(From left to right) Aditya Abhyankar, Parag Kulkarni and Milind Pande during the inaugural ceremony of the 8th edition ‘Pune Connect 2019’, at Hyatt Regency on Saturday.(Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)
(From left to right) Aditya Abhyankar, Parag Kulkarni and Milind Pande during the inaugural ceremony of the 8th edition ‘Pune Connect 2019’, at Hyatt Regency on Saturday.(Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)

Pune Connect 2019: India’s contribution to global software product should reach USD 70-80 billion by 2025, says Omkar Rai

The event focussed on the future of technology and had three concurrent tracks – Technology NXT, Research NXT and Workforce NXT
By Namita Shibad | Hindustan Times, Pune
UPDATED ON DEC 15, 2019 04:36 PM IST

Technology is expected to drive greater changes in the way we live and do business,” said Omkar Rai, director general, Software Technology Park of India (STPI), ministry of electronics and technology. He was speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the 8th edition of Pune Connect 2019 organised by the Software Exporters’ Association of Pune (SEAP) on Saturday at Hyatt Regency.

“The global software product industry currently stands at over USD 500 billion, of which India’s share currently is USD 8 billion. But Indian talent is growing, and we are creating world class products. We want India’s share to reach up to USD 70-80 billion by 2025,” said Rai.

The event focussed on the future of technology and had three concurrent tracks – Technology NXT where panellists discussed AI and Deep Tech. Research NXT had academia and design and research speakers, while Workforce NXT panel took up the topic of future of the workforce, diversity, and inclusion culture.

Members of SEAP including Abhijit Atre, chairman, Pune Connect; Ashwin Megha, president, Pune Connect; Vidyadhar Purandare, vice-president, Pune Connect and Swapnil Deshpande, programme director, Pune Connect were present.

“The policy makers acknowledge that the IT industry has impacted India in all sectors as it has the potential to grow. There are nine thousand plus startups here and the government is taking initiatives to provide funds and promote digital eco-system in the sector. With research and development (R&D) being outsourced in India, the government wants India to move ahead from an IT administration Industry to a product nation,” Rai said.

Jaspreet Bindra speaks during SEAP Pune connect event on Saturday. (Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)
Jaspreet Bindra speaks during SEAP Pune connect event on Saturday. (Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)

The Tech Whisperer, a book by Jaspreet Bindra, was also launched at the event. He said the term digital transformation actually means more than just going digital. “Ten years ago having a website meant digital, whilst five years ago it was about apps. But what most corporates fail to understand is that while digital is one part, it is the transformation of the organisation, the culture that has to change, without which there can be no real digital transformation.

“Digital transformation is not about technology but the culture within a company. Technologies like artificial intelligence remain the means to achieve transformation, but unless the right mind set and digital culture are developed, no business can achieve it regardless of the number of investments made,” Bindra added.

Speeding technology

Sameer Garde, president, Cisco India, who was one of the speakers, talked about what changes one can expect as technology advances at its breakneck speed and what Cisco is doing about it. “When I started my career, people would say they worked for the marketing department, or the finance department. In those days, the concept of matrixed organisation did not exist. Now, you work for a group. And with better technologies that allows for better networks, better collaboration and superior data security it is possible to work from home. In fact, I myself work at least one and a half day every week from home.”

With Cisco’s video enabled technologies that have object recognition, face recognition, dialogue management, question and answering along with data security, these facilities enable employees to work from home. “Besides improving employee productivity, it can help a company reduce its investment in real estate and reduce traffic chaos in highly urbanised cities,” he said.

Apart from office spaces, Gadre said that the concept can be taken to smart connected airports too where a reduction in aircraft turnaround time can help an airport increase the number of flights they operate. “If there is a unified multi-channel communication between different stakeholders this is possible,” he said.

Can academic research drive India’s growth?

A panel discussion on the importance of research and the role academia can play was discussed by Aditya Abhyankar, dean, department of technology, SPPU; Milind Pande, pro vice-chancellor MIT and Parag Kulkarni, CEO and chief scientist Kvinna Ltd.

Kulkarni was critical of the Indian education system. “The problem with us is that we fail to identify the gems that exist in our ecosystem. The startup hackathons do not reach the talent on the ground, whereas in the west, they are very adept at finding the brilliant ones. In the case of colleges they are busy chasing accreditations. I feel that our educational institutes should learn to work with what we have,” he said.

Pande felt that out of the 811 colleges affiliated to SPPU “only 13% contribute to the research.” Abhyankar was optimistic. He said, “If you take a macro view we have progressed not just in technology, but in all walks of life. Tata has transformed, and TCS is now a services company. The journey from services to a product company is a long one though it is necessary.”

“SPPU had only about seven industries as partners about a decade ago. Today we have at least 70 companies that give problems relevant to them to the students to solve. They have liked 70 patents and 10 have become commercial.”

AssistD wins startup presentation pitch

Of the 75 entries that Pune Connect received, 34 were shortlisted and five finalists made their presentations before the grand jury comprising – Girrendra Kasmalkar of Lacrity; Rajshri Rao, head of partnership engagement, Rolls Royce; and Shridhar Shukla, founder, KPoint. Each startup founder was given seven minutes to make his presentation followed by a round of questions from the jurists.

Top 5 startups

All Miles provides a shared mobility solution to companies. They operate in Pune, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Goa. They provide last mile connectivity from home to Metro and Metro to the office.

AssistD provides in real time workplace management service to corporates, housing societies, hospitals or hotels. They have contextual QR codes that an employee can use to make a request to the facility manager. If the toilet has run out of toilet rolls, all an employee has to do is scan the QR code and the facility manager can act immediately. They are operational in 62 cities in more at least 100 companies.

Bizamica provides cognitive document processing. Companies generate a huge number of documents digital or physical. Meaningful information from these documents has to be extracted manually. Bizamica uses AI to extract useful information from such documents and reduce cost and time.

Worklife is a digital tool that provides useful data regarding recruiters and candidates alike. Data about a candidate or a boss is generated by peers which makes it transparent and reliable.

Tree Innovative Foundation has developed a gadget Neer Chakra that helps women in villages carry water to their homes. Neer Chakra carry 80 litres of water on wheels so that women who earlier took four hours to take this water home now take just 30 minutes.

The winner declared by the jury was Bhushan Bhagwat’s AssistD, the first runner-up was Tanveer Inamdar’s Tree Innovation Foundation and All Miles by Pitasys Software P Ltd was the second runner-up.

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