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Data Centers: The infrastructure behind a digital movement

“Data is the new Oil” – this quote by British mathematician Clive Humby which dates to the early 2000s is even more relevant today given the business dynamics with clients and corporates looking to analyze data to draw meaningful trends and suggestions to understand and address the needs of their clients and help increase their products or services’ growth. Data consumption and usage have grown multi-fold over the last two decades with the introduction of digital means of doing business/work, social media and Ecommerce activities, etc.

Digital growth in India had its roots laid down in the early 1990s with e-governance initiatives taken by the Government. These were the initial steps towards a larger more defined flagship program of the National e-governance plan and then the subsequent digital India program.

The digital India initiative has propelled considerably since its announcement in 2015. The key successful programs being the Jandhan-Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM) initiative providing banking access to many Indians to direct benefit transfer schemes to enhance the ease of living as well as doing business via digital applications. The growth in digital applications has bridged the urban-rural divide and has bought rural India closer to development as well as helped businesses to reach the rural heartland with ease and speed.

Data consumption in India primarily revolves around BFSI, Ecommerce, social media which together contribute to 75-80% of the total data consumption. The growth of smartphones in India over the last decade or so has also supplemented this growth in data consumption. However, data consumption in India on a per capita basis is far lower than its Asian and Western counterparts.

Significant growth in these existing segments that are aiming at substantial CAGRs are expected to create a data proliferation. Adding to this, the incremental growth in smartphones over the next five years expected from about 600 million to crossing 1 billion would incrementally propel the usage of data. Data consumption itself would increase to 25 GB per individual per month by 2025 from about 12 GB per individual per month in 2019 as per a recent Ericsson mobility report. This digital boom would be backed by newer means of digital demand such as connected grid, autonomous vehicles, and digital transformation via Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Internet of Things (IoT), etc as well as technology advancements such as 5G and Edge computing, etc.

COVID accelerated the growth in consumption of data with work from home and digital purchases of everything. The data usage witnessed a significant jump during the lockdown.

This digital data demand needs robust security, low latency, protection from cyber threats, and reliability of continuous uptime. Given this, cloud management systems have started gaining importance over the last 5-7 years or so which provide data collection and protection on large servers across locations under Data Centers.

Data Center growth in India has been significant over the last 4-5 years with major investments from real estate players as well as from PE funds to set up various categories – colocations, hyperscale, managed services to Edge Data Centers, etc. While the focus has primarily been metro and tier 1 cities such as Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad; other areas such as Pune, Indore, etc. are slowly but steadily increasing.

As per our analysis, India’s existing Data Center IT power load capacity of the top eight players stands at about 512MW in 2020 and is expected to grow to over 1 GW by 2025. The data consumption in India stands at about 1 MW per million people which is very low and would be witnessing significant growth over the next few years.

Central Government via its draft Data Center policy along with states like Telangana and Uttar Pradesh is providing Data Centers specific policies and the much-needed regulatory support for the segment. However, policy push in terms of data localization for protection and security would result in a significant surge in Data Center requirements with the country.

The Data Center infrastructure market is expected to witness a significant boom with revenues growing at a CAGR of 8.3% from US$ 2.6 billion in 2019 to US$ 3.9 billion in 2024 and investments expected to witness a steady CAGR of 5.4%, from US$ 3.4 billion in 2019 to US$ 4.4 billion in 2024.

Key trends that will shape the Data Center industry in the coming decade are:

  • Connected grid – The growth in electric vehicles, smart grid, smart infrastructure would be on the back of digital growth which would result in significant data consumption.
  • Digital transformation – Digital transformation in terms of blockchain, IoT, AI, ML would disrupt data consumption significantly. Most of these data would be on the cloud which would further push the demand for Data Centers.
  • Sustainable Data Centers – Data centers would look at renewable and new energies to provide net-zero carbon or sustainable business models. Replacing or reducing the usage of diesel gen-sets as backup power with solar + storage would be a key trend.
  • Digital Data Parks – Digital data parks are planned to be set up across the country which would house huge data, creating an unparalleled digital infrastructure.
  • Technology – 5G and Edge computing would further help the growth of data consumption and hence the requirement of data centers

In conclusion, Data Centers are the backbone, the fulcrum based on which the digital revolution would grow manifold. Developing this digital infrastructure and helping build a robust architecture around Data Centers would be the objective of the Government as well as the private sector. Government (central and state) are playing their part in creating policy and regulations to benefit the growth of Data Centers and Data Parks across the country, while the private sector is pushing for scaling up the potential in Data Centers. Digital transformation and digital infrastructure (Data Centers) would play a pivotal role in India’s march towards a five trillion economy by 2025.

Authored by

Aryaman Tandon, Practice Leader, Infrastructure

Savio Monteiro, Sr. Vice President, Infrastructure

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Emerging trends in warehousing segment across end-user industries

The warehousing segment under the logistics sector has witnessed a phenomenal run in the past few years. Warehousing has witnessed investments from private equity, real estate players, and other new entrants, who have invested large sums in this segment.

The demand for Grade A warehousing grew at a CAGR of 20 percent between FY18 to FY20; while demand for Grade B warehousing grew at a CAGR of 16 percent between FY18 to FY20. While the start of 2020 witnessed issues such as labor availability, increase in order fulfillment time, etc., there were no other major issues faced by the segment. These issues also improved as the lockdown restrictions started to ease. Warehouses witnessed more traction towards the latter half of 2020.

Further, assessing seven key end-user industries across India, the growth in warehousing demand is chiefly attributed to the top 2-3 end-user industries such as retail, Ecommerce, and FMCG. These sectors witnessed robust growth over the past few years which has propelled warehousing demand to clock an overall 18 percent CAGR between FY18 to FY20 for both Grade A and B warehouses.

Going ahead and backed by this buoyant growth in these seven end-use industries, the demand for Grade A and Grade B warehousing is expected to grow at a CAGR of 25% from 107M sqft to 325M sqft between FY20 to FY25 and 20 percent from 167M sqft to 419M sqft between FY20 to FY25 respectively.

Warehousing demand for key end-use industries such as FMCG, retail, Ecommerce, and auto & auto ancillary is expected to witness a 2.5 to 4x growth from FY20 to FY25. This demand is on the back of robust growth in these industries. Apart from the existing trends, future trends are emerging in the warehousing segment. These trends are expected to be implemented with a short term (3-6 months), medium-term (6 months to 1 year), and long-term focus (about 5 years).

The key emerging trends witnessed in the warehouse growth over the next few years across these end-use industries range from warehouse automation, expansion to Tier-2 cities, racking solutions, full-stack logistics, multi-logistics parks, etc.

A snapshot of the same across end-use industries is captured below:

Authored by

Rahul Mehta, Domain Leader, Transportation & Logistics

Savio Monteiro, Sr Vice President, Infrastructure, Transportation & Logistics

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My road trip to professional maturity

I drive and ride on Indian roads a lot and I believe that anyone who hasn’t, is missing a great adventure in life!

Along these journeys, came many moments of realization – moments when I’d tell myself ‘Grow up!’  … I realized that the road is such a wonderful metaphor to life (and work).

For instance –

  1. The time it takes to reach my destination, and whether I reach it in one piece or not, is not only about my driving ability… It’s about how narrow or wide the road is, its terrain, how many other commuters are on that road (most of who want to overtake me!), their understanding of traffic rules and so on.

At work – How fast and effectively I achieve my goals isn’t only about my skills and expertise – A lot depends on whether it’s a tried and tested (Wide road) area or is it something that’s never been done before (narrow / potholed/ unused road), how many competitors (commuters) I have, and how they perceive the situation / goal.

Note to self – Being aware of these helps reduce the surprise and the angst. I can be better planned, more patient and more likely to achieve my goal on-time and in one piece!

 

  1. My vehicle (Something that I trust to take me to my destination) will break down when I least expect it to.

At work – Laptops crash on the day of the big presentation, files get corrupted when hours have been invested in them, team members fall ill on the day I most need them to be around, Managers quit just when things are going well…! Essentially, Murphy’s law!

Note to self – It happens! Stop blaming the world, own up and do the best that I can in the situation. Don’t overcommit. Always be prepared to roll-up my sleeves, have the grit and the skill to pull more than my own weight every now and then.

 

  1. This one’s counter-intuitive, but I’ve seen it happen so many times – Accidents rarely happen because of vehicles moving at high speed! They happen because a fast moving vehicle doesn’t anticipate that there is a slow moving / stationery vehicle somewhere ahead of them. The rest is simple physics – the damage is directly proportional to the speed of the fast moving vehicle, and the size of the slow / stationery vehicle.

At work – When I’m running full steam towards my goals, I tend to get tunnel-vision. I forget that not everybody is running the same race.  The things that are urgent and important for me may not be so for people around me. And then when I face a ‘block’, I end up getting angry and frustrated at them! The bigger the ‘block’, the harder it hurts!

Note to self – Study the pace of the people around. Decide on the right speed. Take people along. Ensure the people around know where I’m going and how fast. If they can’t help, at least they won’t get in my way.    

 

  1. OK, one last observation on the road – The most insecure drivers are the ones who blow their horn the most. The ‘centered’ drivers rarely feel the need to honk.

Note to self – Don’t get stressed out when someone goes into a tizzy to make a point. They’re probably feeling insecure or unheard. Special Note to self – Even the most ‘centered’ people can feel insecure once in a while! Just give them a chance – they’ll come around.

One last bit – A study actually came to the conclusion that the best drivers (measured by the least number of accidents) don’t look at the vehicle just ahead of them. They look through the windscreens of the vehicles ahead to see as far as possible, and are considerate of what’s in the side/rear-view mirrors. They anticipate how these vehicles will move, and thereby control their own vehicle.

“For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Written by:

Manu Sirauthia

Associate Vice President, HRM – Talent Development (L&D)

SLK Global Solution

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Everywhere Enterprise: What should we expect?

Enterprise as we know it, changed drastically in 2020. Organizations were not only expected to adapt to the restrictions placed by the pandemic, but also provide newer and better ways of collaboration and amplify user experiences. This new normal, termed ‘Everywhere Enterprise’ by Gartner, describes how enterprises will operate in the post-COVID era. In this ecosystem, data is location-agnostic, work can happen from any place, and employees in one location can help a customer from a completely different geography.

This trend of people working remotely from anywhere is for here to stay. Majority of the employees will get to decide their preferred working environment and organizations should have measures, in terms of bandwidth, schedules and security, to enable those preferences. The persona of a typical employee of 2021 will be ‘on-the-go’, and it requires service provider organizations to make changes to the way they approach work. Processes that enable security, foster resilience, enable collaboration and other mechanisms will be at the forefront of Everywhere enterprise, and here are a few ways they can translate into business-related decisions.

Calling for multi-cloud solutions

One of the major needs of an everywhere enterprise is agility and speed – and in order to get the best out of the remote working situations, organizations will increasingly choose from services offered by different cloud-based service providers. These decisions will be based on costs, technical requirements, geographic availability, and other factors. Leveraging the strengths of the hypervisors will be a reality in many organizations, as speed and getting it right the first time will be a priority. The process distributes workloads selectively between various computing infrastructures in a way that reduces barriers to innovation and provides a stronger disaster mitigation mechanism, while increasing efficiency and reducing costs.
Bottom line is every transformation solution pitch from service providers will not just be about cloud, but multi cloud.

Ensuring operational continuity and resilience

Everywhere data and anywhere workforce call for robust applications from the get go. Application Architecture will be relooked to ensure its resilience and service availability. Resiliency becomes more important as organizations continue to rapidly implement software across multi-tier, multiple technology infrastructures.

The main charter for CIOs in 2021 will be to ensure IT is re-designed for service continuity to the work-from-anywhere workforce and this means service providers will have to place architecture resilience as one of their corner stones in their solutions.

User security at the centre

When an enterprise can be everywhere, it is vulnerable from everywhere too.

The Future of Secure Remote Work Report states that 85 percent of organizations believe cybersecurity is extremely important or more important than it was before COVID-19, and 62% of organizations feel secure access when supporting remote workers is their top cybersecurity challenge. This increased focus on security is going to persist, as more employees grow into the work-from-anywhere paradigm and customers demand better, newer features that gel seamlessly with their lifestyle.

This leads to the second cornerstone, that the service providers will have to emphasize on security in their solutions, especially the ones facing customers. Expectation of unlimited liability around cyber security causes will be seen in bid situations.

Amplifying user experience

User experience has always been the key element of the services model, and Everywhere Enterprise has only amplified its relevance. The traditional way of looking at customer ‘touch’ points will only hinder organizations in the new touch-averse world, and investments in cloud based collaboration tools will drive the new age of communication.

The agenda for CIOs will be to redefine the workplace in 2021 will lead to recalibration of the current support models. Solution and tools to proactively measure experience as a KPI will become table stakes in the support solutions.

Changing network response architectures

The focus on user experience requires a robust and efficient network system, with no room for latency issues. Application should be redesigned so that remote employees can access the information they need from the cloud, directly. Secure end-to-end connections for such access cause delays which can prove detrimental, and in order to get around the issue while maintaining a high level of security, solutions that sanitize requests and traffic on the device, or even on the cloud will gain popularity.

The ask for CIOs in this new normal would be to ensure how the new network can adapt to changes in the future in terms of security and scalability.

Recalibration of support contracts

The current support systems at service-led organizations are built around SLAs, shifts, and onsite and offshore resource spreads. Now with the obliteration of geographical boundaries from a work and collaboration standpoint and the reduction in the importance of the ODC concept, organizations would want to take another look at the operational model. Service providers must be ready for this, by engaging proactively to introduce relevant services and recalibrate costs.

With the everywhere flexibility that COVID has forced on organizations and employees, re-evaluating current long-term support contacts is a major agenda on the desks of CIOs.

2020 pushed IT services to a corner and like always, the industry found a way to prevail. Now as 2021 begins, operational transformation will be at the forefront across all service providers, as more will be expected from them in terms of security and service continuity. Last but not the least, pricing structure and the onsite-offshore model will change, as Everywhere Enterprise principles are adopted over the world.

By – Michael Raj, Senior Vice President – Coforge

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AI and Automation in Sales and Marketing

There was a time, not too long ago, when applications of artificial intelligence were limited to the pages of science fiction novels. Yet, the concept of AI has been around for over 70 years now. Back then, we were still working to create a model of the most primordial component of AI: artificial neurons. For a long time after that, AI had slipped into the blind spot of the public eye, all the while growing smarter. It wasn’t until IBM’s Deep Blue beat Gary Kasparov in 1997 that AI stepped into the limelight and kicked-off the data race.

Today, of course, AI is a critical component of the digital imperative. The advantages of leveraging AI, in all shapes and sizes, have pushed businesses to invest heavily in its development and application. Operations in industries like transportation, entertainment, and manufacturing have witnessed terrific growth and outcomes as a result of AI adoption. Sales and marketing teams are no exception.

The ability of AI to automate sales and marketing tasks has shown great potential in reducing human effort and costs and bolstering top-line growth. AI technologies lower the time spent on administrative tasks, improve a brand’s ability to deliver personalized offerings to their customers, and open up previously unexplored revenue streams. This is why AI is at the core of the most promising initiatives in marketing automation.

According to the McKinsey State of AI in 2020 report, 79% of marketing and sales teams have witnessed year-on-year revenue growth thanks to AI adoption, and early adopters have reported greater customer satisfaction and up to 10% improvement of sales potential.

One of the most revolutionary AI-based technologies, at least for marketers, are bots. AI-based bots can perform certain human activities at a scale and speed beyond human capacity. Whether they are chatbots who can communicate, engage with, or troubleshoot customer concerns, or research bots that comb through terabytes of data to feed you critical competitor updates and data in real-time, bots are here to stay. That said, let’s take a deep dive into the bot ecosystem.

The Rise of the (Ro)Bots

Bots can be classified into two categories based on how they function. First, we have rule-based bots or pre-programmed bots. These bots rely on a dialog scheme that represents a decision tree where a conversation is prompted by logic jumps. In such cases, the interaction involves selecting from a limited list of preset options like “Why is my order late?” or “How soon will my order be ready?” This allows the bot to stick to a script. The other type of bot, the AI-enabled bot, is capable of conversing in loose dialog, which is dialog unguided by a script. These bots use natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) to analyze various aspects of the customer interaction such as intent, context, and complexity.

Chatbots have, during the course of the past decade, become a mainstay of the marketing framework. They have simplified the way businesses engage and re-engage customers stuck in the purchase funnel, reduced churn rate by analyzing buying pattern data and interaction preferences and providing personalized services, and enriched the post-sales journey.

The rise of AI-based chatbots has enabled businesses to communicate with their stakeholders without interfering with human-centric sales and marketing tasks. In alignment with today’s zeitgeist of highly personalized marketing, chatbots have introduced a new dimension of preference-based interactions. As a result, businesses are finding more reasons to deploy AI to automate prospecting, generate better leads, enhance researching capabilities, and improve customer experiences.

Dystopia or Utopia: The Debatable Future of AI in Sales and Marketing

Yes, bots have had a tremendous influence on the digitalization of modern sales and marketing frameworks. It is also more probable than not that bots will shape the future of personalized communications and impact purchase patterns. But there are pitfalls even to this growth.

In recent times, the proliferation of advanced malicious bots has become a pressing concern for businesses. This new race of bots is designed to attack infrastructure and incapacitate digital operations, extract sensitive information, and reduce overall productivity. What’s even more concerning is that 88% of organizations say that it is becoming increasingly difficult to detect these malicious bots.

Bots designed by humans to target vulnerabilities are one thing. But what happens when we reach a point where AI based bots have interactions with other AI bots with malicious intentions which can make bots learn to do what’s undesirable for the business? Given their learning models, bots may pick up unexplainable behavior that have a negative impact on organizational processes. Imagine another scenario where bots being used for selling goods online are interacting with the bots being used for procurement online. It would be interesting to see who wins or if it is a win-win situation.

But like all takes on good versus evil, it’s never simply black and white. In fact, many bots fall into the proverbial grey area—the questionable bots. These bots are good/bad depending on their business goals or simply on the situation and perspective. Social media bots, for instance, are good while automating social media campaigns and resharing relevant content. But they are bad when they disseminate malicious content and manipulate audiences.

Doing it Right

Inventions and innovations are focused at making lives better by offering positives. But, they may also cause disruptions and pitfalls unless enterprises design appropriate strategies to realise their full potentials. The same principle applies on AI and automation, which have immense promise. Their business benefits can only be optimised by astute planning, seamless implementation, and ultimately systemic delivery models. Bots will continue to influence and generate new business opportunities through multiple channels of communication, and the marketing and sales future of enterprises will be fast moving. The speed of doing business has to translate to the value generated, and AI and automation will expedite that pursuit.

In order to truly benefit from automation, sales and marketing teams must first standardise their own processes. This is a particularly important factor considering the blend of co-location and remote operations of the post-pandemic era. Once this is done, businesses will begin to see a measurable impact and lower costs related to data integration, technological deployment, and change management. But, businesses will need to opt for an implementation approach that is customised to the sales and marketing value chain. We may soon face a world where customers prefer talking to machines, because of their ability to offer instantaneous, empathetic, and value-added solutions.

Authored by:

Ravi Kathuria

SVP Marketing, Communications & Corporate Affairs , HCL Technologies Ltd.

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Covid-19 is changing the way we win clients

The pandemic is an opportunity for businesses to break out of legacy systems and develop a more agile approach to client engagement.

Covid-19 has created a tough season for every business. And companies in the business services domain face bigger challenges as they are dependent on clients to stay functional—and vice versa. For many organisations, the discussion boils down to: How do we interact with our clients in this situation? And how do we keep our and clients’ business running?

In these unprecedented times, with companies having to shift to remote engagement, the major challenge for many organisations is to maintain a continuous client connect. In a B2B scenario, client interactions require seamless and secure communication and collaboration. So, it boils down to providing a differentiated experience to clients. Taking it further, it’s about what companies can do to help existing clients, retain them, and probably win more.

This is an opportunity for businesses to break out of legacy systems and develop a more agile approach to client engagement. For example, companies hosted thousands of client visits pre-Covid. Apart from enabling better business discussions, these visits enable personalised interaction and business intimacy—in short, a ‘personal connect.’ Though these visits have mostly stopped, business isn’t at a standstill. Moreover, business needs continue.

Let’s look at three ways companies can engage with clients and drive business in these difficult times.

  • Enabling differentiated CX via phygital engagement
  • Leading with Thought Leadership content
  • Showcasing employee and community connect

Today, every organisation is undergoing some form of change—creating a new service offering, trying new business channels, or developing a strategic approach for a new campaign. This is an opportunity for organisations to revise their business models for clients and show how you can maintain it until things return to normal. As Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War, said, “Chaos is an opportunity for innovation.”

In the Covid era, business interactions are about providing a differentiated client experience—not just an artificial connect but also emotional. And this is a time to get your organisation’s digital transformation rolling. Shutdowns and restrictions on client interactions are an opportunity to go phygital and enable virtual visits wherever possible.

Live streaming of ‘client show and tell’—where we can deploy AR / VR to present a 3D view of solutions —addresses much of what clients are missing. This makes the experience seamless, interesting, and informative. Through this, clients can see the technology in action, and we can enable AR to turn an ordinary business card into a full-motion visual business pitch. It fulfills the objective of ensuring engagement quotient is high, as well as to assess client reactions.

Along with phygital engagement, organisations should up their content marketing game—through digital events, webinars, research reports, etc. The reason? Traditional models of client engagement are taking a different shape, with investments and ideas going into TL. Show your authenticity as a thought leader by providing your audience the information they want— and in the form they prefer. The idea is to provide smart and short proof points. For example, to showcase your expertise in digital solutions, provide proof points that are impactful and attributable to the digital skills of your organisation.

For example, organisations with inhouse research forums regularly bring out reports on Covid impact across different industry domains, based on market and client requirements. These have resonated well with audiences. Companies that have always led with research and Thought Leadership can make their content sharper and more interactive to help clients find the data they need more easily. The idea is to provide sharper and leaner content, because ‘less is good… and still gains attention.’

Covid-19 has also brought companies’ employee engagement programs center stage. But how is it connected to client engagement? As the focus on employee well-being, productivity, and resilience increases, clients want to ensure their business partners are doing the best in employee engagement, community connect, etc. And this isn’t for business reasons – we’re seeing a genuinely altruistic motive in clients in the welfare of employees of their business partners.

At another level, community work is a huge mental support for people—like donating ICU beds for stretched government institutions during Covid-19 or supplying medical supplies and safety equipment to frontline workers. In fact, volunteer programs are a powerful form of employee engagement. Clients want to see more of this because they know nothing helps employees more than helping others.

Partnerships built in adversity last forever

Overall, empathy is the best form of engagement during tough situations. As you look at things from clients’ perspective, it’s also a season to humanize. The overriding motive should be to collaborate with clients and not confront them. This is probably the time to go soft on that budget demand or give some leeway to pay that invoice, even as you continue your services uninterrupted.

The key point while encountering a situation of this magnitude is to show clients your company can show ownership of the situation, not allow it to dominate you or your clients, and stand by them throughout. Ultimately, it isn’t just about surviving as businesses ourselves, but helping our clients survive… and thrive.

In short, convey to your clients: We are in this together.

This article is authored by Sarika Naik – Chief Marketing Officer and Chairperson, Diversity – India, Capgemini

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Using end-to-end integration to drive the IT industry in the post-pandemic world

As IT service players pursue opportunities riding on new investments, they need to develop an end-to-end, integrated view of enterprises and play a holistic transformation partner role.

The pandemic has been a litmus test for IT service providers in terms of enabling their business continuity, supporting remote employees and ensuring quality service delivery to clients. Indeed, the industry has shown phenomenal resilience in driving these three priorities well.

As IT service players pursue opportunities riding on new investments, they need to develop an end-to-end, integrated view of enterprises and play a holistic transformation partner role.

In the current “Intelligent Industry” paradigm, this is best visualized across the entire gamut of the business value chain – from demand, supply and within the enterprise dimensions. And from a technology standpoint, it has enabled better decision making due to the convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT).

Demand-driven transformation

From a demand standpoint, consumers and clients are displaying greater urgency for a wider profile of products and services from enterprises as their requirements are changing, especially amidst the pandemic.

This warrants innovation in terms of business models, exploring new digitalization avenues as well as enabling an enhanced user experience across the distribution value chain. The propensity of this transformation will be determined by the nature of demand and the channel of user experience.

Enterprises with consistent demand: Businesses that experienced sustained demand during the pandemic and where the digital user experience was already in place (e.g., online retail, online banking, OTT streaming), had greater opportunity to drive new digital ideas and offerings to further enhance the insatiable customer experience.

Touchless facial recognition–based delivery, and innovation to address a specific need of online retail firms during pandemic, is a good example of this requisition.

Enterprises with receding demand but returning to normal: In this segment of enterprises, the user experience earlier was physical, but the demand has progressively grown more digital today.

In healthcare, for example, enterprises have quickly pivoted to providing online consulting experience to patients. We also saw a change in the business style of unorganized retailers who adopted digital apps to order products from FMCG stockists. These innovations in the new normal reflect a surge in demand that is characterized by changing customer behaviors.

Enterprises facing low demand during pandemic: In this segment, the user engagement was and will continue to be physical. Travel and tourism or hospitality industries are good examples.

For instance, we have seen a process where online movie ticketing companies are trying to pivot into a platform for hosting virtual events. Again, digital is playing a role to help enterprises alter their business models to survive these tough times.

 

Supply-driven transformation

With supply chains facing huge disruption, it has become imperative for enterprises to safeguard their business from supply inconsistency. This is driving remediation strategies through digital.

A digitized supply chain strengthens capabilities in anticipating risk, achieving greater visibility and coordination across the supply chain, and managing business concerns that arise from growing product complexity.

For example, the adoption of a new business platform – to identify supplier operations risks in real-time to counter the possible threat of a second COVID-19 wave affecting suppliers in certain regions – by a large automotive OEM in Germany has helped the company redistribute its procurement volumes across other suppliers.

Within-the-enterprise transformation

The pandemic has accelerated the urge and needs for transforming from within, driving companies to do a rethink on employees’ health, safety and productivity.

As remote delivery of services becomes acceptable to clients, IT firms are driving new digitalized ways of working – ushering in Connected Workplaces 2.0. Also, digital is driving transformation with a focus on workers’ health and safety on the shop floor, thereby aligning design and execution team efforts (e.g., R&D and manufacturing) and salesforce productivity to respond to the new situation.

Use of digital technologies for quality control through advanced analytics, robotics and automation to reduce manual errors and improve quality can deliver 30-40% increase in productivity.

For example, a large Indian pharmaceutical firm embraced digital technology in the supply chain in the form of automated material flow, digital information process, and use of augmented and virtual reality for people training and maintenance.

In conclusion, one could say the pandemic has truly cemented the role of technology at the heart of the transformation that enterprises are driving.

Also, enterprises expect greater skin-in-the-game from IT service providers – starting from the business blueprint to architecting to implementing to maintaining continuous improvement of solutions. This is creating exciting opportunities for the IT services sector. These are tough times, but the industry will see it through!

This article is authored by Ananth Chandramouli, Managing Director — India Business Unit, Capgemini

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Golden Rules for Virtual Training

This pandemic has truly turned the world topsy-turvy! But like finding a silver lining in any dark cloud, we must look at all the innovation and solutions that are emerging because of remote working. I, for one, have been particularly impressed with how the Learning Industry is still thriving and how seamlessly trainings have moved from in-person classroom set up to virtual experiences. While virtual trainings are not new, there is an increased focus now on the learner experience and the efficiency with which the learning objectives are met. However, I find that a lot of trainers (even experts) still need to excel in providing the ultimate learning experience while delivering trainings virtually. Below are some golden rules that I think can help with the same. So, if you are involved in virtual trainings, read on:

  1. Tailor your content: During a virtual training, it is easy to forget about the learner because they’re not physically present. The focus is more on what you need to cover during the training. But what we miss out is this key fact – what is important in a training is not just what ‘you want to share’ or what ‘learner needs to know’ but also what ‘learner wants to know’. Always tailor your content keeping in mind what the learners may be interested in knowing based on their background, their role, their context, their current level of understanding and their grasping levels. Doing this homework will help you come up with content that learners want! Also, keep reminding yourself this key fact all through the session as it is easy to switch to your wants and lose focus of what the learner wants when you’re not interacting with learners face-to-face.
  2. Pause for Q&A throughout the session: In many virtual trainings, the trainer asks attendees to hold their questions till the end. This is a debatable rule that I personally think comes in the way of virtual learning and so trainers should really reconsider it. Encouraging curiosity and keeping participants engaged is as important as maintaining the schedule. And this is challenging during a virtual session. The quick fix to this would be to insert a brief Q&A time after every 20 or so minutes depending on the duration of the session. At least pause and just do a check-in even if they don’t have a question. This will make the participants feel involved and be curious through-out the session as opposed to only in the last 15-minutes during the question and answer time.
  3. Energy levels: I cannot stress enough on the importance of energy levels, especially in virtual trainings. Think of it this way  – your participant’s learner experience is directly proportional to your energy levels. You may ask “I can showcase great energy in a classroom, but how can I possibly demonstrate energy levels when I am delivering a training on a VC?”. Well, there are many ways you can do it. Word choice – as simple as ‘saying’ that you are enthusiastic, the pace at which you are proceeding, the pace at which you are pausing, the volume of your voice, the audio quality, the look and feel of your slides; all of these can reflect energy. You just need to put in some thought and reflect “If I were to make this a high-energy learning experience for my learners, what can I possibly do?” You will be surprised at what you can come up with. Bottom line – don’t underestimate your energy-levels and spend some time thinking how you can do it.
  4. Participant interest: In a classroom set up, it is easy to observe interest levels based on your live assessment of participants sitting in front of you. But in a virtual set up, you do not get this instant feedback and cannot assess interest and attention levels easily. Also, it is easy to forget this aspect in a virtual training. So take a pause once in a while and check if everyone is still with you. Ask them to type their comments or raise their hand (virtually) to show they are still with you. You can think of having one or two ‘assistants’ who keep giving you feedback in 1.1 chat about how the training is going. This way you can keep a pulse check on their attention levels. If there is information that you feel may lose your audience attention, share that as a disclaimer but stress on why you still need to cover it. This will get you a better buy-in and will sub consciously make the participant still pay attention.
  5. Voice is the virtual body language: Often I tell people who are still new to trainings that in a virtual set-up, don’t think you can’t display body language. Accent, diction, tone, speed of your speech, audio quality is equivalent to your body language in the physical world. Think about how much you focus on body language in an in-person classroom set up. Do you do the same with your voice? Your focus on your voice in virtual trainings should be the same as you would focus on your body language in a physical set up. That is going to define the training experience.
  6. Time Duration: This is a big one. Many trainings go on for hours and hours in a single day. My recommendation is do not have any virtual trainings longer than 90 minutes at one go. If your aim is to improve learner experience, then you must accommodate this somehow. Think of splitting your sessions. Plan for a 15-30-minute gap in between two sessions. Learner attention during a long training is more challenging to hold and can be draining for both trainers and learners.
  7. Fun element: Just like you have ice-breakers, activities and other fun elements planned in your classroom sessions, plan for the same in your virtual trainings as well. The more people you can involve, the more the fun. It can be as simple as multiple-choice quiz questions interspersed all through the session. Or, mini-group games by dividing the participants into teams. You can think of different ways of providing a gamified virtual learning experience no matter what the topic is and who the audience is. The options are limitless if you are creative enough. And the result is always great.
  8. Video option: A picture speaks a 1,000 words, and a face speaks what words cannot! It makes a big difference if learners can see their trainer’s face. So even if the interaction is brief, make sure to turn the video on. But know when to turn off the video as well. Play around with it depending on what the participants should focus on at any given time.
  9. Group discussions, whiteboards and other interactive features: A couple of online platforms offer great options for interactions. You can use virtual break-out rooms for group discussions. There are also polls, whiteboards, interactive typing options. These are great way to keep participants engaged in two-way conversation through the session.

You may be new to virtual trainings with more experience in classroom trainings. But believe me, that shouldn’t stop you from delivering a world class virtual learning experience. Dip into your experience to figure what will work and what won’t and try to translate that to a virtual set up. Key thing to remember is to put in the effort to make your own golden rules keeping in mind your learners and that you are not in the same room with them. When you have these two as your guiding principles, I am sure you can provide an ultimate learning experience to your learners no matter where they are located and what topic you are delivering on.

I hope some of these tips come in handy for you. Do let me know your ideas and best practices

This blog is written by Neetha Jagan – Principal program Manager, GCC Bengaluru, Sabre Corp.

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How No-Code Solutions can transform the Engineering and Construction Industry

Project Managers in engineering and construction companies lead a tough life as it is. Being on top of everything right from inspection to procurement to finances is more difficult than it sounds. They are expected to manage a plethora of functions with eagle-like precision as even the slightest of issues might lead to major hurdles going ahead in the project. And for years, this is how the engineering and construction industry functioned. But not anymore! Digital transformation has led to a change in the way processes are carried out.

But what is the best technology one can choose? Today each organization is unique with its own unique processes and requirements. One-size-fits-all ready-to-use COTS software may not be suitable for every size of an infrastructure company. Plus they are hard to customize and may not address all the business needs. On the other hand, getting custom software developed can be a very time consuming and costly affair.

No-code platforms, as a much preferred alternative, provide an easy-to-use visual interface that empowers business users to automate their processes and build applications to meet their unique needs without writing a single line of code.

In no-code, project managers and engineers have found a much-needed messiah in the form of workflow automation that can reduce inefficiencies and hassles from their processes. All without having to write a single line of code.

No-code for engineering and construction is without a doubt the biggest disruptor that ensures the success of complex projects under the time and budget prescribed. In fact, Gartner suggests that despite cost optimizations due to the pandemic, remote development will push more and more organizations to adopt no-code/low-code tools. The benefits that no-code solutions bring to the table are immediate and important. This should come as no surprise because no-code interventions like speed, flexibility, iterability, and democratization are the need of the hour for the engineering and construction industry.

No-code software development drives innovation, preventing you from having a disadvantage over your competitors. No-Code Workflow automation is becoming the norm of the industry, and we are sure you don’t want to be left behind. No-code innovation drives revenue growth, enhances your processes, and increases the speed and quality of your project delivery. Let’s take a look at exactly how your organization stands to benefit by adopting the no-code approach:

Benefits of no-code in engineering and construction

1. Site inspection for Engineering and Construction

With no-code tools, you can customize your site visit forms to capture key parameters, photos, videos, and all other data you need to create a detailed and accurate project plan and pricing. This leads to enhanced productivity, as the speed of collecting substantial and precise data with apps that deliver instant data updates to a secure central location is greatly increased.

Make delays a thing of the past with the power to automate status updates from inspections and share them with your team in no time. By using flexible workflow automation to route data for approvals, you can greatly enhance the speed and efficiency of decision making. Another benefit of no-code for the engineering and construction industry is that it reduces the dependency on inspectors and operators to gather information and produce reports by instantly recording data. These records are rich, insightful, and allow you to dig deep into inspection processes.

2. Project estimation

Project managers are required to find the right balance between the six constraints of scope, time, cost, quality, resources, and risk to arrive at the accurate estimation of a project. Enabled with the power of rich and precise reports, you can estimate and finalize your Bill of Quantities based on the insights gathered from the site survey and budget. As a result of workflow automation, you have every piece of data you need to successfully estimate within the given constraints and execute the most complex of projects with ease.

3. Quotation management

Quotation management requires a myriad of considerations to be taken into account right from the quantity of work to contingencies. Even the slightest of misestimation can have major consequences going forward and might hamper the overall success of the project greatly.

Lucky for you, no-code takes care of it all! No-code for the construction industry uses data from field surveys and project estimation to streamline quotation management. It allows you to generate and deliver automated quotations to your clients right through the platform. An added benefit? Elimination of any and all errors that might creep in through the manual method, ensuring that absolutely nothing hampers your project going forward.

4. Project management for Engineering and Construction Industry

Project management is the trickiest of the lot as it requires juggling multiple projects having varying levels of priorities, deadlines, and resources. Project managers need to constantly track timelines, progress, and results in order to ensure the successful completion of projects. Like we said before, this is where workflow automation using no-code solutions act as a boon. No-code solutions can help you glide through all the stages of the project management lifecycle, i.e, project initiation, project planning, project execution, project monitoring and control, and lastly project closure.

We hope you are not under the misconception that no-code platforms lead to the development of only simple and basic apps that aren’t complex enough to suit your project management needs. This is completely false, as the top no-code platforms have the power to help you build end-to-end enterprise applications without writing a single line of code.

So what are you waiting for? Plan your resources, time, assets, and set precise daily targets for on-time execution of the project and ensure customer satisfaction with no-code solutions. Easily allocate tasks, check on the progress, and make every project a roaring success through the intervention of automated workflows.

5. Procurement management

No-code digitization brings unmatched visibility and control to engineering and construction processes. Such solutions help you in simplifying the purchase order processes with apps to collect orders, manage purchase requests, and much more. You can also track and oversee purchase approvals anytime, anywhere.

Wait, there’s more! With the aid of analytics, you can also monitor and oversee all your purchase requests in real-time. Observe trends and use them to your advantage to better your processes through actionable insights.

6. Project execution

Project execution is the third step in the project life cycle and undoubtedly one of the most crucial phases. This includes taking a stock of the deliverables and presenting them to customers and stakeholders. For project managers, this is naturally the longest phase of the project life cycle and is highly demanding in nature. How no-code helps you here is by letting you track the daily installation status, material dispatch, and track your on-field workforce to attain greater visibility in the project. It also allows your field staff to enter data that includes videos and images from anywhere using any device.

Common gaps like ineffective governance over the project or limited visibility over final goals can be easily eliminated by employing the benefits of workflow automation. To ensure that all elements of the project are visible, project managers can be enabled to communicate their data-driven projections regarding the progression of the project, within the relevant process maps.

7. Asset management and maintenance

Inculcating an asset management solution into your organization ensures that all on-site and off-site workers have the power to collect and access critical asset performance data, that too in real-time. As you can collect and store this data, you can maximize the usability of assets that are integral to your day-to-day operations across various project sites.

The ease and applicability of this solution are enhanced further through the use of no-code solutions. Without a single line of code, you can create an online asset repository that manages the maintenance of equipment through pre-configured preventive maintenance schedules (with inbuilt reminders and notifications) and subsequently minimizes emergency repairs and reduce operational costs.

8. Engineering and Construction Health and safety

Health and safety is a multi-step process that includes the on-site staff, people in the surroundings, supervisors, and managers, to name some. Stringent overview of activities and effective site supervision is the key to maintain high health and safety standards. With regards to construction activities, the higher the risk, the greater the degree of hazard control, and required supervision.

No-code tools can help project managers enormously in this regard. Active use of EHS checklist apps reduces the chances of any accidents. Incident reporting apps let field staff report any issues while capturing GPS location along with video or images. Project managers can also speed up the incident resolution by connecting the right people at the right time.

9. Engineering, procurement & construction CRM

As mentioned above, having a data repository in place brings an unmatched level of advantage to engineering and construction companies. No-code tools help you set up a central database to save, organize, access information about prospects and clients. This app can also enable reminders and tracking for all important dates, activities, appointments, tasks, meetings, etc. with prospects and clients.

Takeaway

To sum up, if you are a part of an engineering and construction industry and want to leverage a digital technology that is flexible and agile, then the adoption of no-code tools is a no-brainer. As you empower your staff to use no-code tools to automate business processes and build applications, increased collaboration amongst the sales, operations, and marketing teams will be a given. This would lead to better visibility over projects, higher synchronization with project goals, and substantial results when it comes to project delivery.

Transforming your future is just one decision away.

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NASSCOM Public Policy Monthly Newsletter: March 2021

NASSCOM : Public Policy | Volume 2 | Issue 3 | March 2021
Focus of the month
Line
Bullet   Union Budget 2021-22
The Union Budget 2021-22 seizes the available opportunities for growth in the technology sector by extending a conducive fiscal and policy environment. It also leverages India’s existing strengths, for example, in financial technology with a proposal to set up a world-class fintech hub and an allocation of INR 1,500 crore to provide financial incentives for digital payments. Moreover, there is increased focus on innovation and skilling, which will enhance Indian IT-ITeS industry’s growth. Key highlights of the budget are available here.

On 2 February 2021, NASSCOM conducted an interactive panel discussion on the impact of the Union Budget on the Indian economy and the technology industry. Recording of the discussion is available here. Further, based on the industry feedback, NASSCOM submitted its post budget suggestions to the Ministry of Finance (read more).

Bullet   Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021
On 25 February 2021, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) notified the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (IL & DMEC Rules) under Section 87 read with Section 79(2) of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

The long-awaited rules, which are in supersession of the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules of 2011 (IL Rules) carry forward some of MeitY’s key proposals towards tackling the issue of rapid dissemination of illegal content and misinformation on social media and communications platforms, as indicated in the draft Amendments to the IL Rules released for public consultation in 2018. The IL & DMEC Rules aim to address many of the concern areas of grievance redressal, fake news, online safety, and parity with existing laws. NASSCOM had been working closely with its members to share feedback on the draft Amendments IL Rules, and some of these recommendations have been accepted in the IL & DMEC Rules announced by the Government. From a user perspective, strengthening the grievance redress mechanisms, the option of voluntary self-verification of user accounts and the right to receive explanatory notification on removal or disablement of access and to seek remedy against the action being taken by the intermediaries should be helpful. This will require the right implementation and should not become onerous for the social media platforms (read more).

Submissions and Representations
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Bullet   MeitY: Feedback on the Draft National Blockchain Strategy
Earlier in January, the MeitY released a draft of the National Blockchain Strategy. Based on industry’s feedback, particularly the Banking and Financial Services Industry (BFSI) sector, where early adoption of blockchain has been prominent, NASSCOM made a submission to MeitY on 16 February 2021. The submission, inter alia, highlights the need for shortlisting appropriate use-cases, addressing tokenisation, considering appropriate legislative changes for enabling wider adoption of blockchain and the need for more clarity over the role of the Government as ecosystem developer and regulator.

The submission suggests recognition of sector specific adoption strategies in blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) when it comes to data privacy, and recommends that the final strategy document should be informed by and harmonised with requirements under the soon to be finalised Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 (read more).

Bullet  RBI: Working Group on digital lending, including lending through online platforms and mobile apps
On 5 February 2021, NASSCOM made a submission to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Working Group on digital lending, including lending through online platforms and mobile apps, based on inputs received during member consultation. Our submission highlights issues such as, lack of clarity on the categories of digital lenders and types of loans, presence of fake or unauthorised applications and lack of consumer awareness, among others. We also suggested adoption of a risk based regulatory framework, creation of database of authorized lenders and strengthening the enforcement mechanism for proper implementation of the Guidelines on Fair Practices Code and Outsourcing Guidelines. We will continue to engage with the industry and RBI Working Group on this front. For more information, please write to komal@nasscom.in.
Bullet  Equalisation Levy (EL): Compliance related issues faced by non-resident e-commerce operators
On 10 February 2021, NASSCOM made a representation to Ministry of Finance (MoF) requesting the government to issue a clarification that it is not mandatory for non-resident employee, verifying the annual statement of a non-resident e-commerce operator, to obtain and furnish Permanent Account Number (PAN) in India, as long as a valid Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) is used for verification.This will help in simplifying EL compliances for non-resident e-commerce operators and would be in line with the current process of filing tax returns for non-resident entities (read more).
Bullet  GST: Technical glitches faced by e-commerce operators on the GST Portal while filing GSTR 8
On 10 February 2021, NASSCOM made a representation to the GST Policy Wing to rectify the technical errors being faced by e-commerce companies at the time of computing liability of Tax Collected at Source (TCS) on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) portal.This will enable e-commerce companies to file GSTR 8 along with the correct reflection of credit in the returns of online sellers (read more)
Bullet  MeitY: Classification of items that use encryption technology under export control laws
On 22 February 2021, NASSCOM submitted a proposal to MeitY for review of the Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) Control List of Dual-Use Goods and Technologies. In the proposal, we highlighted the need for clarifying that only those items which use “cryptography for information security” as the primary function should be regulated according to the technical parameters in Category 5 Part 2 of the WA list. Items which use “cryptography for information security” functionality as the secondary criterion should be regulated according to the technical parameters in other categories of the WA List. This will help the industry in seamlessly exporting items/software/technology that uses encryption technology only for a secondary purpose, without requiring a licence from the concerned authorities (read more).
Bullet  SEZ: Issues faced by DTA Suppliers with respect to endorsement
On 10 February 2021, NASSCOM made a representation to the Department of Commerce (DOC) requesting that invoices issued by Domestic Tariff Area (DTA) suppliers should be made available on Special Economic Zone (SEZ) online system. SEZ online system should accept the digitally signed e-invoice received from Invoice Registration Portal (IRP).This will ensure real time availability of data to SEZ authorities. Further, SEZ authorities can validate the data based on information provided by IRP and approve for endorsement on real time basis (read more).
Bullet  Labour Reforms: Seeking prospective applicability of Gratuity provisions
NASSCOM recently made a detailed representation to senior officials of Ministry of Labour & Employment and NITI Aayog seeking their support on the issue of significant financial impact on the employer on account of the enhanced scope in the definition of ‘wages’, particularly related to gratuity, if implemented on a retrospective basis. NASSCOM suggested that the government should consider introducing a grandfather provision under the law to ensure that gratuity calculations are done as per the existing provision till the labour codes become effective. Post that, employers should be allowed to make contributions as per the new definition of wages, on a prospective basis. NASSCOM is actively engaging with the government on this issue and shall keep members informed of further developments.
Bullet  Data Centre Policy: Feedback to Govt of Haryana
Government of Haryana is currently in the process of formulating a Data Centre Policy for the State. In this context, on 8 February 2021, NASSCOM made a submission to the Department of Information Technology (IT), Government of Haryana, highlighting the key requirements of the industry. Our submission, inter alia, suggests that the State Government should introduce a deemed approval system for regulatory clearance, adopt independent building design norms to meet the unique structural requirements of data centres and allow data centres to procure and use renewable energy for 100% of their needs (read more).
Bullet  Tamil Nadu: Reduction in annual changes for laying overhead optical fibre cable
Based on the inputs received from the industry, on 4 February 2021, NASSCOM made a representation to the Department of IT, Government of Tamil Nadu, highlighting concerns around the significant annual charges for laying the overhead optical fibre cable. In our submission, we requested the State Government to review the current tariff policy to ensure the internet related services in the State remain affordable and accessible for businesses and end customers. For more information on this, please write to deepak@nasscom.in.
Dialogue and Discussion
Bullet   Interaction with Ministry of Commerce: Inclusion of e-commerce exports in the new Foreign Trade Policy
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry is undertaking a review of the current Foreign Trade Policy (FTP), which is due to expire on 31 March 2021. NASSCOM has engaged extensively with the government to suggest, inter alia, introduction of provisions relating to e-commerce exports under the new FTP. In this regard, we had made written submissions to the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), specifically for cross-border e-commerce. Further, on 10 February 2021, NASSCOM interacted with senior officials of the DGFT via video-conference to highlight the need for exempting payment of import duty on re-imported returned goods exported via e-commerce, end-to-end digitisation of the entire customs clearance process, creation of a robust logistics environment for e-commerce exports etc. Further, on 11 February 2021, in an interaction with the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, we emphasized that e-commerce is the next big industry that needs focus from an exports perspective.
Bullet   Webinar: Labour Reforms and its impact on the IT-BPM industry
On 24 February 2021, NASSCOM conducted an interactive webinar to discuss the recent labour reforms and its impact on the IT-BPM industry. Several issues related to the impact of social security contributions on wages, definition of contract labour, work from home provision (including overtime provisions) under the Central and State laws were discussed. Post webinar, NASSCOM shared the summary of key concerns received from the participants with the Ministry of Labour & Employment. Recording of the webinar is available here.
Bullet   State IT-ITeS Policy: Interaction with Minister of Industries, Maharashtra
On 25 February 2021, NASSCOM and the Government of Maharashtra organised a meeting to discuss the upcoming Maharashtra IT-ITeS Policy 2021.The meeting was chaired by the Minister of Industry, Maharashtra and over thirty senior industry leaders from the IT-ITeS industry shared their views and suggestions for the upcoming policy. Taking IT-ITeS industry beyond Mumbai and Pune, forming an IT advisory council with participation from the government and industry, separate policies for key segments like data centres and Engineering Research and Development (ER&D), adopting a model Request For Proposal (RFP) for all IT procurement of the State Government and easing out the constraints in the implementation of the policy were some important themes that were discussed. NASSCOM also made a written submission to the Government of Maharashtra highlighting key suggestions (read more).
New and Upcoming
Bullet  Request for inputs: SEBI Consultation Paper on introduction of the concept of “Accredited Investors” in Indian securities market
Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has recently released a consultation paper inviting comments on the proposal to introduce the concept of “Accredited Investors” in the Indian securities market. Accredited Investors are considered to be informed investors on the premise that their financial capacity (generally ascertained from income and/ or net worth) enables them to hire expert managers/ advisors as required. In this regard, we request you to share your inputs/ views on the proposed framework, as well as other ways in which this concept may be utilized in the Indian securities market, and its implications. Please write to tejasvi@nasscom.in and garima@nasscom.in by 9 March, 2021 (read more).
Bullet  Stakeholder Consultation: Payment Guidelines
The Financial sector is facing several challenges related to implementation of the Guidelines on Regulation of Payment Aggregators and Payment Gateways (PAPG Guidelines) and Processing of e-mandates for recurring transactions. NASSCOM made a detailed representation to RBI in January 2021 on issues pertaining to the PAPG Guidelines. However, these issues remain open. In this background, NASSCOM will be organising a virtual meeting in March 2021 to discuss issues related to these payment guidelines and the way forward. For more information, write to komal@nasscom.in.
Bullet  Request for Inputs: SEBI Consultation Paper on Review of regulatory provisions related to Independent Directors
SEBI, on 1 March 2021, released a consultation paper inviting comments on the proposal to review certain provisions relating to Independent Directors (IDs) serving on the board of listed companies. Given the key role IDS play in the overall Corporate Governance framework there is a need to further strengthen the independence of IDs. In this context, SEBI has made few proposals aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of IDs in protecting the interest of the minority shareholders, and other functions. Please send your feedback on the proposals by 20 March 2021 to tejasvi@nasscom.in (read more).
Other Updates
Bullet   RBI: Master Direction on Digital Payment Security Controls
On 18 February 2021, RBI issued the Master Direction on Digital Payment Security Controls. It provides necessary guidelines for regulated entities to set up a robust governance structure for security systems and to implement common minimum standards of security controls for digital payment products and services (read more).
Bullet   GST: SOP for implementation of the provision for suspension of GST registrations under CGST Rules
Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), on 11 February 2021, issued a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for implementation of provisions relating to suspension of registrations under the newly inserted sub-rule 2A of Rule 21A of Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) Rules, 2017. The rules provide for power to suspend GST registrations in cases where there are significant differences or anomalies in the returns furnished by the taxpayer, indicating contravention of the provisions of the CGST Act or the rules. The SOP provides that taxpayers whose registrations are suspended would be required to reply to jurisdictional officer against the notice for cancellation of registration in FORM GST REG-18 through the common portal within 30 days from the receipt of notice/intimation (read more).
Bullet   GST: Issue of Circular to clarify certain aspects relating to Dynamic QR Code
The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) issued a circular on February 23, 2021 to clarify certain aspects related to applicability of Dynamic Quick Response (QR) Code on Business to Customer (B2C) invoices. This circular clarifies that the requirement is not applicable for exports and for non-resident Online Information Database Access and Retrieval services (OIDAR) suppliers. Further, in certain cases, the supplier makes available to customers an electronic mode of payment like Unified Payments Interface (UPI) Collect, UPI Intent etc. where Dynamic QR Code is not displayed. In such cases, if cross reference of the payment made using such electronic modes of payment is made on the invoice, the invoice shall be deemed to comply with the requirement of Dynamic QR Code (read more).
Bullet   MCA relaxes definition of “listed companies”
Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), on 19 February 2021, notified certain classes of companies which shall not be considered as ‘listed companies’ under the Companies Act, 2013 (Companies Act), by inserting a new rule in Companies (Specification of definitions details) Rules, 2014. Prior to this notification, a company with any of its securities listed on a stock exchange was considered as a listed company and was required to comply with SEBI regulations, in addition to compliances under the Companies Act. Now, such companies would not be treated on the same footing as other equity listed companies for the purpose of undertaking compliances under the Companies Act and SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations 2015 (read more).
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