The second ever Express IT Awards in Bengaluru saw some of India’s top technology minds—Gopichand Katragadda, group chief technology officer, Tata Sons; Rajan Anandan, MD, Google India; Dilipkumar Khandelwal, MD, SAP Labs India, Dinesh Malkani, president, Cisco India and SAARC and Ravi Gururaj, serial entrepreneur and the chairman of Nasscom’s Product Council—come together for a discussion on “Innovation through Incubation”. Edited excerpts from the panel discussion moderated by Sanjay Vijayakumar, chairman of Startup Village, the Kochi-based technology incubator, and Darlington Jose Hector, Resident Editor (South), The Financial Express.
Sanjay Vijayakumar: I have a question for Mr Katragadda on ‘thinking big’ especially since you come from a large industrial group. Have you been facing the innovators’ dilemma on how to go ahead with an innovative technology that can potentially kill an existing business? Also how do large companies incubate these ideas?
Gopichand Katragadda: That’s Clayton Christensen’s classic book, right. The critical thing to recognise is that unless you are disrupting yourself, somebody else will disrupt you. It is good to have a model where you are constantly thinking about what next. In the Tata Group, the model is fairly straightforward. You have the mature companies which are independent, some of them are listed. The parent company is not listed and actually behaves like a start-up. It’s a company where we are constantly making investment decisions. It’s in a start-up mode always.
Darlington Jose Hector: Mr Khandelwal, in India do we give enough freedom to fail at these incubation centres. Do we support them enough and what has been your experience?
Dilipkumar Khandelwal: This is one of the key things we realise in big companies. There are 2-3 things. You need to give people space to do things which are exploratory, in terms of working with customers or working with something new. At the same time, the management needs to be very clear that some of these ideas would fail and they need to be taken in a positive way. That’s the reason, when we give our annual awards, we give one award which is a pure spirit of innovation award which is basically on a failed topic that hasn’t made it through for whatever reasons. It might be a brilliant idea but somehow it hasn’t worked out. This is the kind of culture you build in and we are willing to accept that in this kind of world there would be few failures.
Darlington Jose Hector: Rajan, this talk about finding the next big Indian software company has been in vogue for the past decade or so. But we are yet to put out that one big blockbuster company. There have been a few examples of late, especially in e-commerce and consumer Internet. We seem to have the talent and the funding, so what is missing?
Rajan Anandan: We have to define what do we mean by product. If product is something that is not services which includes consumer Internet, mobile Internet, e-commerce etc, we already have seven billion dollar product companies in India. Five years ago we had one, Info Edge. So, 1-7 in five years, we are basically creating one new billion dollar Internet company per year. InMobi is the second largest ad network in the world. Ola, by the way, was founded only four years ago. So this other myth we had, that it takes 15 years to build a billion dollar company, has gone out the door. Why? Because we now have 300 million Internet users so I can launch a company and go for it. There are only 2 countries in the world that have more billion dollar product startups than us—China and the US. So things have dramatically changed in 4-5 years. Now I think the question is can we build 50-100 billion dollar product companies. And, I think that is 4-5 years away. I think what will facilitate that is a combination of Indian startups being able to go global. You know Zomato is number one in the UK which is the second largest local listings market in the world. The founders are 27 years old and the company was founded 3 years ago. So clearly, we can attack global markets with products if you have great products.
Gopichand Katragadda: …if I can throw in a perspective, we cannot classify all ways of making money as innovation. So that is where I think some of your questions are coming from. Why are we all saying there is so much innovation happening and you are not feeling it. Recently, I was on a trip meeting start-ups. In Tel Aviv I met this individual who says that at one tenth the footprint of Big Data architectures, which are there today, ‘I’ll give you 100x the speed’. This is the ‘think big’, this is about new technology which will make tectonic shifts. I think you are asking that question. When you say products you are not talking about an Ola.
Rajan Anandan: …Uber just raised $1.2 billion at a $40 billion cap. The company is 4 years old. It shouldn’t be like Big Data, artificial intelligence…I’m all for that. All I’m saying is it’s about creating big companies, hyper growth.
Gopichand Katragadda: …I agree with you. What I’m saying is that if you are Uber and if you have entered that market first, or if you are a Naukri.com and you have entered that market first, it is still an innovation. All I’m saying is there is innovation and then there is innovation. In order for us to differentiate at the really big level we need to think about innovation where nobody can follow us. Can anybody follow Naukri or Ola? I think the answer is yes. Will they make money? They will. It is a business model innovation. But in order for us to make this a century of Indian innovation we need to think big.
Sanjay Vijayakumar: A country like US produces 56,000 start-ups a year and India produces 800 a year right now. My question is if India is a start-up nation, how does India disrupt Silicon valley?
Ravi Gururaj: I have this theory that we have not seen or experienced parity for our engineers here. So, even three years ago, in a company I was at, a leading enterprise software company, our engineers would come, open their cupboards, take out the iPhones and start developing software for the iPhone. It wasn’t something they were actually using, they weren’t using SAAS, they weren’t interacting with these systems on a daily basis. That’s changed literally in the last 2 years. How can you expect that engineer to innovate when he’s actually not using those devices?
Secondly, India is truly a land of opportunity. There are these transformational opportunities which Gopi was talking about. Don’t measure us by the past, don’t benchmark us against Silicon Valley. The future’s ahead, the hockey stick is really forming.
Sanjay Vijayakumar: Dinesh, what is your view on acquisitions?
Dinesh Malkani: We have been very active. WebEx, Meraki, NDS, there’s a whole series of organisations we picked up. But what really is exciting is the work we are doing in India in terms of putting money into startups. Our CEO John Chambers actually meets with a lot of these CEOs, mentors them and tells them what he thinks they should be looking at. I’m really hoping that the next Google or Facebook or Whatsapp comes out of India. I personally believe over the next 3-4 years, the possibility of that happening is very high.
Darlington Jose Hector: Thank you everybody. It’s a great proof of the passion that all these guys have for the topic that we have spent almost an hour on this discussion. I now close the panel discussion. Thank you so much for being here.
IT Biz Award
CRMnext (Acidaes Solutions)
CRMnext empowers companies to create a single strategy execution platform for boosting campaign ROI, sales, customer loyalty and hence, profits. CRMnext is one of the most comprehensive cloud solution bringing flexibility, agility and auto upgrade capabilities to the complex enterprise environment. Key verticals catered by CRMnext include banking, financial services, insurance, media, pharma and telecom. It can be deployed on private, public and on- demand cloud platforms.
The initiative is aimed at modernising and upgrading IT systems and processes for one of India’s largest power utility firms. The main objective of the project is to bring in transparency in the operations of the utility and to aid the decision makers to take prudent actions to control the aggregate technical and commercial losses and bring it down to an acceptable level. The project connected the multiple points of the utility functions which helped in contracting the vast utility operations and brought the utility closer to its consumers. The solution directly impacted 6 million plus consumers spread across 50,000 sq km.
Nadhi Information Technologies
Project status meetings allow project team members and stakeholders to stay informed of performance, problems, issues, and expectations.nPulse supports the management of these meetings and action items for multiple projects. From an ad hoc, manual approach to managing meetings and agenda points, the projects team can move to a data driven, automated model where the software now does much of the heavy lifting in terms of capturing and analysing issues, with the incidental benefit that many of the routine chores of issue tracking are completely automated.
IT innovation Award
Cisco Systems India
Cisco Education Enabled Development (CEED) platform uses network as the platform to lead the broad-based transformation of nations. Using video as means of communication in a collaborative environment, these solutions are extremely affordable at a technology cost of about R60 per-student-per-month. Rural India faces a critical challenge in terms of a shortage of qualified teachers and instructors resulting in large scale migration of rural populations to urban centres. Therefore, it is essential for emerging nations to build infrastructure that will enable a distributed model of development. To bridge this gap through technology and to deliver services—teachers, trainers, doctors can now be provided virtually so that populations can leapfrog into the global economy.
SAP Labs India
SAP Health Central is a healthcare solution developed for public health authorities/agencies to provide preventive healthcare services to people, with minimal technology requirements. The solution involves last-mile collection of health data by field teams, storing the data and managing the public health records on a centralised repository. Built on SAP HANA platform, SAP Health Central leverages the in-memory computing capabilities of SAP’s revolutionary technology to process large volumes of complex data in the fraction of a second.
The increasing number of assessments being conducted today presents various challenges in using the traditional paper-and-pen methods for end to end assessments. TCS’s iON Assessment Lifecycle Management (ALM) solution simplifies the assessment process, starting from applicant registration to publishing of results. A patent on “Secured Computer based Assessment” has been recently awarded by US PTO to the solution.
IT innovation Award
Fedena is a complete student information system in the cloud. Currently Fedena is installed in 40,000+ institutes and 20 million+ students and teachers worldwide. There are millions of schools and colleges/institutions around the world with distinct needs and requirements. Automating these varied requirements with a single product is very difficult, particularly when the requirements are so varied. With Foradian’s solution, there is a solution to this problem- an education framework under the open source business model comprising of ecosystem developers, plugin architecture, API’s, etc.
Anunta is the innovator of a unique managed service called ADaaS (Application Delivery as a Service, trademark applied for). ADaaS involves the designing and managing of application delivery infrastructures that ensure organisational goals of end-user satisfaction and productivity are met. Using desktop virtualisation, ADaaS defines application performance parameters for its client’s IT applications and defines the service as delivering that set of performance levels as the primary SLA.
Manthan’s Merchandise Analytics is an analytics platform for many innovative and high performance retailers like Crocs Shoes, Sprouts Farmer’s Market, Charming Charlie, Teavana, Buehlers, Love’s etc, who have continuously outperformed their market segments. The product delivers all styles of analytics requirements, whether they are prescriptive, predictive, diagnostic or descriptive in a single platform.
Adobe Analytics offers real-time data analytics, segmentation, and visualisation tools to give stakeholders immediate insight into campaign success, conversion rates, user engagement, content analytics and a lot more. Marketing managers rely on the Adobe Analytics to quickly measure customer engagement within media and across sites, determine what content and experiences resonate, and then refine strategies to offer more of what customers want.
Softlink Global has built Live Impex , a cloud application to manage the complex Customs clearing process in India. It can be used 24 X 7 from anywhere and enables importers and exporters to get their goods cleared from any Customs location in India. The unique features are that it provides facility of pre or post payment for the services, is updated daily to keep up with ever changing Indian Customs laws, integrates data across branches helping its users to provide single point service to their customers, links with Customs to instantly alert shippers on possible delays to empower its users to take appropriate action.
Oracle Service delivers connected engagements that empower businesses to understand needs, solve problems, and delight customers. Oracle Service Cloud combines web, social and contact centre experiences for a unified, cross-channel service solution in the cloud.Oracle RightNow combines web, social and contact centre experiences for a unified, cross-channel service solution in the cloud, enabling clients to increase sales and adoption, build trust and strengthen relationships.
Paytm app offers its users instant mobile top-up recharges, DTH and data card recharges. It also offers one stop shop for utility bill payments ranging from mobile phone to landline bills, and also payments for electricity and gas bills. To these offerings, it has added a new extension—mobile shopping experience with a revolutionary concept of chat to bargain. The distinguishing feature is that Paytm cash enables customers to quickly pay for their recharges and bills, in addition to shop online not just at Paytm but also outside Paytm at many online shopping destinations.
ThoughtFocus Information Technologies
Beyond measurements is a ThoughtFocus initiative for enabling real time information exchange from the points of interest to derive connected actionable intelligence. The solution allows the dairy companies to track the milk procurement at the village level and pay the producer within 5 mins of them supplying milk, which otherwise is a monthly affair. The solution brings core banking at village level, enabling the financial inclusion at the grass roots, in its true sense.
NComputing’s green virtualisation technology helps to meet the demand of all organisations which require PCs with reduced energy usage, rugged and long lasting solutions . The key USP of NComputing solutions is that they are green, sustainable and scalable, and provide potential users the same experience that a normal PC would, but at a much affordable price point.
Zoho built the WebNMS Cell Tower Manager to specifically address the operational pain points of telecom operators like fuel and power pilferage, escalating operating costs, and environmental concerns. WebNMS offers a Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) solution that enables operators to manage datacentre facilities bringing maximum energy efficiency and meeting the best performance standards.
TCS took the intiative to build iON ALM platform to encourage online assessments which is a shift from the paper-pencil approach of conducting exams. iON ALM Platform which is delivered on a cloud-based model is a big step towards removing paper from conducting assessments. Starting from online applications, online brochures to conducting digital assessments, with the use of iON ALM, many trees have been saved and the focus is on “Go Green” environment.
Zepo helps people setup and manage their own e-commerce stores. They are a SaaS (software as a service) platform that helps people create online stores without the headaches that are usually associated with it.
Perpetuuiti Technosoft Services
Perpetuuiti is a global software product company in the space of business resiliency and service availability management. Perpetuuiti is focused on developing software products that enable organisational visibility into BCP/IT investments, ensuring business continuity in crisis situations that may cause supply chain interruptions, loss of or damage to critical infrastructure.