“Through NEC India Go Big’ initiative, we intend to double our talent pool, from 6000 to around 14,000,” says Aalok Kumar, NEC Corporation India CEO and President.
Japanese technology major NEC Corporation has been in India for the last 70 years with a very strong presence in government and public sector-led infrastructural development projects and initiatives.
To mark this historic event, NEC Corp has launched the ‘India Go Big’ initiative recently to further align its growth strategy around three pillars – delivery capabilities, digital transformation in governance, and driving growth through innovation.
In this interview, Aalok Kumar, President and CEO of NEC Corporation India speaks to TechHerald talks about NEC’s strong presence in India and its role in future, the company’s go-to-market strategy in 2022 and business opportunities as well as the hiring plans in India and much more.
Through NEC’s ‘India Go Big’ initiative, we intend to double our talent pool, from 6000 to around 14,000, attracting the finest brains and giving them the rare opportunity to deliver solutions for the most complex social challenges, thereby potentially shaping the future of India.
Q1. NEC has been in India for the last 70 years now. However, during these seven decades, India has developed and transformed a lot in many ways. So given NEC’s strong presence in India, what sort of role the company is aiming to play here going ahead?
Aalok Kumar: NEC’s unwavering focus on digitally transforming India is reflected in its various innovations deployed to make citizens’ lives secure and safe. NEC is a strong advocate of cultivating safe societies wherein everyone has equal opportunities to grow.
Against this backdrop, our technological solutions have been at the core of India’s infrastructural development, cutting across telecommunications, transportation, logistics, public safety, smart city, manufacturing, and many more industries. Additionally, we enable enterprises and governments in embracing emerging technology and educate them about the various aspects of embracing digital solutions for the benefit of end-users.
As part of our India Go Big Initiative, we have aligned our growth strategy around three pillars – leveraging NEC’s strong delivery capabilities, bringing about digital transformation in governance, and driving growth through innovation. In line with this, we are building a Center of Excellence (CoEs) in India that will serve as windows to global opportunities. These CoEs will be the nerve centres where technological design, architecture, and project implementation will take place for domestic as well as global opportunities.
Our recently launched CoE in Chennai for the 5G telecom vertical is a hub that is building the innovative O-RAN technology, which is made in India and would be offered to the world. Additionally, we are in the process of setting up a CoE for submarine technology, transportation, and another dedicated one for AI. The past seven decades have been strong for NEC India and we take pride in our role in shaping the country from grit to glory.
Q2. Although NEC India remains a dominant player in the public sector-led tech and infra projects, what’s the go-to-market strategy for India in 2022, and which are the key focus areas in terms of business opportunities and revenue for the company?
Aalok Kumar: NEC has been able to play an instrumental role in making digital transformation a reality, and this is fundamental because our business verticals differ from most of our peers. For instance, we are not into offshoring technology work like most of our peers, rather our solutions and technologies are, at their core, intended to help solve complex societal challenges.
We have a dedicated R&D centre and a global development and delivery centre in India that is focused on solving India-specific issues. Further, we deploy technology in three ways – our submarine and mobile network connections have been an integral part of our efforts to establish the digital foundation or backbone of the country.
Our work in the Logistics, Transportation, and Smart City sectors has been effective in improving processes and last-mile connectivity. Some of these solutions include Track & Trace, Vehicle Planning and Scheduling, BRT Systems, City Surveillance, and Touchless Boarding. And our Integrated Command and Control Centres, Video Analytics capabilities, and Automated Immigration solutions are among a few that have gone a long way in enabling decision making at the level of governance (state and central).
We are privileged to have the unwavering trust and confidence of our customers, which directly impacts our ability to win new businesses. The fundamental reason this is possible is because of our ability to identify and deploy the right technology, at the right place, and more importantly, at the right cost. NEC is set to fuel India’s digital transformation ambitions with the use of cutting-edge technology, its global leadership, and innovation, by further diversifying into key sectors.
Q3. India’s large diverse talent pool in IT remains a major driver for global companies to set up their offshore research, development and delivery centres here. So how is NEC faring on the talent front in India and how it is leveraging local talent in the technology and innovation space?
Aalok Kumar: After having spent over seven decades in India, we can confidently say that we understand the market. We see India very differently and are committed to staying invested in India. As one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, India is one of the few countries that provides a unique opportunity of having the finest pool of engineers and technocrats in the world, while also being a dynamic and growing landscape brimming with opportunities.
Furthermore, the government’s focus on initiatives like ‘Digital India’ provides a fertile playing field to utilize and implement NEC’s goals. Through NEC’s ‘India Go Big’ initiative, we intend to double our talent pool, from 6000 to approximately 14,000, attracting the finest brains and giving them the rare opportunity to deliver solutions for the most complex social challenges, thereby potentially shaping the future of India. And on this incredible journey, our India team would be significant contributors to some turnkey global projects.
Q4. Four airports in India are all set to launch facial recognition technology for travellers, where their scanned faces will act as boarding passes. And NEC is a technology provider and a key player in this project. So can you brief us about NEC’s engagement and role in this unique project?
Aalok Kumar: We are proud that NEC’s technological expertise is behind the seamless boarding experience at major Indian airports. As a pioneer in biometric technologies, NEC Corporation has been recognized as ‘World’s No.1 Biometric Company’ by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) five times consecutively.
On the back of our global successes and solution superiority in this domain, we have customised this technology for Indian airports. To ensure faster check-ins and ensure citizens’ safety, we have deployed biometric tech at Varanasi, Kolkata, Pune, and Vijayawada airports. This is in addition to the launch of facial recognition gates for Digi Yatra at Lohegaon airport in Pune in October, and the same is under process for the other three airports.
During this technology deployment, we have taken utmost care to ensure that all relevant guidelines and regulations were adhered to, as it is of the highest priority for us at NEC that the Citizens’ data and privacy be respected and protected. We have ensured that all passengers’ data be utilized only upon receiving their consent, through the creation of a ‘Digi ID’ on Digi Yatra’s opt-in service powered by NEC’s facial recognition platform.
This ‘Digi ID’ enables the passenger to pass various checkpoints, including airport arrival, security clearance, and flight boarding, reducing the number of times they need to present physical documents such as passports and boarding pass. As part of the intelligent connected digital identity verification platform, we are also installing kiosks, biometric e-gates, innovative camera networks, etc.
Q5. Even with those opportunities in India, which are the key challenges that you see for NEC India?
Aalok Kumar: As a committed partner in India’s digital journey. We at NEC India don’t just aim to sell a product or solution but create an ecosystem of offerings to help businesses and governments digitize. We bring a unique amalgamation of the Japanese value system, combined with an Indian ethos, in staying true to our purpose of ‘Orchestrating a brighter world.’
Further, our team’s innovation mindset and strong skill set propel us to navigate myriad challenges such as ever-evolving legal and regulatory structures, managing diverse stakeholders, and the local topographical and climatic conditions. We work closely with the authorities to ensure we are compliant and transparent with the changing socio-economic landscape.
At the same time, we also want to nurture the tech talent in the country which is undergoing a major shift due to the churn across organisations.