Will Apple bite India’s manufacturing bait?

by | May 13, 2020 | Buzz of the week, Smart Devices, Technology

By moving manufacturing capacities to India from China, Apple could also align favorably with India’s ‘vocal for local’ sentiments.
Share to lead the transformation

In the wake of ongoing crisis, several global businesses are deliberating to shift their supply chain away from China in their bid to regain the lost momentum in the post Covid-19 business world. Apple is no exception either. Going by several media reports, the electronics and technology giant, plans to move almost a fifth of its production capacity from China to India. If this materializes, it could translate into sizable benefits for both Apple and India.

Incidentally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his 8 pm address to the nation on 12 May, advocated for building a “self-reliant” India and supporting the local products by a greater measure. Local manufacturing would make Apple better aligned with those sentiments as well.

For India, this could be a chance for globally showcasing its low-cost manufacturing model and in due course becoming a strong production alternative to behemoths like China. For Apple, to bite India’s manufacturing bait could be an attractive means to leverage the country’s IT talent and also discover the subtleties of the market at a more micro level. For consumers, there could be potential benefits in the form of more budget friendly devices, including iPhones.

Growing smartphone market

Apple is cognizant of the fact that it might not see a surge in iPhone demand from European countries and the US anytime soon enough. On the contrary, the impact of Covid-19 is not expected to be that steep in India, and so it may be fruitful for Apple to build new business models to mitigate the future growth crisis. While India’s market may not have been that big as far as premium smartphones and devices are concerned, Apple has witnessed a double-digit sales growth for the last couple of years.

It is worthwhile to mention that only last year, India’s share in the global smartphone production saw a substantial leap to 16 percent from 9 percent in 2016. One of the main causes for the jump was the trade war between the US and China, due to which, many handset makers cut down output in China. The Indian government lapped up the opportunity by introducing several incentives to the movers.

Boost for Make in India 

India’s mushrooming digital economy and harmonious relations with most of the countries offer a much stable outlook to companies for speedy business revival. Apple, with more than 400 million paid subscribers across its services such as cloud, App Store, payment services such as Apple Card, can also look to replicate its success locally.

Considering the need for creating a strong manufacturing ecosystem, the government already has the production-related incentives (PLI) scheme in place to encourage local production.

Boosting local production in India, however, is not without challenges for Apple. The company has spent close to a decade to streamline supply chain across China’s coastal regions and support over 5 million jobs. Replicating similar models afresh in India would require a solid support system from the government.

Even after the launch of the much-publicized Make in India initiative six years ago, India’s manufacturing has not been able to take off in the manner expected, accounting for just about 15% of the country’s GDP. In China, on the other hand, manufacturing contributes over 40% to their GDP.

That could change if India manages to influence world’s most influential consumer electronics company to shift a significant percentage of its manufacturing here. Such a move could give a much-needed fillip to India’s manufacturing growth aspirations.


Salesforce buys Slack to expand its cloud footprint

Salesforce buys Slack to expand its cloud footprint

Enterprise software major Salesforce announced today that it is acquiring workplace chatting app Slack in a massive $27.7 billion cash and stock deal. As part of the agreement, Slack shareholders will receive $26.79 in cash and 0.0776 shares of Salesforce common stock against each Slack share. Salesforce is buying Slack to meet the new digital transformation demands of enterprises.

For unversed, Slack is the workplace collaboration software used by organizations as an email alternative. By far, this acquisition is the largest in Salesforce’s two-decades-long history, exceeding its Tableau software purchase, which was estimated at $15.7 billion. Once the transaction is complete, Slack will become an operational unit of Salesforce and continue to be run by the CEO Stewart Butterfield, popularly known as Flickr co-founder.

As Covid-19 cases surge, businesses are re-architecting how they are working and communicating with customers, users, and employees. For organizations, collaborative tools and solutions have become essential in ensuring business continuity and providing an exceptional experience for a growing distributed workforce. That’s what sparked Salesforce’s attention for Slack. (See: How is digital transformation shaping the new future?)

For Salesforce, the most exciting aspect of the purchase is to link its Customer 360 tool with Slack Connect. Salesforce Customer 360 tool enables businesses to connect Salesforce apps and create a unified customer ID to get a complete overview of the customer.

Slack currently has over 70,000 paying customers that are using Slack Connect.

Transformative approach

Slack was first designed for internal office communication. It then became one of the most popular messaging and collaborative tools for virtual meetings, focusing on making it easy for employees to get essential information at a glance. Today, it offers easy instant messaging, rapid file sharing, and integrations with many top-notch services.

Slack’s technology engine allows developers to add the Slack API to their existing ecosystem or merge with various other tools through integration. The most significant advantage Slack boasts about today is its ability to integrate more than 2,400 diverse apps that people use to work together and connect.

With the acquisition, through its cloud-based platform, Salesforce aims to create and provide workspace apps to connect customers in a whole new way. The CRM major is hugely optimistic that the amalgamation will create the broadest open ecosystem of apps and workflows for organizations and allow millions of developers to develop the next generation of apps, using clicks instead of code.

Marc Benioff, Chief Executive Officer of Salesforce, seems to be so thrilled about the deal that he has declared the acquisition as a match made in paradise. “This is a match made in heaven. Together, Salesforce and Slack will shape enterprise software’s future and transform how everyone works in the all-digital, work-from-anywhere world. I’m thrilled to welcome Slack to the Salesforce Ohana once the transaction closes,” Benioff said in a press release.

Face to face with Microsoft

In 2021, cloud technology will continue to play a pivotal role in driving business for most organizations. The focus will be on integrating new technologies and analytics to link people and data across systems, applications, and devices. Salesforce is preparing to address these needs faced by commercial enterprises in today’s digital universe and maintain pace with its rival Microsoft. (See: Technology trends for businesses in 2020)

Slack’s buyout is an effort by Salesforce to beef-up the communication apps ecosystem. The purchase of Slack Technologies will enable Salesforce to compete head-to-head with Microsoft Teams, the industry leader in the enterprise communication space, and Cisco Webex.

Over the past few years, Microsoft Teams has achieved several new improvements and achieved substantial growth, primarily since it integrates well with the MS Office 365 subscription productivity package with the Azure Cloud. (See: Online project management tools: Top office suite analysis)

Even in the CRM software space, where Salesforce’s Sales Cloud has been leading for a long time, Microsoft is making rapid progress. Microsoft’s Dynamics platform appears like a serious threat to the supremacy of Salesforce. Businesses that are already running plenty of Microsoft tools mostly prefer the Dynamics platform because of their quick integration.

Salesforce seems to have also sensed the urgency to expand its horizons into the collaboration software space, which has become lucrative amidst the COVID-19 turmoil. The Slack buy will also help Salesforce take a quantum leap in meeting its customers’ new transformation needs.

“As software plays a more and more critical role in the performance of every organization, we share a vision of reduced complexity, increased power and flexibility, and ultimately a greater degree of alignment and organizational agility. I believe this is the most strategic combination in the history of software, and I can’t wait to get going,” says Stewart Butterfield, Slack CEO and Cofounder, in a statement.

The Slack buy came after Salesforce had put a lot of effort into creating its enterprise collaboration tool, Chatter, in 2009, and very recently, Salesforce Anywhere with limited success.


Ravindra Kumar, President, IIT Delhi Alumni Association

Ravindra Kumar, President, IIT Delhi Alumni Association

In Focus

Ravindra Kumar

President, IIT Delhi Alumni Association

IIT Delhi can help develop an Indian equivalent of Google or Facebook.

The global pandemic has transformed our way of working and pushed us further towards digital transformation. Digital technologies such as online streaming, collaborative tools, videos, internet of things (IoT), virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) have made access to health and public utilities easier, even during the pandemic. Despite the unprecedented and challenging times, digital technologies have enabled us to discover new ways to work, collaborate, and innovative.

Changing consumer behavior and the digital ecosystem’s growth has created many opportunities for startups and next-generation entrepreneurs to develop ideas that can help society fight the crisis, create future engagement models, and reinforce productivity.

The alumni of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, the country’s elite engineering and tech school, are leading the country’s tech-startup space. According to Tracxn, as of October 2020, there were 830 companies, including seven unicorns, founded by the alumni of IIT Delhi. These companies have raised over the USD19.68 billion in funding from 1,050 investors. The likes of Grofers, Flipkart, and Inshorts are some of IIT Delhi alumnus’s well-known products.

One of the biggest challenges that many early-stage tech startups face is the limited mentorship programs, ideas to generate funding, and establishing industry linkage. IIT Delhi has recently taken several new initiatives to create an enriching tech-startup ecosystem in India and guide deep-tech entrepreneurs.

Jatinder Singh of Better World recently interacted with Ravindra Kumar, President of the IIT Delhi Alumni Association (IITDAA), to understand IITD’s role in fostering its entrepreneurial ecosystem.  Kumar spoke at length about IIT’s focus on deep technology, digital transformation, new initiatives from the legacy network, and building solutions to address the COVID-19 outbreak.

Excerpts of the interview: 

Better World: In the current context of crisis and uncertainty, how do you intend to take advantage of your strong heritage network’s experience and potential to foster entrepreneurship and develop future-proof solutions?

Ravindra Kumar: The alumni of IIT Delhi are well known to play a pivotal role in India’s economic growth by building new startups and creating millions of employment opportunities (direct and indirect) in the country. Fostering entrepreneurship and nurturing tech startups has always been a key priority area for IIT Delhi. Over the last five decades, we’ve been one of the most successful institutes in creating entrepreneurs.

Our mandate is to interact with our students and alumni network every week to discuss the economy’s challenges and how entrepreneurship can help address those issues. We discuss and deliberate on ideas and cutting-edge solutions that can help resolve challenges, let’s say, related to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, in an effective way.

To address the COVID-19 crisis, IITDAA has adopted a renewed vision. We are stepping up our efforts to become a world leader among alumni organizations from universities worldwide.

Amidst the unprecedented COVID-19 scenario, we’ve taken several new initiatives such as building new digital networks for our alumni, introducing a new annual event, mobile app, and virtual connects, among others. These initiatives have been taken to ensure that our students get well connected with our alumni and take inspiration and guidance frequently. We utilize technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and cloud to get all our students and alumni together and build a global outreach.

Through our AI-based tools, we also try to find out who (former of IIT Delhi) is working where and their key areas of interest and connect all our students through alma connect channels. Various digital forums and learning sessions are regularly organized to keep future leaders (students) informed about industry needs.

Moreover, at IIT Delhi, there is an inbuilt ecosystem of intrapreneurship. From faculty and students to alumni, everyone forms a group of self-motivated and action-oriented people who are always ready to help each other. They share a very symbiotic relationship. It’s a culture that has taken a lot of time and effort, and collaboration to build. Nothing happens overnight.

Today, IIT Delhi is home to more than 50% of Indian origin Unicorn companies. That shows how strong our fundamentals are. Going ahead, a massive opportunity exists in the space of deep-technology and digital transformation. Our faculty and students regularly exchange their observations and potential ideas with industry thought leaders and alumni network. A lot is work in progress!

You will find it interesting to know that even our faculty is now actively involved in developing startups. Until last year, most faculty members focused on mentoring students. However, that will change because they will be working on building their companies. This year, we’ve launched Faculty Innovation and Research Driven Entrepreneurship (FIRE) for our faculty members. Through this initiative, faculty will receive the necessary infrastructure, paid leave, and financial support to develop innovative solutions for societal challenges. The shortlisted ideas will be given a grant worth Rs 50 lakh. We are optimistic that such steps will further spread the learning culture to students of all departments.

Better World: That’s remarkable to observe. Are you also opening doors for aspiring entrepreneurs with perhaps no IIT background but revolutionary ideas?

Ravindra Kumar: Indeed, yes. Our endeavors are not just fixed or confined to IITians. After all, we are all indebted to this country, and we understand that there is a massive repository of exceptionally talented people out there in the market. We recognize that everyone can’t study or go to a premier engineering institute despite great talents.

We have undertaken several initiatives to enhance our engagement with the startup ecosystem and provide new entrepreneurs with rapid access to our workspaces, cloud platforms, faculty, and alumni.

We offer space, funding, and mentoring opportunities for entrepreneurs, students, and faculty from different universities and countries. Our effort is to become a global startup destination and enable a path for a wave of entrepreneurship. 

Ravindra Kumar

President, IIT Delhi Alumni Association

A technocrat, Ravindra Kumar is now an entrepreneur with over three decades of industrial experience. Currently, as President of IIT Delhi Alumni Association, he is spearheading various alumni initiatives and strengthening the startup ecosystem at the country’s premier institute.

Ravindra is an eloquent speaker and is regularly invited to various seminars and events covering TPS, legal metrology, law and technology, and alumni issues.

Ravindra has previously worked with Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), Department of Income, Ministry of Finance, Government of India. He also runs Global Tax Guru, a customs and GST tax advisory firm; and Global Supply Chain Guru, an export and import logistics company.


  • Indirect tax consultant: Customs, service tax, excise, goods, and service tax (GST)
  • Global supply chain & logistics
  • E-customs
  • CAD as a teaching tool for engineering students, CAD as a language, and design skills through case studies.


  • Bachelor’s in Law (LLB), CCS University, Meerut, 2015
  • Executive MBA (Logistics and Supply Chain Management), Loyola Institute of Business Administration, Chennai, 2007
  • B.Tech, Civil Engineering, IIT Delhi, 1987

Besides the incubation facilities in Delhi, our extended campuses in Haryana (Sonepat and Jajhar) are also aligned with our mission to nurture startups and create new entrepreneurial opportunities.

Better World: You also mentioned technology innovations to manage the COVID-19 crisis. Please share a few of the latest ground-breaking solutions launched with the internal support of IIT Delhi.

Ravindra Kumar: To contain the spread of the pandemic, E-TEX and Clensta, two startups incubated at IIT Delhi, have recently unveiled anti-viral t-shirts and COVID-19 protective lotions at affordable prices. The products have been supported by IIT Delhi’s Chemistry and Textiles department. Antiviral t-shirts and creams reduce the rate of contamination and transmission by destroying micro-organisms upon contact. The cellulosic fiber-based t-shirt’s antimicrobial property is so robust that it remains effective up to 30 washes. These are breakthrough advancements and first of their kind. IIT Delhi had earlier also facilitated these startups to develop N95 masks at a price of less than a dollar.

IIT Delhi teachers also bought the products during their launch, and they even gave the kits to their loved ones. So, we intend to promote new-age startups and try to support them with their business models as well. This is entirely consistent with the Indian government’s effort for Atmanirbhar Bharat.

Better World: While India has produced many startups recently, its startup ecosystem still hasn’t offered anything to take on a Google or a Facebook? Should we expect IIT Delhi to play the role of captaining such a fight?

Ravindra Kumar: Well (laughs), that’s an interesting question. The country’s startup ecosystem is undoubtedly growing, and at IIT Delhi, we act as enablers. Our Chairman has issued a mandate that we should develop an ecosystem for entrepreneurship, especially to develop internet startups like Google, where entry barriers are challenging. (See: Paytm Mini App Store: A threat to Google’s dominance?)

Having a breakthrough product like Google from India is possible shortly, and at IIT Delhi, we are geared up to facilitate the necessary support and mentorship. However, we must understand that a great deal of research and development is needed to achieve that.

Better World: Do you face any challenges in supporting young ideas or expanding the IIT Delhi’s entrepreneurial culture?

Ravindra Kumar: Ideas are the bread and butter of entrepreneurs. Like I said, whatever are the challenges at IIT Delhi, we find a way out through idea generation. That’s how our DNA was formed. Our students and teachers will never complain about the challenges in India. They are always supportive and hope to be the agents of change. Whether they stay in India or overseas, you won’t find them using Indian systems as an excuse. India is home to untapped talent. In addition to their areas of study, students also learn to be humble at IITD. They learn to stay calm, and once you get there, you stop criticizing the system. One sees what the system has contributed and we all feel very grateful to this country.

Although we are a developing country, this country has provided one of the world’s best educational platforms. If you look at value for money, it’s one of the lowest globally, with world-class education. On behalf of IIT Delhi, I firmly believe that this is our duty and that we must all give back to our society in the best possible way.

How COVID-19 has changed cybersecurity focus for 2021

How COVID-19 has changed cybersecurity focus for 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic – and the unprecedented lockdowns that followed soon after – dramatically changed the way of working for all enterprises. Before COVID-19, many enterprises were halfhearted to adopt the work-from-home concept, even on a trial basis. However, due to the pandemic, they quickly modernized their processes and fortified cybersecurity focus to deliver an effective remote-work environment.

While 2020 has been a year of adjustment to the crisis, 2021 will be a year of more robust digital transformation initiatives to expand the remote workforce capabilities and strengthen corporate resilience. This unparalleled workplace transition also requires businesses to build newer strategies to protect employees’ networks by augmenting their cybersecurity architectures.

In a recent report titled McAfee Threats Report: November 2020, Cybersecurity firm McAffe observed the rise of an average of 419 new threats per minute in the second quarter of 2020, with an astounding 11.5 percent growth of new malware samples.

cybersecurity focus

A tough year from a cybersecurity focus standpoint

During 2020, cybercriminals adopted a range of diverse tactics to target network vulnerabilities and found new opportunities to launch attacks. Companies have witnessed a massive rise in targeted ransomware attacks, large-scale DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks, and malware spread throughout the year.

From the Twitter Bitcoin hack to the temporary halting of the New Zealand stock exchange (NZX), the year impacted diverse industries in a colossal way. In March 2020, hospitality major Marriott International stunned everyone by acknowledging a major hacking incident on its information networks, revealing 5.2 million guests’ data.

The year saw many cybercrime campaigns being launched with pandemic themes of Covid-19 in a bid to exploit the rising remote workforce. Phishing and malware-driven intrusion has drifted away from the organizational network to end-user devices in the distributed workspace environment. Even with the best of breed tools and resources, many big companies could not predict cybersecurity attacks’ patterns.

Another growing concern is the emergence of deepfakes, where sophisticated technologies such as artificial intelligence are exploited to manipulate audio-visual content, such as cloning the voices of influential people to commit financial crimes. A notable example that made headlines during 2020 was Belgium’s deepfake video release showing Belgium’s prime minister speaking of a pressing need to handle the economic and climate crises. The speech was considered real by many viewers.

Many industry observers have warned that fraudsters could leverage such technologies in the future to bypass voice-recognition systems and access critical data.

New strategies for dealing with emerging threats

Most IT security and data management specialists have been showing concerns around the rising sophistication of attacks and the complex cybersecurity landscape. There is no crystal ball to accurately forecast the IT Security landscape. However, the year 2021 will see enterprises making substantial efforts to deploy real-time solutions that can immediately detect and halt anomalies and suspicious behaviors. (See: Top enterprise cybersecurity trends of 2020).

According to Sophos, a global cybersecurity solutions provider, by 2021 industry could witness more sophisticated cybersecurity attacks, targeting larger organizations with multimillion-dollar ransom demands.

Cybersecurity Ventures, another global security solutions firm, projects that Ransomware attacks will continue to accelerate. And businesses in 2021 will suffer one ransomware attack every 11 seconds. It also predicts that the cost of ransomware to businesses will reach $20 billion and that global damages from cybercrime will reach $6 trillion in 2021.

This emerging threat landscape will push organizations to focus on disruptive technologies and solutions to get real-time security assessments across various endpoints, irrespective of employees’ location or network (See: Combating cyber threats in the new normal).

In the year 2021, a considerable cybersecurity focus will be on reviewing the IT security areas that are too expensive to implement. While risk parameters and the likelihood of data breaches are steadily increasing, organizations would also need to keep financial viability in mind and focus on solutions that could give them a better return on investment.

With the expansion of IoT connected devices shortly, networks will be more vulnerable to large-scale multi-vector cyberattacks. In the second half of 2021, organizations’ cybersecurity focus is likely to revolve around fast-tracking their deployment efforts around advanced solutions to protect their networks and clouds and enhance security controls.

Going ahead, CISOs are expected to focus on technologies that could drive the adoption of secure cloud solutions, align technologies closely with business objectives that can foster innovation and growth (See: Here’s how the new Cyber Security Policy could reshape CISO roles).

There will be a continuous focus on remote monitoring capabilities, automation, and zero-trust models for robust user access patterns (See: CIOs to focus on network transformation for business continuity).

Google Task Mate to unlock new ways of working

Google Task Mate to unlock new ways of working

Google has released the beta version of Task Mate, a new crowdsourced work app to help users earn money by accomplishing tasks through their smartphones. Google Task Mate is presently available to selected Indian and Kenyan users through a referral code system.

The tasks listed in the Google Task Mate seem to be very minuscule, such as writing a pronounced sentence, transcribing sentences displayed by companies, taking photos of a nearby restaurant for google map improvement, or confirming specific local details. The scope, however, is likely to be expanded upon the formal launch of the application.

The Google Task Mate assignments are split into two parts: sitting and fieldwork. The app will allow users to find jobs close by and perform them based on user interests and knowledge. Each task will have pay potential and timelines to be met.

It is an exciting development and can open a new growth opportunity for the world’s leading internet company.

At first glance, the app may resemble the already existing Google Rewards app that lets users earn money by answering survey questions. However, this app is different from Google Reward in an environment where tasks could be diverse in nature. Users will have more opportunities to identify and earn money based on their knowledge and interest. Also, each task’s compensation will be credited via a digital payment platform on user accounts and not necessarily in the form of app store credits.

Creating new possibilities

The recent pandemic has led to massive layoffs, job cuts, and company closures in all sectors and industries. The impact is so significant that many economists predict that the economic recovery may take up to two years.

As the country is proving hard to recuperate from the pandemic, and businesses are discovering ways to stay profitable amidst uncertainty, many organizations have begun to move from offering full-time traditional jobs to multiple gigs.  The market for temporary assignments and freelancers is growing, and businesses also prefer a project-based workforce to save along the associated benefits and costs.

The rapid digital transformation wave and the growing culture of working remotely have given the self-employed a greater impetus (See: How is the digital transformation shaping the new future? and Tech majors extend work-from-home to keep pandemic at bay)

Apps like Google Task Mate can be an asset in a fast-paced remote-work ecosystem. At present, the app features short-assignments from Google or one of its businesses and offers minimal revenue potential. However, this testing seems to be a plan for a bigger strategy in the future. (See: Online project management tools: Top office suite analysis)

Online independent contractors marketplaces such as Fiverr, Freelancer, and Upwork make great strides due to their global reach and excellent business strategy. With Google’s reach in mind, Task Mate has enormous potential to disrupt the marketplace and facilitate connections between freelancers and organizations for any gig-related requirements. It can provide a new source of income alternative to Google as well. It is unclear when the application will be rolled out in other markets.


How will AI impact enterprise ecosystems in 2021?

How will AI impact enterprise ecosystems in 2021?

In early 2020, no one would have expected an unprecedented pandemic this year that would cause significant disruptions to the industry.  The crisis has ushered in a series of radical and sudden changes that have exerted tremendous pressure on companies around the world. This led to many leading-edge technologies and solutions being adopted overnight. In the wake of digital transformation, artificial intelligence (AI) is viewed as a major technological impact that can play an important role in changing the future of work.

Artificial Intelligence enables organizations to make informed, data-driven decisions and forecast the potential outcome of those decisions.

In India, interest in AI has been prioritized by the government and key institutions. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technologies (MEITY) is actively working on a proposal to implement a national mission for artificial intelligence to increase the use of AI in India. The project is valued at Rs. 2000 crores.

Turbocharge transformation

The experience during the lockdown seemed difficult, but advanced existing digital transformation projects. IT had to rise rapidly to meet the changing business requirements; evolving customer expectations enable everyone to cope up with the crisis. (See: Tech majors extend work-from-home to keep pandemic at bay)

Enterprises that have been slow to embrace digital technologies are realizing the need to fast-track digital transformation initiatives as a result of the increasing uncertainty and closures caused by the pandemic. (See: AI is a must now to speed up digital transformation)

While many organizations have been analyzing AI capabilities and validating concepts for some years, it quickly became a hot topic in boardrooms because of the rise of the remote work environment and the growing amount of ambiguous data.

In 2021, organizations will rely heavily on AI for better resilience, rapid management of IT operations, decision making, maximization of resources, and improvements in supply chain efficiency. Better World expects at least 70 percent of enterprises across all sectors to adopt some form of AI-based technologies and initiate aggressive AI-based production deployments in the next twelve months to establish a competitive edge.

AI will be fundamental to the development of the client experience. In a fast-growing virtual environment, technology leaders would require intelligent models to manage and use the huge amount of data wisely. AI led solutions have the potential to derive concrete insights and help enterprises break down the data intelligently with a tremendous speed (See: AI-driven analytics is CIOs’ mantra in the new normal).

Evolving operating models

The year 2021 will be marked by important business model changes that can help deliver a continuous and exceptional customer experience in a secure and transparent manner.

Businesses in the retail and banking sectors will rapidly launch AI-based conversational chatbots, virtual assistants, fraud detection and face recognition tools to generate a personalized customer experience, strengthen security, compliance and improve their customers’ life-cycle value (See: How artificial intelligence is transforming Indian retail sector and AI in banking now geared for a takeoff)

Similarly, for the health sector, AI is expected to act as a smart intermediary between patients and doctors. The AI-based cloud analytics and fitness monitors will be dynamically deployed to maintain a regular review of a patient’s history and biometric information. This can help experienced physicians monitor their patients remotely even in the most remote regions. For example, a startup called Feebris has been using an AI-powered remote monitoring tool to enable community healthcare workers in India to diagnose respiratory conditions for 10,000 children.

Companies engaged in the manufacturing sector will invest in automated processes and AI algorithms to monitor and inspect production quality and quality assurance activities. German multinational Bosh, for instance, has been extensively testing deep learning techniques to identify production defects through images of the manufactured products in its industrial units in India.

Many global enterprises are expected to use AI to disrupt their work ecosystems. Back office employees will be replaced with a robotic process automation technology based on artificial intelligence to perform repetitive and time-consuming tasks such as document retrieval, invoice processing, operational audits, and application management. For workers in physical offices, AI will be harnessed to develop biometric and facial recognition tools to enable a safe and pandemic-free environment.

Another area where the AI data models will be widely used is cybersecurity.  According to a recent report by Wipro, titled state of cybersecurity (SOCR), there has been a massive increase in R&D on AI in the field of cybersecurity, with approximately 49% of the world’s cybersecurity patents filed over the past four years focused on AI and machine learning. It is interesting to note that cybersecurity threats are coming forth on such a massive scale that 87% of the organizations surveyed were eager to implement a zero-trust architecture,  an integrated AI and ML-driven security approach for users, applications, data, and networks, in the post-Covid era.

Better support and research for successful AI models

AI’s success also suffers from numerous determinants. Inefficient data, poor data quality, lack of trust, and inadequate support tools make it difficult for many organizations to step up efforts.

Over the next 12 to 18 months, there will be further inroads into AI-enabled smart tools to make them more responsive to varying business needs. Businesses are also expected to invest in these technologies and develop research and development wings to better analyze metrics and improve data response time.

The focus of the enterprises will also be on updating the AI toolkits to look at the behaviors of their users and employees to develop a strong retention strategy.

Twitter hires Zatko to strengthen cybersecurity resilience

Twitter hires Zatko to strengthen cybersecurity resilience

Social media behemoth Twitter hires Peiter Zatko! That’s the big news making waves this week in the cybersecurity circles. Zatko, who is better known as ‘Mudge,’ has been roped in as the security chief by Twitter to further beef-up its cybersecurity architecture. Zatko, aka ‘Mudge‘ is considered one of the world’s top hackers and has held top research positions at Google, Defense Advanced Research and Projects Agency, and Stripe.

Peiter Zatco

Peiter Zatco

In his new role, Zatko will evaluate and make necessary policy changes around Twitter’s cybersecurity, physical security, and platform integrity. Zatko will directly report to Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter. A couple of months back, Twitter also appointed Rinki Sethi, an ex-IBM executive, as its new Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). This position had been vacant since December 2019.  (See: Twitter hires Rinki Sethi as CISO to keep hackers at bay)

Twitter’s new appointments are part of its targeted efforts to enhance its cybersecurity infrastructure and prevent unauthorized access to its systems. The company has been facing severe criticism in the recent past because of its vulnerable IT systems

In July this year, Twitter witnessed a massive cybersecurity breach in its systems that resulted in many high-profile accounts getting hacked and created a massive furor in the digital world.

The infamous hacking incident, also known as the bitcoin hack, involved the widespread hack of several high-profile verified Twitter accounts, including ex-US President Barack Obama, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. The cybercriminals gained unauthorized access to the administrative controls of Twitter and hacked the accounts of famous personalities with millions of followers, and offered forged bitcoin deals.

The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has forced businesses to enable full remote work environment and has opened the floodgates of security breaches. Threat actors and cyber-criminals are increasingly looking at opportunities to take advantage of cybersecurity loopholes in an organization to gain access and use it for personal gains (See: Top enterprise cybersecurity trends of 2020).

To mitigate the cybersecurity threats, security chiefs across organizations are expected to take a massive overhaul route to enable the best identity and access software and policies that could timely prohibit any unauthorized access.


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