Encore buy

With Encore buy, Wipro eyes DX edge in fintech

by | Oct 30, 2020 | Digital Transformation, IT Services

The technology major has invested over INR 18 bn this year in acquisitions to strengthen its digital transformation capabilities.
Share to lead the transformation

Indian IT Services major Wipro continues its acquisition run this year to strengthen its digital transformation and cloud capabilities. After acquiring 4 companies earlier this year,  Wipro has now entered into a decisive agreement to buy Encore Theme Technologies, a SaaS and Cloud solutions provider in financial services, for INR 95 crores.

Headquartered in Chennai, Encore Theme implements a broad suite of Trade Finance solutions, developed by Finastra, one of the world’s largest fintechs to bolster digital transformation support for financial institutions across the globe. The purchase will enable Wipro to further fortify its capabilities to modernize the IT and digital infrastructure of financial institutions.

Encore buy

The acquisition of Encore Theme is subject to customary closing conditions and likely to close in the quarter ending December 31, 2020, Wipro mentioned in a statement. This transaction represents Wipro’s fifth buyback this year, with an overall investment of INR 18 bn in purchases in 2020.

Businesses are taking rapid transformation routes toward next-Gen integrated cloud technologies such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things (IoT), and analytics. To successfully overcome the ongoing crisis and emerge stronger in the growing virtual ecosystem, enterprises seek smarter IT environments and accelerating their digital transformation efforts.

IT services companies realize the importance of network transformation-related investments that can help meet growing clients’ needs to construct agile, integrated, and insights-based network architectures. This brings a unique opportunity for the IT Services firm to bring more value to businesses.

Along with Wipro, several other IT Services firms such as Infosys and HCL are on an acquisition spree this year, utilizing their cash reserves to fortify their digital transformation and cloud offerings. (See: Infosys buys GuideVision to boost Dx capabilities)

Supporting networks modernization

Wipro’s aggressive push toward acquisitions is also likely to lead to increased investor confidence in the future. Wipro is now having much more capacity and packaged offerings to deliver its services to enormously investing in IT infrastructure modernization.

This year, Wipro’s notable acquisitions include 4C, IVIA Serviços de Informática Ltd, and Eximus Design. (See: Wipro’s 4C buy to firm up its Europe presence)

Along with the latest Encore buy, Wipro also announced its plan to expand its strategic relationship with IBM to strengthen its Hybrid Cloud Practice. The practice is an initiative led by IBM to support global system integrators and independent software vendors to enable their clients to modernize workloads for any cloud environment.

In its Q2 results announced last month, Wipro posted a 3.2 percent sequential growth in consolidated profits and 3.7 percent QoQ growth in IT services revenue, ahead of the previous industry estimates. The results reflected strong growth across all its verticals.

At BM NXT research, we expect Wipro’s revenues to get a significant boost in the next two to three years because of its strategic investments this year and the organization’s continuous efforts to build capacities for remote working. Wipro, however, will need concrete execution efforts to gain a larger market share than its peers in the industry.

MORE FROM BETTER WORLD

India’s Union Budget is a plus for DX, gig economy

India’s Union Budget is a plus for DX, gig economy

India has announced its 2021-22 Union Budget on 1 February 2021 amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. This year’s budget stands out in several announcements that accelerate the country’s digital transformation efforts in the gig economy. The tech industry seems to be enthralled with these announcements and terming them as a massive boost for the country’s self-reliant objectives.

At Better World, we’ve captured the budget’s key points that are likely to support the tech and digital community.

Firming the start-up culture by reducing compliance on OPC

This year’s budget provides Rs 15,700 crores to the MSME sector. One of the significant highlights is the decision to incentivize One Person Companies (OPCs) by permitting OPCs, to grow without any paid-up capital and turnover thresholds. The residency limit for an Indian citizen who plans to set up an OPC has been minimized to 120 days from 182 days, and now Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) can also incorporate OPCs.

NRIs were previously not allowed to set up OPCs. However, with the new provision, any Indian citizen, whether resident in India or otherwise, can form an OPC. The country currently has about 30,000 OPCs in operation. This move is expected to give a much-needed boost for many OPCs and likely help new tech startups to emerge, helping to transform the economy.

The government also extended the eligibility for start-ups to claiming tax holiday and capital gains exemption for investment by another year – till 31 March 2022.

Social security for gig economy workers

The government has announced its plans to unveil a website to collect appropriate information on the country’s gig-workers and migrant workers so that it can implement robust social security schemes for them. Including gig-workers and freelancers in the government’s social security plan is highly crucial as the gig-economy size is expected to grow at a considerable level in the next five years, touching about $500 billion market size. 

The concept of the distributed workforce has evolved from just an experimentation phase and most of the companies who are pacing their digital transformation efforts are at much ease to onboard contractual employees from anywhere in the world.

Gig-economy offers advantages such as flexibility to employees, especially in the areas of HR, IT, and creative to work as per their convenience by leveraging the latest technology tools. The mushrooming parallel economy, however, has been facing a lot of struggle to attract talented young people since it doesn’t offer any kind of social protection such as retirement benefits, leave benefits or minimum wages to date.

Indian government’s planned reforms would be of particular importance as they will enable the government to develop more structured health, wellness, and insurance policies for the country’s growing independent workers and freelancers. 

Greater focus on research and development

The government has set aside Rs 50,000 crores in Budget 2021 for the National Research Fund (NRF), spreading across the next five years. The outlay will promote a culture of innovation, digital transformation, research, and growth in a coordinated way. It will also be used to build research capabilities at major universities and colleges. “In my July 2019 budget speech, I had announced the NRF. We have now worked out the modalities, and the NRF outlay will be Rs. Fifty thousand crores over five years. It will ensure that the overall 24 research ecosystem of the country is strengthened with a focus on identified national-priority thrust areas,” Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s Finance Minister revealed during the budget presentation. (See: Ravindra Kumar, President, IIT Delhi Alumni Association)

Proposal for world-class fintech hub at GIFT City

Another big announcement that has pleased the technology sector observers is the government’s announcement to set-up a premier fintech hub in planned Gujarat International Finance Tec (GIFT) city. Located on the bank of the river Sabarmati, the GIFT City is the government’s ambitious Special Economic Zone (SEZ) project, encompassing over 886 acres of land in Gujarat and includes commercial spaces, residential apartments, schools, hospitals, hotels, clubs, retail, and various recreational facilities. “This is a great step and demonstrates the government’s recognition of FinTech as a significant play in the financial sector. This should pave the road for the creation of the required regulations and frameworks for FinTech to work with conventional lenders and banks,” said Lalit Mehta, Co-founder & CEO of Decimal Technologies.

Digitization of railways

In another significant announcement to propel digital transformation in the country’s economic milieu, Rs 1.15 lakh crores have been earmarked for railways. A substantial proportion of these funds will be utilized for creating future-ready railway systems by the year 2030, ensuring robust connectivity and the use of technology to make rail transport safer and better.

This declaration is likely to give railways an excellent opportunity to test and implement emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), automation and machine learning (ML) to control operations and manage the Indian railway’s infrastructure more efficiently.

“The safety measures undertaken in the past few years have borne results. To further strengthen this effort, high-density network and highly utilized network routes of Indian railways will be provided with an indigenously developed automatic train protection system that eliminates train collision due to human error,” Nirmala Sitharaman, the Finance Minister, stated in her budget speech.

In addition to the above, announcements such as the government’s plan to hold a full-digitized national census in 2021, the launch of digital voter cards, and enhanced video conferencing capabilities for speedy judicial hearings reflect the government’s increased focus on digitizing the economy and developing the necessary infrastructure for new-age technologies and services.

 Quotes

“The focus on innovation and R&D as an important pillar is a critical step in increasing the Indian IT sector’s export income. Along with this, the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ budget also outlines initiatives for the gig economy, digital payments, human capital while also setting up fintech hub and National Natural Language Translation Missions. Therefore, with increased allocation towards infrastructure, financial inclusion, and healthcare, Budget 2021 promises to provide the much-needed economic velocity to India’s growth cycle,” – CP Gurnani, MD & CEO, Tech Mahindra

“Coming out of the pandemic year, the Finance Minister has laid down a well-rounded Budget. Focus on setting up of Fintech Hub at Gift City, enhancing digital payments, and using AI in governance – all provide a strong platform for Digital India. Allocating Rs 50,000 crore towards National Research Foundation will boost India’s Innovation Quotient on the global map and is a welcome move. Allocation of funds as incentives for promoting digital payments is also a step in the right direction and a significant step in ease of doing business. Lastly, increase in allocation for highways and railways will lead to employment generation and boost the economic growth of the nation,” – Karthikeyan Natarajan, President, and Chief Operating Officer, Cyient

“The budget is a major step in the right direction. It outlays a strong focus on infrastructure, healthcare, capital spending, disinvestment, monetization, job creation and digitization. These measures are not only progressive and recovery-led, if implemented correctly would ease the burden on the economy and lead India towards the projected V-shaped growth and development,” – Rajiv Bhalla, MD, Barco India

“This budget announcement confirms the government’s focus on developing infrastructure and skills, which will have short and long-term benefits to the Indian economy & people. Steps like international collaboration to develop new skills will help Indian youth prepare for modern job requirements and make them global-ready. The National Digital Educational Architecture (NDEAR) announcement is a welcome step, which will help build a Digital First mindset in the entire education system in India and help students and educators adopt new ways of learning and teaching. Besides, we welcome the doubled allocation for the MSME sector, which will incentivize our small businesses’ digital transformation that is the backbone of our economy,” – Ketan Patel, Managing Director – HP India Market.

User study on WhatsApp new privacy policy

User study on WhatsApp new privacy policy

Better World logo

यूज़र्स चाहते हैं कि सरकार Whatsapp प्राइवेसी पॉलिसी में हस्तक्षेप करे।

Whatsapp प्राइवेसी पॉलिसी सर्वे रिपोर्ट

विश्लेषण: दीपक कुमार

हाल ही में Whatsapp प्राइवेसी पॉलिसी में बदलाव प्रस्तावित किये गए हैं, जिसपर चर्चा काफी गर्म है । इंटरनेट कंपनियों द्वारा यूजर डेटा की गोपनीयता का सम्मान करने और न करने के बीच एक पतली रेखा है। आज के डिजिटल युग में यह रेखा और भी पतली हो गई है। बड़ी इंटरनेट कंपनियों के लिए, यूजर डेटा एक सोने की खान जैसा है।

व्हाट्सएप यूजर डेटा को फेसबुक तथा अन्य बिज़नेस पार्टनर्स के साथ साझा करने का अधिकार प्राप्त करना चाहता है। इससे पेरेंट कंपनी फेसबुक डिजिटल विज्ञापन की दुनिया में एक सशक्त बढ़त हासिल कर सकती है। यह सर्वविदित है कि व्हाट्सएप डेटा फेसबुक के विज्ञापन बिज़नेस को काफी लाभ पहुंचा सकता है।

 
इस बात से उपयोगकर्ता खुश नहीं हैं। हाल ही में संपन्न एक Better World सर्वेक्षण के जवाब में, उनमें से अधिकांश (67%) चाहते हैं कि सरकार किसी न किसी रूप में इस मामले में हस्तक्षेप करे, जैसा कि इस रिपोर्ट में आगे चर्चा की गई है। विशेष रूप से, इनमें व्यावसायिक व्हाट्सएप उपयोगकर्ता भी शामिल हैं। इस रिपोर्ट के लिखे जाने के समय तक, मीडिया सूत्रों के अनुसार सरकार ने व्हाट्सएप को अपनी प्रस्तावित गोपनीयता-नीति में बदलाव को वापस लेने के लिए कहा है।
 
यह सब तब शुरू हुआ जब व्हाट्सएप ने अपने उपयोगकर्ताओं को सूचित किया कि उसने अपनी गोपनीयता नीति को अपडेट कर दिया है और उपयोगकर्ता नई नीति को स्वीकार कर सकते हैं या 8 फरवरी 2021 तक व्हाट्सएप का उपयोग करना छोड़ सकते हैं। बाद में इस समय सीमा को बढ़ा कर 15 मई कर दिया गया।
 
WhatsApp की गोपनीयता-नीति में बदलाव और उसके बाद
 

उपयोगकर्ताओं का बड़े पैमाने पर विरोध साफ़ दीखता है। लाखों उपयोगकर्ताओं ने इस कदम के खिलाफ अपने विरोध को पोस्ट और ट्वीट किया और यहां तक कि सिग्नल और टेलीग्राम जैसे वैकल्पिक मैसेजिंग ऐप्स को ज्वाइन भी किया। टेस्ला कंपनी के संस्थापक एलोन मस्क के ट्वीट, “सिग्नल का उपयोग करें”, ने व्हाट्सएप छोड़ने की एक मुहिम सी चलाने में मदद की।  ट्विटर पर उनके 41.5 मिलियन फॉलोवर्स होने का भी इस मामले में काफी प्रभाव पड़ा।

शुरु में तो व्हाट्सएप छोड़ने की होड़ इतनी ज्यादा थी कि सिग्नल के सर्वर नए साइनअप का भार उठाने में सक्षम नहीं थे। एक समय सिग्नल ने ट्वीट करके सफाई तक दी कि एक साथ कई नए लोगों के साइन करने के कारण सर्वर आवश्कतानुसार काम नहीं कर पा रहे हैं, अतः लोग थोड़ा धैर्य रखें।

11 जनवरी 2021 को, फेसबुक के शेयरों में 4.01% की गिरावट आई जबकि Nasdaq index सिर्फ 1.55% गिरा । 12 जनवरी को फेसबुक 2.24% गिरा जबकि  Nasdaq 0.77% बढ़ा। 14 जनवरी को, यह छह महीने से अधिक समय में सबसे कम पर हुआ।

Better World द्वारा किए गए  सर्वे में जहां 37% उपयोगकर्ताओं ने कहा कि वे whatsapp के इस कदम को अपनी गोपनीयता का गंभीर उल्लंघन मानते हैं, 45% ने कहा कि यह अच्छा नहीं पर वे इसे मान लेंगे । केवल 18% ने कहा कि whatsapp की प्रस्तावित गोपनीयता नीति में परिवर्तन से उन्हें बिल्कुल परेशानी  नहीं है। हालांकि, इन 18% उपयोगकर्ताओं में से कुछ पहले से ही व्हाट्सएप के साथ अन्य मैसेजिंग ऐप का उपयोग कर रहे थे।

आइये इन ग्राफों के जरिये देखें कि whatsapp users ने सर्वे के माध्यम से क्या मत रखे हैं।
(To read this report in English, please click here.)
WhatsApp privacy policy-Graph1
WhatsApp privacy policy-Graph1
WhatsApp privacy policy-Graph1
WhatsApp privacy policy-Graph4
WhatsApp privacy policy-Graph5
WhatsApp privacy policy-Graph6
FeaturesWhatsAppTelegramSignal
Subscribers (Global)2 billion400 million20 million
Cross platformYesYesYes
Video and voice callYesYesYes
End-to-end encryption Personal messages and calls are end-to-end encrypted.Only for secret chatAll features are end-to-end encrypted
Type of softwareClosed-source privacyOpen-source privacyOpen-source privacy
Information collectionUser’s location, IP address, mobile operator, timezone, phone number, and details of a Facebook or WhatsApp account.Device data, IP addresses for moderation, phone number and the User IDOnly phone number for registration
Group chatsUp to 256 membersUp to 200,000 members1,000 members
File sharing capabilityVideos with 16MB limit in size and regular files up to 100MB2 GB100 MB
Folder managementChats can be stored through emailChats can be moved in to foldersNo such feature exists with Signal
Disappearing messages featureEnables self-destruction of a message after 7 daysEnabled through self-destruct timerEnable self-destruction after 5 seconds to 7 days once a user read the message
Data backupYes, online and offline backup on google driveYes, on Telegram’s cloudNo, stored on its own cloud platform
Group chat securityE2ENoE2E
Cross platformYesYesYes

Analyst’s Views

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

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

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

A consolidated view of respondents’ profiles

WhatsApp privacy policy-Graph7

About the Analyst and the Survey Methodology

Deepak KumarDeepak Kumar

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

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

About the report

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

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

Acknowledgements

I take this opportunity to sincerely thank all the survey respondents for taking time out and providing their inputs, without which this report would not have been completed in a timely manner. Special thanks are due to the following individuals for adding value to the report and providing viewpoints representative of different user and stakeholder segments.

 

CIO Vijay Sethi bids adieu to Hero MotoCorp

CIO Vijay Sethi bids adieu to Hero MotoCorp

CIO Vijay Sethi

Vijay Sethi

Hero MotoCorp’s long-standing CIO Vijay Sethi has decided to bid adieu to the company after serving the firm for over 13 years. Besides donning the CIO hat, Sethi was also managing the corporate social responsibility (CSR) and human resource functions at the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturing company.

Sethi had joined Hero MotoCorp in September 2007 from pharma major Ranbaxy, where he had served as director – business solutions (IT). Prior to Ranbaxy, he had worked as a management consultant for Tata Consultancy Services for over seven years.

While the automaker is yet to announce Sethi’s replacement, it has named Pradeep Eledath as interim head of IT. Eledath has over two decades of experience in information technology, cybersecurity, and digital transformation. Mike Clarke will assume the role of chief human resources officer and COO.

A highly acclaimed CIO and a frequent speaker at various institutes and forums, Vijay Sethi holds a Master’s degree in industrial engineering, an MBA in materials management, and a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra.

Sethi is also a member of several national forums. He is Chairman of IT committee of Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), Co-chairman of CII Core Group on Cyber Security, member of CII’s National Committee on IT/ITeS, and board member of SAP India User Group (INDUS). He has also been a member of the National Knowledge Council and IP Committee of CII.

About Hero Motocorp

Hero MotoCorp Limited, formerly known as Hero Honda, is an Indian multinational motorcycle and scooter manufacturer based in New Delhi. Headed by Pawan Munjal, the company is the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer. In India, it has a market share of about 46% in the two-wheeler category.

The largest two-wheeler manufacturer in the country is reportedly working on the launch of an electric passenger car in India as part of its future mobility vision.

For other recent C-Track movements, click here.

Better World User Survey on WhatsApp Privacy Policy

Better World User Survey on WhatsApp Privacy Policy

Better World logo

Users vent out displeasure, want government to crack whip

WhatsApp Privacy Policy Survey Report

Survey and analysis by Deepak Kumar

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

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

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

WhatsApp’s privacy-policy change and the aftermath

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

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

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

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

WhatsApp privacy policy-Graph1

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

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

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

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

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

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

WhatsApp privacy policy-Graph2

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

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

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

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

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

WhatsApp privacy policy-Graph3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pavan DuggalPavan Duggal, Indian cyber law expert

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

Rajesh Agarwal, Head IT, Aamor Inox

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WhatsApp privacy policy-Graph4

The choice of alternative reinforces that privacy is the key concern

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

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

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

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

Analyst’s Views

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

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

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

A consolidated view of respondents’ profiles

WhatsApp privacy policy-Graph7

About the Analyst and the Survey Methodology

Deepak KumarDeepak Kumar

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

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

About the report

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

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

Acknowledgements

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

The CIO blueprint for digital transformation

The CIO blueprint for digital transformation

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

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

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

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

Assess your business needs

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

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

Develop a strategy for effective change management

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

Jaspreet Singh EY

Jaspreet Singh, Partner- Cybersecurity, EY

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

Rajesh Aggarwal

Rajesh Aggarwal, Head of IT, Aamor Inox

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

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

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

Build a robust governance framework

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

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

Choose partners, not vendors

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

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

Integrate smartness in your digital transformation roadmap

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

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

Sandeep Sudarshan Subex

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

(more…)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Multiple factors delaying expansion

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

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

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

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

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

Enterprises should use this time wisely

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

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

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

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