Digital Enablers – Stepping stones to a Digital Future

Mr Bharat Desai, Chairman and Co-Founder, Syntel also the session chair, initiated the proceedings and made the following opening remarks. Rather compelling.
- Digital economy, if it be termed that, is by far the fastest growing economy today. This has not only to be sustained, but grown many times over at a very high pace. For it to proliferate, several stakeholders need to come together, who can passionately embrace digital economy and commerce. It of course, cannot happen in a jiffy. Enterprises have to be cognizant of the fact that investments will have to come through in multiple areas (to bolster the eco- system):digital_enablers

- Network providers at the core of all this, are required to build a robust backbone that can withstand both volume and velocity of data exchange.

- A society, which must continually demand universal access. A demanding society is much needed to put pressure on vendors and service providers, so that better services and models keep churning out, beating Murphy’s Law.

- The hurdles in the way of digital economy need to be addressed and eventually done away with.

- From an Individual standpoint – users have to be techno literate, solutions and services have to be affordable, and with time, they be able to develop a relationship with the service provider, based on trust.

- Enterprises currently are besotted with managing a 2-speed world. Legacy systems that refuses to go away anytime soon, and a pressing need to invest in infrastructure which is required to be digitally enabled.

- Network providers face challenges too – pace of growth simply boggles the human mind. Which means tech obsolescence is a real threat. And, to be able to provide ubiquitous access at all times.

- Society has its own hubris and works at counter purposes, sometimes – cultural & political barriers, crippling regulations, and a gaping digital divide which threatens to alienate a whole lot of people.

- Enabling solutions, despite this and to stay ahead of the game.

o Individual – needs to be digitally literate, adopt a “mobile first” approach to access solutions & services, enhance local language capability, security n privacy issues, which needs to be addressed.

o Enterprise – has to be able to transition to “think digital,” and legacy systems have to modernized in a phased manner.

o Network providers – will have to learn to think big, really big, think innovatively about access delivery, at a 100X 1000X speed capacity. Relentlessly.

o Individuals – will have to learn that speed capability can only be advanced because of the power of digital, and the promise of inclusive growth can best be addressed through this.

Padmasree Warrior, CTSO (Chief Tech and Strategy Office), Cisco

- Three basic trends – Cloud, Mobile & IoT that are coming together to shape our digital future.

- She gave a brief overview from genesis to the present age. Evolution of the internet: Commenced with connectivity & digital access >> It moved on to a Networked economy – made way for digital biz processes >> This, gave birth to what is known as Immersive experiences through Digital interactions >> And now, Internet of Things and the whole overdrive to Digitize the world. All this has happened very quickly. In the last 7 years, FB, Twitter, etc changed the way we connect and express ourselves.

- It is estimated that 0.6% of physical objects are connected today, which means that 99.4% of the world is still unconnected, in physical terms. Cisco research has come up with stark numbers. This potential can be valued at 19 trillion $ (globally) out of which 500 bn $ is India’s share. Cisco’s moniker for this is “Internet of Everything.” The global tech giant envisages, that every company will become a digital company in a matter of time. It is relatively easier to make macro-level predictions, but for new capabilities to be made available to meet this, would be a scale that can only be termed humongous. It would simply be massive. An enmeshed structure of data centres, connected devices, new biz models, security and privacy, would pose a challenge and reveal an opportunity. An augmented future, that would enable real time decision making. 3D printing, robotics and many such additions of disruptive capabilities, will simply change rules and usher in a new set of market leaders.

Some pointers that she left us with:

- New market leaders are digital. Being different in many ways, the commonality is in that – being digital. E.g. Amazon, Flipkart (Bookstore); Uber, Ola (Taxi); Spotify, Pandora (Music); Square (Point of Sale); Google, FB (Print Advertising); Telsa (Car) and Airnb (Hotels).

- Internet of everything is our digital future.

- She spoke on why digital future is important. Digital Infrastructure is an imperative. Simply because of Rapid Urbanization, Environmental pollution and Economic Pressures. To sustain growth and further attract trade, these issues will have to be addressed, or else our carbon footprints will simply gobble up the human race.

- Cisco is embracing “Cisco smart+connected city initiative.” Investments can be leveraged across city-wide issues – parking optimization, traffic management, public safety, city lighting, pollution & environment and water.

- Changing the way we live, work, play & learn (most importantly). What does all this mean for digitization of India, by leveraging SMAC ? By 2019, video will be 66% of India’s mobile data traffic. By 2018, equivalent of all movies ever made (data volume) will cross India’s IP networks every 2 hours. In the same year, it is expected that there’d be 1.5 billion networked devices in India. The situation today – 81 % of the population have access to mobile phones, 10% have smart phones, 108 mn users on FB, 33 mn on twitter, 20 million on whatsapp, 20 million on linked in. By 2018, there’d be 526 million internet users in India.

Q&A

- Share practical learnings on smart city

Padma: There is no one size fits all approach. Our vision is to create an infrastructure which is platform-based. This will vary from country to country and, cities equally. A project of this size is a perfect case-in-point for PPPs, and we are open to alliances and investments.

Mohammad Gawdat, VP – Business Innovation, Google X

Serial entrepreneur, co-founder of 15 innovative businesses

His, was a very cheerful way to greet the participants. Mr Gawdat considers himself as a very lucky person, if not actually the luckiest. Indeed. He has reasons enough. Having joined Google 8 years back, he has had the opportunity to work with so many talented people, he mentions overwhelmingly. Mr Gawdat says, his fabulous job at Google, is about taking innovation to the next level. Innovations that were built by the smartest of engineers, pored over countless man-hours. Today (emphasizes), he is here to convince people that the world needs a diff style of innovation.

- The example of moonshots, which has innovation of 10X capability-

- NILF is more than 2 decades old. In the early days, people simply greeted each other differently in a conference of this magnitude. This, because of technology. It is something as basic as that. The way you got up, to the way you texted earlier has all undergone a radical change. Especially in the last 8 years. To feel this change is to feel the pace of innovation. Its omnipresence, like oxygen is taken for granted. We often don’t realise how much of an opportunity there is, to innovate something everyday.

- He gave the example of Teleportation, which is already happening. 3D printing is a variant of it.

- What’s really possible is limited by our imagination only. In most of us, it is often habitual to shirk off the responsibility to innovate, by simply using the crutch of “I have work to do and cannot invest time in innovation.” An excuse.

- At Google they wanted to challenge this very premise and create huge opportunities. The core of Google X and how to innovate can be encapsulated in 3 parameters:

o Identify problems that affect a billion people or more.

o Try and look for radical solutions. Call it a moonshot, if you will.

o When that solution is found, it often looks like a science fiction. Closest available human knowledge is sought, to make that sci-fi experience a reality. And sooner than you’d expect.

- Energy generation and the pollution it generates, is a very big issue today. Wind is in abundance and as we all know, it can generate power. However, at 140 metres up in the sky (where wind mills reach upto) wind (power) is insufficient. So, they created a kite, that maneuvers in a round-robin fashion and is able to capture the power that is generated at that altitude. The learning from this experiment was that if the kite can be taken higher than 140 mts in a plane, and leverage autonomous movement to generate energy, the power generated is 100 times more. If done efficiently.

- Google isn’t really using anything that is not accessible. Simply, redefining the problems and leveraging computer science, robotics, autonomous movement to seek solutions. He urged everyone to look at problems with a similar approach.

Q&A

- Google has vast repository of info and initiatives… what is it that Google is trying to do?

We are trying to enhance your capability of what you are good at. I was an engineer and was not allowed to use a calculator. Once it was allowed, I used my spare time to do many other things. Likewise, Google will do things for us that we don’t need to remember. There is a way to plug into the knowledge and keep building on it.

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