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.

MORE FROM BETTER WORLD

Better World User Survey on WhatsApp Privacy Policy

Better World User Survey on WhatsApp Privacy Policy

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Users vent out displeasure, want government to crack whip

WhatsApp Privacy Policy Survey Report

Survey and analysis by Deepak Kumar

There is a thin line that divides respect for privacy and intrusion of privacy. In the age of the digital, this line becomes wavy and fuzzy as well. For big internet companies, the user data that resides behind the line is a gold mine. The more they get of it, the richer they get.

The recent WhatsApp privacy policy changes are just about that. By gaining a right to use and share WhatsApp’s select user data with partners, Facebook aspires to gain an unsurmountable edge in the digital advertising world. It goes without saying that WhatsApp data can help reap rich ad dividends for parent company Facebook. Users are not pleased. In respose to the one-week-long Better World survey concluded recently, a majority of them (67%) want the government to step in some way, as discussed ahead in this report. Notably, these include Business WhatsApp users as well. In fact, by the time of writing this report, various leading media portals had reported that government had written to WhatsApp and asked the company to roll back the proposed privacy-policy changes.

It all started when WhatsApp started sending out notifications to its users to the effect that it had updated its privacy policy and the users could either accept the new policy or quit using WhatsApp by 8 February 2021. Meanwhile, while this report was underway, the deadline was extended by more than three months. Users now have to accept the new privacy policy by 15 May.

WhatsApp’s privacy-policy change and the aftermath

Users’ retort has indeed been quick, sharp, and massive. They poured out their disapprovals in words as well as in actions. Millions of users posted and tweeted their angst against the move and even signed up on alternative messaging apps such as Signal and Telegram. Tesla Founder Elon Musk’s two-word tweet, “Use Signal,” helped drive a switch from WhatsApp, particularly given his following of 41.5 million on Twitter.

The rush to leave WhatsApp was so high that servers of Signal were not able to take the load of new signups. At one point, Signal sent out a tweet, “Verification codes are currently delayed across several providers because so many new people are trying to join Signal right now…Hang in there.”

On 11 January 2021, Facebook’s shares declined 4.01% on a day when Nasdaq slipped just 1.55%. On 12 January, it further declined 2.24% on a day when Nasdaq rose 0.77%. On 14 January, it happened to be at the lowest in more than six months.

Better World ran a quick user survey, where 37% users said they considered the move a serious breach of their privacy, while 45% said they it was not good but they could live with it. Only around 18% said the change didn’t bother them at all. However, some of these 18% users were already using other messaging apps along with WhatsApp.

WhatsApp privacy policy-Graph1

What’s the big deal about privacy in the age of social media?

In the age of social media, many of us have become comfortable sharing our thoughts and views on Facebook. In fact, many people don’t mind sharing sensitive personal information such as location and travel plans not just with friends but also with public at large.

However, when it comes to WhatsApp, the behavior often changes. Many of the users’ chats are peer-to-peer in nature and may not be meant for public viewing or consumption. The same would apply to the other activities they perform on WhatsApp, whether today or in future. These would include the financial and transactional activities performed on the WhatsApp platform.

In a digital living environment, if a Facebook wall may be considered comprising areas of the lobby and the living room, WhatsApp will certainly be akin to the bedroom and beyond.

No wonder, the recent changes in WhatsApp’s privacy policy have created a din that Facebook could not see coming.

In the wake of the user backlash, WhatsApp had to get into a defensive mode, sending out clarifications and explanations. However, a damage had been done by then. In a first reaction, 17% users responded to the Better World survey said they were quitting/had quit WhatsApp for good, while 45% said they would accept the change but start exploring other or additional options. Interestingly, 12% said they were already using another social messaging app. However, a good 26% said they would accept the changes and keep using WhatsApp as before.

WhatsApp privacy policy-Graph2

The myth that users are unaware and don’t care for privacy is broken

Often, as an extension to the assumption that transparency is the hallmark of a digital age, it is argued that privacy is hardly a thing that users care about. The user backlash against WhatsApp’s privacy assumptions easily breaks that myth. It also reminds one of the “Free Basics” event a few years ago. Users had then considered it an attempt to compromise ‘net neutrality,’ and Facebook had to roll the offer back.

The promptness of users in defending their privacy and other rights can easily be evidenced by these two examples. The events also show that users are well aware of the repercussions of any policy change or a new offering in the internet world. This is echoed by this survey results, with 80% users stating they were aware that WhatsApp was changing its privacy policy, and would be sharing a range of user data with Facebook and Instagram platforms with effect from 8 February 2021 (now 15 May 2021). The remaining 20% users said they were not aware of such changes. It is likely that some of these users were yet to receive the notifications regarding policy change when they took this survey.

Further, around 47% of users said they understood the implications of WhatsApp’s new privacy policy for users reasonably well and another 18% said they understood it fully well. By contrast only 29% said they didn’t understand it well enough while another 6% said they didn’t understand it at all. Overall, this implies a high incidence of awareness around WhatsApp’s new privacy policy.

Notably, while the messages will remains end-to-end encrypted, the new policy means sharing a host of user-related information with Facebook and other third-party platforms. These include information about a user’s location, IP address, mobile operator, timezone, phone number, and receipt of a Facebook or WhatsApp account. Additionally, conversations associated with business accounts will now be shared with Facebook.

WhatsApp privacy policy-Graph3

The damage-control measures may be too little too late; more is needed

WhatsApp has issued a number of clarifications and explanations pertaining to the change. Those clarifications, however, have been far from satisfactory. Its parent company Facebook says the new policy changes are directed only at Business WhatsApp accounts and not the individual accounts. Also, it says only certain ad-related information will be shared with Facebook and other group companies.

However, on the actual Privacy Policy page, some of the statements may sound alarming to users. It states in one place, “We work with third-party service providers and other Facebook Companies to help us operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services,” and adds, “When we share information with third-party service providers and other Facebook Companies in this capacity, we require them to use your information on our behalf in accordance with our instructions and terms.”

What if third-party service providers don’t follow the “instructions and terms,” as had happened when in 2018 Cambridge Analytica was found to have harvested data of 87 million users from Facebook in 2016 under the guise of a survey app? In September 2018, again, hackers were able to exploit an API vulnerability to gain access to data of around 50 million users. In September 2019, data of 419 million Facebook users, including names and phone numbers, was exposed online, said Techcrunch. Three months later, data of 267 million Facebook users was reported by Comparitech as being in the wild. In March 2020, Comparitech revised the number to 309 million after finding data of another 42 million residing on another server had been compromised as well.

Given Facebook’s not-so-stellar record in protecting user data from being exploited by threat actors, it may be concerning for users to let some of their WhatsApp data be mined by Facebook and other third-party service providers.

WhatsApp, on its Privacy Policy page, further adds, “When you or others use third-party services or other Facebook Company Products that are integrated with our Services, those third-party services may receive information about what you or others share with them.” “Please note that when you use third-party services or other Facebook Company Products, their own terms and privacy policies will govern your use of those services and products.”

WhatsApp is not clear what this amounts to when used in conjunction with the previous two statements. Does this mean that if WhatsApp users share certain information with Facebook or other third-party services integrated with WhatsApp, the privacy policies of those services take over and WhatsApp’s privacy policy loses jurisdiction?

It will help if WhatsApp addresses such concerns and questions in its Privacy Policy document.

Pavan DuggalPavan Duggal, Indian cyber law expert

“I’m surprised that WhatsApp has done this even though India is their largest market. Effectively this means that WhatsApp, apart from sharing personal data, also discloses your transaction-associated information, which means including your credit card number, your debit card number, and your bank details. At the same time, they will share the IP address of users. It’s a very perilous situation, especially in a country that lacks a strong legal ecosystem around cyber laws and data security. Such policy changes can upsurge the probabilities of misusing users’ data by anti-social elements.  I strongly believe that people should count on more secure platforms such as Signal and Telegram for their messaging needs now.”

Rajesh Agarwal, Head IT, Aamor Inox

“People are moving to Signal and Telegram, but they are also coming back to WhatsApp. I’ve been using Signal for some time, along with WhatsApp, and found it is not as mature as WhatsApp is. There are many missing aspects in Signal, like, the personal reply feature. I found even the deletion of chat a cumbersome process in Signal. I understand the privacy concerns, but that’s there across the app ecosystem, and here WhatsApp is at least telling users what it is sharing and what’s not. Most of the users are testing Telegram and Signal while keeping WhatsApp as a primary communication tool. It will be exciting to see if this behaviour fluctuates and WhatsApp could address some of the privacy concerns that users may have”

Shashwat DCShashwat DC, Communications & Engagement (Research) at Azim Premji University

“While WhatsApp may try to dispel all fears about privacy expounding that its messaging platform is end-to-end encrypted, in reality, Facebook seems to trying to seize a lot of personal data to earn from its advertising business. To avoid such instances and provide users much-needed control over their data, India needs to implement its data protection law just like Europe’s stringent GDPR at the earliest. The world’s largest democracy, with a burgeoning IT sector, cannot risk the privacy of its citizens.”

There is a need for stakeholders to establish certain minimum privacy-policy norms

The right to privacy has been recognized as a fundamental right emerging primarily from Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Article 21 pertains to protection of life and personal liberty, and states, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.” In August 2017, Government of India had set up a committee under the chairmanship of retired Justice BN Srikrishna to submit a report on data protection. The committee submitted its report in July 2018.

In its opening note, the report recognized that “the protection of personal data holds the key to empowerment, progress, and innovation.”

The Committee had noted that “any regime that is serious about safeguarding personal data of the individual must aspire to the common public good of both a free and fair digital economy.” “Freedom refers to enhancing the autonomy of the individuals with regard to their personal data in deciding its processing which would lead to an ease of flow of personal data,” it added.

Justice Srikrishna Committee had emphasized that processing (collection, recording, analysis, disclosure, etc.) of personal data should be done only for “clear, specific and lawful” purposes. Also, only that data which is necessary for such processing is to be collected from anyone.

Based on the recommendations of the committee, amounting to a draft Personal Data Protection bill prepared in 2018, a revised Personal Data Protection Bill was approved and placed in December 2019. A joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) chaired by Meenakashi Lekhi and comprising 20 members from Lok Sabha and 10 members from Rajya Sabha was constituted to submit its report. The JPC had conducted more than 55 sittings in 2020. Oral evidences were heard by the JPC from various state as well as non-state actors including Amazon, Google, Facebook, Jio Platforms, Paytm, and Twitter, among others. The final report of the JPC is awaited.

 Despite the fact that right to privacy has been recognized as a fundamental constitutional right, experts have been of the opinion that a law on data protection should be dynamic and not statutory in nature. This is more so because as digital economy becomes more and more prevalent and mainstream, data itself becomes dynamic in nature.

Coming to data protection, it is important to first distinguish between stationary data and moving data. While it can be reasonably guaranteed to foolproof privacy and security of stationary data, it can get very hard to ensure privacy of moving data.

The velocity of a moving data can be lightning fast in today’s digital environments. So once a private data gets into a public domain, even the slightest lapse or gap at the end of a data custodian could be disastrous. The hacks and misuses listed out earlier in this report are a testimony to this assertion.

It is therefore critical that, as we progress further into the digital economy, we ought to remove all regulatory fuzziness and laxity on the privacy front. A majority of respondents to the Better World survey subscribe to this view, with 24% noting that the government should ask WhatsApp to roll back the changes and another 43% stating that there needs to be a more holistic regulation in place. However, 33% of the users said that it would be better to let users be the best judge, though less than 22% of these users said they were fully aware of the implications of WhatsApp’s new privacy policy as users. Of the remaining 78%, slightly more than 26% said as users they didn’t understand the implications of WhatsApp’s new privacy policy at all or well enough, though more than 54% of these users said they reasonably understood the implications if not fully well.

WhatsApp privacy policy-Graph4

The choice of alternative reinforces that privacy is the key concern

Signal, which is considered to be the most privacy-oriented messaging app (see Table), was the first choice of those users who said they will look for WhatsApp alternatives. In this case, respondents had the option of selecting one or more apps, including WhatsApp. Telegram, which is considered second-most privacy-friendly app, had the second highest user preference.

While 34% of the users voted for Telegram as a WhatsApp alternative (and in some cases, as a replacement), a good 24% voted for Signal also. A fair percentage of respondents (15%) said they were sticking with WhatsApp even though they were using or considering to use apps other than WhatsApp as well.

The immediate user response, as evidenced from the survey, has been quite aggressive. While 18% of respondents said they had already quit WhatsApp as the only app, another 25% said they planned to do so within a week’s time and yet another 29% said they planned to quit in a month’s time. However, 28% said they had no plans to quit WhatsApp.

FeaturesWhatsAppTelegramSignal
Subscribers (Global)2 billion400 million20 million
Cross platformYesYesYes
Video and voice callYesYesYes
End-to-end encryption Personal messages and calls are end-to-end encrypted.Only for secret chatAll features are end-to-end encrypted
Type of softwareClosed-source privacyOpen-source privacyOpen-source privacy
Information collectionUser’s location, IP address, mobile operator, timezone, phone number, and details of a Facebook or WhatsApp account.Device data, IP addresses for moderation, phone number and the User IDOnly phone number for registration
Group chatsUp to 256 membersUp to 200,000 members1,000 members
File sharing capabilityVideos with 16MB limit in size and regular files up to 100MB2 GB100 MB
Folder managementChats can be stored through emailChats can be moved in to foldersNo such feature exists with Signal
Disappearing messages featureEnables self-destruction of a message after 7 daysEnabled through self-destruct timerEnable self-destruction after 5 seconds to 7 days once a user read the message
Data backupYes, online and offline backup on google driveYes, on Telegram’s cloudNo, stored on its own cloud platform
Group chat securityE2ENoE2E
Cross platformYesYesYes
WhatsApp privacy policy-Graph5
WhatsApp privacy policy-Graph6

Analyst’s Views

Better World is of the view that while the responses to this survey do reflect users’ displeasure with the new privacy policy, the actual actions taken by them will likely be different in many cases. Particularly, those users who are considering to quit WhatsApp in a month’s time, are more likely to have second thoughts and may stay put. It is also likely that some of the users who have already quit may come back after some time.

The key reason for such reconsiderations would be the huge user base that WhatsApp currently enjoys. While WhatsApp had a colossal global base of 2 billion subscribers, Telegram has a much smaller base of 400 million and Signal has a miniscule base of 20 million by comparison. Even if a few million WhatsApp users move to other platforms, it will not be fruitful if a significant percentage of their contacts also move to those very platforms. If that doesn’t happen, users could feel compelled to come back to WhatsApp for their daily messaging needs.

Notably, when considering alternative apps, 26% said they were sticking with WhatsApp. Further, when asked to provide a timeline for quitting, 28% said they had no plans to quit. It is quite possible that when it comes to actually quitting the platform, a much higher number of users will reconsider.

A consolidated view of respondents’ profiles

WhatsApp privacy policy-Graph7

About the Analyst and the Survey Methodology

Deepak KumarDeepak Kumar

Deepak is an ICT industry analyst with more than 25 years of experience in researching and analyzing multiple domains. His focus areas are strategic business and marketing advisory, sales enablement, and public speaking.  He has published reports, whitepapers, case studies, and blogs in areas of cloud, mobility, social media, and analytics.

He is Founder and Chief Research Officer at BM Nxt and Better World. He has earlier worked with IDC, Reuters, Voice&Data, and Dataquest in leadership roles spanning research, advisory, and editorial functions. 

About the report

The Better World WhatsApp Privacy Policy Survey Report was prepared by analyzing results of a primary research and supplementing it with data and insights collected from secondary research.  

The Better World WhatsApp Privacy Policy Survey was conducted via an online form that was circulated among more 1,000 respondents.  A total of 565 valid responses were collected during the period 9 January to 25 January 2021.  Better World also spoke to multiple respondents for qualitative insights. The surveys were led by Jatinder Singh, Director, Research and Insights, Better World, and independent market researcher Deepti Arora.  

Acknowledgements

I take this opportunity to sincerely thank all the survey respondents for taking time out and providing their inputs, without which this report would not have been completed in a timely manner. 

The CIO blueprint for digital transformation

The CIO blueprint for digital transformation

The unprecedented COVID-19 has triggered major upheavals and compel organizations to accelerate their digital transformation plans to get future-ready. Suddenly, the Chief Information Officers (CIOs) ‘ role has fast evolved from a technology leader to a cross-functional business leader. If it was not entirely apparent before the pandemic, then it is now pellucid. Businesses depend on them to continue to manage disruptions, build resiliency, deliver an exceptional customer experience and seamless business continuity. CIOs have an enormous responsibility on their shoulders today, much greater than pre-pandemic times. And hence need a strong strategic blueprint to achieve successful transformations.

However, there are several challenges that CIOs need to overcome to unlock the real value of digital transformation of their organizations. These may include integrating new technology with existing legacy applications, shortage of digital and information security talent, and re-invent IT with new operating models, among others.

In this backdrop, it is a must for CIOs and organizations to devise a careful transformation strategy keeping in mind the factors such as business requirements, customer-specific needs, employee engagement models, among others. (See: CIOs’ digital transformation focus accelerates recovery for IT firms)

Let’s look at some of the essential elements that CIOs must keep in mind before embarking on the digital transformation journey.

Assess your business needs

While it is true that digital transformation can bring maximum and sustainable benefits, it is also true that every organization’s technology needs are different. For instance, some of the transformation programs are specifically designed to manage accounting related issues, while others may involve automating operational processes and customer interface channels.

It becomes critical for organizations to do not to compare apples with oranges. So, understand your unique needs, consult with other C-level executives, prioritize and analyze the approach at the most granular level while preparing your digital transformation blueprint.

Develop a strategy for effective change management

In our interactions with many technology leaders last year, it became evident that having a robust change management strategy is of utmost importance for any digital transformation blueprint. The executive leadership must take accountability and drive an effective change management plan before undertaking any digital transformation route.

Jaspreet Singh EY

Jaspreet Singh, Partner- Cybersecurity, EY

“Today’s enterprises need to secure access to their organizational resources, regardless of the user or application environment. This means that the biggest challenge is about adapting to the modern distributed workplace and embracing a mobile workforce while protecting people, devices, and data, irrespective of their locations.”

Rajesh Aggarwal

Rajesh Aggarwal, Head of IT, Aamor Inox

“Digital transformation is a journey rather than an endpoint. Every aspect of the journey needs to be assessed well. A successful transformation strategy leverages the value of diverse processes, people, and technologies. Organizations need to democratize IT to make it accessible for all stakeholders.”

While it is understandable that unprecedented events such as COVID-19 leave no time for organizations to prepare well for suden operational changes, CIOs need to provide directions and act as a glue `to successfully transform their IT architectures.

Ensure that you have a good-formulated plan to convey the change in the organization, its impact on processes, the advantages it brings, and the necessary training plan to make your people ready.

Build a robust governance framework

In the present distributed workforce scenario where organizational networks may have several unidentified access points, security and governance cannot be taken lightly at any cost. Every digital transformation initiative should incorporate plans to have full network visibility into applications, devices, cloud platforms, and other aspects.

CIOs should collaborate with other business leaders to define a relevant and robust governance framework that proactively manage and mitigate risks and forefront innovation.

Choose partners, not vendors

Always ensure you are working with partners and not just vendors when deploying a new technology solution. Training your internal teams to understand and maintain control over new technologies and solutions is very important.

This must-have digital transformation blueprint element will let you test and experiment with new ideas and get detailed information on all your future technology requirements.

Integrate smartness in your digital transformation roadmap

Digital transformation has become a much broader concept than just incorporating digital prowess in every aspect of the business. Data is the new lifeline for organizations. In such a scenario, technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation, and smart analytics should be seared wherever required to meet the desired outcome with speed, agility, and secured infrastructure.

The new operating model should enable businesses to identify alternatives. It should equip organizations to harness the potential of various cutting-edge technologies to deliver stakeholder expectations, augment collaboration and efficiency.

Sandeep Sudarshan Subex

Sandeep Sudarshan, Head, Business Solutions and Consulting, Subex Limited

(more…)

Tipping point for 5G networks likely in 2023, says Report

Tipping point for 5G networks likely in 2023, says Report

Despite an aggressive push, the 5G technology could take about five years from now to demonstrate compelling use cases. According to a new 5G report from consultancy major PwC, the year 2023 will be a defining year when 5G is likely to hit a tipping point. Titled, Making 5G Real, the report highlights that the networks’ performance will significantly improve in countries like the US where 5G has already been launched.

According to PwC, in the US, 80% of the population is expected to have 5G coverage accessible at home or work by July 2021. However, the performance of 5G networks remains uneven.

This, according to the consultancy major, is mainly because carriers and device manufacturers are facing a massive challenge to push the consumer upgrade cycles and meet deployment milestones.

There is no doubt that 5G will inevitably make deeper inroads into the network ecosystems and open up new exciting revenue streams for telcos and enterprises. However, its snail-paced growth is a big worry that the industry is currently wrestling with.

Multiple factors delaying expansion

There will be several variables that will define the capabilities of 5G networks. The successful use cases of 5G are still minimal and likely to emerge at scale only in the next three to five years. For instance, one of the hyped use cases of 5G, the fully autonomous car, is yet to mature, and most automobile manufacturers have pushed their timelines in this regard.

While the COVID-19 pandemic could be a reason for the delay in 5G rollouts in many countries, it is also true that countries such as India see no immediate need to make heavy investments in the 5G networks. This is mainly because a significant section of their subscribers is from the low-budget category.

The robust networks and availability of mass 5G devices will play critical roles in making this blazing technology available for the masses. The 5G device ecosystem could also take much longer to mature than many industry onlookers may think.

The rollout of different generations of mobile networks has always taken many years to mature. However, with 5G, expectations were rife that the technology would become mainstream sooner because 5G standards were adopted faster due to better interoperability with the previous network standards.

Even in the countries where 5G has been launched, the customer experience is not up to the mark till date and needs a lot more polishing. The devices are a tad expensive and also consumes more power than the 4G devices.

Enterprises should use this time wisely

Most organizations worldwide are currently in various stages of deploying new technologies, enhancing their service delivery, revamping communication strategy, and improving operational efficiency. There is a more significant push toward enabling new industrial applications such as robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), IIoT, and AR/VR. Evolved 5G networks will be critical for businesses to run applications based on these technologies. (See: Here’s how 5G could be a catalyst for IIoT and Industry 4.0)

While the technology itself could take up to five years for mass adoption, PwC cautions enterprises that they might risk rushing into the wrong 5G investments or failing to act soon enough. They recommend that businesses use this time wisely to transform themselves for new 5G services such as the internet of things (IoT) and monitoring and assurance solutions. (See: CIOs to focus on network transformation for business continuity)

Since most enterprises are already undertaking digital transformation journeys,  it would be a good idea to integrate their 5G strategic goals and brainstorm how 5G could help them improve their products and services once the technology is mature.

Here’s how 5G could be a catalyst for IIoT and Industry 4.0

Here’s how 5G could be a catalyst for IIoT and Industry 4.0

Over the last few years, the industrial internet of things (IIoT), as a key constituent of Industry 4.0, has gained much ground, transforming how businesses manage their manufacturing operations. IIoT includes several advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), analytics, and blockchain to help enterprises move towards lean manufacturing and automated processes. Now, with the advent of 5G, the potential of IIoT could be harnessed even better.

5G has so far largely garnered attention in the consumer market. However, the capabilities of 5G are increasingly recognized in various business markets. There has been a greater push from organizations as well to democratize the availability of digital, especially in the wake of COVID-19 related disruptions.

With reduced latency and blazing speed, the fifth generation of wireless technology has an enormous potential to bring agility, speed, and mobility to many conventional strategies in areas such as predictive maintenance, demand forecasting, and anomaly detection. (See: Telcos eying the edge opportunity for 5G growth)

Need for reliable power

The majority of IIoT use cases are currently based on wired connections, which are insufficient to address manufacturers’ various sensitivities. The quality and dependability of connectivity determine the success of any implementation. Modern production units primarily use Wi-Fi technology to support IoT connectivity, which consumes a lot of power and relies heavily on stable wired connections for backhaul and data offloading. There are limitations to the legacy networks that affect the scaling-up of the manufacturer’s digital transformation goals.

For instance, large-scale IoT transformations cannot be entirely dependent on Wi-Fi. Even cellular technologies such as 2G/3G and LTE are either slow, have latency issues, or use large amounts of energy to support IIoT. This is where a technology such as 5G could be a gamechanger!

When propelled with 5G speed and AI-based analytics, manufacturers can predict problems, analyze them in real-time, and minimize production downtime.

5G enables manufacturers to build high-precision assembly lines where all IoT devices and robotic processes could be perfectly in sync with each other, on a real-time basis. According to Wipro, one of India’s top IT Services firms, due to the high capacity, wireless flexibility and low-latency performance of 5G, IIoT deployments in the manufacturing segment stand to gain considerably. 5G has the potential to enable high-speed connectivity without the cost and complexity of fiber optic cables. And this makes 5G a natural choice for high precision manufacturing environments.

In addition to providing a robust network, 5G’s built-in security features can also help manufacturers integrate covered layers into the basic network architecture and ward off security issues if any.

Not without challenges

Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson, while agreeing with the superior capabilities of 5G to support different manufacturing use case, raises a pertinent challenge of a disconnect between three perspectives among manufacturers: the understanding of cellular capabilities, how they enable different digital solutions, and finally how these solutions address manufacturers’ actual pain points.

Besides bandwidth, the other major challenges that any IIoT deployment faces is interoperability, lack of compliance on the part of IoT manufacturers, and limited user awareness. In 2021, as we see 5G rollouts expanding in major countries, telcos worldwide would explore various collaboration routes to address the above-listed issues as well.

Globally, mobile network operators such as AT&T, Deutsche Telekom AG, Sierra Wireless, China Mobile, Verizon have been collaborating with manufacturers to test and showcase 5G capabilities for IIoT manufacturing and improve the overall factory environment. 

Rajesh Aggarwal joins Aamor Inox as Head of IT

Rajesh Aggarwal joins Aamor Inox as Head of IT

Rajesh Aggarwal

Rajesh Aggarwal

Aamor Inox has roped in Rajesh Aggarwal to head the company’s IT department in India. Aamor Inox is a leading maker and exporter of cold-finished long products in specialty stainless steels in India.

In his new role at Aamor Inox, Rajesh will be responsible for designing and implementing the cybersecurity policy and executing the ERP.

Prior to Aamor Inox, Rajesh Aggarwal was with the JBM Group, where he was responsible for designing and executing the IT business strategy. He has earlier worked with companies such as Jindal and Jagsonpal Pharmaceuticals.

Rajesh has more than three decades of rich IT management experience in developing, designing, and implementing IT business solutions, and has a deep understanding of ERP systems.

In his earlier role, he has carried out a re-implementation of SAP ECC (6.0), implementation of Industry 4.0, and upgradation from SAP ECC(6.0) to SAP HANA, among other things.

Rajesh is an MBA in Finance from IGNOU. In his free time, Rajesh enjoys reading spiritual books and listening to music. Better World wishes him every success in his new role.

About Aamor Inox

Aamor Inox claims to be India’s most advanced producer of “specialty stainless steel” long products. It produces materials in a wide-ranging steel grades like Austenitic, Ferritic, Martensitic, Heat Resisting, Duplex and 17-4ph steels in various heat treatment conditions including Quenched Tempered, Annealed, Solution Annealed, etc.

A capability to manufacture 60,000 tons stainless steel bars per year makes the company one of India’s largest privately held stainless long products companies,.

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AI, ML see rapid uptake in measuring customer loyalty

AI, ML see rapid uptake in measuring customer loyalty

The COVID-19 has transformed the way businesses function. In the wake of social distancing measures that are likely to remain in place for an extended time, a large pool of customers are swiftly moving toward new-age digital and mobile marketplaces. Moreover, the tendency has transitioned from just brand to purchase experience, quality of service, and customized needs. This has driven top CRM players to realign their AI-based offerings in line with the growing enterprise need to measure customer loyalty effectively.

According to a McKinsey report titled “The Quickening,” e-commerce has experienced the same amount of growth in three months during the COVID that would have erstwhile taken ten years. Due to this, consumers are going with fitting, reliable brands and have the products and services they are looking for.

Microsoft has also echoed similar sentiments in its blog. According to Microsoft, COVID-19 has greatly changed consumer behavior, and consumers are now buying more online and gravitating toward contactless pickup of purchases. It adds that retailers who invest in digital technology are better positioned to deal with this new shift and stay connected with existing customers while also attracting new ones. Use of AI and ML to measure customer loyalty has become increasingly relevant for businesses.

Battle of the giants

Understanding this new shift in consumer behavior, global CRM leader Salesforce has introduced a new brand loyalty management solution that will enable its customers to strengthen customer trust and engagement. The latest offering has been introduced, keeping in mind the rapidly evolving unique enterprise needs to reward and retain their customers amidst the global pandemic.

Starting in February 2021, Salesforce will integrate the new brand loyalty solution with Salesforce Digital 360Service Cloud, and Tableau, allowing enterprises to offer a customized loyalty experience across the entire customer journey.

Salesforce said that the solution would help enterprises of all scales and sectors to launch more customized experiences. According to the company, enterprises can leverage this solution to expand their loyalty programs to stay current with customer expectations. It can also help drive business value by creating loyal, lifelong customers. (See: How will AI impact enterprise ecosystems in 2021? )

Salesforce, though, is not the only CRM leader trying to capitalize on this new opportunity. Microsoft too is continuously looking at making its Microsoft Dynamics 365 more evolved and enable its customers with deep, intelligent insights.

Another CRM major SAP has been quite aggressive in leveraging AI and ML learnings to improve customer interactions. In October last year, it launched a new SAP Customer Data Platform to connect every data source in an organization and external data to create unified customer profiles. SAP claims that the tool enables enterprises to provide a complete understanding of customer preferences and behavior.

Technology to play a big role

Most businesses are looking at leveraging advanced technologies and solutions to understand customers’ specific needs. There has been a growing focus on smart solutions based on artificial intelligence and analytics, which can help organizations determine the best ways to engage with specific customer needs and include promotions and offers based on real-time data. For example, a retailer can identify which of his customers are near a store, using geolocation-based notifications or whether customers have used their bonus points or can be offered some new incentives to get them back.

In 2021 and beyond, enterprises, especially, retailers will see the growing adoption of tools based on artificial intelligence to deliver unique customer experiences and drive impactful brand engagements. Top CRM players such as Salesforce, Microsoft,  Oracle, and SAP are expected to add new machine learning capabilities in their CRM offerings to enable their users to automate the customer loyalty measurement process and deliver more incredible customer engagement benefits.

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