Huzefa Saifee, Vice-President and Head of IoT, CoE, Happiest Minds Technologies

Of late, there has been an increased uptake of ICT solutions across the IT/ITeS and BPM/BPO sectors. This trend has received a further boost during the Covid-19 pandemic with companies taking the digital route to keep their operations afloat. Companies in this sector are betting big on technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), blockchain, cloud, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to streamline and enhance business operations. With a growing work-from-home (WFH) culture, automation has emerged as a key tool. However, the increased technology adoption has come with a host of challenges, such as the need for workforce reskilling and upskilling. Huzefa Saifee, Vice-President and Head of IoT, CoE, Happiest Minds Technologies, shares his views on the uptake of ICT solutions across their organisations and the way forward…

What are the key ICT trends dominating the IT/ITeS and BPM/BPO sector at present?

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the demand towards a contactless engagement model and the IT/ITeS industry is playing a key role in establishing robust virtual engagement models, bringing agility and scalability into businesses. The demand for a contactless engagement model has created several need-based solutions amongst sectors. Online aggregators have transitioned towards a completely digital order-to-delivery ecosystem, wherein drones are used to deliver products directly at the end-user location. To accommodate business with client expectations, physical stores have adopted omnichannel models as a strategy. With physical contact largely being limited during the pandemic, another sector that has literally gone through dramatic transformation is that of education, so much so that edtech now appears to be a more relevant term with reference to the industry. You now have virtual classrooms equipped to give a classroom-like experience – all made possible by new-age digital technologies. Akin to this is healthcare, taking the shape of telehealth, more significantly in countries such as India, where otherwise quick and timely access to medical counselling remains a challenge, particularly for those in remote areas. The industry’s need for better visibility and transparency among all stakeholders has led to the “uberisation” of the supply chain, gradually becoming the norm.

Thus, a common thread binding all these trends reflects that digitisation is the way ahead and democratising benefits of digital assets and capabilities is the underlying key trend that is expected to shape the future in a “new normal” world.

Highlight some of the use cases of emerging technologies such as AI, IoT, blockchain, cloud and AR/VR in the Indian IT/ITeS and BPM/BPO sector?

Indeed, Indian technology enablers have been at the forefront of the global demand for innovation led disruptions. Some of the popular ones related to IoT revolve around how the use of connected systems has transformed the conventional nut-bolt approach to a more intelligent and sophisticated one, where monitoring and maintenance of physical assets has taken a proactive approach. Further, with deep penetration of analytics and AI in the overall technology considerations, data has assumed the centre stage of the critical business decision-making matrix, including situations that require prioritisation of activities. Blockchain is another digital capability that is enabling disruptive innovations. For instance, in the case of logistics, it is not only ensuring safe and secure value chain enablement, but it has also inculcated the much-required transparency for simplified transparency and responsibility-ownership on matters requiring issue resolution.

From a retail sector perspective, the rise of what one may call “phygital” capabilities – one involving convergence of both the physical and the digital world – is another capability made possible by the use of AR/VR. Thus, it is now possible to have a store-like immersive experience even while browsing through a virtual world. Even in the manufacturing sector, advancements in AR/VR have simplified and pre-empted monitoring as well as maintenance tasks.

What are some of the ICT solutions deployed by your organisation?

Happiest Minds has deployed an M2M telematics solution, deriving the best of IoT capabilities. The solution deployed not only supports telematics devices but also enables product enhancement. Built for a cloud environment, the solution also has a tracking mechanism. Related to AI/ML, Happiest Minds has a client success story for one of the largest airports in the world, wherein an automated end-user facing bot was deployed, offering a simplified navigation experience for users. The service offers personalised experience, taking care of scheduling meals and meet-up at airport as well as offering real-time weather updates. Another client success story related to AI is about a leading technology-enabled risk services provider for which Happiest Minds has developed IT helpdesk bot, which reduced the load on an IT helpdesk for mundane/repetitive tasks and created employee satisfaction. The solution provides self-service, triggers automation, transfers to a live agent or raises a ticket on behalf of the employee.

How has Covid-19 impacted your business and operations? What were some of the key ICT solutions deployed by you to tackle the situation?

Fortunately, in the case of Happiest Minds, with digital being fundamental to our way of working as suggested by our tagline, “Born Digital Born Agile”, we were equipped and familiar with the needs of a WFX ecosystem. Thus, right from day one of the pandemic-forced lockdown, we continued our operations seamlessly, ensuring business continuity for clients as well as the safety and well-being of our employees.

What are some of the key challenges faced by your organisation and the sector at large while deploying ICT solutions? How can these be addressed?

One pertinent issue faced by the industry is that of unforeseen challenges at on site locations. This often makes the entire deployment of machinery go for a toss if the magnitude of issues is too complex to overcome. Thankfully, Happiest Minds’ dedicated business unit, Agile Infra & Security Services, helps our teams take care of any such uncertainties that may come our way. It does so by combining the strength of other business units and CoEs with disruptive technologies such as ML, image processing and video analytics, NLP and AR/VR to ensure that deployments happen smoothly. Another industry challenge is that of finding the right talent. The measures taken so far on the digital skilling and reskilling front are encouraging enough towards building a strong talent pool in the country. With technology evolving at a rapid scale, it is important for technology enablers to proactively keep on expanding capabilities and be equipped to serve the demands of business community.