Saturday, July 6, 2019

Innovator Sonam Wangchuk and Kumari Shibulal Endorse Teach One to Transform Lives Through Education

Kumari Shibulal, Founder and Managing Trustee, Sarojini Damodaran Foundation(SDF) and Mr. S.D Shibulal, Trustee, SDF and Co-founder, Infosys along with Mr. Sonam Wangchuk, Founder SECMOL (Student’s Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh),  endorsed “Each One, Teach One” at an event in Bangalore.

Vidyadhan, a higher education scholarship platform is a Shibulal Family Philanthropic Initiative, under the aegis of SDF. Together, they pledged their support to Vidyadhan’s vision to increase its impact from 13,000 scholarships in 10 States to 100,000 scholarships in all States in the next 5-7 years.

While access to higher education in India has improved, the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) for higher education stands at 25.8% today. Therefore, a vast majority of our youth does not have access to higher education and the opportunities to a better livelihood that result from it. “Each One, Teach One” is the only way we can fulfill our moral responsibility to give back to the society and also to make higher education accessible to all.

Currently there are 3500+ students enrolled in the program. Vidyadhan has provided 13,000 scholarships and is expected to grow to 100,000 scholarships, impacting more than 10,000 students and their families in the next 5-7 years. We urge individuals, corporate and developmental sector organizations to join our movement and bring to life, our vision, “Each One, Teach One.”

Honorary guest, Mr. Sonam Wangchuk, Founder SECMOL said, “I sincerely believe that “Each One, Teach One”, as a movement has the potential to transform lives through education and to make higher education accessible to all. If such a movement gains momentum across the country, it would not only help increase the Gross Enrollment Ratio, but will also help meritorious students achieve their full potential. In my own experience, through SECMOL, we have learnt that a group of committed and passionate individuals can truly make a difference and start a movement of change.”

About Sarojini Damodaran Foundation (SDF): The Sarojini Damodaran Foundation (SDF) is a part of the Shibulal Family Philanthropic Initiatives (SFPI). Established in1999, SDF emerged from a sense of responsibility towards the society to transform lives through education. SDF started by giving two scholarships to meritorious students from economically disadvantaged families in Kerala. Today, SDF is a constantly growing entity expanding its reach to various causes including education and sports (Vidyadhan, Vidyarakshak and Vidyakreeda), child healthcare (Ayurdhan), organic farming (AkshayaSree Awards) and social causes (Harishree) in different parts of the country.

Johnson's Baby Educates Indian Mums from Across the Country on Baby Products

Johnson & Johnson unveils a new initiative which was launched in the presence of 85 + Mums from across the country along with renowned Global experts ‘Robert Kwon’ and ‘James Kennedy’. Johnson’s Baby educates mums from across the country on the importance of Turn to Learn about ingredients in baby products at The School of Gentle. More than 85 mums along with their kids were part of the learning on July 5th, 2019.

Leadership Changes in Mindtree Following Change of Control

Mindtree, a global technology services and Digital transformation company, announced that Krishnakumar Natarajan, Executive Chairman, N S Parthasarathy, Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer and Rostow Ravanan, CEO and Managing Director have submitted their resignations as members of the Board of Directors of Mindtree Ltd and as employees of the company. They will stay as Board members till 17 July 2019 and as employees in line with their employment contracts to ensure smooth transition. Further, along with the other founders of the company, they have asked the company to de-classify them as promoters under applicable laws.

The company will announce a new leadership team in due course.

“Mindtree has delivered exceptional performance for all our stakeholders over the last 2 decades through our differentiated strategy and unique culture. We are grateful to all our customers, Mindtree Minds and external stakeholders for their steadfast support throughout our journey” Krishnakumar Natarajan, Executive Chairman, Mindtree. ”We wish the new leadership team at Mindtree the very best”.

Mindtree is a global IT consulting and services company which helps clients across 17 countries achieve business agility, competitive edge, and growth. We harness the power of Continuous Delivery, our digital expertise, industry knowledge, and research in emerging technologies to drive efficiencies and enable business innovation for over 349 clients.

Mindtree is consistently regarded as one of the best places to work. This is a reflection of our entrepreneurial, collaborative and dedicated “Mindtree Minds” who embody the winning culture that defines our commitment to excellence, innovation, and co-creation.

India Govt’s Focus as Top Destination for Research and Innovation Augurs Well with ER&D Industry

Commenting on the Budget 2019 announced by the Indian Finance Minister on Friday, L&T Technology Services, CEO & MD, Dr. Keshab Panda said, “The government’s focus on positioning India as the top destination for research and innovation augurs well with the interests of the ER&D industry. Moreover, the announcement on providing support to the skill development initiatives related to AI, IoT, 3D printing, VR, Robotics has the potential to establish India as a global talent hub for digital technologies."

Dr Panda goes on to mention that lastly, earmarking Rs.10,000 crore over a three year period towards building a wider ecosystem of electric vehicles is a  welcome move. It is now for the value chain players to come together and replicate the success achieved by Indian ER&D players for global auto majors on the EV front.

Sonalika Unveils Tiger Series - Next Generation Technology Tractor in Karnataka Market

India’s one of the fastest growing tractor brand, International Tractors Limited (ITL) which has built the World’s No. 1 (largest) integrated tractor manufacturing plant in Hoshiarpur, today launched Tiger Series - Next Generation Technology Tractors, Designed in Europe. Following a trailblazing success in Karnataka, after achieving its highest double digit market share, the company has surpassed industry growth, recording 28% growth in Q1 FY 20 (April - June’19) vs. previous year.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Raman Mittal, Executive Director, Sonalika Group, said, “Sonalika’s growth is on account of our focus to address varied needs of farmers across regions through constant technological up-gradation and innovation.

After the success of Sikander series, we have launched this unrivalled Tiger Series, designed in Europe for Indian farmers and is available in the wide range of 28 HP to 65 HP category. In the era of Digitalization, this tractor is equipped with plethora of next generation technology driven features. One such feature is a mobile application, Sonalika Sky Smart in which Tiger tractor owner can monitor the health of the tractor remotely. The owner can locate his tractor, check fuel tank reading, Hour Meter Reading as well as get an alert on any discrepancies like fuel theft , battery disconnection etc.

Tiger Series is equipped with a new engine, new transmission, cutting edge technology with next generation design for the Next Generation Farmers offered through Next Generation retail experience. It is designed in Europe and developed to achieve the highest productivity in its category. Being a fully sealed tractor, it ensures flawless operation in the toughest of puddling conditions and haulage, well suited for Karnataka.

He added, The company’s objective is to increase farmers’ productivity exponentially, while ensuring reduced operational cost. Sonalika offers implements like Rotavators to help double farmer’s income through enhancing productivity, which has led Sonalika to be chosen by Govt. of India as the contributing partner with Niti Aayog for doubling farmer’s income by year 2022.”

Present at the launch, Mr. Mudit Gupta, President, Sonalika Group said, “Today, we produce and offer the most productive and reliable products across the globe, which gets manufactured at our World’s No. 1 largest Integrated Tractor manufacturing plant in Hoshiarpur, Punjab.

Technology innovation comes into use when it is rightly priced. We are launching the Tiger series at a very competitive price since we have already invested in the state of the art plant and R&D. We have chosen Karnataka as the first market to launch the series, as the state offers immense potential in the 41-50 HP segment. We are confident that Tiger’s revolutionary features and unique attributes will win the hearts of our treasured farmers.”

He added,” Sonalika aim’s to strengthen its presence in the domestic market with a strong focus on the Southern markets. We have also set up Skill Development Centers in the region to empower the next generation farmers by imparting education on latest farm technologies.”

We have recorded first ever double digit market share in Karnataka for the period Q1 FY’20. With the launch of its new series we are targeting to increase our market share in and continue to surpass industry growth.”

Jaguar Land Rover to Build Range of New Electrified Cars in the UK, Safeguarding Thousands of Jobs

Jaguar Land Rover has revealed plans to manufacture a range of new electrified vehicles at its manufacturing plant in Castle Bromwich, UK. The announcement is the next significant step in delivering on the company’s commitment to offer customers electrified options for all new Jaguar and Land Rover models from 2020.

Prof. Dr. Ralf Speth, Chief Executive Officer of Jaguar Land Rover, said: “The future of mobility is electric and, as a visionary British company, we are committed to making our next generation of zero-emission vehicles in the UK.

“We are co-locating our electric vehicle manufacture, Electronic Drive Units and battery assembly to create a powerhouse of electrification in the Midlands.”

The first new electric car to be produced at the plant will be Jaguar’s flagship luxury saloon, the XJ. The choice of business leaders, celebrities, politicians and royalty for over five decades and through eight generations of production, the XJ is designed, engineered and manufactured in the UK and has been exported to more than 120 countries.

The news was confirmed to workers at Castle Bromwich as production of the current XJ came to an end. Credited with pioneering a range of industry-first innovations during its 50 years of production, the new XJ will build on the characteristics synonymous with its predecessors - beautiful design, intelligent performance and revered luxury.

The new all-electric model will be created by the same expert team of designers and product development specialists responsible for delivering the world’s first premium electric SUV, and 2019 World Car of the Year, the Jaguar I-PACE.

Today’s announcement, which safeguards several thousand jobs in the UK, is the next stage in execution of Jaguar Land Rover’s electrification strategy. In January the company confirmed plans to bring battery and Electric Drive Unit (EDU) assembly to the Midlands with investment in new and existing facilities. These investments have been anticipated in the company’s previously communicated capital investment plans.

The new Battery Assembly Centre at Hams Hall, operational in 2020, will be the most innovative and technologically advanced in the UK with an installed capacity of 150,000 units. Together with the Wolverhampton Engine Manufacturing Centre (EMC), home of Jaguar Land Rover’s global EDU production, these facilities will power the next generation of Jaguar and Land Rover models.

The extensive transformation of Castle Bromwich to become the UK’s first premium electrified vehicle plant will be the most significant in the plant’s history. Later this month, work will begin to commence the installation of all-new facilities and technologies required to support Jaguar Land Rover’s next-generation Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA). Designed and engineered in-house, MLA enables flexible production of clean efficient diesel and petrol vehicles alongside full electric and hybrid models.

The expansion of Jaguar Land Rover’s electrified vehicle line up will see customers offered a greater choice of vehicles to suit their lifestyles. However increased consumer take-up remains a challenge.

Prof. Dr. Ralf Speth, Chief Executive Officer of Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Convenience and affordability are the two key enablers to drive the uptake of electric vehicles to the levels that we all need. Charging should be as easy as re-fuelling a conventional vehicle.

“Affordability will only be achieved if we make batteries here in the UK, close to vehicle production, to avoid the cost and safety risk of importing from abroad. The UK has the raw materials, scientific research in our universities and an existing supplier base to put the UK at the leading edge of mobility and job creation.”

As Jaguar Land Rover today makes its commitment to electric car manufacturing in the UK, it calls on government and industry to work together to bring giga-scale battery production to the country. This builds on the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre and the government’s Faraday Challenge, essential for next generation battery technology to create smaller, denser, cheaper batteries. These critical steps will also support and grow the existing supply chain, making the UK less dependent on essential materials sourced abroad today.

Together, these initiatives enable battery production and demand for automotive companies, to attract future giga-scale factories to the UK. 

Friday, July 5, 2019

Mobil Cricket Challenge in India: Khel Kar to Dekho

To amplify the current cricket mania ExxonMobil -India’s leading lubricant brand, has unveiled its new cricket challenge ‘Khel Kar To Dekho’- an AR technology driven initiative across 15 cities.

As a part of this challenge, 19 Mobil branded vans with AR (Augmented Reality) enabled digital screens will be doing rounds in 15 cities till July 7, 2019. It is a simple challenge where the participant has to simulate ball bounce on a physical bat; the AR screen will provide the simulation and will capture the participant’s scores; the participant who is successfully able to bounce the ball for a minute is the winner.

Speaking on the campaign, Dheeraj Bhushan, General Manager –Marketing Deployment for ExxonMobil Lubricants Pvt. Ltd said, “India is a cricket loving country and fans here worship the sport. With the on-going cricket world cup, fans are immersed in a cricketing fever. Our augmented reality powered vans aim to further ignite this excitement/ sentiment wherein visitors will get a chance to play the sport virtually.”

Along with the AR initiative, the audience will be engaged with an on-ground cricket trivia under a campaign called ‘Mobil -Cricket Ke Champion’. The emcee will engage the audience by asking questions on cricket and participants who answer correctly will get ExxonMobil goodies.

What Is Your Expectation from The IT Industry in Union Budget 2019?

"India is the second largest hub for startups and Government needs to be startup friendly"

"In the Union Budget 2019, we look forward to the Indian government being startup friendly. Startups require a continuous flow of fund, operation and regular upgradations,.To meet this requirement, both the governments, central and state, must take measures/initiatives that are specifically focused towards the development of startups. The government must conduct programs, formulate policies and schemes to encourage new age startups. The government should introduce a policy framework that ensures seamless operations, efficient company registration and less of paperwork.

Another key area, where we want our government to take action is "demand-supply-cost gap". With various technological developments in the IT industry, evolved customers buying patterns, variable GST rates in goods/IT products, the government should consider reducing the current 18% GST."

While the overall intention of the Government is in the right direction, it needs to take strong steps in reducing the bureaucracy and make life simpler and easier for doing business.

Paying TDS on 7th of the next month means paying this out of your own pocket as the sales proceeds are not received by then.  This causes a huge cash flow issue to businesses - especially those in the trading business and those with very low margins.  Ideally this due date should be shifted to the end of the next month to ease out the cash flow pressures on businesses - say 26-27th of the month.  Not to mention GST payments as well.

Also would need more clarity on notifications issued earlier - especially considering the changes in business models - due to which earlier notifications are no longer relevant and have lost the very purpose for which they were issued.  A classic example is NOTIFICATION No. 21/2012 [F. No. 142/10/2012-SO(TPL)] S. O. 1323(E), DATED 13-6-2012.

Government had provided for non-deduction of withholding tax on reselling of software licenses - primarily considering the very low margins in this trade and the fact that resellers are not making any changes to the licenses purchased from the OEMs.  With the changes in technology - pure play software licenses are being replaced by a bundled package - Azure, Amazon web services, etc. (Together referred to as "Cloud Services").  However, the concept largely remains the same - Resellers are not making any changes to these bundled packages and the margins are also very low.  Would urge the Government to come out with specific notification to extend the scope of the term "Software" as defined under NOTIFICATION No. 21/2012 [F. No. 142/10/2012-SO(TPL)] S. O. 1323(E), DATED 13-6-2012.

After the success of Swachh Bharat, Cooking Gas and Electrification of villages - the next big thing is piped water to every house. I think major budget should be allocated to water problems. Chennai is going through major water problems and the global media has addressed the issue. There may also be an allocation for MSME development budget like earlier NDA government did in the past term. Skill development of micro SME is extremely important for boosting local manufacturing.

Policy reforms/expectations on behalf of Indian AV industry
Local manufacturing for displays will grow as government continues to boost incentives for exports and fulfil local demand. Samsung has already planned for a 1500 cr plant in Uttar Pradesh, which is expected to be operational by April 2020. With the likes of the rest will follow. GST could come down to 18% from 28% for projectors and larger televisions; this could possibly add more money in customers pocket to spend on bigger displays.

Beyond AV industry
The automobile industry is struggling to get back on track. Maruti Suzuki, the market leader reported drop in sales consecutively. Maruti sells volumes in the entry level segment and the sales majorly come from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. The reason for drop in sales could be due to less disposable income left over due to inflation and other factors. There should be a major booster for spending to put confidence in consumers mind to get the ball rolling for 9% GDP growth plus in coming years.

IT will continue to drive success of all types of business with innovations around AI, ML, social media, Cloud, IoT, Cybersecurity, Blockchain etc. Success of IT innovation will determine overall success of other industries including government's digital drive and hence IT industry, as the enabler for success of all other government and private business, should be accorded special status. Policy and framework to promote home grown IT innovations is the urgent need of the hour to promote growth and provide large scale employment opportunities. Local manufacturing needs special promotion to reduce dependence on imports of basic electronic goods such as mobile and other house hold items there by promoting employment and reducing dollar outflow for low tech mass volume goods.

Reduce Custom Duties for Advanced Networking and Security Products from 20% to 5%, Roll Out 5G in line with Global Markets

From this budget, we would require government to create policy frameworks that will incentivise investments from big players in manufacturing locally in India. Creating transparency in governance and reducing regulatory compliances should be taken into the consideration with special focus on reduction of customs duties for advanced networking and security products which is currently at 20% to 5%. We expect the import/export process to be made digital and transparent so as to have an efficient RMA system for customers. There should be clear actions, policy and reforms to promote latest technologies like AI, IoT, Zero Trust, Machine learning, 3D printing, blockchain and simultaneously ensuring training facilities for all the mentioned technologies as part of skill development. Declare IT as a special focus sector for the country and roll out 5G in line with global markets.

If we look beyond IT, we would want this year's budget to focus more on energy and water conservation with greater importance to sustainable development and pollution control. India is facing a critical water shortage and therefore we would require the government to take serious actions including penalties for wastage and incentives for water conservation. This can include water conservation strategies like reviving lost lakes, rivers ponds as well as maintaining optimal availability of water in all regions. Energy conservation can be taken one step further by mandated phasing out of fossil fuel driven vehicles and promoting electric, gas based lower pollution vehicles. Demarking areas in public places for charging can promote the use of electric vehicles in cities. Improving quality of the government medical facilities to prevent deaths of infants and less privileged people as well as significantly improving the quality of government schools and providing them quality education are few other expectations we have from this year's budget.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Atlassian R&D Center in Bengaluru to Touch 500 Employees by 2020

By Manu Sharma

Australian enterprise software company - Atlassian Corporation Plc, known for its online tools Trello and Jira, plans to hire over 300 engineers over the next 12 months to reach 500 employees for its recently launched development centre in Bengaluru,  Mike Cannon-Brookes, Co-Founder and CO-CEO of Atlassian said. The company presently employees 200 engineers, product managers, designers and backoffice support staff.

Atlassian announced that it has opened a permanent office in Bengaluru, India. Atlassian, which established a local presence in 2018, plans to grow the Bengaluru office into a world-class R&D and customer support center.

Atlassian was founded by entrepreneurs Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar in 2002 and has gone on to make a name for itself in collaborative tools for software and technology industries. The company went public on Nasdaq in 2015, and hit a billion-dollar annual revenue mark in the second quarter of 2018-19.

Atlassian’s Bengaluru office, the first for the Sydney-headquartered company outside the US and Australia, was opened in May 2018. With around 75 employees in the Bengaluru centre and the company planning to hire more number of engineers, it is now planning to move into a bigger office space in the city. The hiring will be primarily for engineers, product managers and designers, Brookes said.

“Bengaluru has some of the brightest tech talent in the world, and within our first year in market we’ve hired incredible people whose work has had a direct impact on our global customer base,” said Dinesh Ajmera, Site Lead and Head of Engineering for Bengaluru of Atlassian. “I’m confident that the work done in this office will help Atlassian reach its long-term goal of reaching 100 million monthly active users.”

Atlassian is the maker of products such as Jira, Confluence, Bitbucket, and Trello that are used by over 144,000 customers worldwide, including Ola Cabs, Reliance, Walmart Labs, and Flipkart. R&D has been key to Atlassian’s growth and innovation; it invested $415.8m in R&D in FY18, up 34% from the previous year, and has grown the R&D team by approximately 50% since 2017.

“Innovation is the lifeblood of Atlassian, and the company has made a significant investment to ensure the Bengaluru office becomes a world-class R&D center,” said Ajmera. “We will continue hiring aggressively for the top talent in the market, and are confident that our unique culture - one that values openness, trust, and inclusion - will help us meet our goals.”

Atlassian plans to expand further in Bengaluru the coming months by adding a number of engineering, design, product management, recruitment, and customer support roles. Atlassian's new office is located in RMZ Ecoworld, and has room to grow to more than 700 employees. Atlassian has been named a Best Place to Work by Great Place to Work Institute in every market where it has a staff presence.

Simplilearn Partners with IBM to Introduce Four Master’s Programs in AI and Data Science

Global online training provider Simplilearn today announced a collaboration with IBM to introduce four master’s programs in the fields of Artificial Intelligence and Data Science. Through this collaboration, professionals can  access live virtual classrooms and self-paced video courses that combine Simplilearn’s seamless training experience and world-class instructors with IBM’s state-of-the-art labs and course content.

Key features of the Master’s Programs include portfolio-worthy Capstone Projects that demonstrate applied skills, hands-on exposure to today’s most-used tools, 24/7 access to teaching assistants, and industry-recognized certificates.

“We are delighted to partner with IBM to bring our students the most comprehensive training programs available,” said Krishna Kumar, CEO and founder of Simplilearn. “IBM is known not just for its innovation in the world of science, but for its dedication to client success. Together with IBM, we’re confident these Master’s Programs will provide everything our students need to launch new careers in data science and AI.”

“Our partnership with Simplilearn is yet another example of our commitment to providing people with the skills they need to advance their careers in emerging tech areas,” said Devkant Agarwal,Leader Growth Initiatives, Career Education, India South Asia . “Our own research indicates that there will be over 2.7 million data science job openings by 2020 as every sector of our economy embraces these technologies. This need for talent can only be met by upskilling our existing workforce.”

The Data Scientist Master’s Program and AI Engineer Master’s Program were released today. Find more information on each of them here:

Data Science Master’s Program:

AI Engineer Master’s Program:

The third and fourth programs, Data Analyst Master’s Program and Data Engineer Master’s Program, will be available in the later half of July 2019.

All course content will be accessible on Simplilearn’s learning management system and will follow Simplilearn’s unique blended learning structure, providing learners with expertly-crafted content that’s delivered live and via pre-recorded video to meet the needs of every student’s preference and schedule, followed by quizzes and projects to enforce the retention of each lesson. Teaching assistants and forums provide a collaborative environment to nurture students from foundational concepts all the way through completion. Upon completion of each program, learners will receive industry-recognized certificates from Simplilearn and IBM to indicate the user has successfully completed all requirements.

Simplilearn has repeatedly been recognized as a top global online training provider for individuals and corporations. To date, Simplilearn has helped more than 1,000,000 professionals across 150 countries to upskill.

Facebook Partners with VC Funds to Enable India’s SMB Ecosystem for Faster Growth

Facebook India has announced an industry-first initiative which will see it collaborating with Venture Capital (VC) Funds to accelerate the growth of the small and medium businesses (SMB) they invest in. The VC Brand Incubator Program will be the first in a series of programs by Facebook that will be geared towards laying a strong foundation for SMB growth in India by providing them with timely skilling and guidance, enabling these businesses to hasten socio-economic growth of the country as well.

As a part of this program, Facebook will work with VC funds with the aim of skilling and mentoring the brands by sharing insights on best practices, proven solutions, playbooks, vertical-insights among other key learnings. For the first edition, Facebook is working with, a Mumbai-based early-stage venture capital fund that among others has partnered with startups in the food and beverages, personal care, apparel, and the lifestyle space.

Speaking about the VC Brand Incubator Program, Archana Vohra, Director, Small and Medium Businesses at Facebook India, said, “With the VC Brand Incubator program we hope to unlock the potential of SMBs in India, enabling them to enhance their and the country's socio-economic growth. SMBs are the backbone of our economy and Facebook is the default destination for them to thrive and grow. Several SMBs are actively working towards creating a larger social change, and many are empowering women entrepreneurs and generating impact in tier-2 and tier-3 towns. Their seamless growth can lead to consistent job creation, adding to the GDP growth. Working with VC funds is crucial as it allows us to scale and support SMBs at an early-stage itself, fast-tracking their growth.”

India is home to one of the largest startup ecosystems in the world, and venture capital funds are an integral part of this network. The number of small venture capital funds with active investments has been rising steadily in recent years. However, a robust skilling and support infrastructure to ensure the swift scale-up of SMBs is still lacking in the country. The VC Brand Incubator program aims to solve for this gap by supporting the VC funds and the brands they are invested in to facilitate their growth and remove roadblocks.

Manu Chandra, Founder, said, “The VC Brand Incubator program provides a much needed understanding of Facebook, its family of Apps, and the digital landscape. As a consumer focused investor, we look for social marketing expertise in teams that we back as it is a huge driver of success for small startups that have to optimize every rupee spent. The entire consumer startup ecosystem benefits from these initiatives, both from a skill-development and a community-building perspective.”

The VC Brand Incubator program is a series of events that will be held across Mumbai, Bangalore and other key cities, where SMBs will be provided with skilling and training sessions by Facebook experts on a range of themes and topics that will help them build their brands on the digital medium more effectively. The first VC Brand Incubator program was held last month in collaboration with and saw participation from 25 brands of which five were women-led businesses.

Speaking about how an in-depth understanding of Facebook and its family of Apps will help to grow his business, Yogesh Kabra, Founder, XYXX Innerwear said, “For a small and growing brand like ours, Facebook and Instagram can be intimidating and complex sometimes. The program has really helped me understand the platforms much better as a founder. I am now very confident about how to execute brand-building and advertising initiatives on these platforms to scale my business quickly with good ROI. It’s great to see their team take such initiatives for small startups like ours.”

Facebook believes that SMBs are key to the Indian economy’s growth, and their unhampered growth can fuel entrepreneurship and lead to consistent local job creation. Recently Facebook also announced an investment into Meesho, a social commerce company empowering first-time entrepreneurs, especially women, across Tier-2 and Tier-3 towns. In order to cater to the differing needs of SMBs, Facebook will be launching a slew of programs in the coming weeks that will benefit SMBs at different stages of their lifecycle. Some of these programs will be curated for agencies as well as industry partners who regularly work with SMBs.

Facebook is home to more than 90 million small businesses globally and is the default destination for SMBs to build their brand and grow their business. The new initiatives by Facebook India are geared towards simplifying the ease of doing business as well as improving digital adoption by SMBs in the country.

Nasscom Foundation Boosts Student Entrepreneurship through Cisco ‘thingQbator’

NASSCOM Foundation, today announced the successful completion of the first year of ‘Cisco thingQbator’ initiative at the felicitation ceremony held in Bengaluru. Over the last 12 months, over 600 student teams combined innovation and rapid prototyping with access to ‘Cisco thingQbator’ labs, world-class mentorship and industry connects through NASSCOM. 

The Cisco thingQbator innovation spaces were set-up at Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, Kerala (IIITMK) - Trivandrum, IIT-BHU-Varanasi, Amrita University-Coimbatore, Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women- Delhi and Trident Academy of Technology-Bhubaneswar.  Over Six hundred students from across the five technical institutions got a first-hand experience on working with high-end tools like 3D printers, LoRa gateways, cloud infrastructure, AI optimized development kits like Jetson Nano to enable technologies like Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Apart from designing digital solutions to solve real-world business problems, the students were encouraged to conceive digital solutions to local community problems.  Students with the best solutions from each institute were felicitated at the ceremony.  Some of the innovations include –

·       TrashCash, a waste management solution that incentivizes usage of bins
·       DOST, an app for students dealing with the stresses of competitive exams
·       Bend, a VR platform to gamify physiotherapy exercises

Speaking at the ceremony, V C Gopalratnam, Senior Vice President, IT, Cisco, said, “The thinkQbator initiative was launched on the premise that we are smarter when we work together. We created this programme to curate a community of technology enthusiasts, who will build digital solutions and solve some of the societal and business challenges we face.  We are proud to partner with the NASSCOM Foundation to provide digital and entrepreneurial mentorship and bring the students’ ideas to fruition.”

Ashok Pamidi, CEO, NASSCOM Foundation, said, “The Cisco thingQbator program is a true embodiment of fostering change through technology innovation. The program works towards the increase of innovation quotient at college level while injecting entrepreneurial thinking and creating a social mindset.  This is exactly what we at NASSCOM Foundation want to spearhead under the Innovation Spaces umbrella, where young minds are offered a platform to chase their dreams, try, fail and succeed while enabling a large scale social impact through technology.”

Congratulating the students, Ashok said, “Some of the social innovations created under the thingQbator program are game-changing and I congratulate all the students on achieving this feat. We are glad to find an amazing partner in Cisco in our quest of using technology for social good and hope that the relationship only grows from here.”

The program was implemented by Project Defy and Li2 Technologies. As implementation partners, Project Defy and Li2 managed the thingQbators’ on-ground engagement through regular events and workshops. Li2 also created a portal for self-paced learning.

Encouraged by the success, Cisco and NASSCOM Foundation will not just support the thingQbators for another year; they will also be setting up a sixth thingQbator at Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology (MNNIT), Allahabad.

Dr Agarwal's Eye Hospital Surgeons Conduct Breakthrough Surgery on 9-Year-Old-Girl Suffering from Paralyzed Eye Nerve

A nine-year old girl suffering from a rare condition called Congenital Superior Oblique Palsy, leading to a vertical squint and abnormal head posture to avoid double vision, was successfully treated at Dr Agarwal’s Eye Hospital in the city, bringing relief to the young patient, Hafsa Fatima, who was suffering from the problem since birth.

The spindle-shaped Superior Oblique muscle originates from near the nose and controls eye movements such as internal rotation (looking toward the nose), depression (looking downward), and abduction (looking away from the nose). Its weakness or paralysis (Palsy) gives rise to a vertical misalignment of the eyes.

Dr. Ravi, Medical Director, Senior Consultant, Cataract Oculoplasty said, “Patients avoid double vision by tilting their head, leading to an abnormal head posture. The condition in majority of cases is present from birth (congenital). It is a rare disorder with an incidence of 3.4 cases per 1,00,000 population.”

Said Dr. Muralidhara Krishna, Cataract & Paediatric Ophthalmology Specialist, Dr. Agarwal’s Eye Hospital, Bengaluru, who conducted the surgery: “Due to the disorder, Fatima had developed vertical squint and an abnormal, tilted-head posture with face turned to a side and depressed chin. This had opened her to ridicule from her peers due to her distorted appearance. Even going to school had become difficult. If Fatima was left untreated, her head posture would have worsened further and there would have been permanent changes in the muscle, making surgery difficult and unpredictable. Fatima’s surgery lasted 1 hour and 15 minutes as surgeons operated on three different muscles. The patient has now got rid of her vertical squint, her eyes are straight and properly aligned, and her abnormal head posture has almost vanished. She will now need regular follow ups once every 6 months, and treating the refractive error in her eyes.”

Said Dr. Raghu Nagaraju Senior Consultant, Cornea & Refractive Surgery, Dr Agarwal’s Hospital, Bengaluru: “Surgery on superior oblique muscle is very difficult technically and can cause bad diplopia (patient seeing two images of the same object) if not done expertly. That’s why many ophthalmologists simply refuse to do this surgery. As Fatima’s case shows, patients with such condition need not get disheartened because a solution is available in medical science, though it requires a meticulous examination of the eye and a challenging surgery.”

Added Dr. Muralidhara Krishna: “Congenital Superior Oblique Palsy in newborns may get unnoticed or untreated. Children may suffer severe double vision and vertical squint. They develop a head posture to decrease their double vision. If surgery is delayed, permanent fibrotic changes in muscle take place which make the condition even worse.”

The patient and her family are ecstatic since surgery. Said Fatima’s father: “We want to thank the doctors of Dr Agarwals Hospital from the bottom of our heart for the successfully surgery on Fatima. With this, our daughter has got her life back – she can now lead a normal life like any other child of her age. We still cannot believe it when we see her head and eyes perfectly straight and aligned normally.”

Manage Your Debt in Five Easy Steps

Hena Mehta, Founder & CEO of Basis

Is that sinking feeling that accompanies overdue bills and loans becoming too common? It’s time to fix our toxic relationships with recurring debts.

Debt isn’t the only thing that adds up with unpaid bills. Worry piles up too. They might seem minor at first, but if short-term debts such as overdue credit card bills and personal loans are ignored, they start nibbling away at our finances and peace of mind. So, here’s a five-point action plan that won’t just resolve current debts, but change our relationship with debt for good.

1. Restrict yourself to a budget
Jot down your fixed expenses and try to shift a good portion of what remains towards settling your debts. Give your trusty credit cards a rest and cut down on spending. Postpone big purchases and, if you must, dip into your savings to pay debts off. And most importantly, keep paying the minimum monthly payment on your credit cards on time to avoid late fees.

2. Choose a repayment strategy
Make a list of these details under each debt:

·         Amount owed
·         Interest rate
·         Minimum monthly payment
·         Due date

Now, try to pay off the debts with the highest interest rate first. Repayments are initially used to clear the interest before the principal that’s owed, so if you can make extra payments towards this debt, you’ll end up paying less in the long term. If that sounds daunting, start small. Tackle the debt with the lowest balance first. It will give you the satisfaction of striking one debt off your list and the motivation to deal with the bigger ones.

3. Lower the interest rate
Try to negotiate with your bank to lower the interest rate on your credit card dues. Some banks oblige in the hope of recovering at least a certain percentage of the dues quickly. It also helps to have a good credit scoreand payment history. If that’s not an option, try shifting your debt to a credit card with a lower interest rate. But, as they say in hyperspeed in all financial ads, terms and conditions apply, so read the offer document carefully.

4. Build an emergency fund
Once you’ve cleared your debts, create a financial buffer of 6-12 months’ living expenses. So, if you’re faced with an emergency, you won’t have to lean on your credit card or a take a personal loan with a high-interest rate. Keep adding to this fund with investments in low-risk options such as liquid funds or low duration debt funds, that can be easily converted into cash if required. 

5. Get an expert to help
Financial planning companies such as  Basis can work with you to build a healthy financial portfolio based on your resources and goals. Think zero debt, plus a robust investment plan and retirement fund. We also offer information and tools that don’t just empower you to make better financial decisions, but also change your approach to money.

We often see debt as a necessary evil that’s always popping in and out of our lives. The truth is, with the right kind of financial planning, it could be something that we can happily look back on as a vague, distant memory. 

UL Acquires Healthy Buildings, An Indoor Environmental Quality and Sustainability Services Company

UL, a global safety science leader, announced the acquisition of Healthy Buildings International, Inc., a U.S.-based indoor environmental testing and sustainability services company with expertise in indoor environmental quality, sustainability services for green building certifications, energy audits and water audits. The acquisition enables UL to extend its sustainability and air quality expertise across the built environment value chain to building owners and expand in global markets.

Healthy Buildings is a privately-owned company whose services make buildings more valuable through indoor air quality, water and mold assessments that save owners money and heighten occupant productivity, and technical expertise that helps buildings achieve green building and wellness certifications to make them more marketable. Healthy Buildings conducts more than 4,000 annual indoor air quality inspections and has completed more than 1,200 projects that contribute to green building certification projects, building value for their clients’ building assets.

“Buildings have an enormous impact on sustainability, health and wellness,” said Alberto Uggetti, vice president and general manager, UL’s Environment and Sustainability division. “By combining our expertise in product health and sustainability and Healthy Buildings expertise in building health and sustainability, we will help product manufacturers and building owners realize more value and reinforce UL’s mission to make the world a safer place, while helping companies create and enhance their brand value.’’

Healthy Buildings’ employees will join UL’s existing Environment & Sustainability division and maintain offices in global locations including Marietta, GA, Fairfax, VA, Lake Forest, CA, Guangzhou, China, Cabiate, Italy, and additional global locations. UL’s global footprint will enable expansion of indoor air quality and building sustainability services into the EU and Greater China, where demand for building health and sustainability is growing.

“We are excited to join forces with UL to offer unparalleled expertise in indoor environment quality for buildings, and technical expertise to help our clients develop healthy, sustainable buildings,” said Healthy Buildings’ CEO Richard Silberman. “UL’s footprint will enable us to rapidly expand into global markets that have demand,” He continued, “Like UL, our primary focus is maintaining a high level of service to our existing clients, while providing them additional services and expertise to increase their assets’ value.”

The transaction closed on June 28, 2019. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

The Chennai Angels Invests in Online Healthy Cookware Products Store - The Indus Valley

The Chennai Angels (TCA) today announced 1crore Investmentin The Indus Valley, engaged in running an online healthy cookware products store.

The Indus Valley, was founded in 2016 by the husband and wife duo Jagadeesh Kumar and Madhumitha Udaykumar. Their idea is to transform Indian kitchens with healthier cookware options. The funds will be used to expand their presence in India’s growing home and cookware products space.

“Indus Valley is a natural cookware brand designing and selling healthy cookware options that are made using natural materials like iron, clay and wood, working with artisans to produce the products. Their core customers are women in major cities between 25-40 years of age, who are health conscious. The cookware industry is poised to grow at 21% p.a. and customers are getting increasingly health conscious and the organic food, wellness market, fitness market is growing are all growing at 20-25%. We look forward to working with the Indus Valley team and help them scale up their operations,"said Mr. Chandu Nair who lead the investment from The Chennai Angels.

“We are extremely excited to partner with The Chennai Angels. Our investors come with varied skill set and would be a great value addition to our company through their constant mentoring and support. More people in India are moving towards healthier lifestyle choices. Our solution to transform Indian Kitchens with healthier cookware products is a constant hit among our target group.” said Mr. Jagadeesh Kumar Co-Founder of The Indus Valley.

The Chennai Angels(TCA, is one of India’s most active angel investing groups. Founded in the year 2007, it is comprised of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders with a track record of starting and scaling large enterprises. Additionally, several seed and venture capital firms hold institutional membership in the group. Though it is located in Chennai, TCA’s investing members and portfolio investments are not limited by geography. Unusually for an angel investing group, TCA has a diversified portfolio that goes well beyond a restrictive tech focus, reflecting the diversity of its members’ interests. TCA portfolio companies benefit from the collective expertise and rolodex of its members.

vivo Unveils First Z Series Smartphone - #FullyLoaded Z1Pro Sold Online from July, 11, 2019

vivo, the global innovative smartphone brand, today launched the all-new vivo Z1Pro in India, under its brand new Z-series portfolio that targets the ‘Generation-Z’ consumers. The #FullyLoaded Z1Pro is vivo’s first offering in the online focused Z series. The vivo Z1Pro will come in three variants – 4GB+64GB, 6GB+64GB and 6GB+128GB and will be available in three attractive color options - Sonic Black, Sonic Blue and Mirror Black. The device will go on sale starting 11th July on Flipkart and vivo India E-store. The three variants are priced at INR 14,990, INR 16,990 and INR 17,990.

The Z1Pro has been designed to offer a perfect integration of performance, speed and mesmerizing design.

The vivo Z1Pro is equipped with the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 712 with AI engine, 32MP In-Display selfie camera, and massive 5,000mAh battery with 18W Fast charging, and AI Triple Rear Camera with a 16MP Primary camera, 8MP Super Wide-Angle camera and 2MP Depth camera.

Consumers will also get an array of attractive offers* on the purchase of the vivo Z1Pro including:

·         INR 750 instant discount on ICICI debit and credit cards on Flipkart
·         Jio benefits worth INR 6,000 on vivo India E-Store

*terms and conditions apply

Expressing delight on the launch of Z series, Mr. Nipun Marya, Director Brand Strategy, vivo India said, “Innovation has been at the core of our India strategy. With the Z1Pro, we’ve put performance at the forefront, ensuring a line of highly advanced products at budget friendly prices for consumers from all walks of life. This device caters especially to the increasing expectations of our Gen-Z consumers who are on a constant look-out for the best offerings and first-in-class innovative features. With the Z1Pro, we are introducing a new breed of smartphones for India’s Generation-Z that are a blend of power-packed performance for a superior smartphone gaming experience and a refreshing design.”

Commenting on this collaboration, Mr. Aditya Soni, Senior Director, Mobiles at Flipkart said, “We are delighted to launch vivo's Z series on Flipkart. At Flipkart, our continuous endeavor has been to provide innovative and high-quality differentiated products, easily accessible to Indian customers at aggressive price points. With the launch of the vivo Z1Pro, we are confident that consumers in India, especially our Gen-Z consumers will be able to enjoy the best-in-class performance, camera technology and a great overall experience."

#FullyLoaded Performance

Equipped with Snapdragon 712 AIE along with 4/6GB RAM & 64/128GB ROM. At the heart of this premium platform is a 64-bit CPU - Qualcomm Kryo 360 with an advanced 10nm design, clock speed of up to 2.3 GHz and Adreno 616 Graphic Processing Unit (GPU) leading to increase in the overall performance by 10%3 and gives you the extreme performance while gaming and multitasking.

#FullyLoaded Viewing Experience

Z1Pro features a 16.59cm (6.53) bigger display, screen ratio improved to 90.77%, 19.5:9 super wide view and FHD+(2340X1080)resolution creates a vivid and life-like viewing experience that makes games and videos more immersive and exciting than ever before. Super Black “hidden” front camera, app interface optimization brings better visual experience.

#FullyLoaded Selfies

For self-portraits, Z1Pro comes with a 32MP In-Display front camera to capture the most delicate facial details and produce more precise results which gives unrivalled clarity. AI Face Beauty enhances your facial features even further with customized solutions, so you can spend less time editing your selfies and enjoy more time looking glamorous on camera.

#FullyLoaded Rear Camera

When you see the world through an AI Triple Rear Camera, creating photographic masterpieces is easier than ever. The Z1Pro features AI Triple Rear camera setup with a 16MP Primary camera, 8MP Super Wide-Angle camera and 2MP Depth camera. From magnificent landscapes to beautiful portraits, these three cameras help you capture your most impressive shots – with the least amount of effort. The camera also offers modes like backlight HDR, portrait bokeh, portrait light effects, AR stickers, slow motion, time-lapse photography, AI Beauty etc. The AI Super-Wide-Angle1 camera expands your view to 120°, so you can capture more landscape, more of your friends, and more impressive pictures.

#FullyLoaded Battery

Z1Pro innovative 3D shape design could cover 5000mAh battery with only 8.85mm thickness. A large, industry-leading 5,000mAh battery keeps Z1Pro going longer, for a more enjoyable gaming and video experience. Now, battery worries are a thing of the past. It also comes with vivo’s exclusive 18W Fast Charging technology to re-juice quicker than ever. Not only that, but the Z1Pro also supports the OTG reverse charging2 function, which is a mobile phone and a charging treasure.

#FullyLoaded Gaming

The new vivo Multi-Turbo with ART++ compiler enhancement technology, provides a breakthrough in mobile phone performance. ART++ compiler enhances Turbo greatly improving the performance of the phone and the response speed of the app. Net Turbo network acceleration, Z1Pro maintains better network status and Center Turbo processor accelerates to ensure the game's CPU and memory resources are smooth. The AI Turbo recognize the usage pattern and enabling common applications to open faster.

The Ultra Game Mode is designed for the ultimate gaming fun. Play e-sports like a pro by using Competition Mode, which allocates system resources that prioritize your game performance. 4D gaming vibration and 3D surrounded sound effect allows a fully immersed like a real game scenario. Gaming countdown will always remind you the exact show time so that you will never miss the chance to become the leader of your game. It is also equipped with a low blue eye protection function to effectively filter blue light.

SAP Labs India Ranked #1 in India’s Best Companies to Work for 2019 by Great Place to Work Institute

SAP SE has announced that SAP Labs India is #1 in the list of India’s Best Companies to Work for 2019. The survey, conducted by the Great Place to Work® Institute, marks the second consecutive year that SAP Labs India has nabbed the top spot by standing out for its inclusive culture that empowers continuous learning. The Great Place to Work® Institute’s annual list is one of the largest and most esteemed study of workplace excellence and people management practices globally. This year’s survey had 900 participating companies across 20 different industries. 

Dilipkumar Khandelwal, Managing Director, SAP Labs India said, “We are thrilled to be ranked #1 by Great Place to Work® for two years in a row. At SAP, we have made considerable investments to create a culture in which innovation, learning and intrepreneurship is encouraged and rewarded.”

Employees of SAP Labs India work in an environment which is non-hierarchical, fluid and flexible. The company has several best-in-class employee initiatives. These include peer-to-peer learning platforms, supporting women in different phases of their career and encouraging employees to consider entrepreneurship. SAP Labs India has also won several awards for its best-in-class diversity programs such as Autism at Work.

Shraddhanjali Rao, Head of Human Resources – SAP, India said: “At SAP we believe that our strength lies in differences, not in similarities. We have created a diverse and inclusive culture which in turn fuels our innovation, creates a greater customer experience helping us drive success for our business and enabling us to succeed in a rapidly changing world.”

SAP Labs India is a strong proponent of Sustainability and Social Responsibility. The key pillars of its corporate social responsibility include ensuring Education and Digital literacy to women and youth from the underprivileged sections of the society, Entrepreneurship development - focusing on creating social enterprises and helping engineering students embrace entrepreneurship, Technology donation for NGO's, Disaster relief support for devastations caused by natural calamities and Swachh Bharat (CleanIndia) campaign.

CSS Corp Join Forces with ICT Academy to Skill Youth of Tamil Nadu

CSS Corp, a new age IT services and technology support company today announced it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ICT Academy, a not-for-profit society, to jointly launch an extensive training program to skill the youth of rural, urban and low-income family groups in Tamil Nadu. Through this initiative, CSS Corp endeavours to help build the socio-economic conditions of underserved students through quality education and training in IT. The program was officially launched at an inauguration event held at Sri Sairam Engineering College, Chennai, Tamil Nadu on 3rd July 2019.

According to NASSCOM, the demand-supply gap for soft and technical skills have given rise to an urgent need to re-skill more than 50% of India’s IT workforce to meet the requirements of the industry. This has also led to a shortage in employment, specifically for entry-level jobs. With this collaboration, CSS Corp and ICT Academy aims to address the gap by imparting sector-specific skills through training and workshops that will lead to more employment opportunities.

The training program will be conducted in 20 colleges spread across Tamil Nadu. The program targets to provide 100 hours of intensive activity-based training in soft and technical support skills for 1,000 final year graduating students from engineering, arts & science colleges located in the rural and urban areas of Tamil Nadu. The module includes business communication, grammar, vocabulary, hardware & networking, operating systems, wireless technologies, and career counselling; all of which will be offered by professionals who have industry expertise. College students who aspire to
apply for the program should currently be pursuing their final year in Computer Science & IT and must secure an average score of 6 CGPA until the last semester. Volunteers from CSS Corp will be closely involved in the program through overall monitoring of the training program, mentoring of the students and conducting mock interviews and group discussions.

The program is also aimed to skill students from financially backward families with annual income of less than or equal to 2.5 lakhs. Girl students will be given preference during the selection process to keep in line with CSS Corp’s objective of empowering more women in the technology sector.

Speaking about the initiative, Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp said, “One of the major challenges for the IT industry is re-skilling the present and future workforce to bridge the demand-skill gap. CSS Corp has been consistently institutionalizing a culture that promotes learning newer technologies and solutions to embrace the current disruption.

This year, through our CSR initiative, we look forward to imparting the skill expertise that we have curated to deserving students through quality education and proper training. We are privileged to partner with ICT Academy to design a program that will effectively empower students of Tamil Nadu to be truly future ready”.

Mr. M Sivakumar, Chief Executive Officer, ICT Academy said, "CSR comes as a big boon for the under privileged and the development of rural India. We at ICT Academy, being a not for profit organization continued partnering with several leading companies across India for implementing their CSR objectives in the areas of employability, skill development, youth empowerment, capacity development of teachers, digital empowerment, entrepreneurship development, literacy initiatives and women empowerment. Thanks to CSS Corp for coming up with such a high impact initiative under their CSR.

Through this partnership with CSS Corp, ICT Academy being the skill development institution, is delighted to train the students on latest technology skills and increase their opportunity to acquire a good job in the industry. This is a welcome initiative by CSS Corp, and I believe this would make a positive impact to the beneficiaries’ family as well as the industry by bridging the skill gap”.

Accenture, Cisco and Quest Alliance Team to Skill Youth for the Digital Economy

Accenture, Cisco and Quest Alliance are teaming to equip 1.5 million youth across India with skills for the digital economy. As part of a year-long collaboration, the organizations have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Directorate General of Training (DGT) within the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship to offer a digital skilling program to all students enrolled in industrial training institutes (ITIs) via the government of India’s Bharat Skills portal.

The three organizations have also signed MoUs with the state governments of Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Bihar and Assam to roll out a comprehensive blended learning program, which will cover more than 100,000 students from 227 ITIs across these states. The training modules will include online self-learning via the Bharat Skills portal as well as in-classroom training.

The skilling program, which will be expanded in a phased manner to ITIs across other states in India, includes tailor-made curriculum with modules for digital literacy, career readiness, employability skills and advanced technology skills such as data analytics. The in-classroom program will deliver more than 240 hours of training to impart skills for digital literacy and fluency; workplace readiness, including creative problem solving and use of data in decision making; and career management skills, including the cultivation of a growth mindset and the ability to identify and plan career journeys. The online module is optimized for mobile phones to enable on-the-go self-learning, and the toolkit also includes training the trainer resources.

“The digital economy is creating opportunities — with artificial intelligence alone estimated to add more than US$1 trillion to the Indian economy by 2035 — yet an unintended consequence of advanced technologies is further marginalization

of people, as humans and machines work side by side,” said Kshitija Krishnaswamy, director of corporate citizenship at Accenture in India. “The key to continued socio-economic growth in the digital economy is large-scale skilling of those at the greatest risk of displacement, enabling them to use advanced technologies to further their growth. Our collaboration with Cisco and Quest Alliance is part of Accenture’s Skills to Succeed initiative, which aims to create employment opportunities by leveraging digital innovation. So far, we’ve skilled more than 500,000 people in India, and by partnering  with the ITIs, we hope to have a positive impact on lives that could be most disrupted in the digital economy.”

Harish Krishnan, managing director of public affairs and strategic engagements at Cisco India and SAARC, said, “Digitization is accelerating the transformation of every industry in India. With the majority of our skilled workforce coming from the vocational sector, we need to ensure that the students in ITIs are digitally fluent and well-equipped to enter the workforce. Digital skilling has been one of Cisco’s top priorities, and with this partnership, we are taking our portfolio and partnerships to the vocational sector. We look forward to expanding our partnership with Accenture, our global channel partner, to our social programs.”

Aakash Sethi, CEO of Quest Alliance, said, “Quest’s strategic goal over the next five years is to equip 1.2 million youth with critical life, work, and digital skills as they transition into the world of work. Linear job trajectories are no longer the norm, and our work with youth in ITIs serves to hone their 21st-century skills like digital fluency, self-learning, critical thinking, and problem-solving. It is these skills that will help youth thrive in the 21st century.

Building collaborations of this kind between the DGT, the government of India, Accenture and Cisco is an integral part of the Quest mission.”

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Consolidation to Gather Pace Among Tier 11 Indian Technology Firms

CRISIL expects consolidation among Tier II1 information technology (IT) services firms (annual revenues of Rs 1,000-10,000 crore) to gather pace over the medium term as they strive to achieve scale and build digital capabilities to stay relevant.

This comes at a time when their legacy businesses – such as time and material contracts – have already become commoditised, posing significant growth and profitability challenges.

Another trend that’s also being witnessed is the exit of promoters of Tier II firms, capitalising on higher valuations in the past two years and better growth prospects.

CRISIL’s analysis of the top 22 listed IT service firms shows there is a potential consolidation opportunity among Tier II firms, which today have a combined market capitalisation of ~Rs 33,000 crore. Pertinently, consolidation moves worth Rs.18000 crore are already in progress among Tier II firms.

Such consolidation engenders manifold synergies, boosts profitability and builds capabilities to cope up with opportunities in the digital space.

Housing Sales to Remain Strong Despite Modest Launches in First Half: JLL Report

House sales are expected to remain strong despite modest new launches in the country witnessed during the first half of the year (H1 2019), according to the latest JLL report titled “Residential Market Update – H1 2019” that was released on Tuesday.

With Hyderabad being on top among the seven cities, residential real estate market witnessed an increase of 22 per cent in sales at a pan-India level during the period, it said.

Interestingly, the share of affordable and mid-income housing (ticket size of up to Rs 1 crore in Mumbai and Rs 75 lakh across other cities), has seen a hike of up to 58 per cent at the country level, the report added. Pune tops the list, with 91 per cent of the new supply falling in the affordable and mid-income category.

The report added, with gradual revival in homebuyers’ confidence and improved affordability, markets witnessed a resurgence in sales in 2018. The resurgence continued in H1 2019.

During H1 2019, Hyderabad recorded the highest growth in sales at per cent, followed by Delhi NCR (42 per cent) on a year-over-year (YoY) basis. In Chennai, sales grew by 24 per cent over H2 2018, however it is yet to match the levels of H1 2018.

Sales are likely to receive a further fillip with progressive policies of the government, JLL said. During the first quarter this year, the Government further lowered goods and services tax (GST) rates on affordable homes to one per cent from the earlier eight per cent, without input tax credit (ITC). The GST on projects under construction, which are not under the affordable housing segment, was reduced to five per cent from 12 per cent. The rate revision augurs well for homebuyers as the process of claiming the ITC under the former system was complex.

“Series of reforms and rising buyers’ interest in the segment have propelled the sector to align itself to the market demand. Interestingly, in most cities, homebuyers continue to focus on ready to move in projects and projects nearing completion. As a result of this shift in buying preference, developers too are focused on completing their ongoing projects,” said Ramesh Nair, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) & Country Head, JLL India.

With developers focusing on delivery of already launched projects, new launches of residential units decreased by 11per cent on a YoY basis across the top seven cities, the report added. With the exception of Mumbai and Bengaluru, where launches grew YoY, all other cities saw a dip during H1 2019. Mumbai, Delhi NCR and Bengaluru continued to dominate launches and formed three-fourth of the overall launches during this period.

“Limited number of launches by developers, in a way, is helping the sector to balance the demand supply scenario in the country. This will act as a cushion and help the sector revive. As a result of the reform measures more specifically RERA and GST, we expect more transparency in the sector which in turn will bring back buyers’ confidence. ” said Siva Krishnan, Managing Director (MD) - Residential Services, Developer Solutions and Strategic Consulting.

The report added that a substantial decline in launches combined with a strong growth in sales in H1 2019 has brought a parity between year-to-sell (YTS) and average construction period across cities. “With Delhi NCR and Kolkata being the exception, the average YTS at 3.4 years across the seven cities compares favourably with the average construction period for a typical residential project across these cities at 3-4 years,” said Samantak Das, Chief Economist and Head of Research & REIS, JLL India.

Edelweiss Tokio Life Brings “Health Shield+, an Innovative Heart + Cancer Insurance” Solution

In light of the rising healthcare costs and incidences of critical illnesses, Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance brings an innovative “Heart and Cancer insurance” solution called Health Shield+ with one-of-a-kind feature – Term Trigger benefit.

The product provides cover for all types of Cancers and 17 cardiac conditions. Depending on their needs, a customer can opt for a cover only for Cancer or only Heart or both the ailments.

Commenting on the development, Sumit Rai, MD & CEO, Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance said, “We have an unmoving focus on innovation. We want to be anticipative and recognise the unarticulated needs of our customers. The Term Trigger benefit is in line with this aim, and seeks to provide a comprehensive protection to our customers.”

Term Trigger benefit is an optional feature available under the Cancer variant of the plan. In case of detection of a major condition of cancer, the insurer extends a term cover to the policyholder, in addition to the lump sum pay out.

Cancer has a severe impact – emotionally and financially – on an individual and their family. A recent study conducted by Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance (click here to see the report), shows that survival rate of patients while promising in the first year post late stage detection, declines drastically following 5 years of diagnosis. While 45% patients survive post one year of diagnosis of a major condition, only 11% live beyond 5 years.

When one is fighting with a critical disease like Cancer, buying an insurance is typically not a priority. Additionally, buying an insurance at that stage becomes a cumbersome process. The Term trigger benefit is aimed at providing a sense of financial security to the individual’s loved ones and alleviate any financial concerns the policyholder may have for their loved ones.

Another unique feature is the Return of Premium, which allows the policyholder to recover all unclaimed premiums from the insurer on maturity.       

“With incidences of critical illnesses increasing, we don’t want customers to stay away from buying critical illness plans on account that they would lose their money in the event that they do not have to claim it,” Rai added.

The study also showed that cancer care can cost anywhere between Rs. 4 lakhs and Rs. 14 lakhs, depending on the stage of detection. More importantly, a whopping 75% of patients are either uninsured or inadequately insured to meet these treatment costs. With incidences of cancer likely to rise by about 25% over the next five years, a disease-specific insurance plan is essential.

Health Shield+ offers a fixed payout on diagnosis of minor and major conditions of Cancer and Heart disease, and a waiver of premium for 5 years from the date of diagnosis of both, the first and second minor condition of these ailments.

Manufacturing Industry Looks to Outpace Hybrid Cloud Adoption

Nutanix, Inc., a leader in enterprise cloud computing, today announced the findings of its Enterprise Cloud Index results for the manufacturing sector, measuring manufacturing companies’ plans for adopting private, public and hybrid clouds. The report revealed that the manufacturing industry’s hybrid cloud usage and plans outpace the global average across industries. The deployment of hybrid clouds in manufacturing and production companies has currently reached 19% penetration, slightly ahead of the global average. Moreover, manufacturers plan to more than double their hybrid cloud deployments to 45% penetration in two years; outpacing the global average by 4 percent.

The manufacturing industry is at an “innovation impasse,” 1 meaning manufacturers have a desire to innovate and drive transformation, but legacy IT systems have the potential to constrain their ability to do so. The opportunity for manufacturers to embrace digitization efforts including “Industry 4.0” initiatives can break the impasse, but executives must focus on new opportunities to create value and not only prioritize traditional business operations. Manufacturing organizations face the constant challenge of trade-offs: they are under pressure to meet current productivity and operational goals in an increasingly global and highly competitive marketplace, but they also need to invest in future growth.

This challenge has created a demand for new technology solutions that can help balance the trade-off between current and future goals. IT leaders in manufacturing must avoid the beaten path of finding short-term fixes for increasing revenue; instead, they should look to long-term solutions that enable automation, enhanced use of data and improvements in customer experience. The Enterprise Cloud Index findings indicate that manufacturing leaders are aggressively adopting new technology to embrace modernization instead of getting left behind with legacy systems. The distributed cloud model offers a solution that delivers speed, flexibility, and localization, allowing manufacturers to improve efficiency without compromising quality.

While 91% of survey respondents reported hybrid cloud as the ideal IT model, today’s global average hybrid cloud penetration level is at 18.5% — the disparity due in part to challenges of transitioning to the hybrid cloud model. Manufacturing industries reported barriers to adopting hybrid cloud that mirrored global roadblocks, including limitations in application mobility, data security/compliance, performance, management and a shortage of IT talent. Compared to other industries, manufacturers reported greater IT talent deficits in AI/ML, hybrid cloud, blockchain, and edge computing/IoT.

Other key findings of the report include:

43% of manufacturers surveyed are currently using a traditional data center as their primary IT infrastructure, slightly outpacing the global average of 41%
However, manufacturers currently use a single public cloud service more often than any other industry. 20% of manufacturing companies reported using a single cloud service, compared to the global average of 12% — a testament to the fact that manufacturers are starting to turn to the cloud as a solution, given that they deal with legacy IT systems and cannot handle workloads on-prem.

Manufacturers are also advancing the movement to private cloud: 56% of manufacturers surveyed said that they run enterprise applications in a private cloud, outpacing the global average by 7%.

Manufacturers are struggling to control cloud spend. One motivation for deploying hybrid clouds is enterprises’ need to gain control over their IT spend. Organizations that use public cloud spend 26% of their annual IT budget on public cloud, with this percentage predicted to increase to 35% in two years’ time. Most notable, however, is that more than a third (36%) of organizations using public clouds said their spending has exceeded their budgets.

Manufacturers chose security and compliance slightly more often than companies in other industries as the top factor in deciding where to run workloads: while 31% of respondents across all industries and geographies named security and compliance as the number one decision criterion, 34% of manufacturing organizations chose security and compliance as the top factor.

The bullish outlook for hybrid cloud adoption globally and across industries is reflective of an IT landscape growing increasingly automated and flexible enough that enterprises have the choice to buy, build, or rent their IT infrastructure resources based on fast transforming application requirements.

“Manufacturers are investing in modernizing their IT stack, and adopting industry 4.0 solutions to keep up with ever-changing business demands in areas like production and supply chain management,” said Chris Kozup, SVP of Global Marketing at Nutanix. “A hybrid cloud infrastructure gives manufacturers a fresh approach to modernizing legacy applications and services, enabling manufacturing IT leaders to focus on their long-term investments in big data, IoT, and next-generation enterprise applications. While the manufacturing industry is still facing obstacles in transitioning to multi-cloud use, this study shows us that manufacturing organizations are ready to accelerate growth and take the lead in IT innovation in the future. Indian companies have already taken the lead in this respect and we are quite proud of our association with these visionary companies.”

Mr. Muthukrishnan G, GM-IT, Ramco Cements, commented “Technologies such as Automation, Cloud, IoT, AI and ML, are being used by manufacturers in production, supply chain management as well as in customer and employee experience management. Like most manufacturers, the traditional infrastructure at the core of our datacentre operations was too complex. We moved to Nutanix HCI to remove the complexity, silos and friction from our IT operations, and build a next-gen infrastructure, in our journey towards digital transformation and Cloud adoption.”

To create this report, Nutanix commissioned Vanson Bourne to survey more than 2,300 IT decision makers, including 337 worldwide manufacturing and production organizations, about where they are running their business applications today, where they plan to run them in the future, what their cloud challenges are and how their cloud initiatives stack up against other IT projects and priorities. The survey included respondents from multiple industries, business sizes and geographies in the Americas; Europe, the Middle East, Africa (EMEA); and Asia-Pacific and Japan (APJ) regions.

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