Innovators and entrepreneurs in digital technologies have to be promoted
With almost every vertical market being transformed by digital technologies, the nature of businesses is changing. To enable the delivery of innovative new services as well as to optimise internal working processes, every sector has to evolve in line with the changing landscape.
Why is this happening, and why now? At the very heart of digital transformation, is data. With the swift and rampant adoption of automation and technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), the world is producing more data than ever before in history. To deal with the data deluge in a way that it can be harnessed to a business outcome is the need of the hour.
For example, reskilling the entire tech workforces with competencies in complex subjects such as Data Science and Machine Learning is easier said than done. However, it is undeniably the need of the hour.
Indian firms must make top priorities of adopting analytics and improving the skills of employees across the organisation, something that has been reinforced by the 2017 Forbes Insights-EY report on analytics. How can we empower the tech ecosystem, whether it is students, entrepreneurs or organisations, to prepare themselves for the era of digital transformation?
The Indian Government’s Smart Cities initiative created a buzz around the country with IoT being touted as the torchbearer for this tech revolution that is set to change lives in India. But even with several companies looking to ‘Make in India’ and creating home-grown solutions, how many tech workers actually have the necessary IoT skills to be able to tackle the challenges that are bound to occur? One of the ways to enable this could be to reduce the gap between technical education and technical skills needed in the job market. Increasingly, some of the world’s leading technology companies are focusing on creating industry-ready workforce through joint Industry-Academia partnerships.
The idea is to provide holistic training to students, in consultation with highly accomplished professors from premier science and technology institutes of the country. To create technology professionals who are market-ready, these programmes evaluate the current academia curriculum required to produce specific skillsets which are relevant in the dynamic technology environment. It is also equally important to ensure the faculty evolves with time and reskills themselves. This is something that NetApp accomplishes through its Academic Alliance and University Research partnerships programmes.
Enabling tech innovators
India has a dynamic and thriving startup ecosystem. In 2015, there were over 4,200 startups, behind only the United States and neck-to-neck with the United Kingdom, according to Zinnov and NASSCOM.
India also ranks third in the world for the number of incubators and accelerators and is seeing a trend of sector-specific incubators and accelerators. To some though, it may look like the heyday of India’s startups seems to have passed, with funding becoming increasingly tight and the competition having increased by leaps and bounds.
In fact, a recently-released entrepreneurial study conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value based on a survey done in collaboration with Oxford Economics found that more than 90% of the startups in India fail in their first 5 years. The topmost reason for the failure of most Indian startups is the lack of pioneering innovation. However, all is not lost, what with well-established technology companies aligning themselves with specific technology-led startups whose pioneering innovations have the potential to enable their businesses. Such accelerator programmes can be extremely beneficial for startups, giving them access to business and technology mentoring, networking opportunities, infrastructure such as co-working spaces and tools along with market/customer access.
In turn, the advantage for tech companies is that they can partner with and even learn from the startups to create symbiotic relationships. By actively supporting startups, larger tech giants are enabling the development and advancement of the entire ecosystem where innovation is necessary to survive.
Technology is an enabler, be it for business, the economy, healthcare or education. So, it’s time for the industry to come together to strengthen the tech ecosystem at all levels.
With old technical skills falling behind the fast pace of technology, the only way to truly equip our country with the right set of technical and business skills is by encouraging more collaboration at every level. With tech industry stalwarts, educators and innovators working together, India will be truly prepared for the challenges and joys of digital transformation.
(Deepak Visweswaraiah is Senior Vice-president & Managing Director at NetApp India.)