Indian IT industry turns pages of the world-changing year

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Mumbai: As this year comes to an end, the Indian IT industry looks back at 2020 to share some interesting perspectives and observations.

The world-changing year 2020

Under the dark shadow of COVID-19, the year 2020 has redefined and changed every aspect of humanity and business to such an extent that almost everything is trying to find some technology-led solution. Or it wouldn’t be incorrect to even say that it has become more technology-centric than ever with the ‘new normal’.

Given the wide impact of this pandemic, the world has been struggling to cope up in the aftermath of the coronavirus during the entire year. And this situation is unlikely to change for sure soon. But the world would certainly be hoping and praying that normalcy returns in the coming new year 2021.

Having said that it is more important to know and understand how the Indian IT industry has tried to address this worst-case scenario from a technology perspective linking human lives, the work routines and business activities.

Despite the on-going pandemic led crisis that deeply affected human lives and businesses, the Indian IT industry has successfully managed to keep itself active and operational amid the prolong lockdown. Not only that, it has adopted technology-led business and digital transformation with innovation and new ideas to make a big difference.

The Indian IT industry has shown its resilient character with determination to overcome uncertainty and stay afloat in 2020. Here’s what, the tech and business leaders from the Indian IT industry said about this year 2020 :

Sudhir Kothari, Founder and CEO – Embee Software
This year, COVID-19 pandemic has transformed and accelerated the pace of innovation in technology like never before. The crisis has forced businesses to completely change the way they work not by choice, but by necessity.

If you are business who has never considered working remotely or investing in cloud technologies, then chances are high that you have decided to invest in them now. For example, in this year alone, videoconferencing, remote collaboration, virtual events, secure accessibility and virtual desktop management went on to become top priorities for any CIO or CTO.

I firmly believe that in the coming year, how people choose these new tools and technologies, is what will ultimately create and redefine the growth of businesses. The companies will work with partners that that can help them with cloud-scale, innovation, and most importantly those who focus on data ethics and implement best in class data handling practices that mirror their values as well as their customers’ values.

Vaibhav Vasa, Director – Biz Analyst
As SMBs are still striving to resume operations after facing a big blow to business due to the pandemic, the SaaS industry is doing its bit by helping them to reboot with digital solutions. A visible boom in the industry has been recorded as it’s a viable solution that enables companies to continue working remotely.

Entrepreneurs have realized that the way businesses work is through technology. If you’re not keeping up with the changing times, your business risks falling behind. This is a prime trend seen among enterprises from all parts of India as they move towards digital and mobile-first infrastructure to grow their businesses.

Real-time reporting has been a great asset in 2020 as it gives entrepreneurs the ability to base their decisions on data that are relevant to the decisions they will be making, on inventory, the load on the delivery system, the revenue pipeline, and so much more.

Anuj Kapuria, Founder and CEO, Hi-Tech Robotic Systemz
This year 2020 has totally changed not just the consumer behavior but also how organisations view their supply chain and related digitisation and automation needs.

There will be a significant rise in the adoption of AI and Robotics in the coming year, perpetuated by the social distancing norms, contactless deliveries and higher productivity along with less manpower dependence. While the vaccine availability will ease and smoothen the restrictions in business operations, it is AI and Robotics that will lead the way in heralding the new normal.

Sonit Jain, CEO – GajShield Infotech
2020 forced us through a complete revamp of enterprises’ work infrastructure. From working at a minimum on-premise capacity to complete remote working, we saw various challenges with these working conditions.

Enterprises rushed the work from home setup and the adoption of cloud infrastructure that increased dependence on SaaS/cloud application, opening a larger challenge in ensuring data security.

Negating these challenges can be difficult by holding on to the older security approach, the impact of which we saw in the recent data breaches faced by Spotify, Big Basket etc. This new work infrastructure demands for a more robust and purpose-built security solution with a newer approach to security, such as the Data Security Approach.

It keeps data at the centre of all its initiatives, covers enterprise’s SaaS/Cloud application platforms and brings the remote/WFH users under the security infrastructure to prevent intentional/unintentional, internal and external data exploitation while protecting from network threats, keeping us ready for the future.

Sumesh Nair, Founder & CEO – Board Infinity
Covid-19 has benefitted the education industry’s digital adoption. In these times, it enhanced the learning process not just for the students but also the educators.

The edu-tech space saw a lot of advancements such as learners were provided with digital-first academic support and accessibility, smart assessment and novel types of curriculum in specialized areas such as science, coding and languages. This overall transformation has benefitted both investors and edu-tech startups.

This year, we also saw that an increasing number of people focused on upskilling which increased the need for online courses (both synchronous and asynchronous). The trend of online learning is seeing an upward graph from here on. To sum up, I can say that the year 2020 has been a blessing in disguise for the edu-tech sector and allowed us to upskill and upgrade ourselves too to deliver the best product out there.

Sumeet Mehta, Co-founder and CEO – LEAD School
Thanks to COVID-19, Edu-tech is not a choice anymore, it is essential. Technological innovations like online classes, learning management systems, etc. are now becoming a part and parcel of our education system.

While everyone from banks to news, to offices, have adopted technology systems to operate more effectively and efficiently, the classroom and school had been stagnant for the past 60-70 years. COVID-19 disrupted this status quo and now school owners have been forced to embrace technology.

As we come out of the pandemic, core education will continue to be offered in schools but schools will look and act very different. There will be far greater permeation of systems and technology to make schools run effectively. Till about 12 years of age, mediated learning (learning assisted by a trusted adult) is essential.

Teachers will continue to play an important role till high school but they will need to be enabled by technology. Going forward, learning will become more and more personalised. Schools will need to personalise for students’ speed of understanding, interest in different subjects and language ability.

Karmesh Gupta, CEO and Co-founder, Wijungle
This has been an exciting year for everyone involved in the business of cybersecurity. Pandemic followed by WFH norm boosted the demand within the SMB segment significantly.

Companies who grew the most are the ones who have been offering the solution concerning remote workforce enablement. The pandemic phase has also accelerated the shift towards cloud-delivered security i.e. Opex/pay per use model.

Government’s announcement of AtmaNirbhar Abhiyan and the subsequent revision in GFR & public procurement order to push the penetration of local players has added strength to Indian cybersecurity companies.

As per the current guidelines, only local cybersecurity suppliers (having local content>60%) are only eligible to bid in government procurements of up to Rs 200 crore. Cybersecurity, as an industry has harnessed the attention from venture capital firms in 2020 and many of them, are looking to drive their investments soon.

Vishal Agrawal, MD – Avaya, India and SAARC
Over the last several months, COVID-19 has brought rapid technological developments and transformed digital experiences significantly. The reliance on technology has surged and radical solutions have replaced the traditional tech as businesses and lifestyle are transforming rapidly.

More so, there has been a complete paradigm shift across sectors due to the current outbreak of COVID-19. The trends have shifted from large scale investments to the consumerization of the technology. Going forward, we will see minimal investments in the infrastructure by the large organisations as they prepare their organisations for a hybrid workforce in this new normal.

Additionally, huddle rooms and conference rooms are days of past as cloud-based collaboration and remote working solutions replace the current tech, digitally transforming the workforce and creating workplaces of the future.

In the days to come, organisations will invest in infrastructure in a distributed manner to provide a similar and effective experience as enterprises pave way for flexible hybrid work model for employees.

Undeniably, the customer experience and collaboration sector have evolved during these unprecedented times. This has been very well established in form of accelerated transformation of traditional contact centres into Intelligent and automated contact centres.

This change was mandatory to address the digital-first customer engagement and remote work and indeed, resulted in prompt and efficient customer service. In conclusion, it can be said that the industry now has enhanced resilience and formulated companies from varied sectors for success in the days after coronavirus.

Vaibhav Kshatriya, Director – Channels and Services Sales, Avaya
The year 2020 has been a ‘moratorium’ year as the prevalent Covid-19 crisis and subsequent lockdowns globally affected businesses across sectors. Although the operational efficiency stood at a standstill for most of the organisations, industry leaders and technology enthusiasts were able to leverage new-age tech and develop innovative solutions to build resilience among businesses.

The organisations guild and fraternity moved towards cloudification of their respective companies by deploying a multi-cloud application ecosystem designed to power the digital workplace and elevate the customer experience in this new normal. There was never a greater need for organisational resilience through business functions as the current outbreak has accelerated the process of driving digital initiatives across the sector.

Driving this new mindset and innovating in the new normal, companies are helping their channel system, partner ecosystem and customers to adopt for opex investments rather than spending hefty amount as their capex strategy.

HCL Technologies
The COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for a year unlike any in decades, creating uncertainty and fear across the world while posing a historic health crisis. In parallel the pandemic has acted as a spark-point for parallel crises – whole economies and businesses of all sizes, industry sectors, governments and societies have faced a significant impact.

No segment of the population has been immune to these impacts, as geopolitical conflicts, social change movements, labour and human capital challenges and inequalities of many types have surfaced. The technology industry as a whole, and technology services, in particular, have been able to manage through the turbulence and will emerge stronger overall.

Global IT companies, including those of Indian origin, are experiencing business recovery and strengthening outlooks as clients around the world seek and shift their investments to more technology and automation to drive their businesses forward, enable remote working and ensure that their data is secure. More clients today are shifting their applications to the cloud, generating better business opportunities for Indian technology providers.

Pradeep Nair, VP and MD – India, VMware
This has been an extraordinary year. And as India raced to adapt, it witnessed a distinct upswing in technology adoption across sectors to maintain business continuity, ensure access to essential services and even monitor the situation.

Technology has truly emerged from the realms of the IT department to influence every aspect of how we work, study, access information and essential services and even how we socialize and connect.

KT Prasad, MD and RVP – India & SAARC, Zendesk
2020 has been a challenging year for businesses and customers alike. Earlier this year, customer experience (CX) teams across the globe had to rapidly adapt amid ticket spikes, customer cancellations, market volatility, and increased uncertainty.

However, as the world moved forward, one week at a time, the global service requests eventually stabilized and new expectations and trends began to set in. Customers now expect businesses to be more digital, accessible and empathetic.

More than ever, they want and expect to connect with businesses the way they do with friends and family – effortlessly, especially over popular messaging apps like WhatsApp, Instagram or Facebook. Businesses are working on merging values from a pre-COVID-19 era with the ever-changing demands of a post-COVID-19 world.

While this may seem to be an overwhelming task, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of the basics, such as keeping your customers and their needs at the centre of everything that you do. Businesses are, therefore, re-emphasising the need for a people-first approach and working hard to retain a human connection.

Amit Kumar, Founder – Galaxy card
2020 caused a lot of upheavals to the Fintech industry. Many lenders had to completely stop lending once the lockdown was announced, and those who did lend or had loans already saw a sharp increase in their defaults.

On the other hand, a lot of customers started to look out for digital lenders in this pandemic, not just out of a need for loans, but also to keep social distancing and avoid contact with people.

We even saw a change in repayment patterns from customers, as they become happier to pay later despite accruing interest, but to ensure their liquidity was not affected, and only paying from their disposable cash.

We also saw a huge increase in smartphone penetration in 2020, led on by TikTok, and by COVID-19, as people were forced to stay at home. This led to the surge in customer need for online loans as they were newly introduced to a whole new world.

While the year 2020 has been extremely eventful and unceremonious in its totality. But for the Indian IT industry, this year brought out the best of its abilities backed by all its past experiences and learning to show its mettle to the world.

Paddy Viswanathan, Founder and CEO, C3M
COVID-19 has pushed businesses to adopt the public cloud and take a cloud-first strategy. With critical workloads deployed in the cloud, there is also an immediate need for secure and stable cloud infrastructure.

Some of the largest companies in e-commerce, retail, internet and media, and consulting have started using our cloud security platform between May 2020 and today.

Apart from this, remote working has also been working well for us. Our team members are getting to spend quality time with their families while being just as productive at work. In fact, we are contemplating making working from the office optional once the pandemic eases out. All in all, the year 2020 has been a blessing in disguise for us.

Shiv Sundar, Co-Founder and COO, Esper
2020 has proven to be a challenging year. However, it was also a year of new opportunities and avenues for us. One particular trend that we witnessed was the acceleration of digital transformation with traditional companies.

Incorporating customer interactivity into their solution became a priority and the execution ranged from standing up self-service kiosks to augmenting the customer experience with innovative digital solutions.

Android based devices, in particular, have been deployed at a large scale to meet these demands. This has underscored how important a product like Esper is to fill the large gap to enable enterprises – small and large alike, to deploy devices at scale and have rigorous control over how their applications are deployed and monitored on their devices.

Prem Kumar, Founder & CEO, Snapbizz
The consumer retail segment has witnessed rapid growth in terms of digitisation of MSMEs in 2020. This was fuelled by the current covid era which brought in new opportunities in the retail sector, especially for Kiranas.

As a result, over a million Kiranas have gone digital in recent months and their stores have gone online by accepting online payments, ordering supplies online, managing inventory, etc. The technology cover now enables them to leverage their strengths like proximity, personal touch, and flexibility further to acquire new customers effortlessly.

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