Frontier technologies – Future beckons

Mouli Ganguly, Member, Board of Advisors, talks on Industry 4.0, Digital Transformation, Frontier Technologies and more:

  1. What are some technologies that you think will play a huge role in Digital Transformation and why?

All of them play a role in terms of Digital Transformation. So, let us take an industrial example. Dump trucks used in mining have huge tyres. Their worth is about a million odd dollars and some of their tyres cost up to $100k. Now it is important to see the level of productivity an application can deliver. The benefits are already clear & compelling.

Every modern piece of truck has got transponders all over the place. That kicks in the IoT element. This enables us to track what it is doing by tracking the signals received. With AI and insights, what we can do with the data coming through is, collect and put them in a place. We can decide here is what I want to get the data or do something about it.

With AR, VR and MR, you render the whole application to how the user can best use it, with data and insights. For example, you could present the same information that you’re collecting via transponders to the truck drivers in a manner where he can see the whole environment around him. You can set it up, such that language is not a barrier. In India, for instance, truck drivers driving cross-country speak different languages. Irrespective of whatever language one speaks, they can all see an image, interpret & take decisions. Every driver knows what a boulder is. Or what are the factors that may damage the dumpster or damage the tyres or something else. Whilst sitting inside the dumpster, they may not be able to view everything through naked eye.

“Seeing the information presented through Virtual or Augmented reality enables him to make better decisions.”

Another way to grasp all this up – you see a control room can observe the movements of a dumpster. They receive the information from transponders and visualise the data and interpret the implications that arise from it. They can then come up with solutions like specific risk issues or actions that need to be taken. A team from the customer & Appearition has to plan this out.

In terms of Blockchain, it makes sure that a certain event, transaction or data, is stamped as authentic. It is not widely used yet. There are restrictions on its usage or application. But for transactions of high value, this technology not only gives you an experience but also makes the transaction very safe and auditable. It also facilitates to build a record as to who did what at exactly when. This can also act as an audit trail for any purpose required. It is a foul-proof way to keep track of things. The transaction can be financial or otherwise.

So that is how all the technologies can play a role in Digital Transformation. Often a combination of these technologies that answers / solves a business problem.

  1. What will be the road-map of early adapters vs cautious players?

Typically, early adapters are an organisation’s visionary. They are in the very senior position. Also, in a generational sense, say between gen X, gen Y or the middle aged people, there are several technology gaps. Kids born after 2000 basically grew up with screens. Just like millennials grew up with the PCs. Every time a new technology is introduced, you think of things in a very different way. For example, in my generation of baby boomers, , people would write text for a power point presentation. Whereas, these days, a presentation is far more experiential.

In an organisational context, the gap is often at thinking through the process change or adaption for an idea.  If the plan is not backed by experience or relevant subject matter expertise, it will fall through.

As an early adapter, the visionaries come up with ideas. The cautious players are the ones who go through the practical things. So, they go through factors like business use case, defining what will change, how will it work, the change management and integration part of it, how to get data out of organisational system that exists, make sure that the data is accurate, quality is good.

Early adapters are analytical thinkers/dreamers. Cautious people on the other hand, achieve dreamers’ dreams. This kcan take a very long time. Now, where an organisation is driven by a visionary, often, you get things moving simply because he has got an idea that he wants to make it happen. And he (CEO/COO) will tell somebody typically that, ‘look I just want to make it happen. Work as a team and make it happen’.

Facebook phenomenon

For an early adapter enterprise, if you get the vision right, you get a first mover advantage over others. For instance, the Facebook phenomenon. They have created an entirely new business. Whereas sometimes, early adapters who did not plan well have gone bust. Because, they have placed some bets that have gone awfully wrong. And this has sort of impacted their existing business, customers and whole the lot. Cautious players tend to be thoughtful followers. They let others experiment and use those learnings in their business. They try to keep their profitability high and ensure quality, risk management & repeatability, so thatcustomer engagement does not take a hit.

  1. In this process, how can an enterprise build its internal and external stakeholders’ digital IQ?

There are whole lot of methodologies. In my view really simple. The agenda very much is a COO/CFO/CIO/CMO/CPO idea. The CEO says this is what we need to do. The CMO then says, this is how we want to market it. This is the experience we want to provide. The CPO Says here is the culture or context in which I want my people to operate. Those are the three elements – the customers, the culture, the strategic direction and somewhere in between there is an elephant in the room, the digital space. Compliance, security, all those kinds of things. All this has to hang together be funded effectively and provide return to the investors, That is why you need a special type of CFO for the digital businesses. That is very important in terms of creating the digital IQ.

You drive the innovation, which is the business agenda. Secondly, you need to be agile. Agility is where you can own up to your mistakes quickly when needed and at a low cost.  The whole team, not just some champions  must work together on an agile manner. We need collaboration within the organisation and with the suppliers & customers. Within the compliance ecosystem the regulatory authority, and any number of agencies are there, because the laws haven’t caught up in Digital yet. And the next comes the partners. Because no one organisation can do everything by themselves. It is very, very important for the partners to work together. Again, look at what Appearition is doing. They work with a whole lot of partners to deliver what must be delivered. And, at another level, the IQ is built through great culture of innovation and risk taking.

The first question you ask is why are you doing it? What is the innovation? Why am I doing it? What difference will it make? And the ability to execute, in my mind is the other side of the equation. The CIO, the guy whom implements the technology. The CFO, the guy who checks out the money, burning millions of dollars, putting things at risk. Those kinds of functions become responsible of every action. So, the whole thing is a question of balance.

The ability to execute the vision is possibly the biggest challenge of the Exec team.

  1. What will the role of data analytics be in this revolution?

If you take the first thing that comes out in the digital world, it is data. There is so much data in every aspect of our life, every moment. We are being absolutely bombarded with data. Our memory spans have reduced. In today’s mindset, I don’t think people have the patience to read a booklet. This data is compressed and made consumable through AI and Analytics. This is turned into information. But then, to turn it into information, you need to know, what information you were after. You need to take the data in a certain way. From information, comes knowledge. Then you personalise it. Then you look at the information and say, I’ve read the report, what I’ve learnt out of the report is this, this and that. And then, beyond that comes very, very content specific, decisions.

For instance, if you are an insurance company and you want to know the information on who are the people who do not have an insurance and are most likely to become my customers? And if there are certain attributes that you identify, you may decide whether it is important or not and do something with it.

2/2 of his exclusive interview. Click here to read the first part.

Deeptha Sreedhar

Deeptha Sreedhar

I’m a Chennai-based Writer and Journalist. I handle the Digital Content for Appearition. My super-cool colleagues design, innovate and create magic in Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality. I use this space to present their magic in text. When I am not editing or scouring for story ideas one bit before hell breaks loose, I enjoy reading crime-fiction books and watching similar television series, do a bit of experimental cooking and some travel to wherever my bank balance supports upon paying all bills.
Deeptha Sreedhar

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