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Digital Transformation: Growing needs of enterprises spur investments in ICT solutions

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Digital Transformation: Growing needs of...

Over the past year, enterprises in India continued on their digital transformation journey while several others joined the bandwagon. Organisations across industry verticals are adopting advanced information and communication technology (ICT) solutions such as internet of things (IoT), big data analytics and cloud to enhance business efficiencies. However, an ICT-enabled ecosystem will also expose them to the threat of cyberattacks. In 2017, the industry witnessed some of the worst ransomware attacks, compelling enterprises to rethink their cybersecurity strategies.

tele.net takes a look at some of the key technology trends that dominated the enterprise technology space in 2017 and the trends to watch in 2018…

IoT

The year 2017 witnessed a surge in the adoption of IoT technology. Enterprises across industries such as manufacturing, health care, information technology (IT), IT-enabled services and business process outsourcing (BPO), retail, and media and entertainment leveraged IoT to enhance operational efficiencies. The manufacturing industry emerged as the front runner in terms of IoT adoption, which has simplified and streamlined various processes in a revolutionary way. Commenting on IoT, Dr Mahesh Gupta, chairman, KENT RO Systems Limited, says, “IoT has already created a new technological wave and is going to have a deep impact on the manufacturing industry.” The technology provides manufacturing enterprises with real-time feedback and alerts them about defective or damaged goods. These simple yet critical applications have helped reduce wastage and save costs. Further, IoT enhances quality control and improves overall supply chain efficiency. For instance, steel and power manufacturing firm Jindal Steel and Power Limited has deployed IoT solutions at its Angul steel plant in Odisha to better manage production and inventories. IoT solutions ensure that data pertaining to each stage of power generation and distribution is captured and published on mobile applications, thereby enabling faster decision-making. Meanwhile, KENT RO Systems Limited is using IoT to innovate and build its products and is one of the pioneers in introducing IoT-enabled smart reverse osmosis (RO) water purifiers.

The Indian healthcare industry is one of the recent adopters of IoT. Healthcare enterprises have been primarily using the technology to track the devices used for treating patients through real-time location services. To this end, medical apparatus including wheelchairs, scales, defibrillators, nebulisers, pumps and monitoring equipment are being tagged with sensors so that they can be located easily. Some organisations in the health insurance space have also started leveraging IoT through wearables and other devices to gather relevant statistical information.

Meanwhile, IT firms are leveraging IoT solutions in a big way. For instance, Mindtree is conducting research and development at its global learning centre in Bhubaneswar. This has enabled the company to adopt IoT for water conservation and temperature management applications. Going forward, the company plans to expand the usage of IoT in other areas as well.

IoT solutions are also finding takers in the retail, and media and entertainment industries though the level of IoT adoption in both these industries is still at a nascent stage in India. For instance, Mother Dairy Fruit and Vegetable Private Limited has started selective deployment of IoT. In the media and entertainment industry, IoT has led to the proliferation of over-the-top (OTT) services. According to Uday Reddy, founder and chief executive officer, YuppTV, “IoT has laid the foundation for OTT services. Owing to IoT, the industry is booming with a number of highly innovative and connected devices that facilitate remote media consumption of OTT services. These connected devices enable us to maintain a large data set of new and existing users.”

Big data analytics

Big data analytics was another key technology trend that witnessed significant traction during 2017. The proliferation of IoT devices across all industry verticals fuelled the adoption of big data. This is because enterprises invested heavily in strengthening their analytical capabilities. This data was then used to gain insights into consumer behaviour and business processes.

In terms of adoption, all major industry verticals saw significant activity in the big data space. In the healthcare industry, big data analytics helped enterprises in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of ailments, and also assisted them in follow-up care. According to Bruce Schwack, director of communications, Netmeds.com, “The accumulation and assessment of data using big data analytics will usher in a new era of predictive medicines, which will help healthcare providers manage a patient’s disease before it strikes.”

In addition, big data analytics played an important role in the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) industry. While basic reporting and descriptive analytics continued to be essential tools for the segment, advanced predictive and prescriptive analytics were also adopted to generate insights that could have a significant business impact. These advanced analytics-backed solutions enabled BFSI enterprises to manage not only the increasing cost of compliance, but also the risks (both monetary and reputational) of non-compliance. Further, fraud analytics helped them prevent money laundering and the associated potential losses. In terms of uptake, BFSI enterprises like Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited started leveraging big data for their everyday operations. Further, insurance companies like PNB-MetLife Insurance leveraged big data to strengthen their core business.

Enterprises in the media and entertainment and transportation industries too actively adopted big data. In the media and entertainment industry, big data analytics helped enterprises in turning massive data sets into actionable information. This enabled them to deliver content that meets customer needs, understand behavioural patterns and make personalised recommendations. Further, in mass transit systems, the role of big data analytics varied from analysing data at the design stage to predicting the peak load at various stations and fine-tuning the frequency of services to optimise the load per trip.

Cloud

The adoption of cloud services gained momentum during 2017. These services helped enterprises remove technical barriers and reduce the costs associated with physical infrastructure. All major industry verticals leveraged cloud infrastructure for achieving business efficiency. According to Sachin Goel, chief information officer, HCL Infosystems, “Cloud computing has been widely accepted by enterprises, especially small and medium enterprises. This is primarily driven by the proliferation of smartphones, inter-team collaboration across locations, and concerns about cost and operational efficiencies.”

While the healthcare industry adopted the technology to acquire, store, process and secure patient data on the cloud, the logistics industry used cloud-integrated solutions to gather more data in real time and make it accessible to all team members, regardless of their location. Cloud technology also enabled logistics enterprises to analyse the latest information on routes, schedules, rates, regulations and other details immediately and take informed decisions. Further, cloud technology enabled BPO applications to be made available on demand, eliminating the need to invest in IT infrastructure, thereby reducing costs. The BFSI industry, which generates a large amount of data, also adopted cloud-hosted solutions. Insurance companies used cloud to variabilise costs as the technology helps in predicting whether there is a need to scale costs up or down. Meanwhile, manufacturers developed and launched new computer-aided production paradigms based on cloud-based systems, which enabled them to consolidate their sales and marketing efforts. Some metro transportation systems also started moving towards cloud-based solutions for internal document management.

Social media

The year 2017 also witnessed the rise of social media as a key tool for enterprises. For government enterprises, social media platforms, especially Twitter, became a key vehicle for information dissemination. Several government departments used social media for making citizens aware about the key policy measures, and addressing public grievances. For instance, the Andhra Pradesh government effectively used social media for disaster management during cyclone HudHud, while the Ministry of External Affairs used Twitter to help the Indian citizens stranded in Libya and the Middle East.

Further, enterprises in the tourism and hospitality industry started using social media applications to meet the rising customer demand for a more personalised leisure and tourism experience. A large number of leading hotel chains such as Marriott and Hyatt directly communicated with their customers by posting about new travel packages on social media. Enterprises in other industries too increasingly tracked social media conversations to understand consumer preferences and perceptions regarding their products and services. Seeing the growing popularity of social media, BPOs in India have now started offering services such as monitoring social media activity and managing customer relations for their clients.

Cybersecurity initiatives

With rising instances of cyberattacks, the key highlight of the year was the growing focus on cybersecurity in enterprises. Moreover, with the rise in the number of online transactions in 2017, the threat of customer data theft increased manyfold. This is more prominent for enterprises in the BFSI industry as they deal with huge amounts of private and confidential consumer data. These enterprises adopted several technologies to monitor and detect potential security breaches. These include advanced persistent threat prevention systems, fraud risk management systems and data leakage prevention systems. For instance, MetLife undertook technology checks at multiple levels, from the topmost layer of firewall to the lowest level of its database, to ensure cybersecurity. Further, Mahindra Finance formed a dedicated security team to cater to the information security needs of the organisation. The company implemented various security solutions at the network, perimeter and application levels. Moreover, role-based access control and cryptographic controls were implemented to prevent any compromise of customer and business information.

Trends to watch out for in 2018

• Automation: This will emerge as a key trend in 2018, witnessing significant traction in the manufacturing and retail industries. In the manufacturing industry, automation and robotics will help enterprises in reducing costs, improving quality and increasing productivity. In the retail industry, enterprises like Myntra have already started leveraging automation in warehouses to enhance productivity. According to Kothanda Raman K., head, IT, Myntra, “Automation solutions will enable organisations to effectively handle large volumes of their product and optimise manpower within the stipulated timelines.”

• Blockchain technology: Industry experts consider it to be the missing link that can address scalability, privacy and reliability concerns in IoT. In 2018, it is expected that IoT will converge with blockchain, thus offering better security and privacy. This technology is likely to be adopted particularly by the BFSI industry. Enterprises in the BFSI industry will use blockchain to secure financial transactions, reduce infrastructure cost and increase transparency. To this end, the Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology, an arm of the Reserve Bank of India, is soon going to roll out pilot programmes to develop applications for banks to embrace blockchain. Further, the State Bank of India has already announced its plans to implement blockchain technology in the management of know-your-customer protocols.

• 3D printing: 3D printing, which is still at a nascent stage, is likely to grow in 2018. Enterprises in the manufacturing industry are currently using 3D printing to produce product prototypes, reduce design-to-manufacturing cycle times and reduce the go-to-market time. In the future, enterprises will start using 3D printing to make highly specialised, low-volume components or subassemblies of finished products, or tools for the moulding, casting and manufacturing of products. Further, enterprises in the retail industry are exploring ways to leverage 3D printing for apparel.

• Artificial intelligence (AI): AI is yet another technology that is expected to witness significant uptake in the enterprise technology space in 2018. The BFSI industry is likely to witness AI-integrated transactions in the near future. This will enable enterprises to analyse the spending and saving patterns of customers. In the retail industry, AI will be the key to providing a personalised shopping experience. Meanwhile, in the manufacturing industry, it will help enterprises enhance their potential returns. By embedding smart sensors in the machinery, this technology will help identify the potential areas of failure before a catastrophic collapse, enabling manufacturers to reduce downtime and maintenance costs.

 
 

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