Thursday, November 2, 2017

B2B, Advanced Tech Leading the Growth for the Indian Start-Ups Ecosystem During 2017

Strengthening its position as the third largest startup ecosystem across the world, amidst intensifying competition from countries like UK and Israel, India continues its momentum of being one of the most vibrant landscape for start-ups. Adding over 1000 tech start-ups in 2017, taking the total number of tech start-ups to 5000-5200, 
India is witnessing a rapid rise in the B2B tech start-up landscape, focused on verticals like healthtech, fintech, and ecommerce/aggregators. While Bengaluru, Delhi/NCR and Mumbai retained their position as the key start-up hubs in India, 20% of the start-ups emerged from tier II/III cities. These trends were discussed at the launch of the 2017 edition of the NASSCOM-Zinnov report on the Indian Start-up Ecosystem – Traversing the maturity cycle, released on the sidelines of the of the annual flagship NASSCOM Product Conclave 2017. 
Sharing his thoughts, Raman Roy, Chairman, NASSCOM, and CEO and MD, Quatrro Global Services, said, “The Indian technology industry is renowned globally for its pioneering innovation and the start-ups arena is no different. India is one of the fastest growing start-up landscape in the world and every major accelerator, investor, angel group, is participating in becoming a part of this growth journey. Today, Indian ecosystem is flooded with innovative ideas and needs the right channel and guidance in terms of acceleration, scaling up and funding to continue to disrupt.”
ECOSYSTEM RIPE FOR HEALTHY GROWTH THROUGH VERTICALIZATION AND INNOVATIVE BUSINESS MODELS
With 40% of startups in the B2B segment, B2B’s share in the overall tech start-up funding is over 30%. Corporates are playing a vital role in supporting these with over 50+ collaboration programs, 20+ corporate accelerators (recording a 33% YoY growth), and 30-40 active corporate investors, thus increasing their role in the rise of the start-up ecosystem.
Fin-tech start-up base is estimated to be 360 in 2017 indicating at 31% YoY growth with over $200 mn funding received in H1-2017, recording a growth of 135% since H1-2016. Sub-segments like digital payments and lending are maturing, while wealth management and insur-tech emerging as growth areas. Implementation of advanced technology also becoming prominent, with 33% of fintech funding towards advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Analytics.
Witnessing a 28% YoY growth in 2017, Health-tech vertical has an estimated total base of 320 start-ups. The vertical also garnered a total funding of $160 mn in H1-2017, up by 129% since H1-2016. Areas like health information management, aggregator/ecommerce have continued to mature with growth in areas like anomaly detection, disease monitoring, and tele-health/tele-medicine. As for advanced technologies, 31% of health-tech funding went towards Artificial Intelligence, IoT, and Analytics.
With over 60% start-ups, the B2C tech start-up segment focused on creating innovative business models and taking the vertical approach, securing close to 70% of the overall tech start-up funding in H1 2017. Leading vertical in the B2C segment are travel and hospitality, food-tech, fin-tech, and health-tech.
Speaking on the occasion, R Chandrashekhar, President, NASSCOM, said, “The Indian startup ecosystem is maturing, driven by young, diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial landscape. This is leading to emergence of focused domain solutions for verticals like healthcare, agriculture, and education. Findings of the report is a testimony to the potential of the start-up landscape and the scope of growth and opportunity that India presents. NASSCOM will continue its drive towards catalysing deep tech start-ups, build category leaders and support start-ups to create for India.”
RISE OF NEW-AGE ADVANCED-TECH START-UPS
Growing at 5-year CAGR of 30%, advanced tech start-ups focused on creating solutions in segments like Artificial Intelligence, Analytics, Augmented Reality / Virtual reality, Blockchain and Internet of Things, among others. Enterprise and SMB-focused horizontal solutions start-ups, 90% of which is SaaS-based, are also witnessing significant inflow of funding.
GROWING FROM STRENGTH-TO-STRENGTH: DRAMATIC RISE IN UNICORN FUNDING AND M&A
Unicorn funding took centerstage with big deals announced in the year. Investors from non-US countries expanded their investments in Indian startups. Indian unicorns in the B2C space continue to garner global funds and stir-up the competitive landscape. With a growth of 167%, the funding of entire Indian start-up ecosystem (led by unicorns) amounted to $ 6.4 bn in H1-2017. The average funding for B2B tech start-ups in 2017 saw an increase of 5% while B2C tech start-up average funding saw a decline of 10%.
Driven by the need to enhance tech capabilities, expand markets and portfolio, global corporates are now drawn towards the Indian tech start-up arena. H1-2017 saw 50+ M&A deals, indicating at a growth of 25% since H1-2016. Over 325 start-ups emerging, with YoY growth of 18%, catering to social challenges in the areas of healthcare and education, and are thus building solutions for India, creating social impact.
BUILDING A ROBUST WAY FORWARD FOR GROWTH
Continuing the ‘By India, For India, Of India’ movement, the Indian tech start-ups will continue to innovate enabled by technology and newer business models and will have a long-lasting impact in improving the quality of start-ups arising from India, in the coming years. NASSCOM with continue to catalyze and support deep tech Startups, and help build category leaders who can create solutions for India.  The top priorities for the various other stakeholders will be as follows:
·         For start-ups: Building products that address need-gaps and challenges, defining a full-bodied go-to-market strategy to scale-up, while building a team in the technology, domain, sales, and customer experience.
·         For incubators / accelerators: Provide deep mentoring, help start-ups internalize organizational best practices, and help establish global connects
·         For corporates: Accelerate start-up partnerships and help identify white spaces for innovation
·         For Government: Enable ease of doing business by minimizing regulatory impediments, remove asymmetry in policies, provide access to government projects, and help secure early stage funding

Epicor, Redington Partner to Target SME Manufacturers for ERP Solutions in India


Epicor Software Corporation, a global provider of industry specific software to promote business growth, announced today the appointment of a country-wide distributor to accelerate business growth and meet demand for enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions across India. The partnership will see Redington India, one of the country’s largest technology distributors, selecting and training specialist resellers from its network of over 20,000 business partners to grow the Epicor customer base.
Anand Chakravarthy, President at Redington commented, “Epicor ERP is a great fit for midmarket manufacturing companies in India looking to grow. Adding Epicor ERP to our portfolio will enable us to capitalise on the currently untapped market potential. The modern architecture of Epicor ERP will not only work today, but will enable customers to successfully deal with future challenges such as preparing for Industry 4.0, as more and more smart technologies are adopted.”
Sabby Gill, executive vice president, international at Epicor Software commented, “Whilst India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, it is also a digitally advanced market. As one of the largest technology distributors in India, Redington has an experienced and dedicated team on the ground that can enable local manufacturers to digitally transform their companies and grow their businesses. Thiru Vengadam, regional vice president, will spearhead the strategy to grow our footprint and help companies thrive through ERP.”
As a distributor Redington will identify, appoint, train and equip resellers, taking full responsibility for effectively managing the delivery and deployment of Epicor ERP solutions in India. In return, Epicor will provide Redington with the necessary support to deliver its solutions to the market, including marketing, professional services, training, and access to Epicor University with certification for partners.

SBI Takes its Employees to the Cloud with Microsoft Office 365 in India

The State Bank of India (SBI), the largest public-sector bank of India has chosen Office 365, the cloud powered productivity solution from Microsoft to improve communication and collaboration among its workforce, addressing the banking behemoth’s requirement of transforming it into a modern workplace.

This is one of the largest deployments of Office 365 in India, spanning SBI’s countrywide network of 23,423 branches, enabling 263,000 employees and servicing more than 500 million customer accounts.

SBI employees will now experience a modern digital workplace platform that will empower them to collaborate effectively from any device anywhere (Android, iOS, Mac and Windows), provide an integrated experience and reduce complexity. Employees will be able to use familiar and easy-to-use tools naturally in everyday work, while addressing key aspects of data security and sovereignty. Microsoft has also consolidated SBI’s messaging and collaboration server infrastructure in 17 countries, helping it save more than USD 200,000 annually.

“We are excited about our partnership with Microsoft. As India’s economy continues to grow, the BFSI sector needs to be well-equipped to address dynamic market pressures and rapidly evolving industry needs. It has become imperative to transform technologically to sustain a competitive edge. A digital culture shift, designing a modern workplace that harnesses digital intelligence and enabling mobility are key aspects. As the Digital Banker to the Nation, Microsoft’s cutting-edge technology is helping us lead this digital transformation by making it part of our DNA.”, said Rajnish Kumar, Chairman, State Bank of India.

Expressing his view, Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft had stated, “We are thrilled to partner with State Bank of India on their digital transformation as they harness the intelligent cloud and build new digital capability to empower their employees; engage customers in new ways and transform their products and services, while maintaining security, trust and compliance with industry regulations.”

SBI will derive benefits from this digital transformation in three phases; making itself agile by rapidly upgrading to cloud based technology, focusing on user adoption by identifying use cases based on work profiles, and transforming business by process alignment with the new tools, all of which together will ultimately enhance, both, branch and customer experience.

Microsoft is committed to fuel the digital transformation of the BFSI sector with the best-in-class cloud services like Office 365, that are not only efficient as a productivity solution but also highly robust, secure and scalable.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Novoflex Unveils Industry-Disrupting Process for Assembling SIM Cards for the Telco Industry

Singapore-based smart card innovator NovoFlex has announces Secure Authenticable Identification Laminates (sAiL), a patented, groundbreaking new process that redefines how integrated circuit (IC) chips will be embedded into SIM cards currently used in the telecommunications sector. Novoflex is partnering with smart card manufacturer Eastcompeace in India and CIPTA in Indonesia to implement the IC chip in SIM cards issued by major mobile operators in those countries.
The process departs from traditional methods of manufacturing SIM cards, by eliminating two major steps – module packaging and module embedding. The flexible form factor of sAiL – which comes as a thin plastic foil – also allows it to be integrated into a range of everyday objects.

Combined with fact that the process requires less gold to be utilised across all process steps, this new technology leads to significant savings for card manufacturers. As the process is compatible with existing card manufacturing machines, sAiL can be immediately integrated into current smartcard assembly processes.

Rajnish Giri, Managing Director of Eastcompeace India Pvt Ltd, said: “Eastcompeace prides itself on being an early adopter of innovative new technologies and processes. sAiL demonstrates a remarkable leap forward in the production process of SIM cards. We are also excited about the possibilities of sAiL beyond the telecommunications sector.”

CIPTA CEO Steven Chandra said: “Our mission at CIPTA is to harness innovation to empower ordinary individuals. Driven by innovation, in the last few years, applications for smart cards have proliferated across industries. Technologies such as sAIL are a game changer, and we are glad to be working with strategic partners such as NovoFlex to help us to envision a brighter, bolder future.”

The process has been successfully patented in 20 countries, with more countries pending, and has already garnered interest from major SIM card vendors across the globe. While initial demand for sAIL is expected from the telecommunications sector, NovoFlex is already working with key industry players to apply the sAiL technology to banking cards and is confident that its usage will expand to transportation and Internet of Things (IoT) in the near future.

CEO of NovoFlex, Dr. Eric Ng, said: “Our mission at NovoFlex is to provide the enabling technologies to make objects smarter. sAiL allows for secure authentication, and while the immediate application is in telecommunications, the flexibility of this technology enables us to envision possibilities much broader than that. We are very proud to introduce this new technology in India and Indonesia, through our partners, and hope to expand very quickly beyond telecoms.”

RBL Bank’s India Startup Club Joins Hands with Amity Innovation Incubator for ‘The Big Pitch 2.0’

RBL Bank, one of the country’s fastest growing private sector banks, has announced the second chapter of its flagship event — The Big Pitch 2.0 — which aims to strengthen the startup ecosystem in India. The incubation and funding contest will be held at Amity University, Noida, on November 17, 2017.

The core idea behind the event is to provide startups and entrepreneurs a launch pad to pitch their ideas to angel investors, business incubators, management consultants and advisors. The startups and entrepreneurs will get an opportunity to engage with The Big Pitch’s knowledge partners in the field of fundraising, consulting, legal, technology, banking and finance, and taxation.

Amity Innovation Incubator, which has done a phenomenal job in providing incubation support across 17 locations in India, is the exclusive incubation partner for the event. Well-known early-stage investors such as Matrix Partners, Venture Catalysts and Unicorn India Ventures have also come on board to explore funding opportunities for seed and startup companies.

The first chapter of The Big Pitch, which was held in Bangalore in 2016, generated significant interest in the startup community across the country. Commenting on the event, last year’s winning team, Fourth Ambit, a specialist networking platform creating value across stakeholders in the education ecosystem, said, “RBL Bank’s The Big Pitch was a turning point in our startup journey which today is poised for its  next phase of growth. Winning the contest was a validation of our business model and a signal to the investor world. We went on to raise our first round of funding of $600K, thanks to The Big Pitch.”

Surinder Chawla, Head - Geography, Branch and Business Banking at RBL Bank, said, “The Big Pitch 2.0 is another step in the series of initiatives taken by RBL Bank to partner with the startup ecosystem to launch cutting-edge products and services in the banking sector. The success of the first chapter inspired us to take our flagship event to the next level. In many ways, RBL Bank functions like a startup by constantly innovating and offering the best possible solutions to our customers. It is imperative for us to support young and entrepreneurial Indians on their startup journey, and help them to achieve their goals.”

The Big Pitch 2.0 will comprise 30 startups from the application pool, out of which top six winners will have the opportunity to win curated packages from the many event partners.

Participants who wish to learn more may register at http://isc.rblbank.com/the-big-pitch/

Godrej Security Solutions Aims to Build Safer India Through #IAmSecure Campaign

With an aim to increase the adoption rate of security solutions and build a safer country where citizens can confidently say ‘I Am Secure’, Godrej Security Solutions (GSS), India’s leading security solutions provider, kick started pan-India multi-city consumer awareness campaign #IAmSecure. During the event, the company also launched a slew of innovative home security solutions- Wifi enabled EVE Series and SEE THRU PRO Video Door Phones.

The objective of the campaign is to empower the nation to take charge of their own security, educate them about the various solutions and on the importance of learning self-defense for leading a safer and secure life. The company is also engaging with their distributors through educative programmes.

The Mumbai and New Delhi event saw a participation of over 100 women pledging to take charge of their security and their loved ones. During the Mumbai event, 435 influencers’ generated 1638 tweets and #IAmSecure trended in India on the 4th position for more than 3 hours. While in New Delhi, 44 contributors generated 227 tweets, while unique twitter accounts reached during this campaign were more than 16 lakh. #IAmSecure keyword trended in India on 6th position for more than 2 hours.

Insights on how one can use our right to information in case of any crime faced, busting myths around security solutions, leveraging technology for smart security, self defense workshop was conducted by Sandhya Shetty in Mumbai and Viraf Vatcha, head coach of Indian karate team in New Delhi. The event also witnessed popular stand-up comedian Atul Khatri taking a humorous take on the need for security.

Commenting on the objective behind initiating the aggressive multi-city campaign, Mehernosh Pithawalla, Vice President and Global Head-Marketing, Sales and Innovation, Godrej Security Solutions highlighted, “The security market in India has been predominantly a ‘need based’ market and not a ‘consumer-driven’ one.

Even though today’s safety and security anxieties are not just restricted to personal safety, but encompasses the safety of our loved ones, the market has more of a reactive attitude towards the adoption of security measures. Taking cognizance of this, we felt that there is a dire need to initiate a campaign to create awareness on the need for adoption of security solutions and the technological advancements taking place in the security solutions space. Society is getting more tech-rich and empowered, and yet we remain as vulnerable to crime as before. We need to make a fundamental change in our behaviour and be more proactive about security.”

Godrej Security Solutions also shared a sneak peek to its latest consumer survey report on the ‘Consumer Attitude towards Home Security’ which reveals that only about 34 per cent of women take security measures while travelling. The security measures taken by 28 per cent of women while travelling include informing their relatives, while only nine per cent of women use security applications on their mobile phone while some others depended on police helpline. Only a miniscule two per cent of women depended on pepper spray for their security.

Godrej has launched a wide range of new innovative products, thus making the category increasingly relevant, convenient and affordable for consumers of all ages and backgrounds.

It has launched its latest high-tech innovative products EVE and SEETHRU PRO, resting as applications on the home owner’s smartphone, Godrej Security Solutions wishes to give home owners the control and convenience to watch over their homes and their loved ones with unbelievable ease.

Indian Consumers Share Data but Expect Superior Brand Experiences: SAP Hybris Survey

SAP SE has announced country-specific findings of its 2017 SAP Hybris Consumer Insights Report, highlighting what makes or breaks a customer relationship for Indian consumers. The survey of more than 7,000 consumers across the Asia Pacific (APAC) region – with 1,000 based in India – aims to better understand what customers look for when engaging with brands.
                                 
As consumers globally continue to take control over their experiences with brands, organizations are taking note. A Forrester survey of Indian business and technology decision-makers reported that 70 percent consider customer experience (CX) to be a high or critical priority for their companies1 

With this in mind, SAP Hybris set out to determine the sentiment of Indian consumers, arming global and local businesses with the insights needed to best cater to this audience. Survey results show that Indians are willing to share some information with brands – 92 percent of Indians compared to 82 percent of additional APAC respondents. More than half say they will provide their email address (68 percent) as well as their shopping history and preferences (56 percent).

At the same time, Indians have high expectations for brands, with 94 percent expecting a response within 24 hours of an inquiry and half wanting brands to surprise them, keeping the relationship alive. Additionally, 54 percent – the highest among APAC countries surveyed – expect brands to ensure consistent promotions both online and in-store.

“There are various factors that can establish customer loyalty or cause a break-up,” said Nicholas Kontopoulos, Vice President, Fast Growth Markets Marketing, SAP Hybris. “To best cater to customers and stay ahead of their demands, organizations must first and foremost understand their customers so they can engage them in a more personalized fashion.”

It is evident that Indian respondents are willing to share information, but expect their data is protected while enjoying a consistent, superior experience. Knowing what keeps customers engaged is important, but organizations should also recognize the top four reasons Indians break up with brands:
·  User data unknown – 74 percent
·  Unresponsive customer service – 73 percent
·  Spamming – 59 percent
·  Makes mistakes more than twice – 56 percent

To view the complete 2017 SAP Hybris Consumer Insights Survey Report and learn more about Indian consumers’ brand engagement preferences.

Nespresso Improves User Experience at Boutiques Worldwide with Guest Wi-Fi Service from Orange Business Services

Orange Business Services has been selected as the global supplier of Nespresso’s guest Wi-Fi and internet service, which will be rolled out in most of its standalone boutiques on five continents. The service will help Nespresso bridge its in-store customer experience with its digital channels.

When customers connect to the in-store guest Wi-Fi service, they can immediately and securely browse the internet and connect to the Nespresso portal. There they can download the Nespresso app, visit Nespresso.com to access digital services, browse the latest news or get further product information. For guests who already have the Nespresso app, they can immediately connect to it.

Orange delivers this secure, fully-managed guest Wi-Fi service worldwide, including the local internet connections, and ensures that it complies with strict and changing regulatory and legal constraints. It also provides customers with a consistent experience at all locations.

Digitally engage with customers
The guest Wi-Fi service gives Nespresso an opportunity to digitally engage with its customers at its boutiques. It provides support to communicate about the latest campaigns, maintaining a link with Nespresso’s connected customers. The guest Wi-Fi service complements the 27 Nespresso Customer Relationship Contact Centers (CRC) managed by Orange Business Service.

“We put our customers at the center of everything we do, and offering secure internet connectivity in our boutiques is part of the experience that we create for them. Orange Business Services will help us realize this with a service that will play a role in our omnichannel services portfolio,” said Jean-Paul Le Roux, Global B2C Head at Nespresso.

“We are very proud to support Nespresso’s leading customer experience strategy at a global level, which mirrors the Orange Business Services customer focus with a digital and human touch. With our global local approach, we can also offer Nespresso on the ground support and services in all the markets where they operate,” said Helmut Reisinger, executive vice president, International at Orange Business Services.

SoftBank Selects Juniper Networks for Next-Generation Commercial Core Network

Juniper Networks, an industry leader in automated, scalable and secure networks, today announced that SoftBank Corp. (“SoftBank”), the Japan-based telecommunications subsidiary of global technology player SoftBank Group Corp. has deployed Juniper’s MX Series 3D Universal Edge Routers together with the Juniper Extension Toolkit (JET) automation framework in order to upgrade and future-proof its commercial core network.

SoftBank has experienced exponential traffic growth in Japan over the past few years, driven by their continued market success, as well as the increased adoption of mobile devices, cloud services and high-definition video content. To address this ongoing traffic growth, SoftBank required an infrastructure that could provide industry-leading performance and capacity for today and tomorrow, coupled with the reliability for always-on service delivery.

At the same time, SoftBank was seeking to modernize its operations environment, and wanted an agile and automated network solution that would reduce complexity and increase speed of service delivery. 

After an extensive review process, SoftBank identified Juniper Networks MX Series 3D Universal Edge Routers alongside the JET automation framework as the clear choice for their next-generation network. With this new, state-of-the-art commercial core network, SoftBank has dramatically increased network capacity while at the same time implementing automation across its operations with the opening of new network connections while significantly improving long-term service agility.
News Highlights
  • For its new commercial core network, SoftBank has selected the high-capacity MX2020 and the versatile MX104 3D Universal Edge Routers, while also implementing JET technology.
  • With performance and stability being key criteria, SoftBank valued the MX2020’s ability to increase capacity from their current systems by 76-fold, as well as Juniper’s ability to enable the development of advanced technologies.
  • In addition to greatly improving network capacity, the MX2020 addresses SoftBank’s stringent reliability requirements, with support for a comprehensive set of multi-layer resiliency features that quadruples the level of redundancy offered by their previous routers, allowing SoftBank to confidently meet customer expectations and deliver additional stability to its services.
  • JET provides an automation toolkit that enables customers to automate configuration and provisioning tasks, enabling SoftBank to accelerate service delivery by up to 30 times when contrasted with their previous, manual approach to provisioning and configuration. Using open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), JET brings greater automation capabilities to the Junos operating system that powers and future-proofs SoftBank Corp’s commercial core network.
  • Working closely with Juniper Networks, SoftBank deployed the new MX Series routers and the JET framework without disruption to their current services.
As data traffic continues to increase by-the-day, we needed to significantly upgrade our commercial core network’s capacity, performance and automation capabilities in order to continue providing the world-class levels of service which our customers expect of SoftBank. After an extensive review, we found the perfect combination of products from Juniper Networks for our requirements, says Tomohiro Sekiwa, vice president, Core Network & Device Technology Business Unit, SoftBank Corp.

Monday, October 30, 2017

IWST, Volvo Trucks Organises Seminar on Green Cover Retention 2017 on Oct 31 at IISc



Environmental degradation is currently the most critical area of concern not only in India but also globally and the pace of degradation is increasing at a rapid rate. Urbanization, Mining, Infrastructure growth etc. have resulted in deforestation which is adversely impacting the climate and also leaving behind severe repercussions on Human life.

With India becoming the fastest growing economies of the world development projects are booming like anything and as we know tree cutting is a part of majority of the projects. Although necessary laws pertaining to compensatory afforestation are there but in an age where climate change is fast becoming a reality they may not suffice. Also, India recently ratified the COP21 agreement as per which we need to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2. Keeping in mind the aforesaid, it’s important that we start looking at ways in which the economic development can go hand in hand with environmental protection. Our country’s stringent forest and environmental laws and consistent involvement of the judiciary for enforcing the same has enabled it to retain its green cover despite huge biotic pressure.

Institute of Wood Science and Technology (IWST) under Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Ministry of Environment and Forest, has embarked on an ambitious project for exploring ways to retain our existing green cover. They have worked closely with industrial partners like Volvo Trucks, to drive solutions like tree transplantation, which aims to retain our existing Green Cover by using scientific and industrial knowledge. Semi mature to mature trees which are nearly midway their lifecycle have maximum potential of carbon sequestration. Retaining such mature trees through the technique of tree transplantation is good for mitigation of impacts of climate change.

“After more than one year of successful operation of the transplantation projects, the Institute organised the seminar “Green Cover Retention 2017” to bring together researchers, scientists, academicians and industry professionals to understand and debate on this critical issue and help create a way forward to form “Policies and Practices” that will help our world to be a better place for generations to come” said by Surendra Kumar, Director, IWST.

Some key corporates like Volvo Group, Karamjeet Singh & Co Ltd, South Eastern Coalfields Ltd, National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) and Green Morning Horticulture Pvt ltd are partnering with IWST and ICFRE to take a step towards saving the environment.

The Volvo Group’s mission is to drive prosperity through transport solutions, and sustainability is the guiding principle that underpins our aspirations in this journey. This also means that our products and services’ solutions are aligned in the direction of holistic sustainability that enshrines environment care, innovation, economic efficiency & viability, with societal inclusiveness. Volvo Group is the world’s first automotive manufacturer to be approved by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to participate in its Climate Savers program. 

Under the current agreement, covering the period between 2015 and 2020, we are committed to a cumulative reduction of CO2 emissions from our products and production by atleast 40 million tons, compared to 2013 levels. And we do this through a focus on all steps – the manufacturing process & technology, product technology, the product application, the transport concept and the host of services associated with our solutions. We believe that tree transplantation can help save millions of trees during highway construction and other building activities and this would be an invaluable tool in society’s ambition to preserve and increase the green cover of our country. I am glad to see the host of stakeholders from various sections coming together at this seminar to deliberate and create a policy recommendation to achieve this critical and urgent need, said Kamal Bali, President & MD, Volvo Group in India.

Intelligence from Social List Hashtags Can Power Human Search

Microsoft Researchers collectively with professors from IIT Kharagpur are working towards developing a system that can form the basis for a deeper, more meaningful search engine. Microsoft’s Senior Applied Researcher Manish Gupta recently partnered with Ankan Mullick, Prof. Pawan Goyal, and Prof. Niloy Ganguly from IIT Kharagpur, to conduct a study on extracting meaningful information from social conversations to help search engines answer social list queries better. by deploying artificial intelligence and machine learning.

While search engine algorithms are great at working with fact-based queries and providing structured answers, they are surprisingly ineffective at answering subjective and personal questions. Queries based on human experiences and personal opinions are difficult for a standard search engine to comprehend. Therefore, they fail to answer questions such as “How to make small talk with new friends,” “People’s favourite memories from school,” “How does it feel to immigrate to a new country?” or “The songs that defined the 80s.”

The team used multi-word hashtags, also called “idioms” from Twitter, to conduct an in-depth study to make search results much more personal and human. The researchers collected around 4 million hashtags that were trending between January 2015 and June 2015, and used a SVM (Support Vector Machine) classifier to conduct this research. The classifier worked on deeply personal and human hashtags such as #foreveralone, #awkwardcompanynames, #childhoodfeels, and #africanproblems using factors such as duration of hashtag popularity, related hashtags, URLs, and related hashtags to detect context and classify the social lists accurately. The algorithm used to conduct this study forms the basis for a better search engine for social platforms which can assist users looking for subjective information and trusted opinions.

The study eventually proved that, by analysing multi-word hashtags search engines can now scour social networks and detect valuable insights from public conversations, using a highly effective and precise algorithm to provide a deeper, more meaningful search experience.

Banking and Investment Services CIOs are the Most Focused on Digitalization: Gartner Survey

Banking and investment services CIOs are increasingly convinced that their old business models and existing value propositions will not be sustainable in the future, according to a survey from Gartner, Inc. Gartner’s 2018 CIO Agenda Survey gathered data from 3,160 CIO respondents in 98 countries and across major industries, including 354 banking and investment services CIOs.

"Digital transformation and its related technologies such as APIs are more important for banking than for other industries,” said Pete Redshaw, managing vice president at Gartner. “Banks and other banking and investment services organizations clearly recognize that the status quo is not sustainable, and they must disrupt themselves before it is done to them."

Top Business Objectives
When it comes to strategic business priorities, the survey found that digital business/digital transformation is more important for banking (first priority for 26 percent of respondents) than for all industries (17 percent). Just behind digitalization on 25 percent, growth/ market share is a further key priority, followed by complementary focus areas of profit improvement and customer focus (12 and 11 percent respectively).

Banking and investment services CIOs also place a relatively high priority on the globalization of their businesses (seven percent), a priority which does not make the top 10 at all for the all-industries average. Geographic expansion is clearly important for a business that is (1) easier to scale over physical distances using electronic movements of money, and (2) seeking higher growth in emerging markets.

Top Tech to Win
In response to the question ‘Which technology areas do you think are most important to helping your organization differentiate and win (achieve your mission)?’ BI/analytics topped the list with banking sector CIOs at 26 percent followed by digitalization/digital marketing at 21 percent.
In terms of differentiating technologies, four categories stand out when compared to other industries
-          Artificial intelligence (AI) is seen as more differentiating (eight percent) for banking than the all-industries average (five percent).
-          The combination of application programming interfaces (APIs) at four percent and omnichannel/multichannel at three percent are not especially high, but they are not present at all in the all-industries top 10.
-          Legacy modernization is a top 10 item for the banking industry, but not present in the all-industries list.
-          The Internet of Things (IoT) is a top-10 item for all industries (six percent), but is not present for banking and investment services.

"These priorities point to a continuing tension between two opposing forces," said  Redshaw. "On the one hand, there is a need to rapidly transform the business, while, on the other hand, there is the innate inertia that arises from a huge IT estate that supports a heavily regulated industry."

Note that blockchain does not feature (it ranked twentieth for banking and investment services). Despite the attention and visibility, it is not yet seen as a differentiating technology for banks. That may change in the near future.

Figure 1. Top Tech to Win
Rank
Banking/Investment Priorities
% Respondents
1
BI/analytics
26%
2
Digitalization/digital marketing
21%
3
Mobility/mobile applications
11%
4
Artificial intelligence
8%
5
Cloud services/solutions
8%
6
Legacy modernization
4%
7
Application programming interface
4%
8
Customer relationship management
4%
9
Automation
3%
10
Omnichannel/multichannel
3%
Source: Gartner (October 2017)

Top New Tech Spending
Planned additional spend on digitalization/digital marketing is also much more prominent in the banking and investment services sector (22 percent) than the all-industries average (12 percent).

"This is an industry that recognizes that a firm must become truly digital - in culture, value and technology - if it is to stand a chance of surviving and thriving," Redshaw said.
Cloud is ranked lower in the banking sector (fourth versus second for all industries) but has the same percentage assigned to it (13 percent). Banks would like to make more use of public cloud, but are held back by their risk-averse culture and their regulators.

For AI, there is only a small difference in absolute terms between banking and all industries, but it is a large one in relative terms (7 versus 4 percent — nearly double). Being able to turn raw data into actionable information by spotting unexpected patterns or developing superior algorithms will strongly differentiate banks that do this well from their more mediocre rivals.

Figure 2. Top New Tech Spending
Rank
Banking/Investment Priorities
% Respondents
1
Digitalization/digital marketing
22%
2
BI/analytics
18%
3
Cyber/information security
13%
4
Cloud services/solution
13%
5
Data management
10%
6
Mobility/mobile applications
9%
7
Networking, voice/data communications
7%
8
Infrastructure/data center
7%
9
Artificial intelligence/machine learning
7%
10
System/process information
7%


Source: Gartner (October 2017)