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.
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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.

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Focus on DevOps set to grow more in 2021

Focus on DevOps set to grow more in 2021

Jatinder SinghThe coronavirus pandemic has caused an unprecedented impact on the operational and IT processes of nearly all organizations. With the role of IT changing from business enabler to mission-critical function, a growing focus on DevOps augurs well in a cloud-centric ecosystem shaping the enterprise world with breakthrough innovations.

During the crisis, one of the crucial learnings that have been identified by the enterprise leaders and everyone else is how important is the role of technology in enhancing people’s ability to continue to collaborate, work, receive essential services and learn new skills. (See: Top technology trends to look for in 2021)

The crisis also provided technology leaders an opportunity to re-energize their legacy ecosystems and reshape their business continuity plans. In light of this, DevOps, which is all about continuous improvement, is expected to play even a more crucial role in enhancing businesses’ digital capabilities in 2021.

DevOps is a software development methodology that blends software development with computing operations. Implementing a robust application methodology allows organizations to accelerate delivery and time to market in a competitive environment.

Let’s focus on some of the top DevOps trends that will shape the DevOps market next year.

AI-enabled automation

Automation is the foundation of DevOps and plays an essential role in building a robust application framework that can drive the future of agility. In 2021, AI-based DevOps automation tools will be extended across enterprise ecosystems. They will automate the incorporation of rapid data volumes, equip organizations better analyze data, and use it for automation or decision-making.

Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning, in DevOps will allow the DevOps team to review the problems and preselect the best solution after a complete assessment.

Emphasis on training, learning, and skill enhancement

Among top DevOps trends, DevOps training and learning will be a crucial priority for technology leaders. A study by DevOps Institute found that more than 50 percent of organizations prefer to build their DevOps teams from within the organization. But most organizations don’t have the luxury of creating a DevOps team from in-house resources. And due to the rapid decrease in IT budgets, it may not be possible to hire the best DevOps talent from the outside world.

As a result, organizations will increasingly focus on training and refinement of DevOps methodologies in-house in 2021.

Serverless architecture approach to grow

The technology leaders continually realize the inherent benefits offered by the serverless architecture approach. Serverless architecture is a monumental leap that gives advantages such as fully managed, scalable, and the pay-as-you-go model for DevOps applications. It also helps businesses improve delivery and quickly identify prototypes tailored to evolving customer needs.

The most significant benefit of serverless architecture is the pay-as-you-go model, which means you will pay only for resources that you would use. It’s one of the top DevOps trends that make DevOps cheaper and help many businesses reap their benefits in 2021.

Service Mesh to have more significance

Service Mesh is a built-in application infrastructure layer that facilitates data sharing across services and integrates actions such as encryption, load balancing, authorization, and verification. While Service Mesh may be a relatively new concept in DevOps, many industry onlookers believe that this is the best way for businesses to scale, secure and track apps, especially in the cloud-native application building process.

Security at every layer

As widespread telecommuting is becoming the new standard in the post-pandemic world, data governance, information protection, and compliance will be taken more seriously than ever. It will make it critical for enterprises to build mechanisms that give them full visibility into applications, networks, devices, cloud platforms, and other IT environment components. And DevOps is no exception either.

The DevOps model enables various cross-functional teams to collaborate effectively and make wiser decisions. However, as the DevOps model gets mature, it also faces the challenge of simplifying growing complexities in its applications.

In 2021, as one of the top DevOps trends, it is anticipated that companies will focus on implanting strong security layers to help teams collaborate without fear of threats to their network ecosystems.

With AIOps, organizations will put intelligence at the core of IT operations. There will be increasing stress on integrating artificial intelligence, machine learning, and analytics within DevOps. Concepts such as AIOps and DataOps will help businesses accelerate their software development lifecycle – build, test, release, deploy, and maintain – in 2021.

It turned out to be a good year for Indian IT services firms

It turned out to be a good year for Indian IT services firms

Back in March this year, when the Indian government announced a nationwide lockdown to break the chain of COVID-19 infection, doubts were looming large if the Indian IT Services firms would be able to weather the storm.

The situation was truly unprecedented! Employees in distress, a drop in consumer demand, frozen wages, and a struggle to adopt full-fledged work-from-home models. Top IT Services firms such as TCS, Infosys, HCL, and Wipro were all scrambling to find a way to deal with the crisis and revive their business continuity plans.

Global uncertainty had heightened the fears of a deep recession among all IT Services executives. The worst part was that the crisis had come when the GDP of the Indian economy was falling.

At that time, several industry observers called it an irreparable disaster for Indian IT Services firms. However, others were hopeful that India’s showpiece IT sector had a comeback potential. But even they could not envisage that the resurgence would be too quick.

Better deal flows

In Q12020, the pandemic outbreak stalled the growth of almost every software services exporter. However, since July this year, the top IT majors have announced about half a dozen large strategic deals that indicate strong growth momentum for the industry in 2021 and beyond. Infosys large deal with Germany’s Daimler AG and American investment major Vanguard; Wipro’s with German multinational Metro AG; and HCL’s with Swedish telecom giant Ericsson are some of the major highlights during this period.

Infosys’s Vanguard transaction, valued at $1.5 bn, is the biggest deal ever signed by the tech major in its history.

All the Indian IT services firms saw a massive upsurge in their stock market fortunes throughout the year, indicating stronger investor sentiments despite the pandemic blues. For instance, the TCS stock has gone up over 24% compared to the pre-pandemic days in February; Wipro’s stock saw 20 years high at Rs 385 and Infosys’ recorded a 52-week high share price at Rs 1,259.

Tech Mahindra, a mid-tier IT Services player, saw a record new high of Rs 909 in November 2020 on the BSE due to its large deal pipeline and 5G focus.

Silver lining of new possibilities

In the wake of the growing location-independent digital workplace, enterprises are increasingly focusing on modernizing their architectures, deploying public, private, and hybrid multi-cloud models. There has been a sharper focus and resurgent demand for analytics, intelligence, insights, cybersecurity, and operations outsourcing to improve customer experience, employee expectations, and meet diverse information security needs. (See: Tech Cos take M&A route for digital transformation supremacy)

This has provided a mammoth opportunity for IT Services companies to address these challenges by delivering high-set engineering solutions to make the organizations productive and agile. (See: CIOs’ digital transformation focus accelerates recovery for IT firms)

The credit should go to the rapid technology investments made by IT services majors to respond to enterprises’ new critical challenges. (With Encore buy, Wipro eyes DX edge in fintech)

Indian IT Services firms have been aggressive and acquiring capabilities to address the structural changes in the delivery models and long term consequences of the pandemic in the times to come. Moreover, they also offer a low-cost delivery model, helping them race ahead even in tough times.

Skeptics, who had slammed the Indian IT services firms before the pandemic and doubting if it had reached a maturity stage in terms of growth, are being proven wrong. 

 

SolarWinds hack: CISOs need to revisit cyber resilience?

SolarWinds hack: CISOs need to revisit cyber resilience?

What many organizations feared came true! The year 2020 brought another shock to the business community last week with discovering a new cyber-attack, SolarWinds hack’ in the United States. The attack is an opportunity for enterprises and CISOs to reflect on their cyber resilience strategies. (See: Top enterprise cybersecurity trends of 2020)

For the unversed, California-based cybersecurity company FireEye uncovered the SolarWinds hack last week and estimated that the cyberattack campaign might have started as early as Spring 2020 and remained undetected for months.

The cyberattack emerged as one of the largest ever targeted against the U.S. Government and several other global companies, threatening organizations’ cyber resilience levels. To date, dozens of emails from the U.S. Treasury Department have been confirmed as compromised.

The attack was hurled by cybercriminals who hacked the infrastructure of an American I.T. Software company, SolarWinds, and then used illegitimate access to insert malicious code in the software updates that the company sends out to its 30,000 plus clients that also includes several departments of the U.S. Government. SolarWinds stated that the updates issued between March and June 2020 were contaminated.

Several industry onlookers have also slammed SolarWind’s lackluster approach to conquer its shortcomings. For instance, the Chief Information Security Officer’s (CISO) longstanding vacant position from its board and notifications issued to customers around deactivating antivirus tools before installing SolarWinds software.

Far-reaching effects

While the timelines of the SolarWinds hack are still unfolding, the SolarWinds breach is disturbing to the whole of the I.T. industry as it can have a far-reaching effect on many big organizations’ networks, questioning their cyber resilience levels.

The SolarWinds breach reflects that most organizations are appallingly unqualified to detect and prevent such kinds of software supply chain attacks. SolarWinds boast that it has been working with 425 of the U.S. Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of universities and colleges globally. This means that the severity of the attack can be severe in the coming days.

Top tech companies, Intel, Microsoft, Cisco, and NVIDIA, have all confirmed their exposure to the malicious software and undertaking necessary investigations to gauge the impact.

In a column published in the New York Times, Thomas P. Bossert, a former domestic security adviser to President Trump, notes that supply chain attacks of such magnitude require significant resources and sometimes years of execution.

Bossart also opined that a foreign state might have launched SolarWinds hack in a well-orchestrated way. These evaluations, if proved correct, can be more hazardous. For instance, in war-like situations, confidential data of governments can be modified or erased by hackers instantly to cause financial loss or take undue strategic advantage.

Stresses lack of preparation of organizations

As we move into 2021, the Solar Winds hack event has once again reiterated nothing is completely secure in this ever-evolving threat landscape. Indeed, no vendor or solution can fully guarantee to protect the networks of an enterprise. Perfect information security is a myth, but the key is resilience. (See: How COVID-19 has changed cybersecurity focus for 2021)

The last few weeks must have been more strenuous for CIOs and CISOs who would need to spend long-hours evaluating the impact on their networks, systems, and data from the SolarWinds cyber-attack. It’s time for enterprises to seek responses to some of the key questions more vehemently:

  • Do you have a contingency plan to combat accidental breaches and unknown threats?
  • Do you depend upon a single security vendor (say, for VPN, network monitoring, and network slicing) or want to onboard different security vendors to safeguard our networks?
  • Can you change our defense approach to strengthen our cyber resilience levels?
  • Are you regularly testing our multiple endpoints and operating systems and keeping them secure?
  • Have you evaluated the risks of third-party software vendors and analyzed their ability to combat sophisticated threats?
  • Is your service-level-agreement updated?

The SolarWinds hack event could be a catalyst for technology leaders to rethink and analyze all their security solutions and potential gates of network vulnerabilities in the context of modern-day technologies. There might be many undisclosed portions, and more details around the impairment from the breach is likely to continue to come out in the next few weeks.

 

 

 

Cybersecurity threats loom larger on e-tailers this holiday

Cybersecurity threats loom larger on e-tailers this holiday

Cybersecurity threats are looming large to get the advantage of homebound shoppers, who are mainly relying on virtual shopping this holiday season to prevent coronavirus spread. From great shopping days to Black Friday sale, every year, the entire December and January month help retailers generate huge revenues and buyers getting deep discounts.

This year, there is a reason for e-retailers to be more vigilant against cybercriminals who could take advantage of the massive human traffic on their sites to conduct fraudulent online transactions.

According to the latest security report on the 2020 Holiday Season from McAfee, a global computer security software company, there were 419 threats per minute in Q2 2020, increasing almost 12 percent over the previous quarter. It notes that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has compelled more people to opt for online shopping this year. Over 68 percent of Indians have increased their shopping activity this year. These threats are likely to scale new heights during the ongoing holiday season.

The spike in web traffic can be a source of joy for many e-retailers who have been hit hard due to the pandemic’s driven economic instability. However, it has also expanded threatening surfaces that could lead to cybersecurity disasters.(See: How COVID-19 has changed cybersecurity focus for 2021 and Combating cyber threats in the new normal)

Threats in the era of new behavior

It is evident that with increased e-commerce operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, the retail sector has become very lucrative for cybercriminals. This is primarily because these sites retain sensitive customer information such as name, contact details, and credit card/ debit card numbers.

According to findings by cybersecurity firm Imperva Research Labs, the volume of attacks on retailers’ APIs has far exceeded average levels this year. While the majority of the attacks occurred from bot activity, leading attack vectors for retail API attacks in 2020 to include cross-site scripting (XSS) (42%) and SQL injection (40%).

DDoS attacks, phishing, and emailer frauds have also peaked at new scales this year. Imperva observed an average of eight-layer attacks per month against retail sites, with a significant peak in April 2020 as lockdown measures led to an increase in demand for online shopping. It is, therefore, essential for e-retailers to devise a robust strategy to address these cybersecurity threats.

In April this year, Japanese multinational consumer electronics and video game company, Nintendo, suffered a massive cyberattack on its official website, leading to data theft of over 300,000 Nintendo customers.

Many of these accounts were put in jeopardy and used as unsolicited purchases. Cybercriminals also leaked sensitive customer data such as name, password, date of birth, and payment information on the Dark Web, making a loss of brand reputation and goodwill of the Kyoto-based society. With the number of transactions witnessing a steep hike, both consumers and organizations are seeing the rise of holiday cybersecurity threats and need extra surveillance in order to stay secure.

Fraud prevention strategy

Regardless of what many industry observers say, e-retailers continue to hurt most by cybersecurity threats. For them, the only way out of cybercriminals’ grip is by employing the best class identification solutions that can fully secure their cloud infrastructure without impacting convenience.

E-retailers need to keep their cloud infrastructure up to date and proactively explore intelligent cybersecurity solutions to prevent their websites from hijacking.

Some of the best cybersecurity practices that e-retailers can espouse through advanced security solutions:

Address verification service (AVS): One of the most prevalent measures to keep fraudsters at bay is AVS. It’s an automated mechanism that matches the billing address with the payment instrument’s address, say, a credit card, to identify suspicious transaction activity.

Location monitoring: Those transactions where the shipping, billing, and the IP address are in proximity are usually safer transactions. If there is a significant remoteness between those addresses, the account or transaction must be supervised more closely. Various solutions are supported by advanced AI and analytics technologies available today that can help e-retailers monitor transactions on their sites and check for suspicious behavior.

IP address legitimacy: Fraudsters often mask their IP address to place orders with online retailers to avoid being tracked. Using cutting-edge technologies such as zero-trust and cryptographic network protocols, online retailers can prevent and mitigate such spoofing attacks. (See: Covid-19: Reimagining work with a zero-trust lens)

Multifactor authentication: A robust multifactor authentication protocol ensures digital users’ authenticity and provides secure access.

Keep your users informed: All e-retailers must keep their customers up-to-date on the latest cyberattacks and measures to navigate with caution. Information about how to keep a strong password and secure their information should be communicated frequently to customers.

There are many other modern-day tools available that can help e-retailers secure their networks from holiday cybersecurity threats. They should consult with their cybersecurity partner to ensure a secure online retail experience and prevent cybercriminals from taking unassailable advantage.

 

Signs that show 2021 will be the year of rebound!

Signs that show 2021 will be the year of rebound!

The year 2020 has likely been among the worst in the history of humankind. At the start of this year, no one expected us to devote the entire year fighting against a deadly virus with no escape path. Everything was unprecedented, whether it was nationwide lockdowns, restrictive travel, widely implemented social distancing measures, and mass working-from-home. In recent months, however, there have been some strong signals in the rebound in 2021. (See: Growth of Indian IT sector set for revival in 2021)

It was not as if things were going great from an Indian economic standpoint in the pre-Covid normal. However, sound fundamentals maintained macroeconomic stability before the pandemic.

The pandemic has been a blow for many companies, mainly brick and mortar businesses, who now face an existential threat. This grave situation also caused so many job losses, making a devastating impact on millions of people’s livelihoods.

Despite these setbacks from the COVID19 meltdown, the pandemic also brought few silver linings, such as the increased adoption of digital technologies and robust business continuity planning. The pandemic has unleashed a new era of thought process and cast away everything for granted theory.

As we are embarking on 2021, here are some of the significant signs that indicate that the next year will the year of transformation and rebound!

Acceleration of digital transformation

Amidst adversities, technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning models, cloud, and predictive analytics have helped the world move forward, harness human potential, and augment our capacity to partner virtually. This is one of the foremost factors that indicate 2021 as the rebound year.

Digital technologies emerged as a new force of change amidst the unstable equilibrium. For instance, telemedicine and online consulting have become more common; mobile payments and e-banking transactions have surpassed all previous record levels; e-learning has become widely accepted, and virtual recruitment is the new norm. (See: CIOs’ digital transformation focus accelerates recovery for IT firms)

Many skeptics who earlier questioned these technologies’ roles and called them a substitute for human potential have suddenly become the most prominent adopters. Not only these technologies helped maintain business continuity for enterprises, but they also facilitate COVID-19 preparedness and enable countries to contain the spread of the infection. (See: It’s time to invest in a Chief Transformation Officer!)

According to Fitch, a global rating agency, the Indian IT services sector is expected to resume high single-digit revenue growth in 2021-2022 due to a higher demand for digital transformation. The coronavirus pandemic’s impact is seen to be only moderate and short term, as customers focus on transforming their businesses digitally, moving services and work platforms online, and minimizing spending on legacy services.

In 2021, these technologies will further enable organizations to respond to challenges with agility and resilience. Over the next twelve months, new technology shifts are expected to fast-track the Indian e-commerce sector’s growth, remote education, and virtual healthcare support.

The continuous aggregation of data by enterprises and their meaningful interpretation will elucidate consumer behavior and influence business decisions. Contactless technologies will make the reopening of offices smooth and safe.

Improved investor sentiments

A critical positive that has emerged in the last three months is that foreign investors improved sentiments in the Indian market. Capital inflows to India’s Foreign direct investment (FDI) surpassed US$ 500 billion in September, restoring the country’s credentials as a key investment destination.

US technology firms such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon have all pledged large new India investments this year. Early rebound in investment activity indicates that country can accelerate its growth prospects in H2 2021. (See: Will FB–Jio deal create magic?)

There have also been several revisions by global rating firms such as S&P and Fitch in India’s growth projections for 2021. India’s road to recovery is faster than the previous estimations due to rising demand and declining COVID-19 rates.

Robust business continuity models

While the pandemic scars may take some time to heal, the disruption has sparked a global awareness around the importance of firm business continuity models.

Many of the insights gained from the pandemic have translated to create systematic business continuity plans, contactless behaviors, dynamic processes by organizations of all scales. As we advance, this will enable businesses to improve their ability to combat similar disruptions and rebound with more confidence and skills in H2 2021.

According to a report, COVID-19: Implications for business, by Mckinsey, there is now better awareness around risk preparedness and governance. Corporate decision-makers introspect which protections and technologies are worth the investment and can translate into long term solutions.

Salary hikes

Many employers are rolling-back salary cuts and hiring freeze that they enforced in April this year after the pandemic due to increased uncertainty. Many of the IT companies have also announced salary hikes in response to growing optimism. (See: Salary hikes at IT firms on cards as COVID disruption eases)

According to LinkedIn statistics, hiring has improved by 30% in September. There has been a significant rebound in the sectors such as construction, services, logistics, and retail.

The remote workforce trends mean that many opportunities have lost geographical barriers, allowing people from different countries to compete for an opportunity.

Salesforce fills compliance gaps with Hyperforce cloud tool

Salesforce fills compliance gaps with Hyperforce cloud tool

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) major Salesforce has recently launched Hyperforce solution in India. The new architecture will enable Salesforce’s customers to run all existing Salesforce solutions on the public cloud and select where their data is hosted.

Some of the platform’s key features are: higher compute capacity, ease of cloud resources deployment into the public cloud, minimize the implementation time from months to weeks, and backward compatibility.

With a backward compatibility feature, every Salesforce app, its customization, and integration, regardless of cloud, will run on Hyperforce. 

Enabling digital transformation goals

In 2021, when technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning will be heavily tested and deployed by organizations, businesses would need the agility and ease to utilize various clouds’ competencies the way they seem fit.

Salesforce Hyperforce will enable users to leverage Salesforce’s CRM tools via cloud infrastructures of other cloud service providers, such as Microsoft, Google, and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

While Salesforce has not shared whether it has already signed-up with any cloud service providers to offer a hosting option to its customers, it is likely that it will take advantage of its strategic partnerships with AWS and Google. Microsoft’s Azure onboarding seems like a certainty due to Salesforce’s recent acquisition of Slack. (See: Salesforce buys Slack to expand its cloud footprint)

Salesforce’s new approach is in line with meeting the growing enterprise digital transformation roll-outs requirements and bring flexibility to businesses to move their apps and infrastructure the way they want it.

Data compliance

For many years, Salesforce hosted the data of its customers in its own cloud. However, with changing times, governments worldwide have begun to stiffen data security laws to address privacy-related concerns in the economy. And businesses have been demanding more control of their data and decide where it gets hosted — on-premise or cloud.

With Salesforce Hyperforce, the San Francisco-based company will let its customers choose to store data in a particular location or a country to support mandatory compliance and regulations applied to that region, company, and industry.

“One of the broader global trends that have impacted India and also the world, there’s a proliferation of data privacy laws, of compliance requirements around data residency. This platform will enable our customers to respond to this (requirement) whether they operate just within India, whether they’re a multinational with customers in multiple countries,” said Salesforce President and COO Bret Taylor in an official statement.

Hyperforce will also enable Salesforce to tap sectors such as banking and finance, telecom, and government enterprises in India that follow strict data compliance policies. The new architecture is currently available to users in India and Germany. Salesforce plans to unveil the offering in ten more countries by 2021.

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