alexa have made routine tasks much easier. Another upcoming trend is that of chatbots, which are being increasingly used as communication tools. IoT products have gained momentum in the market, creating smart offices and homes that have applications and utility for improved security solutions, smart appliances with efficient energy consumption, effective climate control, etc. Blockchain gained momentum in 2017. Also, the adoption of the public, hybrid and private cloud accelerated significantly in 2017.

Sharat Dhall

Online travel agents like Yatra have empowered travellers by giving them a wide variety of travel choices with complete transparency in pricing, all at the click of a button. One of the most powerful competitive tools now accessible to companies is business intelligence software powered by big data analytics to help them personalise their offerings as per customer preferences. It also enables companies to map the customer journey and automate processes to reduce manual intervention, thus empowering businesses to streamline operations and maximise efficiency.

Rajat Nigam

If we examine trends across industries, 2017 was clearly a year that brought security technology to the fore while IT remained in the core. Organisations started adopting technology as a part of their digital transformation journey. The typical technology trends circled around cloud adoption in all components of the value chain of a business. Cloud technology was adopted in all aspects of the media business – content acquisition, content production and content dissemination – thereby addressing the entire gamut of the value chain of a media organisation. Multiple incidents of cyberattacks impacting businesses shifted the focus considerably to IT security solutions, both from perimeter and end-point security perspectives. User awareness on the risks of data breaches and thefts were emphasised and the advent of cross-function focus on IT was observed. The use of AI and machine learning saw significant activity.

Neel Paliwal

In my opinion, AI, VR and big data were the top technology trends in 2017. Enterprises around the world are making huge investments and strategic acquisitions with the aim of becoming leaders in these segments. These segments are dominating value creation in the enterprise software industry and many innovations are taking place in these areas across industries. Further, these trends are opening up new business segments and models. Agility and innovation in software have taken a front seat as an increasing number of customers now want greater value than a run-of-the-mill product. Software is no longer an enabler, but is more of a market differentiator.

Vishad Rahangdale

It has been a very happening year on the technological front for enterprises. Some big-ticket economic reforms undertaken by the government over the past year accelerated the market, particularly in the technology space, but threw up some pressing challenges as well. In my view, analytics, IoT, cloud-based services, mobility and data connectivity were the main discussion points in the technology domain.

What is the level of adoption of new technologies such as cloud, big data analytics and IoT among Indian enterprises?

Vipul Anand

Earlier, the adoption rate of new technologies by Indian enterprises was fairly low. We used to talk about ways to bring the social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) platform into business ecosystems and ensure its timely adoption. That said, organisations that have successfully adopted these technologies are already reaping their benefits. Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) has strong credentials in the adoption of the SMAC platform and has been a pioneer in the adoption of IoT. We ensure that at each stage of power generation and distribution, we capture data in real time and publish it on the mobile apps for faster decision-making. Similarly, we have implemented IoT solutions at our plant in Odisha, to manage our production efficiently and optimise inventories.

Sarbani Bhatia

Indian enterprises are at different stages of the digital transformation curve today. The cloud has become an indispensable tool for companies to achieve economies of scale and gain an edge over competitors. Earlier, the main reason for buying-in was the price advantage, but of late, the agility factor is more sought after. Companies today are depending on software-as-a-service (SaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings more than ever before. IoT is present in almost every industry now, making every product or service smart. Big data analytics took huge strides in 2017, with adoption reaching over 53 per cent from only 17 per cent in 2015. Telecom and financial services are the biggest adopters, followed by technology and health care. Predictive analysis of social/consumer data and data warehousing optimisation are tools being increasingly used by enterprises. Companies can monitor expenses, cut costs, build for the future, and increase data-driven decision-making. 3D printing has come of age and emerged from prototyping to assuming a role in full-scale designing and mass production.

Sharat Dhall

Technology advances rapidly and needs to be continuously aligned with changing organisational priorities and goals. The adoption of latest technologies like the cloud, IoT and big data analytics requires an experienced manager who can analyse and evaluate the value that each technology has to offer to the business. Using big data analytics has its own set of challenges. While there is abundant data present, there are limited data points that are available in a structured format. Hence, data mining is very important. Unstructured data, when mined properly, can reveal critical insights and help businesses strategise better.

Rajat Nigam

With the emergence of SaaS, IaaS, platform-as-a-service (PaaS), the cloud has taken the role of fundamental infrastructure for businesses. So, cloud adoption is no longer a technology trend to be counted as it is now a hygiene factor. Big data analysis is a tech practice that drives an organisation’s behaviour and culture. Globally as well as in India, this is much in the infancy stage and a lot needs to be achieved on this front. Data is the new oil as it is said and hence, the focus on generating data, synthesising data and analysing data would be the driving factors of technology adoption. This practice has given rise to a new breed of professionals who are data dealers and are termed as data engineers, data scientists and data analysts, thereby creating a domain of smart technology core to a business. A lot of activity is expected across industries in this aspect of data management.

Neel Paliwal

The government’s plan to develop 100 smart cities, for which Rs 70.6 billion has been allocated in the current budget, could lead to a massive and quick expansion of IoT in the country. Also, the launch of the Digital India programme, which aims at “transforming India into a digitally empowered society and a knowledge economy”, will provide the required impetus for the development of the IoT industry. The various initiatives proposed to be taken as part of the Smart Cities Mission and the Digital India programme such as the setting up of digital infrastructure will further boost the IoT industry.

Vishad Rahangdale

Technology adoption at the end-user level has gained substantial momentum during the past year. The pace was much higher than anticipated. However, all business domains cannot be analysed by putting them in the same basket. The adoption of such technologies in the retail sector was much faster than in manufacturing, although the core sectors also saw the value proposition, particularly in analytics and IoT. It will be interesting to see how the coming year pans out in terms of the adoption of newer technologies.

What are the key challenges faced while adopting and managing new technologies?

Vipul Anand

The manufacturing sector continues to face numerous challenges when it comes to managing the IT infrastructure or deploying new technologies. These include the reluctance of stakeholders to deploy new digital solutions; the ever-evolving business needs and urgency to implement solutions; complex and geographically spread business locations that need seamless connectivity; maintaining low cost of IT solutions; ensuring the security of IT platforms; and employing quality IT professionals to manage such technologies.

Sarbani Bhatia

Technology leaders need to have clarity of vision before implementing any new technology. A thorough assessment of the benefits of the innovation, process of testing and implementation, and identification of the sources of resistance and hindrance must be undertaken. The new system or platform needs to be communicated and demonstrated clearly to the users. In my experience, three steps are crucial for a successful transition to any new technology or product. The first step is assessing the perfect solution as per the needs of an enterprise. Implementing every new technology is not a good practice. It should be integrable with the existing technologies as well as cost-effective. The second step is preparing the users and IT teams to receive, manage and make use of the new product. The final step is shifting the ownership of the technology to the user teams after a smooth roll-out and a hand-holding gestation period by IT.

Sharat Dhall

The technologies powering chatbots are still evolving, which limits their effective deployment in more nuanced use cases. Technologies like natural language processing (NLP) and AI, which power bots, have not advanced to a level to enable real human-like conversation with a user. This means that a bot may get confused and need to transfer the control of the chat to a human agent.

Vivian Gomes

During AI adoption, enterprises face challenges in identifying the right use cases, data sets and business processes and while mapping it with customer benefits in terms of revenue, convenience and experience. AI systems can behave unpredictably. A badly implemented AI system can lead to objectionable consequences, including privacy breach. Cloud is a powerful technology disruptor that constantly challenges the existing IT landscape, compelling enterprises to adopt newer cloud-based paradigms or risk losing the game. But with so many options available, choosing the right migration partner, the right service model, the best-suited deployment option, and the type of workload to be moved is of paramount significance. Ensuring data privacy and security in cloud adoption is another crucial parameter for consideration. Today’s digital business environment comes with high risks that will go beyond information technology. As organisations continue to grow in their digital journey, the necessary security measures need to be put in place to prevent any damage, and not just in the organisation but across all entities that form a part of the value chain.

Rajat Nigam

In a fast changing environment with cutthroat competition, technologists remain challenged in being flexible, dynamic and innovative in their approach to solution development. As technology keeps evolving, the solutions need to be designed and architected such that they are not limited to one technology generation. Solution design becomes more arduous if it is to be operated by a large human interface. It is quite relevant for the media industry, typically news broadcast and media houses, wherein content generation is done by using technology platforms and big teams of journalists and creative professionals operate the same. Further, technology is normally cost intensive and technology managers are expected to devise solutions to optimise costs. Data is the new asset of businesses and is designed to be accessed and consumed in digital form. This gives rise to the big challenge of security, not only for the technology function but for the entire organisation. In addition, capable manpower and the regulatory environment add to the list of challenges in the identification and adoption of new technologies.

Neel Paliwal

The growing technological opportunities also bring some challenges. Thus, leaders in the software industry must have a deep understanding of the emerging technology trends and their potential and unlearn traditional software engineering practices. They need to take experimentation to a new level so as to motivate knowledge workers and bring innovation to the table. This is the reality of the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity world. Hence, enterprises must invest in skills, review existing processes, and encourage ideas.

Vishad Rahangdale

The challenges pertaining to the adoption and management of new technologies are manyfold. These include last-mile connectivity, user experience and tangible conversion of the investment into revenue growth. Apart from these difficulties, the need for a reliable technology partner and their own sustenance, proven technology deployment test cases and data security are a few challenges that need to be analysed before the mass adoption of newer technologies.

Which technology trends are likely to dominate the enterprise space in 2018?

Vipul Anand

Trends like the speedy deployment of the SMAC platform, the use of intelligent algorithms and machine learning, the induction of AI and robotics, and the optimisation of manual data inputs will impact the manufacturing sector.

Sarbani Bhatia

IoT is bringing in more and more objects into the digital fold every day. This trend will continue to permeate our lives in 2018. Convergence of new technologies will make IoT implementation much easier and faster. Blockchain can make IoT devices much safer. Blockchain is poised to find many more deployments in 2018 across verticals. The use of AI to enhance decision-making, improve the customer experience, reinvent business models and ecosystems, cut costs and boost revenue growth will drive the business case for digital initiatives in the year ahead. The year 2018 is also expected to be the year of bots. More and more businesses are investing in getting chatbots developed to serve their customers better. Large- and mid-sized enterprises will continue to adopt cloud-centric solutions as they realise that privacy and security threats are being effectively mitigated. Cloud computing will start to move towards edge computing in times to come. The adoption of newer technologies will result in a proliferation of data, giving rise to several points of technological vulnerability, in turn paving the way for adaptive, pre-emptive and multilayered security solutions.

Sharat Dhall

Big data, cloud technology and personalisation have a profound positive impact on the travel industry as they offer customer insights that were hitherto not available. With this new information, businesses are in a better position to provide customised services, enhance customer satisfaction, increase operational efficiency and, at the same time, help companies gain a competitive advantage.

Vivian Gomes

Some of the key trends that will have an impact on our business and industry in 2018 are AI and edge computing. Enterprises will apply data-driven intelligence to automated machine learning in order to achieve business goals. Further, edge computing implementations will continue to accelerate, and early adopters are learning how to leverage the full value of the edge for better and not just cheaper outcomes.

Rajat Nigam

Two areas of technology developments would be in focus for businesses in India and globally over the next year. The first and foremost are cyber solutions that would be enhanced to include AI and machine learning, thereby making them strategically more capable to counter cyberattacks. Going by the security incidents in the past, the causes have been more linked to practice breaches than hacks and attacks. The second trend on the technology landscape is data analysis and big data management. Organisations are getting focused on developing a data-driven culture, and managing the data has transformed briskly from being an aspiration to a core objective. Interestingly, the two technology trends mentioned above remain correlated with each other and have the roles of both complementing and supplementing each other.

Neel Paliwal

Cybersecurity, AI and data analytics will continue to be the top technological trends for industries across the globe. We will see more sub-trends in AI as this segment is still evolving. Meanwhile, cybersecurity will take some leaps to grow exponentially and governments are already spending big on security and information protection. Data analytics is an obvious choice due to the explosion of the internet, data and connectivity.

Vishad Rahangdale

Looking at the headwinds, analytics, IoT, cloud, data security and data connectivity are likely to dominate the industry. A lot more churning in the technology adoption space is expected to take place in the coming year. Moreover, enterprises will see a major revolution in digital transformation endeavours.


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