C-suite movements

Key recent C-suite movements to watch

by | Dec 11, 2020 | C-Track

Here is a quick update on the key recent C-suite movements in the areas of information security and information technology in India.
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Here is a quick update on some key recent C-suite movements in the information technology and information security technology areas in India.

11 December 2020 Update

Jagdip Kumar roped in by Lohia Group as CIO

Jagdip Kumar, General Manager, IT, left Cosmo Films to join Lohia Group as CIO. In this new position, Kumar will lead the digital transformation efforts of the Lohia Group.

Lohia Group is a diversified manufacturing company that produces various products such as flexible packaging, threads, plastic components for automobiles and machines.

Kumar has over 19 years of experience and has earlier worked with AMW, VE Commercial Vehicles, and Welspun.

Puneesh Lamba joins Shahi Exports as Group CIO

Puneesh Lamba, Group CIO of CK Birla Group, has moved to Shahi Exports as their Group Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Lamba will directly report to the Board of Directors of Shahi Exports.

Shahi Export is India’s biggest apparel manufacturer and exporter and has several manufacturing units across nine Indian states and over 100,000 workforce. In the new role at Shahi Exports, Lamba will spearhead its digital transformation and cloud-based tech-innovation initiatives.

Lamba is a seasoned IT professional with a strong experience of over 27 years. He has previously associated with firms such as BILT, Punj Loyd, GE Capital in leadership roles.

Kapil Madan is Spark Minda Group’s new CISO

Spark Minda Group has appointed Kapil Madaan as its new Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). The company has a strong presence in the global automotive sector, catering to a passenger vehicle, commercial vehicle, two-wheelers, and off-road vehicle manufacturing.

Madan has previously worked with Max Healthcare as a cybersecurity leader.

Rohit Kilam moves to CMS Info Systems as CTO

Rohit Kilam has joined CMS Info Systems Ltd as Chief Technology Officer (CTO). CMS Info Systems is India’s top Cash Management and Payment Solutions company. In his new role, Rohit will lead to several process transformations and tech-innovations at CMS Info-Systems.

Rohit has earlier worked in a gamut of challenging assignments in Digital Transformations, IT Strategy, IT Performance Management, Building Digital products, Operating Models, M&A IT Integration, Outsourcing Governance, Tech Product development, and ERP implementations.

He has earlier worked with companies such as Adani Enterprises, Masan Group, and IBM in leadership roles

20 September 2020 Update

Shuvankar Pramanick, CIO, Columbia Asia Hospitals

Shuvankar Pramanick has been appointed as the new CIO of Columbia Asia Hospitals Pvt. Ltd, a group of multi-specialty hospitals that operates in cities like Bangalore, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, Mysore, Kolkata, Patiala, and Pune.

Bringing 20+ years of experience, Pramanick will focus on building new tech innovations in the healthcare sector while leading the IT team of the group. Pramanick has previously held senior IT leadership positions Paras Healthcare, Fortis Healthcare, and Asian Institute of Medical Sciences.

Marc Concannon, CTO, Cubic Telecom 

Marc Concannon has joined as CTO of Software IoT (Internet of Things) and connectivity management company, Cubic Telecom. In this new role, he will focus on Cubic’s software product roadmap and growth strategy. With over 20 years of experience, Concannon has previously served as the CTO at ClavisInsight, LogEntries, and Edge by Ascential.

Kamal Hathi, CTO, DocuSign

DocuSign has roped in former Microsoft veteran Kamal Hathi as their new CTO. With over 25 years of experience leading technology and product teams at startups and global multinationals alike, Hathi will oversee the development and execution of DocuSign’s technology roadmap, and support product expansion.

San Francisco based DocuSign help organizations manage and automate electronic agreements.

 

24 July 2020 Update

Munish Mittal, Group HeadIT & CIO leaves HDFC Bank

Munish Mittal, Group Head-Information Technology & Chief Information Officer at HDFC Bank has exited HDFC Bank. He had joined the private lender in 1996 as IT Manager. During his 24 years tenure at HDFC, he spearheaded various roles, including managing the IT strategy of the bank and its associated companies, HDFC Securities, and HDB Financial Services. Mittal has not disclosed his future plans yet.

A Shiju Rawther roped in by Poonawalla Finance for CIO role

A Shiju Rawther has been appointed as the CIO of Poonawalla Finance. In his new role, Rawther will lead IT functions and strategies, and be responsible for designing the digital roadmap of the organization. He will also spearhead the company’s analytics function. Rawther has moved from IIFL Finance where he was the Executive Vice President–Technology. He has over two decades of experience in driving digital transformation, innovation, and analytics in various multinationals.

Dr. Jai Menon joins the Advisory board of IndiQus Technologies

Dr. Jai Menon, the former Group CTO of HT Media, has joined the advisory board of IndiQus Technologies, a leading telecom cloud monetization platform provider. Dr. Menon is a global technology leader with over three decades of global experience across the US, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. He is largely known for his various technology leadership roles at Bharti Airtel. In his new role at IndiQus, Dr. Menon will play an active strategic role in IndiQus’s product evolution and the company’s expansion plans.

Gaurav Kataria joins Sai Life Science as Chief Digital and Information Officer (CDIO)

Gaurav Kataria has joined Sai Life Sciences as Chief Digital and Information Officer (CDIO). He was previously working as Vice President of Digital Strategy and Solutions (Aerospace & Defense) at Cyient. In his new role, Kataria will be driving the digital and IT strategy for Sai Life Sciences, a full-service Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO). Sai Life Science works with innovator pharma and biotech companies globally to accelerate the discovery, development, and manufacture of complex small molecules.

Amit Waghmare takes up CIO role at DB Corp

Amit Waghmare has joined DB Corp as the Chief Information Officer (CIO). Amit has moved on from Page Industries where he was heading IT for more than two years. DB Corp, formerly known as Dainik Bhaskar, is a leading media organization headquartered in Bhopal. Waghmare has over 17 years of work experience in the IT sector with a demonstrated history of working in the Media, Power, Textile, Pharma, Real Estate, Luggage, Apparel, and fashion industry.

09 June 2020 Update

Unique Kumar joins CK Birla Group as Group CISO
Unique Kumar has been appointed as Group CISO of CK Birla Group, a diversified $2.4 billion conglomerate with over 25,000 employees and 41 manufacturing facilities.

Kumar joins the CK Birla group from Max Healthcare, where he was heading Digital Innovation and Cybersecurity. He has also held leadership positions with Aviva Life Insurance, Aptara, and Idea Cellular.

Manish Shetty moves to Diageo India as CIO
Manish Shetty is Diageo India’s new CIO. Shetty was earlier working as Director–IT at Tata Consumer Products. Prior to that, he was CIO at Sanofi and before that Director–IT at Tata Global Beverages. Shetty has also held leadership and managerial positions at companies like Birlasoft, Radian, KPMG US, American Express, and Larsen & Toubro Information Technology.

Diageo plc is a British multinational alcoholic beverages company, with its headquarters in London, England and offices in six continents.

Sun Life names Laura Money as new global EVP and CIO
Sun Life Financial Inc has announced the appointment of Laura Money as Executive Vice-President and Chief Information Officer effective 29 June 2020. Laura will report to Kevin Strain, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice-President, Sun Life. She succeeds Mark Saunders, EVP, and Chief Information Officer, who announced his plans to retire at the end of April next year.

Sun Life is a leading international financial services organization providing insurance, wealth, and asset management solutions to individual and corporate clients. Sun Life has operations in a number of markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Bermuda.

31 May 2020 Update

Jayanta Bhowmik joins Kesoram Industries as group CIO
Kesoram Industries is a part of the BK Birla Group Of Companies. The company is engaged in the manufacturing of cement, tyres, tubes, rayon, paper, heavy chemicals, and spun pipes. Bhowmik has moved from Usha Martin, where he served as a Senior Vice President of IT and Group CIO. In his earlier stints, he had held senior leadership positions at Appejay Surrendra Group, Tega Industries, HCL Technologies, and ABP.

Ranjit Satyanath, Head of Technology Operations at Croma, quits
Satyanath had joined Chroma in August 2014, and successfully led the IT strategy and digital initiatives at Croma, one of India’s largest consumer electronics and appliances retailer.

Manish Mimani quits Aviva Life Insurance to become an entrepreneur 
Manish Mimani, CIO for Aviva Life Insurance, has moved on to pursue an entrepreneurship path. Mimani has launched a new cybersecurity firm, Protectt.ai Labs, with an aim to build next-generation mobile security and real-time fraud management solutions.

14 May 2020 Update

Anis Pankhania joins Capgemini as Senior Director – Security Operations and Compliance.
Pankhania is based in Pune and joins Capgemini from Vodafone Idea, where he was heading Security Compliance and Data Privacy. In his new role, Pankhania will lead a team of specialized IT security and risk professionals. Pankhania has earlier worked in senior IT security roles in companies such as Aircel, IBM, and Airtel.

Mihir Joshi joins HDFC Pension Management and HDFC International Life and Re as CISO
In his new role, Joshi will be managing the operations and administration of various IT security devices, solutions, technologies, and processes deployed to enhance the security posture for HDFC Life, HDFC Pension, and HDFC LifeRe. Immediately prior to this, he was with Ares Management Corporation where he set up the Cybersecurity practice from scratch.

BNP Paribas appoints Mannan Godil as Director & India Head, Information Security & Business Continuity Management
Mannan Godil has joined BNP Paribas as Director & India Head, Information Security & Business Continuity Management. He has been roped in from Edelweiss Financial Services where he was working as Senior Vice President, Head – Information Security / CISO. Previously, he had also served in companies, such as eClerx Services, Zener Electronics, Stream Tracmail, and S.S. Nirban Enterprises.

Rajesh Hemrajani is the new CISO at Paytm Payments Bank
Rajesh Hemrajani has been appointed as CISO at Paytm Payments Bank. Prior to this, he was CISO at IDFC First Bank. Previously, he has held several leadership and roles at companies like RBS, Nomura Securities, Emirates Airlines, and Dubal.

Manish Bhatia joins Lendingkart as President – Technology, Analytics & Capabilities
Manish Bhatia has been roped in by Lendingkart as President – Technology, Analytics & Capabilities. In his previous role, he was the CTO at Amazon Pay India. He was also the Co-founder and CTO at Buymaxo, and previously served in organizations like Education Finance Partners, FedEx Office, and JP Morgan Chase.

If you think we’ve missed out featuring any other key recent C-suite movements/appointments in the above list, please feel free to drop a line to us at betterworld@bmnxt.com

MORE FROM BETTER WORLD

The key to successful AI implementations

The key to successful AI implementations

Most enterprises today are swiftly exploring the potential of artificial intelligence (AI). Companies operating on archaic models have started to lose customers in the digital age and cannot accelerate their go-to-market strategies. However, according to various industry estimates, about 80% to 85% of AI implementations hit a dead end despite this growing understanding. The secret to successful AI implementations is a comprehensive approach that encompasses the integration of people, processes, and technology.

One of the primary reasons for this high failure rate is businesses’ inability to shortlist the primary growth objectives they wish to achieve. With the enterprise business landscape is becoming complex at an incredible pace, the time for organizations to be on edge for AI is over. No longer can they focus on deploying AI-related tools without building a solid business orientation.

Look for the unique business needs

The growing focus on digital and changing patterns of consumer preferences has compelled businesses to take a deep dive in long-term strategical technology deployment decisions.

Through successful AI-enabled implementations, firms can predict customer behaviors, analyze process anomalies, predict market uncertainties, optimize supply chains, and better manage employee and customer expectations.

Before embarking on the AI journey, enterprises should evaluate the business impact that AI can bring. Today, the advantages of AI have been leveraged for diverse tasks and processes. However, not all operations are fit for an AI use case. There’s no one size fit all methodology for AI-based applications, and the use cases where you intend to build AI must be clearly defined and prioritized.

“IT leaders must adopt a well-thought-out plan for AI adoption. Conversations must be struck with several business leaders (finance, customer success management, business operations, product development, and other management) to identify the relevant business goals tied to the IT domains. This approach will ultimately lead to the selection and prioritization of appropriate use cases,” said Greesh Jairath, Global IT Head at ITC Infotech.

Involve people in your strategy

More than technology, successful AI implementations need full support from the people within an organization. Most of the problems arise due to half-baked AI orientation strategies with the internal staff.

One needs to understand that transformation through AI doesn’t work on its own to solve a problem. You need people to understand and supervise at some level to deploy and analyze the predictive analytical solutions. To ensure that the processes are automated seamlessly, strong executive leadership is also essential. The more informed and engaged is the people inside the organizations, the better are the chances of successful AI adoption within an enterprise.

If you’ve just focused on deploying AI tools and not making any efforts to improve the organization’s cultural impact, the chances of AI failures will be on a higher side. (See: Five key steps to a successful RPA implementation)

Lack of in-house talent

Another challenge that technology leaders face is the acute shortage of qualified in-house talent who can manage end-to-end AI projects and tools. An effective AI model involves a lot of raw data that needs to be arranged systematically and processed for meaningful insights.

By consuming enormous data, the AI-based deep learning algorithms interpret and make decisions for a specific process. However, if you do not have the right people to analyze what data to be fed and understand why specific data is essential for an operation, your entire effort can go in vain.

Besides, CIOs have a tremendous challenge in fine-tuning their internal operations and reducing costs in light of growing ambiguity and uncertainty. In this context, investing significantly in training and building an internal talent pool may not be wise, especially when competitors are ready to poach skilled resources. (See: How will AI impact enterprise ecosystems in 2021?)

Many technology firms such as Google and Microsoft are offering drag and drop no-code AI solutions to tackle this issue. These ready-to-deploy frameworks can help companies develop world-class predictive modeling capabilities without investing immensely to build coding skills internally. These modules can help businesses design and scale AI-based processes and workflows at a large scale.

Salesforce appoints Sanket Atal to drive India growth

Salesforce appoints Sanket Atal to drive India growth

Salesforce Sanket Atal

Sanket Atal, Managing Director–India, Salesforce.

CRM major Salesforce has appointed Sanket Atal as its new Senior Vice President and Managing Director of India. Atal, 53, is coming from financial software firm Intuit India and has earlier held leadership positions at Oracle and CA Technologies.

Salesforce said that Sanket would be instrumental in driving the next phase of growth for the company and focus on operational execution and achieving a breakthrough customer experience. Sanket will assume his new role from today, March 15, 2021, and report to Arundhati Bhattacharya, CEO, and chairperson, Salesforce India.

The CRM giant is banking big on the new opportunities emerging by enterprises’ and small and medium businesses’ growing focus around customer-centric digital transformation.

Strong focus on the Indian market

The pandemic has paved the way for new ways of working, and enterprises are exploring the role of digital to catalyze the global recovery. In a bid to accelerate digital transformation, enterprises are rapidly turning to CRM providers such as Salesforce to deliver intelligent and connected user experiences across every touch point of their operations.

Over the last few years, Salesforce has been investing significantly in developing partner ecosystems, technology up-gradation, and talent expansion in India to support its growing customer base. For Salesforce, India has become a critical market strategically as it grew its workforce in the country to 4000 employees spreading across Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and New Delhi. “India is a strategic growth market for Salesforce and a world-class innovation and talent hub. Sanket’s appointment demonstrates our commitment and continued investment in India,” said Arundhati Bhattacharya, CEO, and Chairperson, Salesforce India, in a statement.

Its Hyderabad center provides global support to enterprises and the largest for the company in India. Salesforce is also adding new end-to-end capabilities and resources in its Hyderabad-based Center of Excellence (CoE) as part of its expansion plans. Last year, the US Cloud service provider also appointed Arundhati Bhattacharya to head its India operations. Arundhati is a former SBI Chairperson and was the first woman to lead the country’s most prominent public sector bank (SBI).

Apart from Oracle and SAP, Salesforce competes in the Indian market with Zoho and Freshworks. It has local clients such as redBus, Franklin Templeton, Snapdeal, and CEAT.

Adding flexibility in its solutions

Salesforce is adding new capabilities to bring much-needed flexibility for businesses that are accelerating their digital transformation goals. For instance, it has recently launched a unique solution, Hyperforce, in India. The new architecture will enable CRM major’s customers to run all existing Salesforce solutions in the public cloud and select where their data is hosted.

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

In India, Salesforce’s Sanket Atal’s responsibilities will also encompass spearheading new revenue channels such as growth from collaboration solutions that have become essential in ensuring business continuity and providing an exceptional experience for a growing distributed workforce. Notably, to compete closely with the likes of Microsoft’s Teams, Salesforce has also acquired workplace chatting app Slack in a massive $27.7 billion cash and stock deal a few months back. (See: Salesforce buys Slack to expand its cloud footprint)

Apple strengthens India focus by enhancing local production

Apple strengthens India focus by enhancing local production

American multinational technology firm Apple has strengthened its India focus by announcing its 2020 flagship smartphone, iPhone 12, in India. “We are proud to be starting the production of the iPhone 12 in India for our local customers,” Apple said in a statement.

The move, which is a part of Apple’s larger strategy to strengthen its focus in India, will equip the company to cut the government import duties and pass-on the cost-benefit to the end consumers. Through its partners such as Foxconn and Wistron, Apple has already assembled several previous smartphone editions such as iPhone 11 and XR in India.

The move is also crucial for India in light of the growing trade war scenario between the US and China. Over the last two years, many American telecom companies have cut down their output in China and exploring countries like India, the Philippines, and Malaysia for manufacturing opportunities. (See: Will Apple bite India’s manufacturing bait?)

Strategic measures in India

The market share of Apple in India smartphone market share may still be less than 5%. However, it is steadily building focus in India through several tactical measures. The premium smartphone maker has successfully partnered with online majors such as Flipkart and Amazon to sell its previously launched iPhone editions, wearable, and accessories at a heavy discount in India.

Apple is also focusing on accelerating its reach through refurbished smartphones, a segment growing at a pace of well over 10% in India. The company’s refurbished phones in India are also highly sought after due to their low cost, helping many first-time buyers testing Apple’s capabilities without shelling out the exorbitant price.

Additionally, it has collaborated with several banks and financial institutions to offer its premium products at attractive price-points or through cashback offers. Another strategic decision that the company took last year was unveiling its exclusive online store in India. It has started offering nearly the entire line-up of its products and range of services in the country. India has become one of the 38 countries where Apple has launched its online store (See: Apple India debuts online store, eyes more market share).

These measures have helped Apple shipped a record 1.5 million+ iPhone units in India in the quarter that ended in December 2020. Despite that, Apple knows that they have only taken baby steps in the world’s second-largest smartphone market. “If you take India as an example, we doubled our growth last quarter compared to the year-ago quarter. But our absolute level of business, there is still quite low relative to the size of the opportunity,” said Timothy Donald Cook, Apple CEO in 2020.

Apple is also bolstering its online store capabilities by launching a few physical outlets in India, building more trust in its products and services locally.

Emerging markets a focus area

Overcoming the stalled growth due to the pandemic triggered an anxious economic environment. Apple has surprised many soothsayers by achieving a quarterly revenue of $91.8 bn in Dec 2020, a 9 percent increase from the quarter a year ago.

While developed markets like the US, Singapore, UK, France, among others, continue to be the flagbearers of much of this revenue, in terms of growth, there has been a massive upsurge in sales for Apple smartphones in emerging economies such as Brazil, China, India, Thailand, and Turkey.

While Apply may have overlooked India for a long due to its price-conscious structure, it has now understood strengthening focus in emerging economies to lift its market share and prepare for new growth opportunities.

The efforts of Apple to strengthen its focus in India are especially crucial for the company since most of its developed markets are now saturated. And on the contrary, India’s mushrooming digital economy and tech-savvy young generation offer tremendous opportunity for the innovative company Apple to sell its products and premium services albeit with a practical price-point.

 

Reinventing enterprise decision-making with AI

Reinventing enterprise decision-making with AI

The last few years have seen substantial interest in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation technologies because of their massive potential to reinvent decision making, catalyze innovation, and unlock new opportunities.

The ambiguity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has further made it clear that organizations with robust data and insights are uniquely positioned to predict market behavior and navigate the disruptions with speed. For many organizations, AI has become a business necessity rather than an option. (See: How will AI impact enterprise ecosystems in 2021?)

According to a report by consulting major PwC, sectors that have faced the most disruption in the last year due to COVID-19 have embraced AI more definitively. According to the report, travel and hospitality (89%) have taken the lead in AI implementation, followed by TMT (86%), financial services (82%), and healthcare and pharma (73%).

Ushering into an AI-focused era

The fast-evolving digital-first environment has helped businesses and individuals generate tonnes of data. According to the industry estimates driven by the increasingly digitized culture, the world’s data could grow up to 180 zettabytes in the next five years. That’s gigantic! However, without any meaningful insights, this data is dumb and has no real value. Technologies like AI can turn these tonnes of data into a treasured trove and help enterprises tackle complex problems and reinvent decision-making processes.

Several companies have taken concrete steps to deploy AI-based frameworks in their organizational ecosystems. With robust analytical and algorithm capabilities, businesses are better equipped to identify market trends, discover anomalies, and focus on continuous improvement. With AI, enterprises can estimate a consumer’s historic purchase value, the specific challenges a user faces, and their preferences for a product or service.

Specific tasks hold mammoth value; however, accomplishing these tasks also requires heavy resources. In addition to providing valuable insights for better decision-making, AI-driven tools allow business leaders to automate critical processes and free-up the time of their resources, and utilize them more effectively.

Helping organizations manage disruptions

As we dwell in the future, the meaningful insights extracted by AI will empower many enterprises to make efficient and quick decisions, stay competitive and provide an exceptional customer experience.

For instance, Vodafone is one of the first telecom operators to implement AI in its entire business value-chain. Since 2016, Telco has been working meticulously to build a strong team of data analysts to leverage AI algorithms for obtaining relevant insights and data sets to deliver better network quality and effectively run their business.

In 2019, the UK-headquartered telco expanded the AI-scope. It launched an AI framework to deploy AI across its business ethically and safeguard its customers from inadvertent consequences of using ML techniques. With over 400 million customers worldwide, Vodafone’s AI-focus helps it take adequate measures and build strategies to understand its customers better and deliver superior network services. Ai-capabilities enable the telco to predict system failures/downtime proactively and provide quality insights on areas where it focuses more on network capabilities. Its AI-based TOB-i chatbot handles customer queries and ensures faster resolutions.

Across the world, the public sector and government bodies have also started to leverage AI’s potential. In 2021, these efforts are likely to gain further traction. Governments worldwide have been testing and deploying AI-based analytical solutions to track fraudulence in tax reporting, managing disasters, and monitoring borders. The insights offered by AI help governments predict possible threats and enable them to make the right decisions to secure their borders.

Another area where the potential of AI has been widely tested is Oil and Gas exploration. Last year, the scientists and experts of Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG) discovered a new AI technique to examine seismic wave data that could help government explore hydrocarbons such as oil and natural gas speedily and efficiently.

These are some of the examples where AI is helping reinvent enterprise decision-making and optimizing operations. The accelerated adoption of AI is likely to pick more pace in 2021 as businesses across all sectors would continue to focus on predicting the concerns and making informed decisions.

At Better World, we’ve covered AI and its impact on various industries and sectors. The links to some of the most insightful coverage around AI are shared below. We hope you’ll find it interesting.

Mahendra K Upadhyay, CIO, BARC

Mahendra K Upadhyay, CIO, BARC

In Focus

Mahendra Upadhyay, CIO

Broadcast Audience Research Council

We are skilled at using AI for analyzing troves of data efficiently

BARC India is a statistical and measurement science company which is ‘Of the Industry, By the Industry and For the Industry’.

The company is registered with the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) as a self-regulated, not-for-profit Joint Industry Body that provides the most authentic audience estimates of What India Watches, to Broadcasters, Advertisers and Advertising Agencies. The Big Data driven insights generated by BARC India, is built upon a robust and future-ready technology backbone which powers efficient media spends and content decisions in a highly dynamic and growing broadcasting sector.

Commencing operations in 2015, today BARC India manages the world’s largest and most diverse TV measurement system covering approximately187000 individuals in 44,000 households, in 513 districts covering over 600 towns and 1300 villages, across India.

Jatinder Singh of Better World recently interacted with Mahendra K Upadhyay, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India to get in-depth understanding of how BARC has leveraged technologies such as AI, machine learning (ML) and robotics to analyze, predict and process various metrics for driving effective business and customer experience. Excerpts of the interview:

Better World: How have you leveraged the latest technologies and innovations to strengthen credibility, transparency and instill confidence in all stakeholders in the TRP measurement system?

Mahendra K Upadhyay: Our data serves as the trusted “currency” for the Indian broadcast industry. Through this “currency,” broadcasters and agencies make several vital decisions relating to programming, strategy, and audience targeting. Providing the data in usable forms in an unfailing and timely fashion, week on week is highly dependent on technology.

Collecting data from over 44,000 household television meters and 15,000+ individuals’ digital meters daily while integrating with massive databases and alternative data sources requires the data to be stored safely, scalably, efficiently, accessible, and cost-effectively. The kind of data BARC India collects, compiles, and provides insights for is a brilliant example of the 5Vs of big data – Volume, Velocity, Variety, Veracity, and Value. BARC India processes ten petabytes of data annually, larger than the Aadhar Card database’s data size and the US Census Bureau.

With this large and variable data, extensive use of the latest in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies is required to minimize human intervention and extract and represent the information accurately as per the prescribed methodology.

We have set a strict standard for releasing our clients’ data, doing so diligently every Thursday at 11 am. Performance, improvements, quality, and consistency are few parameters we experience and implement each passing day – without a firm Information and technology framework, this would not be possible.

Besides, we have deployed and enriched Lambda (λ) architecture that utilizes cloud services (Native & Custom) and on-premises data center capacities. An in-house created Enterprise Data Lake (EDL) helps end-to-end Data Validation Processes (DVP), fully automated, removing any human intervention. In addition to this, the application framework learns system patterns to help us identify areas for improvement.

Better World: Can you please elaborate more on AI and ML technologies to strengthen business resiliency levels and navigate the disruptions?

Mahendra K Upadhyay: At BARC India, rather than serving as a replacement for human intelligence and ingenuity, we use AI as a supporting tool. We are skilled at processing and analyzing troves of data efficiently to generate the insights needed by our clients.  This way, we use AI to help get the best-required output and streamline the decision-making process.

BARC India has eliminated human intervention end-to-end in the data validation journey. All admin access on the system and the data is via Identity and Access Management and activity recording.

We prefer networks rather than hierarchies. BARC India has created cross-technology groups to share knowledge. To ensure that our systems/networks and applications are robust and mitigate process lapses, we regularly undertake third-party audits.

To generate authentic and accurate data of ‘What India Watches™’ is a responsibility we take with the highest sense of commitment and integrity. Also, we are implementing Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to do the daily repetitive operational jobs, not only in the Tech stream, but we are experimenting with it across the organization.

Better World: How do you prevent data tampering in your business?

Mahendra K Upadhyay: To generate authentic and accurate data of ‘What India Watches™’ is a responsibility we take with the highest sense of commitment and integrity.

Mahendra K Upadhyay, CIO, BARC India

Mahendra Upadhyay is a senior management professional in digital, data and technology space; presently working with BARC India as Chief Information Officer. Mahendra comes with 20 years of rich experience in telecom, banking, retail, media, and advertising industries with expertise in the entire data/digital value chain, i.e., ingestion-insights-analytics-interventions-auto AI and digital transformation.

Mahendra Upadhyay has previously worked with multinationals such as Mindshare, Ericsson, SAS Institute, among others.

Expertise

  • Digital transformation and automation
  • Digital marketing, marketing automation and measurement
  • Consumer Insights, interventions and advance analytics
  • Big data analytics, business intelligence (AI/ML)
  • Data/process management, security and governance
  • Large scale program management

Education

  • Executive Management, Business Administration and Management, General, Harvard business publishing, 2018
  • MBA, Business Management, Institute of Technology and Management, 2011
  • MCA, Rajiv Gandhi Prodyogiki Vishwavidyalaya, 2001

To ensure that we have deployed enterprise-level security architecture with robust perimeter and access control measures with the entire data path, from source to delivery, being end-to-end encrypted and monitored while maintaining vigilance through privilege identity management.

To ensure that endpoint security controls are in place, we’ve implemented Mobile Device Management (MDM) on the devices used/accessed by employees and the field force for data collection.

Over a Virtual Private Network (VPN), a single sign-in option for all corporate applications (on-premises, SaaS, IaaS) and Privilege Identity Management (PIM) based access methods ensure we have control over the actions being taken at every logging.  Further to this, we have network/user-level access controls for information to ensure it never crosses the BARC boundaries.

We have multi-layer firewalls and encryption methods; most importantly, we ensure that our data resides within India for effective law enforcement. Excellence is continuous. We do audits/checks of our IT systems and general control policies periodically to ensure we have updated protocols in place to resolve digital/cybersecurity-related challenges effectively.

Better World: How have you navigated the transition to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Mahendra K Upadhyay: BARC India drafted a comprehensive work-from-home (WFH) framework for its internal and external users by focusing on its key pillars: Communication, Collaboration, and Checks (security, integrity, and authority).

Secure processes and information flow are keys for success, so ‘Checks’ are critical to ensure their integrity. We have implemented two additional security layers and encryption protocols to ensure information is secure and applications function smoothly in the new normal environment of WFH.

Better World: What, according to you, are the key technology trends that will likely have the most significant impact on the enterprise ecosystem in the post-COVID environment?

Mahendra K Upadhyay: The FOUR key trends I see are:

  1. ‘Security Frameworks’ for securing information, application, networks, and end-users.
  2. ‘Robotic Process Automation’ for 100% uptime and optimum process utilization.
  3. Data-driven use cases and auto-discovery/treatments using advanced AI.
  4. Edge computing.

Finally, while technology and innovations can help, it’s ultimately human intelligence that makes the outcome business-friendly. This requires continuous investment, not only in tech but also in PEOPLE.

Nasscom, Microsoft join hands to promote AI innovations in India

Nasscom, Microsoft join hands to promote AI innovations in India

To promote AI-led innovation in the country, the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) has unveiled a new program, AI Gamechangers, in partnership with Microsoft. The program has been launched to recognize impactful and scalable AI-based innovation in the country.

According to the official release, NASSCOM and Microsoft will work jointly to develop and promote the AI Gamechangers program to spearhead AI’s adoption across all sectors.  As part of the program, NASSCOM will recognize the country’s top AI innovators at its Xperience AI Summit, one of India’s largest AI Summits.

The program will enable organizations, academia, and NGOs to demonstrate their AI-based products and solutions to give further fillip to AI-innovation in the country.

A selected panel of jury will evaluate the program entries on problem selection, solution innovation, and impact parameters. Participants can submit their entries between 4 March 2021 to 16 April 2021 here.

Boost to homegrown AI innovation

The role of AI innovations has grown across all industries in recent years. Most businesses rely heavily on the Cloud, having an opportunity to collect tons of structured and unstructured data. By leveraging this data, AI can make processes more intelligent and enable enterprises to perform increasingly complex tasks effortlessly.

“The past decades have seen a dramatic growth of innovation and talent in India. While the country continues to leap forward to become the global innovation hub, we expect AI to unlock $500 Bn of value to India’s GDP by 2025. Through this program, we aim to spotlight some of the leading AI-based innovations in the country, not only to recognize their efforts but to motivate the larger ecosystem to leverage this opportunity to help India become a global powerhouse in AI-led innovation,” said Debjani Ghosh, President, NASSCOM in an official release announcing AI Gamechangers launch. (See: Enterprises in India leading AI adoption globally)

The actionable intelligence provided by deep learning algorithms and metrics helps businesses and governments navigate the uncertainties, make more informed decisions and even anticipate customer preferences accurately. AI innovations have disrupted industries of all sectors – be it retail, manufacturing, IT, banking, or healthcare. (See: AI tools can drive significant efficiencies in oil and gas, AI in banking now geared for a takeoff and How artificial intelligence is transforming the Indian retail sector)

For instance, in healthcare, AI innovations have been leveraged to address patient’s queries, find prevention and early detection solutions to various human diseases, including the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recently deployed interactive AI-based chatbots to respond to the detailed queries of frontline staff and data operators of testing and diagnostic labs on COVID-19.  Many leading Indian medical practitioners are using AI to detect early signs of lethal diseases such as Cancer.

Requires collaborative approach

Today, there are several use-case studies where AI-based solutions have been leveraged to solve challenges such as water crisis, food shortage, flood relief, pest control. There are many more in the experimenting phase and are expected to make an impact in the future. With the inevitable launch of 5G, enterprises are expected to utilize AI-based innovations to make their processes more intelligent, launching voice-based solutions for real-time customer support and bettering their market behavior. (See: India gears up for AI leap in post-Covid-19 era)

“Cloud-led data and AI innovation offer a huge canvas for India to be the tech engine of the world and drive homegrown innovation. Data and AI are driving transformation at scale across industries and offer an incredible opportunity to transform public infrastructure and solve some of the most critical issues facing the country today,” said Anant Maheshwari, President – Microsoft India.

However, the homegrown innovations around AI can be accomplished only through a robust collaborative approach and all stakeholders’ participation. AI-innovations still need considerable research and efforts to mitigate challenges such as data quality, inexperienced staff, and limited prototypes locally.

Efforts like AI Gamechangers need to be supported with more funding opportunities from the central and state governments to promote and expand the local AI-related advancements.

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