The information technology (IT)/IT-enabled services (ITeS) and business process management (BPM) industry has been at the forefront of digital transformation worldwide. The Indian IT/ITeS sector is a global powerhouse today, with a far-reaching impact on other sectors of the country’s economy. Enterprises in the sector are focusing on leveraging new-age digital solutions such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data, chatbots and cloud computing to improve efficiency and enhance customer experience. However, the adoption of these technologies has increased the cyberattack surface of these organisations, leaving them vulnerable to the major risks of data theft and system failure. In this backdrop, it is essential for IT/ITeS and BPM players to stay abreast of the latest technological advancements while also reinforcing their cyber defences.
A look at the key technologies being deployed by leading organisations in the sector…
IT/ITeS and BPM organisations are using AI for multiple purposes, ranging from data analysis, quality assurance and process automation to customer support and service management. AI is an umbrella term for various technology segments such as machine learning (ML), deep learning, natural language processing, image processing and speech recognition. Out of all these, ML and deep learning play key roles in the IT industry. Using these solutions for data analysis allows quality assurance departments to eliminate human errors, reduce running test time, and easily identify possible defects. They are also used for analysing massive amounts of company and customer data to help identify trends and patterns, predict user behaviour, identify problems with products, and improve marketing.
In addition, the industry is witnessing an uptake of AI-driven chatbots and conversational AI, which have the ability to interact in regional languages. This has minimised manual involvement in routine tasks by automating certain voice and chat services. Chatbots can support users 24/7, algorithms can provide users with personalised recommendations, and internal sites powered by AI can answer employee queries.
Big data has brought about a revolution in the IT/ITeS sector by enabling the analysis of vast pools of “digital traces”. Similar to other industries, the IT/ITeS sector generates a significant amount of data every minute. This data can be used to bring about considerable improvement in business operations. Data manipulation through smartphones and connected objects is opening up new service opportunities and leading to significant cost reductions in information systems. One of the key use cases of big data is monitoring and improving a company’s key performance indicators. Big data analytics also helps improve sales by allowing companies to understand client needs and keep track of current market trends. These data insights help the company improve its product and readjust its sales strategies, thereby increasing revenue. Big data helps identify product performance and marketing strategies to improve client acquisition and retention. Besides, enterprises have been able to control the churn rate, drive referral sales and improve the recruitment process using this technology.
Cloud computing offers a host of benefits for the IT/ITeS and BPM industry. It enables enterprises to virtualise IT systems and access applications on the internet through web-based tools. This reduces infrastructural costs and other hassles associated with the upkeep of the on-premises IT environment. Cloud services also come with the added advantage of zero maintenance. These benefits enable organisations to reallocate resources, capitalise on core tasks and thus enhance productivity and performance. Additionally, with cloud computing, businesses enjoy security measures such as multi-factor authentication, firewalls, end-to-end encryption and more. Cloud providers ensure that their services comply with the latest security protocols.
Further, IT/ITeS systems need to change with shifting demands and trends. However, increasing on-premises infrastructural capacity requires a considerable amount of funds, which often forces enterprises to use unfit systems. A dynamic advantage of cloud services is their of scalability. Cloud services add value by easily scaling up and down based on the company’s operational needs.
Blockchain technology has become increasingly popular across sectors because of its ability to organise data systematically. By creating a shared, digital ledger for a business, blockchain helps ensure easy access to important information and allows employees to monitor the workings of the company. The technology is being used in the sector primarily to share documentation, interconnect information and track different states of transactions.
Further, blockchain-based smart contracts are a reliable solution for tamper-proof data storage and actual-state machine representation. Smart contracts provide a verifiable and immutable environment for data storage, eliminating these problems. Additional support through extensive testing and security can ensure safety and improve attack resistance of contracts. Moreover, the information contained in smart contracts cannot be changed due to their tamper-proof nature. This provides additional privilege in terms of data security and helps in safely granting access to every member of the system.
Low-code and no-code
Low-code and no-code platforms enable businesses to develop apps using a visual development approach instead of the alternative development route that requires lengthy coding. Generally, a low-code application platform is deployed as a cloud-based platform-as-a-service solution and helps reduce complexity and increase flexibility. In contrast, no-code relies completely on visual tools and does not require any intervention from developers. Being a time efficient and plug-and-play approach, it can save weeks of coding, which means products can be presented sooner to customers and emerging technologies or trends in the market can be capitalised on ahead of market competition. No-code also helps save on manpower and working hours since testing time is reduced. A leading example is Microsoft PowerApps, Microsoft’s low-code development platform that can build applications within hours and easily connect to data. It uses Excel-like expressions to add logic and run on devices. By 2024, Gartner predicts that low-code development will account for over 65 per cent of application development activities.
Hyperautomation involves the orchestrated use of multiple technologies, tools or platforms such as AI, ML, event-driven software architecture, robotic process automation, intelligent business process management suites, integration platform-as-a-service, low-code/no-code tools, packaged software, and other types of decision, process and task automation tools. It is being explored by organisations in the sector for AI-driven decision-making, providing real-time and continuous intelligence, and driving significant business opportunities. By automating mundane and operational tasks, businesses can help employees focus on more important and complex projects. Also, process mining through automation enables monitoring and analysis of process performance for continuous improvement. It can be leveraged to explore the current state of business processes and identify new opportunities for optimisation.
The IT/ITeS, BPM and business process outsourcing (BPO) industry is highly prone to data breaches and cyberattacks. According to the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team, India registered a staggering 3.63 million cybersecurity incidents between January 2019 and June 2022. Of this, the IT/ITeS sector accounted for the most ransomware attacks during the period. Firms in this sector are third-party solution providers and have access to the personal and private information of their customers’ data. Unauthorised access controls, wrongly deployed security regulations and inadequate data regulations present further opportunities for cybercriminals to steal data and commit financial fraud. The implementation of new technologies has led to greater data generation, in turn attracting more cyberattacks.
To address the growing attack surface, organisations need to adapt and strengthen their data security corridors to avoid any data-related mishaps. Businesses can ensure better data protection by implementing access management systems, which can be used to manage and monitor user access permissions and rights to files, systems and services.
Another solution is privileged access management, which consists of cybersecurity strategies and technologies for exerting control over privileged access and permissions for users, accounts, processes and systems across an IT environment. Experts also suggest applying a zero-trust security model. Zero-trust protects against unauthorised access to digital resources by enforcing controls that are granular, risk-based and adaptive to every access request.
The way forward
The Indian IT, ITeS, BPM and BPO industries are poised for further growth as they leverage new-age solutions to automate operations and improve business efficiency. The growing IT demands of customers and enterprises in other verticals will necessitate more widespread deployment of these technologies by the IT/ITeS industry. Besides, the growing digitalisation is expected to bring forth new cyberthreats. As such, enterprises need to focus on cybersecurity and deploy relevant technology solutions to safeguard their systems.