Padmanabhan Iyer, MD and Global CEO, 3i Infotech Limited

The information technology-enabled services (ITeS) and business process management (BPM) in organisations have got significantly digitalised over the past few years. There has been an increased uptake of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), blockchain, machine learning (ML) and cloud, which are rapidly transforming business operations. While Covid-19 has disrupted business models in the industry, the adoption of new generation solutions is helping drive operational efficiency and customer service even in times of a nationwide lockdown. Padmanabhan Iyer, MD and Global CEO, 3i Infortech Limited shares his views on the information and communications technology (ICT) adoption and the way forward… 

How has the technology landscape within  the IT/ITeS and BPO/BPM segments evolved over time?

At an organisational level, thanks to the implementation of ICT infrastructure, there has been a marked shift from paper-based and manual operations to fully automated processes. This shift has helped businesses improve operational efficiencies. We are in an era where the BPO/BPM segments have started leveraging robotic process-based automation (RPA). Some of their processes are already being replaced by AI bots. Cloud computing, conversational services, RPA, analytics, low-code app development and unified collaborative BPM platforms are technologies that are making a big impact on the IT/ITes/BPO/ BPM segments. Enterprises across these segments are moving beyond traditional analytics to solutions based on new technologies like AI and RPA. This shift enables them to implement intelligent solutions capable of enhanced analytics to leverage the high-quantum data being generated every moment.

How are the new-age technologies such as AI, IoT and cloud transforming the sector? What is your company’s roadmap regarding their deployment?

New-age technologies are fast shaping the future of enterprises. 5G, with its greater transmission speeds and lower latency will enable a faster network ecosystem. Data and video can be transmitted instantly and, therefore, connectivity between IoT environments will be a reality. Data generated from so many connected devices will pave the way for new business solutions. Another emerging technology, blockchain enables decentralised storage of data. By promoting distributed control of data, it facilitates greater trust in the environment and has a strong application in financial services, healthcare, government, retail and other industries. Conversational AI with interaction in regional languages raises the bar further for personalised services. Cloud helps reinvent business models by bridging current gaps in productivity. Last but not the least, cybersecurity, data protection and privacy will be key as we need to plug any gaps that the new technology integration may leave, so that there is no adverse impact on the ecosystem.

Our digital roadmap is focused on combining our offerings with emerging technologies like AI, blockchain and IoT to help our customers add agility and innovation in their digital transformation initiatives. We consistently develop solution frameworks that are focused on mobility and meet today’s business objectives – faster time-to-market, efficient business processes, enhanced customer services and comprehensive risk management. The frameworks are easily adaptable in various business scenarios, working across both isolated and distributed data environments and help clients stay abreast of digital disruptions that permeate every level of an organisation.

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

One of the key challenges faced by organisations seeking technology solutions or undertaking digital transformation is that often, due to inadequate clarity on the objectives to be achieved or the identification of issues to be resolved, the path to achieve scale is not clear. Chatbots are a good example. Almost any customer servicing industry has some form of chatbot today. How these technologies were implemented is well known; however, the bots failed to deliver and may have increased the customer friction factor rather than enhancing customer experience. Technology should be used as an enabler and, therefore, every CTO should gauge the real value of an ICT solution, which aligns with the organisation’s goals and vision. AI projects continue to face the challenge of access to skilled talent, choice of appropriate vendor or use cases and models, and the moral issue of job elimination.

Government intervention with clear-cut guidelines on the implementation of technology usage policies is required to achieve the desired benefits of technological changes. For example, blockchain, which is quite old now, is still awaiting a solid regulatory push on how various industries can adopt it. If government policies can match the speed of these technology changes, it will immensely benefit implementers and users across all the sectors of the economy.