During 2019, Indian enterprises continued to embrace information and communication technology (ICT) solutions to digitally transform their businesses. Cloud computing, big data analytics, internet of things (IoT), automation and artificial intelligence (AI) remained the key technologies that emerged as game changers for organisations across industry verticals. While the banking, financial services and insurance industry (BFSI), IT/ITeS and hospitality have continued to remain at the forefront of ICT adoption, enterprises in several other verticals, particularly government, manufacturing and healthcare, also made significant headway in leveraging technology solutions to modernise business operations and remain competitive in the market. However, since rising cybersecurity concerns pose as a key deterrent to greater ICT adoption among enterprises, they have started turning to new-age cybersecurity tools to protect themselves against data theft.

tele.net takes stock of the key technology trends that dominated the enterprise space during 2019 and the trends to watch out for in 2020…

Rising adoption of cloud

Cloud emerged as the core technology that enterprises across industry verticals turned to for transforming their business operations. The retail industry remained at the forefront in terms of cloud adoption. For instance, companies like MamaEarth use cloud-based solutions such as Zendesk, Ameyo and Myoperator to create an omni-channel presence for customers, call management and report generation for business development.

In the healthcare domain, hospitals such as Max Healthcare use cloud technology to securely connect archives of medical information such as radiology images, lab reports and patient charts with the devices of clinicians. This reduces the turnaround time and helps treat higher number of patients. Some of the major banking and finance companies in the country have also started implementing cloud computing in their systems. For instance, Mahindra Finance is deploying cloud solutions such as Azure for management of human resources, microservices, business processes and documents. Among transportation enterprises, the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation is in the process of moving its IT applications to the cloud.

Government enterprises too are increasingly turning towards cloud technology to save costs and increase agility. Initiatives like Aadhaar, the National Population Register, the National Rural Health  Mission and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act have propelled government utilities to use cloud as a medium to store citizen-centric data. Further, cloud has been a key technology component under the Digital India programme and has led to the development of e-governance solutions such as DigiLocker.

Cloud technology has found many takers among travel and hospitality enterprises. Most solutions, whether in-house or outsourced, deployed in hotels use cloud. This means that the upgrade and maintenance are done automatically without human interference. Organisations in the manufacturing sector too are using hybrid cloud models to improve their business operations.

Leveraging big data analytics

Big data analytics is another key technology that has witnessed significant uptake during the past year. This technology enables companies to leverage data generated throughout the value chain to gain insights for improving customer satisfaction and optimising operations. Players across industry verticals have started using big data analytics to not only improve but also personalise customer experience, employ dynamic pricing for value maximisation, predict and prepare for future demand scenarios, optimise operations and channelise marketing efforts to achieve targeted responses.

The BFSI segment is turning to big data analytics to improve efficiency, customer acquisition and retention, and create omni-channel platforms. Further, many Indian banks are using analytics across a multitude of functions, including managing customer relationships, reducing credit losses and non-performing assets, countering fraud/money laundering, managing risks and mapping networks. The insurance sector is also using big data analytics to assess risks, avoid fraudulent claims and underwrite risks.

Enterprises in the retail industry too are stepping up their adoption of big data analytics. Real-time data and analytics are helping retail companies in faster and more accurate decision-making. Data analysis and insights are more accurate. They eliminate chances of human error, reduce cost, and improve convenience and efficiency. According to Manish Saini, chief operating officer, e-commerce, Ferns N Petals, “Big data analytics has not only enabled the organisation to improve customer satisfaction by personalising offerings, but has also helped in identifying and eliminating unnecessary costs.”

Media and entertainment firms are using deep analytics to serve curated content to customers and enable targeted advertising. Further, real-time signals from social media and sentiment analysis are being used to generate rapid content with a strong user focus. For instance, Times Internet is using Colombia’s data management and marketing platform that performs deep analytics for understanding the audience – a win-win situation for both advertising partners and users. The former reaches the target audience and the latter receives the relevant content. According to the company, campaigns that run on Colombia yield 50 per cent better performance than other direct campaigns.

In the travel industry, big data analytics has helped in driving the growth of online travel by allowing enterprises to cater to the unique needs of customers. This technology enables companies to study travel behaviour and accordingly customise the entire vacation for individual customers. For instance, Yatra.com is using big data to encapsulate a wide range of travellers’ preferences and offer an ideal vacation experience. Through this, the company is able to provide users easy access to recommendations on hotels/flights that are within their budget.

Firms in the manufacturing industry are using big data analytics to analyse the entire production life cycle in real time so that they can make data-driven decisions at every stage of the production process.

IoT gaining traction

Enterprises across industry verticals also made significant strides in terms of IoT adoption during 2019. The healthcare industry uses IoT services to automate and manage remote medical devices. Further, some hospitals have started testing IoT-powered devices, coupled with cloud computing applications, which will help manage the growing data sets and provide critical/remote care. For instance, Columbia Asia Hospitals has conducted pilot testing in IoT technology and is gearing up internally in to put to use in the coming years. According to Ashokkan V.R.S., group chief information officer, Columbia Asia Hospitals, “Our IoT pilot is aimed at reducing the data capture effort of our nurses and improving their availability for actual patient care.”

In the IT/ITeS domain, IoT is used to monitor critical parameters of equipment such as generators. Mindtree Limited, an IT firm, has made its training facility in Bhubaneswar completely IoT-enabled. Meanwhile, banks are leveraging IoT to analyse the usage of ATMs in specific areas and increase/decrease the installation of ATMs based on usage data. IoT can also be used by financial institutions for on-premises and supply chain monitoring, which involves tracking customer experience at the company’s stores, branches and offices, and product/service operations (such as production, warehouse operations and other processes). In the insurance industry, IoT can play a major role in providing usage-based insurance products. By using real-time data about personal behaviour, insurance firms can fine-tune coverage to potentially add or eliminate certain risk clauses. Further, asset and wealth management companies can use IoT to help businesses and consumers make investment decisions and undertake asset allocation based on behaviours, personal choices and geographic considerations.

The transportation industry too is gearing up for IoT adoption. For instance, the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation is planning to implement IoT progressively in its metro systems. According to Rajeev Kumar, general manager (S&T), Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation, “We plan to install certain sensors, which will give output to the IoT platform and then the data can be used for predictive and condition-based maintenance.”

IoT is slowly gaining ground in the country’s retail sector as well. Some retailers are using IoT-based contactless checkout/self-checkout mechanisms, involving automatic scanning of products when customers walk out of the store.

In the media and entertainment space, enterprises have implemented IoT-based solutions in printing press to create a managed print environment. Through this, organisations are able to receive data from printing machines and power sources, which help them control wastage and cut costs. According to Sarbani Bhatia, senior vice president, IT, Jagran Prakashan Limited, “This has helped bring down the downtime drastically and improve operational efficiency by at least 35 per cent to 40 per cent.”

Use of AI and automation on the rise

AI is another key technology that witnessed significant traction during 2019. Healthcare, IT/ITes and BFSI are the key sectors that have adopted these technologies. In the healthcare domain, AI is being used to improve medical certainty during reporting of lab results.

Further, a number of IT firms have started using AI-based automation platforms to manage business operations. For instance, leading IT firms have launched AI-based automated platforms. These include Tata Consultancy Services’ Ignio platform, Wipro’s Holmes platform, Infosys’ NIA platform and HCL Technologies’ DRYiCE platform. Further, Mindtree is using AI to power its chatbot, MACI (Mindtree’s Advanced Conversational Intelligence), which is trained to answer queries of employees and carry out frequently needed tasks such as applying for leave, approving travel and expenses, and so on.

Moreover, BFSI companies are also actively leveraging AI to increase efficiency of business operations. For instance, the State Bank of India is currently using an AI-based solution to scan cameras installed in its branches and capture the facial expressions of customers to assess and report the level of customer satisfaction. The bank has also launched SIA, an AI-powered chat assistant that addresses customers’ enquiries instantly and helps them with everyday banking tasks. HDFC Bank has also developed an AI-based chatbot called Eva. In the insurance sector, ACKO General Insurance Limited has applied AI to its in-house applications.

Emerging cybersecurity risks

With the widespread use of technology and digital platforms, the threat of cybercrimes has increased manyfold. To counter cyberrisks, enterprises have started implementing innovative solutions that have the capability to recognise threats and mitigate them successfully. Since the finance sector witnesses more cyberattacks than any other industry, enterprises in this sector are proactively deploying cybersecurity solutions across all layers – network, end user, data centre, etc. For instance, ACKO General Insurance Limited has deployed fully integrated and advanced technologies with leading security analytics solutions as part of its next-generation security operation centre.

Further, companies across industry verticals are getting their IT infrastructure and applications periodically audited for security. In addition, they are focusing on training employees in basic security practices such as recognising potential threats and taking precautions.

By Kuhu Singh Abbhi