The COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly the most defining moment of the 21st century so far. Looking beyond the healthcare impact, the pandemic has wreaked havoc on the global economy too. With countries going into lockdown, businesses have suffered. Yet, this phase of pain and difficulty has also been a period of innovation and transformation. In a short time, companies across the board have adapted to the "new normal" as it’s called, using technology as a medium of change. From enabling work from home (WFH) to moving enterprise-grade applications to the cloud, enterprises have been embracing technology like never before.
To encapsulate this transition, CNBC-TV18 and Intel, put together a Virtual Tech Leadership Summit under the banner "Future-proof Your Business". The theme for the Leadership Summit was "Digitization to Accelerate Disruption". The Summit saw participation from top enterprise leaders and experts, who shared insights on how their organizations not only coped with the pandemic but also remain primed for growth. The Summit boasted a complete spectrum of engagements for the knowledge-seeker, with multiple panel discussions, Keynotes, fireside chats, a resource centre laden with whitepapers and reports on technological innovations.
The agenda for the Summit was succinctly enumerated by Shereen Bhan, Managing Editor, CNBC-TV18, in her opening note when she stated "change will be the only constant." Shereen spoke about how the pandemic had spurred companies to adopt technology like never before and how "data will be the bedrock", in this transition.
Prakash Mallya, VP & MD - Sales, Marketing & Communications Group, Intel India, in his Keynote “Digitally Transformed India”, underscored the digital shift that is currently shaping up across the Indian landscape. He deliberated upon four mega-trends that are shaping up India, namely cloudification of everything; diversified ecosystem; a large pool of talent that can be tapped digitally; and localized infrastructure. He also touched upon how the government of India is a keen participant in this agenda, sharing the instance of how NIC's Digital Workplace Solution has been adopted by 345 organizations and covers around 18 state governments.
There were multiple panel discussions which spelt out the roadmap most organizations in India are taking in the pursuit of 'future-proofing' themselves. Several technology leaders, like Prakash Kumar, CEO, GSTN; Vijay Sethi, CIO, Head Human Resources and Head Corporate Social Responsibility, HeroMoto Corp; Deepak Agarwal, ED IT, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, Neeta Verma, Director General, NIC; Sankarson Banerjee, CIO, RBL Bank and Lisa A Spelman, Corporate Vice President, Data Platforms Group, General Manager, Xeon & Memory Group, Intel Corp, discussed how embracing disruption can be the key to tide over the crisis. With an assortment of instances of how their respective organizations have used the power of the cloud or artificial intelligence (AI), the industry leaders spoke at length on how technology could be a business differentiator.
It was also interesting to see a wide range of technologies being discussed; for instance, Neeta Verma spoke about how mobile governance could be the next big thing, while Vijay Sethi listed the benefits of data-driven manufacturing. Deep Agarwal talked of how AI could be a strategic tool for enterprises, while Sankarson Banerjee highlighted how conversational AI is making a difference in the banking sector. Lisa A Spelman hinted at the broader trend of technology adoption referring to a recent survey of over 2000 IT decision-makers globally, of which 65% stated that the pandemic has helped them increase their investments in their digital transformation.
Cloud computing has become the backbone for the transformation that is sweeping across the industry. Yet, with the ubiquity of cloud, there are still a few issues that are of concern to the companies, namely security and privacy. To address these challenges and more, a session on "Cloudification of Everything" was one of the highlights of the event. Panellists for this discussion were Sridhar Reddy, Founder MD, CtrlS; Harmeen Mehta, Global CIO, Bharti Airtel; Satishchandra Doreswamy, VP & Global Head - Cloud Infrastructure Services, TCS; Sumit Malhotra, CIO & Cloud Evangelist and Kit Ho Chee, VP, Sales, Marketing and Communications Group, Intel Corp. The discussion centered around how cloud has become pervasive and brought immense advantages with it in the enterprise space. Using the example of the media industry, Sumit Malhotra spoke about how different sectors adopted cloud computing and are now using it to tide over the crisis. Satishchandra Doreswamy talked about the need to create a well-defined cloud strategy that maps with the business objective, thereby helping to adopt the right cloud model. Harmeen Mehta spoke about the immense potential of edge computing and how 5G will be like a "steroid injection" for cloud adoption. Looking into the crystal ball, Kit Ho Chee stated that AI and ML would be the most exciting applications on cloud in the days to come.
Healthcare is another sector that has been profoundly impacted by the pandemic. Being on the frontline of the battle against COVID-19, the healthcare industry had to adopt and adapt in a very short time. A session at the Tech Leadership Summit focused on the challenges that were faced by the sector and how it overcame them. The panellists for this discussion were; Prakash Mallya, VP & MD – Sales, Marketing and Communications Group, Intel India; Meena Ganesh, MD and CEO, Portea Healthcare and Dileep Mangsuli, CTO, Wipro-GE Healthcare. The fireside chat took up pertinent points related to the industry, Meena Ganesh spoke about how digitization of data had led to a "longitudinal view" of a patient's journey lead to cost-effective care. Dileep Mangsuli spoke about the new technologies that are making an impact in the healthcare sector, technologies like AI, genomics and robotics. Prakash Mallya addressed the most critical concerns associated with digitization, namely security and privacy of data, sharing insights on how the same had been resolved.
There were other discussions at the Summit, like a start-up panel, that brought together new-age entrepreneurs like Raghav Chandra, Co-Founder & CTO, Urban Company; Greg Moran, Co-Founder & CEO, Zoomcar and Adhil Shetty, CEO, Bankbazaar.com. In this session, the entrepreneurs shared their take on how technology has let them respond to customer requirements in a much efficient manner.
The other highlight of the Summit was a special address by Puneet Chandok, President - India & South Asia, Amazon Internet Services Pvt. Ltd, who spoke about how the SMEs in India were embracing technology and leveraging it to build exciting products and solutions. He also shed light on the 15-year collaboration between Intel and AWS, which led to several pathbreaking solutions in the space of High Performance Computing (HPC), Big Data, ML, IoT, and so on.
In another insightful session, Kiran Desai, SVP, Global Head - Cloud and Infrastructure Services, Wipro, delved into business continuity in crises and beyond. He made an interesting observation, of how the timescales for tech adoption has been shortened immensely due to the pandemic. Digital adoption has been accelerated and is beating the pre-COVID-19 predictions.All in all, the Virtual Tech Leadership Summit was a resounding success with active participation displayed from across the industry. In a way, the Summit was an excellent example of how real-world actions are successfully translating into virtual ones.