Share to lead the transformation

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.

MORE FROM BETTER WORLD

Ravindra Kumar, President, IIT Delhi Alumni Association

Ravindra Kumar, President, IIT Delhi Alumni Association

In Focus

Ravindra Kumar

President, IIT Delhi Alumni Association

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpts of the interview: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ravindra Kumar

President, IIT Delhi Alumni Association

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

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

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

Expertise

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

Education

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How COVID-19 has changed cybersecurity focus for 2021

How COVID-19 has changed cybersecurity focus for 2021

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

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

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

cybersecurity focus

A tough year from a cybersecurity focus standpoint

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

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

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

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

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

New strategies for dealing with emerging threats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Google Task Mate to unlock new ways of working

Google Task Mate to unlock new ways of working

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

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

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

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

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

Creating new possibilities

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

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

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

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

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

 

How will AI impact enterprise ecosystems in 2021?

How will AI impact enterprise ecosystems in 2021?

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

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

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

Turbocharge transformation

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

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

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

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

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

Evolving operating models

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

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

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

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

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

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

Better support and research for successful AI models

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

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

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

Twitter hires Zatko to strengthen cybersecurity resilience

Twitter hires Zatko to strengthen cybersecurity resilience

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

Peiter Zatco

Peiter Zatco

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will Joe Biden’s victory accelerate India’s IT sector’s growth?

Will Joe Biden’s victory accelerate India’s IT sector’s growth?

The selection of Joe Biden as the United States’ next President is likely to be a new starting point for India’s information technology industry. Under Biden’s leadership, industry onlookers hope that restrictions around H1-B visa will be relaxed soon, enabling many Indian technology professionals to work in the US.

While the policy matters may not change immediately, Biden’s presidential campaign statements reflect his strong will toward a more focused approach in strengthening US-India bilateral economic relationship. Looking back at 2017,  the outgoing Donald Trump’s government squeezed the US immigration policy, making it challenging for Indian tech companies to send their staff to their US offices for training and work.

According to NASSCOM, the industry association for the IT and IT-enabled products and services sector in India, since 2005, the bilateral trade between India-US increased by over 400%, with a total increase in value US $37 billion from 2005 to US $149 billion in 2019. NASSCOM states that the technology sectors of both countries have played a critical role in driving this bilateral trade.

Major enterprises in India and the US focusing on digital transformation and immersive technologies as part of their growth strategy. In view of this, the IT Services are sitting on a hotbed of opportunities to help businesses harness digital channels and modernize their IT infrastructure to innovate faster and reimagine the business landscape. (See: Salary hikes at IT firms on cards as COVID disruption eases)

In Joe Biden’s regime, the favorable trade ecosystem could also encourage American technology companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Google, HP, IBM, Facebook, and Uber to make further investments in India and develop their outsourcing centers to leverage the Indian talent. (See: Tech Cos take M&A route for digital transformation supremacy)

India as an emerging IT power

India’s IT industry is currently experiencing tremendous growth due to the rapid demand for cloud-based remote-working and transformative solutions. There is an enormous rush to upgrade digital infrastructure, leveraging technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence, and automation. And numerous Indian IT companies such as TCS, Infosys, HCL, and Wipro are broadening their horizons across the US to accelerate their growth. (See: Growth of Indian IT sector set for revival in 2021 )

Over the last few years, the Indian technology industry has made a more profound presence in the US economy, driving local investments, job creation, community services, and upskilling their US employees. For instance, TCS has been ranked among the top two US recruiters of IT services talent. The company has hired over 21,500 employees in the last five years, taking its total US workforce strength to about 40,000 employees.

The Mumbai-based company has also mentored more than 25,000 students across the US and Canada, enabling them to learn new-age technology skills.

Similarly, India’s second-largest IT company, Infosys, is also betting big on its US expansion plans. During the last three years, Infosys has unveiled six technology and innovation centers in the US across Indiana, North Carolina, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Texas, and Arizona. The Bangalore based IT firm has plans to hire 12,000 American workers by 2022 to support the growing client base, who are modernizing their IT infrastructure in the wake of increasing remote-work trend.

Wipro, too, is not far behind when it comes to expanding to the US. The company is setting up new offices of its strategic design arm, Designit, outside of conventional presence in Silicon Valley and New York City. Through its design arm, the company works with leading enterprises such as BMW, Cisco, FedEx, and GM to design innovative business offerings and processes.

Another tech major, HCL is also beefing up its capabilities in the US to build information security and cyberthreat intelligence solutions.

Additionally, there are many American technology companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Google, HP, IBM, Facebook, and Uber that continue to make substantial investments in India and develop their outsourcing centers to leverage the Indian talent

Opportunity to address the talent gap in the US

According to Nasscom, one of the significant challenges being confronted by the US economy is the lack of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) professionals in the country. The US has millions of STEM sector jobs that remain vacant as it doesn’t have enough workforce to fill those positions.

NASSCOM says that it looks forward to working together with the new US Administration, finding solutions to the STEM skills gap, and enabling America to be more competitive, grow, and create more jobs.

The US government is increasingly facing demand and skills gaps in several IT sector branches, and under Biden’s leadership, the US is anticipated to call for concrete steps to bridge those gaps. And given India’s strong talent pool in this area, this will certainly offer more opportunities for the country.

Nevertheless, a lot will be dependent upon the transition process to the newly elected government, local sentiments of people, and the dollar to rupee currency stability in value.

 

 

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