The year 2021 saw enterprises pushing the pedal on digital initiatives and deploying new-age technology solutions to enhance their productivity as well as business. Going forward, technologies such as the cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT) and big data will see higher adoption as enterprises across verticals adjust to the new normal. Technology heads from leading enterprises discuss the key technology trends, challenges in embracing digitalisation and the way forward…

Manish Bindal CEO, Trans Cargo

Amit Chadha Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director, L&T Technology Services

Amit Madhan President & Group Head, Technology, E-Business & Shared Service, Information Technology, Thomas Cook India











What were the key information and communications technology (ICT) trends that shaped the enterprise segment during 2021?

Manish Bindal

In 2021, enterprises focused on adopting new-age technologies as part of their digital transformation effort. They focused on im­proving the cloud infrastructure, enhan­cing data and analytics competencies, im­pro­ving cybersecurity and transforming busin­ess models. The demand for cloud-driven-as-a-service offerings accelerated during 2021. This segment is expected to cross $345 billion over the next couple of years su­pported by other in-demand models such as AI-as-a-service, IoT-as-a-service and co­n­tent-as-a-service. With organisations still operating on the remote working model, the focus was on retraining and reskilling the workforce so that they could benefit from modern technologies such as AI. An­other trend was the increased focus on im­proving transparency, resilience and flexibility. As companies restructured their work­forces, they experimented with ways to harness advanced technologies to reali­gn activities and augment competencies. Co­m­­­panies focused on creating more support for employees including reskilling key areas of their workforce. Cloud security was a major area of concern for enterprises and remains a key challenge to be overcome as part of digital transformation. Remote work­places increased the challenge of data security and privacy.

Amit Chadha

Since the pandemic hit global organisati­ons, the world moved online and accelerated a digital transformation that has been under way for decades. While the current transformation demonstrated the tremendous potential of leveraging technology, the pandemic has also underscored the gaps that remain. Additionally, the increased de­pen­dency on tech solutions has added significance to privacy and digital security con­cerns. In this scenario, technologies that have gathered most momentum are auto­ma­tion and virtualization, electric vehicle (EV), digital twin, IIoT, robotic process au­tomation, 5G, telehealth, cybersecurity, nex-gen computing, applied AI, clean and sustainable technology, blockchain, virtual reality (AR) and augmented reality (VR).

Amit Madhan

The pandemic has forced all industries to move away from operative functions that in­volved physical touch. Wherever possible, sanitised or touchless operations are taking over. Other than pandemic-related innovations, the travel and hospitality sector has embraced ICT in a big way to bring in efficiency in its operations and provide su­perior services to customers. A few examples of this adoption are:

  • Most hotels now have websites for mar­k­eting and may also offer e-commerce fa­c­i­lity for bookings. These systems are linked directly with the internet and ot­her general distribution systems (for ex­a­mple, Sabre, Amadeus, Gailileo and Wo­rld­span) to receive and publish bookings.
  • Airlines are now offering service of locating baggage via a link on the traveller’s boarding pass.
  • Enabled by IoT, customers can now control all sorts of things in their hotel rooms through a mobile apps such as ambience, lighting and temperature. Robotic devi­ces are also deployed to provide services such as cleaning, luggage handling and greeting guests on arrival.
  • Chatbots are used to handle customer queries or offer tailored deals to suit cus­to­mer needs. Contactless payments at most points of sale are welcomed more, with customers reluctant to handle cash.

How has the pandemic ushered in a digital age for enterprises? What are some of the be­nefits and drawbacks of this trend?

Manish Bindal

The pandemic changed the way humans lived, worked, studied, shopped or transacted. With workplaces moving to the home and remote working becoming the order of the day, digital transformation became a necessary survival tool. Digital transformation has helped businesses to improve operati­onal efficiencies, eliminate repetitive manual work and offer customers an online experience. Businesses have been able to automate several repetitive processes, freeing up resources to handle other critical tasks. En­terprises are using big data and data analytics along with AI to analyse data points for making accurate predictions about customer behaviour and designing bespoke ex­periences for them.

There would be an initial investment to implement new technology and train personnel or hire competent talent to manage the IT requirements. One drawback about being dependent on systems is cybersecurity. Any breach of cybersecurity can put the entire client data at risk. Bro­adly speaking, digital transformation is a game-changer for enterprises.

Amit Chadha

Companies around the world responded to the impact of Covid-19 with rapid digital transformation, supported by technology-driven initiatives, new customer experiences, enabling remote work for employees and online skill development programmes. Organisations that adopted the power of innovation, digitalisation and automation have been able to successfully tide over the wave. For better customer experience, or­ganisations are now leveraging automated, data-driven, virtual and AI- and ML-based technologies. Armed with auto­ma­tion, ML, AR/VR capabilities, employees can achieve efficiency in routine tasks. It is important to understand that a successful digital transformation eff­ort makes any company much more competitive and helps it in staying ahead of the curve along with providing better delight to keep both customers and employees happy.

What are some of the emerging use cases of new-age technologies such as cloud, AI, IoT, blockchain and big data? How are you leveraging these solutions?

Manish Bindal

Industries are constantly discovering new use cases for emerging technologies. Some examples are:

  • IoT and blockchain: If an IoT sensor is attached, it can track a food palate, for example, from the farm to the warehouse and onwards to the retail store from whe­re it is purchased by the customer, th­us tracing the entire farm-to-fork cycle. It records every piece of information al­ong the route in a secure blockchain. This en­su­res the authenticity of the product being delivered to the customer.
  • AI: AI and NLP are used for text and audio recognition to extract meaningful information from customer calls and cha­ts, analyse them and arrive at actionable outcomes. Content analysis using AI hel­ps to understand customer sentiment, de­c­ipher behaviour pa­t­terns and make intelligent forecasts.
  • Cloud: Use cases for cloud computing in­clude software-as-a-service, big data analytics, infrastructure-as-a-service, private, public and hybrid cloud, virtual de­sktops, email, disaster recovery and back-up-as-a-service.
  • Big data: Big data offers a 360-degree view of the customer and improved op­portunities for customer acquisition and retention. It is used by the healthcare in­dustry to improve patient outcomes. Big data is used by the insurance industry to manage and measure risk.

Amit Chadha

  • AI: AI has already created a lot of buzz around us in the past decade. AI is used for image and voice recognition, na­vig­a­tion apps, smartphone personal assistants, ride-sharing apps and for so much mo­re. Having expertise in the field, LTTS supports Amazon Alexa Voice Ser­vice (AVS) integration in various co­n­nected devices spanning multiple do­ma­ins and in­dustries. Our AI-based Chest X-Ray Ra­diology suite, Chest rAITM, has the potential to detect ar­ou­nd 34 of the most common lung-related abnormalities.
  • IoT: IoT is fuelling the ever-growing nu­mber of “smart” devices and objects that are now connected to the internet. UBIQWeise 2.0, LTTS’s proprietary cloud IoT platform has been developed to empower customers to rapidly custo­mise and seamlessly deploy IoT products.
  • 5G: 5G is expected to further revoluti­onise our lives by supporting services that rely on technologies such as AR/VR al­ong with superior gaming experience. In this area, LTTS partnered with network software provider Mavenir to deliver end-to-end 5G automation services.
  • EACV: The electric autonomous connected vehicle trend plays a crucial role in driving mobility innovation by making future solutions safe, efficient and du­rable. We established an EV Lab on our Bengaluru campus to enable fa­ster EV-related product development. We also developed in-house the e-VOLTTS platform – a scalable and mo­du­lar high efficiency reference platform – that can be easily customised for use in a wide range of vehicle segments such as off-highway vehicles, passenger cars, and two- and three-wheelers.
  • AR/VR: Immersive, interactive and imaginative experiences are the new ga­me changers in today’s connected wor­ld. Although AR/VR were merely science fiction in the past, these technologies are rapidly becoming mainstream for a host of business applications. We have custo­mi­­sed solutions and services for multiple industries with strong focus on medical, transport and entertainment, such as simulators and haptics integration, XR CPE, gaming consoles and head set engineering solutions, and game testing and automation solutions.

Amit Madhan

The onset of Covid-19 forced almost all sectors to adopt digitalisation, but this has happened faster than ever be­fore. We did several enhancements to our web portal such as introducing a new feature of dyna­mic packaging. Customers can now make their own packages, with flights, hotel boo­kings, sightseeing and transfers, in real time instead of purchasing predefined packages. Inven­tory is sourced and packaged dynamically from various travel partn­ers for the travel components in real time. The platform is integrated with various travel partners to fetch real-time rates of travel components by direct contracts and API integrations to bundle travel components into one and provide a complete pa­ckage with options for users to add/ delete the components on the fly, bundle them into one package and do end-to-end booking and get confirmation of services, in a single transaction. This feature gives the customer an edge to select the services of their choice from an array of components ava­ilable as compared to the traditional pre-defined packages. We also swiftly adopted cloud technologies for our CRM function, ena­bling staff to serve customers remotely. This helped the organisation deal with geographic uncertainties due to varying lockdown rules across states as well as ensured that staff was always available to service the customers. Several forex (remittance) customers were serviced th­rough this process in critical times. In addition, we were able to cater to the rising domestic travel dema­nd once restrictions were eased as customers were happy to con­nect with us virtually.

We also introduced a new B2C VISA workflow to help customers book standalone VISAs (including submitting docu­me­nts) on our website. New-age technologies such as AI, cloud and big data have played a big role. All the new approaches adopted above were driven on the back of these new technologies.

What are the risks and challenges associated with the deployment of these new-age technologies?

Manish Bindal

Finding dedicated IT skills to implement the new technology is a huge challenge. Enterprises often find that the resources lack expertise in cybersecurity, technical ar­­­chitecture, enterprise architecture and advanced data analytics. Enterprises often find it necessary to hire external consultants for the job which is both limiting and ex­pensive. An outdated organisational str­ucture and poor leadership can derail the digital transformation process. Change resistance is natural and it takes strong lea­dership and effective communication skills to manage the process successfully. Migra­ting the legacy system comes with its own set of challenges can be quite time-consuming. Managing dynamic consumer needs and expectations is fast beco­ming a challenge that businesses need to overcome. They need to stay ahead of the curve to meet the rising demands of customers. Be­fore an enterprise decides to go digital, it needs to have a proper business strategy in place. A digital transformation plan sh­ould be clearly defined failing which the scope will keep expanding leading to overshooting the budget.

Amit Chadha

I believe that a significant barrier to the de­ployment and adoption of emerging technology in the current world is talent shortage. Talent shortage indicates the critical skill gap existing in most industries across the globe. Within a company, not many em­ployees have the skills necessary for bu-si­ness growth. Additional strategies to im­prove the technology talent pool that companies are now adopting to align wi­th broader talent initiatives include up­skilling and reskilling existing employees and im­proving the hiring process.

Going forward, what will be the key digital trends driving the enterprise segment?

Manish Bindal

The pandemic has made remote work a new normal. It is highly likely that in the fu­tu­re, enterprises will continue to have hybrid workplaces with a combination of office and remote workplaces.

AI and ML will continue to be popular as they find new use cases in every industry. Robotic process automation will be used to perform repetitive tasks and free up human resources for other critical activities. Edge computing will ensure that data insights are acted on in real time and this could find new uses in the coming year in several areas such as the insurance industry. VR and AR may be used by retailers to create new customer experiences. Blockchain technology may be used to securely manage large volumes of data without disturbing the chain.

IoT devices could pick up valuable information, which could be converted into actionable outcomes. To top it all, 5G will offer unbelievable speed of communication and transmission of data. Overall, it appears that exciting times are ahead for emerging technologies.

Amit Chadha

I believe that the coming decade will bring many exciting technological advances. Some of the trends that I believe will drive digital transformation in the future are:

  • Smart campuses and spaces: Based on IoT, physical spaces such as homes, offices or even whole cities will become smarter and increasingly connected.
  • Immersive technology: AR, VR and mixed reality will help in creating greater immersive digital experiences.
  • Wider reach of autonomous vehicles: The next decade will see wider developments and technological advancements in autonomous vehicles and they will become more commercially viable.
  • New 5nm chips: The upcoming 5nm designs promise faster performance with better power efficiency and will push the CPU technology further ahead.
  • Technology-driven personalisation: With the help of technologies such as AI and big data analytics, organisations will be able to offer highly personalised products and services on a mass scale.
  • Innovation for sustainable development: With the increasing need to meet global sustainability goals, organisations are adopting innovative technologies.

The above trends will act as the catalyst for digital business and innovation in the next few years.

Amit Madhan

It is all about adding value to the experience. Travelling has always been favoured by people of all ages. Of late, travelling has evolved to its newest and the most satisfying phase of experiential travel. It is fast resonating with travellers of allkinds – passionate globetrotters, family vacationers, adventure seekers and couples looking to reconnect.

Also, going forward, the industry will be dominated by players that are able to offer to customers the best booking experience, preferably through an evolved mobile app that efficiently leverages data science, AI, predictive analytics, automated personalisation and AR/VR.