In the recent inauguration of the Bengaluru Tech Summit, Mr. Narendra Modi said that our governance model is Tech-First.
The tech adoption rate has been the highest during the pandemic, forcing people to forgo usual tasks and work online. This phase has been called “the quickening” where a decade’s worth of tech adoption happened in 6 months. With sectors such as education, retail, and finance going online, it’s been a great boost for the country with respect to technology.
According to Narendra Modi, India is at a very advantageous stage where we can create technology solutions in India which can then be deployed throughout the world. India has good technologists with the ability to find solutions. One of the most beneficial of these advancements were farmers and families in rural areas, who were able to order necessities at the click of a button.
With the mitigation of compliance with regards to the IT sector, it will be easier for India to deploy its solutions to different parts of the world. The theme of the tech summit is “Next is now”. Modi said that it was only fitting that technology was aiding with the organizing of this event. In the inauguration, the PM also spoke about the importance of technology in the Indian government, and the benefits it has yielded for everyone, and how Indian technologists will keep yielding benefits for themselves and everyone related to them.
Technology has already become a huge part of our day to day life and it will only make life easier for us. Improved technology requires the best minds to come together and find solutions. And thereby calling for the fortification of tech teams. Without great tech leaders with visions, there is no scope for improvement. This means every company will look for tech leaders as CTO’s will be indispensable for an organization to thrive.
With employees working hard despite the slump in business due to the pandemic, companies like Unacademy, Zerodha, Meesho offered the ESOP buyback options to their employees as a way of showing their gratitude as well as incentivize them. ESOP is a way of letting employees know that they are a part of the company and it motivates them to work smarter.
What is ESOP buyback?
Under an ESOP buyback, employees holding vested ESOPs can sell their ESOPs to their company or employer. Startup companies may choose to buy back the ESOPs at a premium under specific instances. Employees get a chance to share the rich valuations and feel rewarded for their continued commitment. The buyback creates wealth for both the employer and employee.
Buybacks can easily be called a method of employee compensation by startups. The scheme is offered to improve pay packages thereby ensuring a higher employee retention rate, which is the biggest challenge faced by many startups today.
Two of our clients- PharmEasy and Swiggy have announced that they will be buying back their stocks from the employees as a way to support their families and as a way to deal with the operational losses caused by COVID -19.
Leading Health-Tech brand, PharmEasy has decided to buy back the stocks for around $3 million. With the competition increasing in the sector, with Amazon and Reliance entering the market, PharmEasy is using this as a wa`y to inculcate confidence within its employees. The buyback will benefit the early employees majorly. In the latest funding round in November 2019, PharmEasy raised $220 Million.
With FoodTech getting back to their feet after the lockdowns, Swiggy says that they’ve recovered by 80% with the food delivery services. To incentivize the employees, they will also be introducing the ESOP Buyback options. The buyback will benefit both current and former employees of the company. Some of them may profit about 3x from the initial price.
With the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the horizon, it is important to invest not just in innovations but also in people who understand technology. With AI and automation on the rise, developing software is just as important as understanding them. Many employees will need to reskill and upskill based on their job requirements to stay relevant to the market.
There were mass layoffs when COVID happened. People were not sure if they’d continue having their jobs or not. But while some industries were firing, some were hiring. Especially tech professionals, after the shift of most businesses to the online platform. Along with software developers, the cybersecurity field, cloud and infrastructure, and data science fields were hiring. Even before COVID-19, the skill requirement of major companies was changing. The pandemic has simply forced people to evaluate their business models and the skills expected by their employers for future business purposes and to accelerate digitization.
According to an article from McKinsey, employees will need four sets of skills that could help to lay a business’ foundation. They are digital, cognitive, social and emotional, and adaptability and resilience skills. The pandemic has escalated the desperate need for digital professional skillsets to help companies integrate themselves with the various technologies and platforms of today. Companies are also looking for people who can take initiatives, look at the broader picture, and sustain the business from any part of the world.
Many businesses have moved to the digital space, and hence, the employability of candidates with digital skills seem to be the highest. But it is not the only skill employers are looking for. They want candidates with other skills such as leadership skills, creativity, innovation, and adaptability. Because of the inability to conduct personal interviews, the ability to articulate and express themselves makes communication an important skill. With most of the companies now looking towards a hybrid remote-working future, these skills are going to be the most in-demand.
According to an article in Forbes, the work assigned to the employees must be as independent as possible because Work From Home does not ideally mean standard working hours, good connection, and a WFH setup. So, the skills that will essentially be required would be basic technical skills, leadership, and communication skills. Digitization has increased the demand for technical skills and analytical skills, as the consumers now prefer online products and services rather than offline experiences and hence more data is available for the analysis.
Demand for both “digital” and “human” factors drives growth in potential occupations. In parallel, seven main professional clusters are emerging. These represent, on the one hand, the adoption of emerging technologies — increasing demand for green economy jobs, leading positions in the data and AI economy, as well as new roles in engineering, cloud computing, and product growth. On the other hand, the ongoing importance of human interaction in the modern economy is also expressed in developing occupations, giving rise to greater demand for employment in the care economy; positions in marketing, sales, and content production; as well as positions at the forefront of people and culture. Indeed, the future of work highlights the need for a wide range of skills to complement these career opportunities, including both disruptive technological skills, but also advanced industry skills and core business skills.
In the Post- COVID scenario, the highest-demand skills will include both technological and cross-functional skills. Growing demand for high-growth careers has further driven the value of a range of distinctive skill sets which promise growth and prosperity in the new economy. While some technical clusters, such as Data and AI and Engineering and Cloud Computing, require strong expertise in digital technology, other high-growth careers place greater focus on business skills or specific industry skills. These in-demand skills can be categorized into five distinct skill clusters: Business Skills, Specialized Industry Skills, General and Soft Skills, Tech Baseline Skills, and Tech Disruptive Skills.
Sequoia Capital India raised $1.35 billion across two rounds of funding for India and SEA, $525m for venture funds, and $825m for growth funds. In the past, they’ve made more than 200 investments in both India and SEA. With the Indian market and entrepreneurs proving themselves, Sequoia Capital India has been able to raise these funds for India and SEA, hoping that their returns are mutually beneficial. As per CB Insights, Sequoia Capital India invested in 80 startups in 2019 alone, in various funding stages including seeding and the other funding levels.
Another change that we’re seeing is that people are more willing to invest in startups after seeing the success of startups in India, the major cities being Bengaluru, NCR Gurgaon, and Mumbai. The most successful startups in India include Flipkart which was bought by Walmart for a value of $16b, and other notable startups from India are Ola, Swiggy, Zomato, Paytm, BYJU’s, and OYO, which are considered to be unicorns.
According to an article from Wharton, Entrepreneurship is embedded in India’s culture and economics. It might not have been technology-related but it only took the first wave for it to focus on technology. And that the last decade has seen a significant rise on many fronts such as startups, investment rounds, global investors, and internationalization.
But, now there are other factors to be considered due to the pandemic. These are times when the business models are going to be tested. They want assurance that their investments will reap rewards. Investors and CEO’s are forced to introspect and calculate the unit economics in such a volatile market where cashflow is less and businesses are slow. When startups grow, it is difficult to measure their business at a large scale and the essence of business growth is unit economics. Simply put, it is the cost price and the returns from the acquisition. Given the situation of the pandemic where the businesses are losing out on revenues, it has become non-negotiable especially for startups to measure the ROI and spend/invest money smartly to ensure maximum customer retention and revenue.
But, the major reasons for this decision could be COVID which is going to expand tech business in the Asian market as companies are forced to digitize, also because Chinese apps and products are slowly being removed from the market and to match the manufacturing processes and to meet consumer demands and requirements, technology needs to be improved. Another reason could be visa restrictions which might cause the repatriation, and as per ET, with the lockdown, and the recruitment of IIM and IIT graduates being a little hazy, they would rather start a company of their own than risk being repatriated. Risks are high in both, but at least startups have more hope than with the way things are going in the other end of the world.
Along with the economic fall due to COVID 19, Trump has now imposed additional restrictions on H1B and L1 visas. They are further suspended up to the end of 2020. Employees from other nations are considered a risk to the US market. This piece of news has taken major MNCs and employees who were planning to move to America by storm. Companies in the US worry that these restrictions might discourage qualified workers from coming into the country. Employees have been advised to change their status in the country and remain there. They are recommended to travel only if they are eligible for re-entry.
Yair Vardi is a co-founder and partner at Fusion LA, which accelerates the growth of startups by helping raise funds says that this news has hampered the company’s ability to build a business in the US. Other businesses also speculate that scaling up in the US market has become increasingly difficult. And the fact that it also impairs the international trade. Numerous other entrepreneurs face the same predicament as Vardi.
The suspension of the visas has severely impacted the growth of startups who have been advised to not lose momentum and begin the exploration of new markets with lesser trade restrictions. Trump has been looking to restrict legal immigrants from working in America since he signed the “Buy American, Hire American” executive order. It seems like his objective is being achieved, as the restriction on visa laws may free up more than half a million jobs for the workers in the country. Experts consider this decision a power move for the upcoming presidential election in 2020.
This piece of news is going to bring a tremendous change in the Indian job market because earlier, all IIT and IIM graduates would look forward to going to the US. And given the current circumstances(Make in India drive fueled by anti-Chinese sentiments), they would have to settle here. This might be challenging in the beginning, but it might just be a boon for the Indian economy because the techies would want to start something of their own and boost the falling economy. India will have to up its technology game to start meeting the requirements of the consumers. Although, this won’t prove very difficult since many of the CEOs in American tech companies are Indian. Most companies looking to digitize are in luck, the active tech talent pool in India is at an all-time high.
Almost a year back we were living in a world that seems completely different from the one that we live in today. The COVID-19 outbreak has forced us to change the lenses through which we look at companies and individuals. This is a story of one such company and one such individual who were united by their changed perspectives.
In May 2019, Purple Quarter was engaged with a SaaS giant for a Tech Leadership role. The firm was almost on the verge of becoming a Unicorn, a feat they still aspire today. We introduced them to a tech leader that in our opinion was a perfect fit for the company. He had a couple of decades of experience in product based SaaS companies and was then working for a company valued less than 5 times to the one he was applying for.
Even though the tech leader had job offers in multi-billion dollar companies overseas, staying in India was his top priority. There is no denying that the SaaS giant’s leadership position he was gunning for has one of the best tech infrastructure in the country, thus, in India, was one of the biggest targets for people with similar profiles.
However, the company was on an upward trajectory and wanted people with experience in larger firms. Another reason for the mismatch of the profile was that the tech leader wanted a remote work option to stay close to his family when necessary. Needless to say, the tech leader stayed in the same company and the mandate for the role also died down.
Fast forward to May 2020. While most companies were struggling to find a revenue stream, this particular firm, like many other SaaS companies, saw an opportunity to expand and grow. They needed urgent leaders to run their expanding business. However, this time, they were looking at candidates with more agility, flexibility, people with hands on experience with scale, people who are not afraid to come out of their comfort zone to try new things.
Remote working was another area where the perspective of the SaaS firm changed along with the entire world. Company functions that we never imagined would be possible to be done remotely was pivoting to remote roles.
We got a mandate to close the leadership position as soon as possible. Typically, a role of such stature takes 60 days to close. But Purple Quarter knew exactly where to go. In just 30 days of the revised mandate, we were working on onboarding the Tech leader in the SaaS giant. It is truly commendable how quickly the SaaS major adapted to the ‘New Normal’ and got the same Tech Leader onboard in under a month. It truly is a testament to their leadership team, their TA leader and the Tech Leader for making this happen.
This is just one company changing its outlook to accommodate a post-COVID-19 worldview. There will be numerous such examples.
We are living in uncertain times. The only certainty about the COVID-19 pandemic is that it will eventually end, and when it does, many of the changes it has brought will recede. Consumers will once more shop and socialize, supply and demand will rebalance, and markets will recover. History tells us, however, to also expect some lasting change in the wake of the crisis—such as Glass-Steagall after the Great Depression, increased suburbanization after World War II, and heightened security following 9/11. Similarly, in the wake of the turmoil, company performance and position can either shift temporarily, or permanently.
Companies that master both the transitory and the transformational response to a crisis reap long-term rewards. Transitory responses entail rapid actions that are critical for survival, including protecting employees, managing cash, and flexing supply chains to meet demand. But occupying new positions and building new advantages requires transformational moves and investment. In a crisis, when the immediate response can be all-consuming, transformational moves are harder.
How can you be ready for a Post COVID-19 World
Expect change and look ahead: Organizations tend to become myopic and insular when under threat. But crises often mark strategic inflection points, and a focus on the present should not crowd out consideration of the future. The key questions become, what next, and with what consequences and opportunities?
Understand broader social shifts: Addressable opportunities are often born out of new customer needs and frustrations, so listening to customers is vital. However, traditional surveys tell you only about existing product and category needs and uses; consumers may not be explicitly aware of their emerging needs. Companies need to look more broadly at how social attitudes are shifting to understand which observed changes in behavior and consumption could be lasting.
Scrutinize high-frequency data: Aggregates, averages, and episodic statistical data will not reveal the weak signals of change. Companies need to access and analyze high-frequency data, such as data on credit card transactions, at a very granular level to spot emerging trends.
Identify your revealed weaknesses: The crisis will unquestionably exhibit needs for more sweeping readiness, flexibility, agility, or leanness in different parts of your company. Those weaknesses also signal opportunities to renew your products and business model and serve customers better. They may also help you understand broader customer needs since others are likely to be experiencing similar stresses.
Study regions further ahead in the crisis: China and Korea are many weeks ahead of Western countries in their experience of crisis and recovery. By studying what happened in these markets, leaders can better predict which changes are likely to stick or could be shaped. A geographical fast-follower strategy may be available to agile players.
Scan for nonconformist activity: Some companies, often smaller players on the edges of your industry, will be making bets predicated on new customer needs or behavioral patterns. Ask yourself, who are these mavericks, and which potential branches and leaves on the tree of possible shifts are they betting on? Are those bets gaining traction? What are you missing? From there, you can decide on the appropriate response to each opportunity or threat: ignore, investigate further, create an option to play, replicate and exceed, buy the maverick, or act with high priority.
Look at which new patterns reduce friction: Frictions are unnecessary delays, costs, complexities, mismatches with needs, or other inconveniences that a customer experiences in using a particular offering. Forced habits that entail more friction than the traditional alternative are likely to be temporary: we may be forced to eat only canned food from our pantries in a crisis, but many are likely to return promptly to consuming fresh food when it is over. On the other hand, forced habits that reduce friction are more likely to stick: how many of us relish the thought of carving out a couple of hours each day to reach our workplaces? High-friction areas are also ones where it is logical for mavericks to innovate and where they are more likely to succeed.
Maintain hope and growth orientation: It’s almost inevitable that we will face a deep post-crisis recession. This is not a reason to postpone innovation and investment. Counterintuitively, 14% of companies grew both their top and bottom lines during recent economic downturns, and our analysis shows they create value mainly through differential growth. This is true across all industries. The evidence is clear: the best time to grow differentially is when aggregate growth is low. Flourishers, in a downturn, do reduce costs to maintain viability, but they also innovate around new opportunities, and they reinvest in growth pillars to capture the opportunity in adversity and shape the post-crisis future.
The line between business and technology is increasingly becoming blurred. Digital Innovation and adoption has left no other choice. In this evolving landscape, the roles of a Chief Information Officer (CIO) of a company and a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) have changed too.
We need to take a closer look at how this new environment has given more power to these two highly sought after profiles.
CTOs Have A Bigger Role To Play Than Ever Before
If the proposition that “Technology is King” is true for an organization, then it is safe to say that a CTO is the Kingmaker. The fact that this position was a fringe one about 10 years back is a testament to the fact that businesses today have changed how they work completely. The role of CTO has become such a key for an organization that even the White House appointed its very first CTO, Aneesh Chopra in 2009.
In most companies, a CTO is running an engineering team while also keeping the customer, end product and revenue growth in focus. Apart from that, they have a key role in a technical evangelist to play.
CIOs Are No Longer At The Backseat
The roles of the Chief Information Officer and Chief Innovation Officer have merged. Traditionally speaking, the role of a CIO would be to compile and interpret data on corporate technology. Once the gathered data becomes relevant information, the CIO would implement procedures on strategic planning, operational efficiency and more. If we have to draw a strawman, a CIO would be a person who takes a backseat when it comes to running the business.
However, that’s not the case now. Catalyzed by the fact that businesses need to grow and adapt at a faster rate than ever before, a Chief Information Officer has engulfed the responsibilities of the internal role of a Chief Innovation Officer. Now, not only do CIOs have to change and evolve their own skills/ideas at every turn, but they also have to make sure their organization is evolving too.
The contrast between the roles of CIO and CTO
One of the biggest differences between these two profiles is that a CIO generally plays a more introspective role within the company whereas a CTO would look externally. When a CIO will be looking at the day-to-day operations, a CTO would be looking at the customer’s needs. In larger organizations, it would be safe to say that the CIO manages IT infrastructure and the CTO manages the business’s technology architecture. However, when resources are unavailable, a CTO generally would take over the responsibilities of a CIO.
Coming to the skill requirements, the technical knowledge of the CTO should be off the charts in multiple domains. If you are building one of the world’s best tech companies, you should ideally have one of the world’s best CTOs. However, a CIO doesn’t need to be too tech-savvy. CIOs need to possess organizational skills, managerial skills. It is often the case that CIOs are chosen to be employees with experience within the company while it is common to hire a CTO externally.
AI began as a pursuit of human intelligence. The term itself is a representation of it.
Although most of that quest has drifted into one sub-area of AI, Machine Intelligence. To broadly state, most of the current machine learning projects have limited domain (individually) with a large amount of data. However, they execute relatively simple tasks and are not very creative.
Effectively, we have ended up creating machines that can solve some problems better than us, but they are nowhere close to us when it comes to “intelligence.” These AI-enabled machines are doing tasks that were being done before but in a more efficient manner.
However, this doesn’t mean that machines aren’t taking away our jobs by these kinds of AIs. To start off with, it will mostly be routine jobs that are going to be replaced. In the near future, it won’t be the entire workforce, but surely 50-80% of jobs in multiple domains are capable of being automated. This is a significant number to shake up the entire workforce.
When we think of routine jobs, there is a prevalent misconception that only blue-collared jobs like assembly lines or physical jobs that don’t require a high level of dexterity (like fruit picking and dishwashing) will get automated. However, it is likely that routine white-collar jobs are going to be automated.
Think of it, to replace white-collar workers, all you need is a piece of software but to replace a blue-collar worker; you need robotics, mechanical excellence, ability to deal with dexterity and the potential to navigate unknown environments.
Some of the white-collar jobs like back offices where basic search and management of data takes place can already be replaced by advanced ML tools. Tasks that don’t require strategic decision makings like dealing with new employee orientation, simple computer programming, and copy-pasting stuff, can be done by AI.
In the next 5 years, the number of jobs lost, both white and blue-collar will be modest. However, it will increase exponentially after that when the technology improves and adoption increases.
Like it or not, we are heading towards a society that will be deeply influenced hinged on dependance with AI. While there are many Ted-talks out there talking about the technological impact of AI, given below is a list of 10 videos that talk about the sociological repercussion.
How deepfakes undermine truth and threaten democracy-Danielle Citron
Deepfake technology lets people make false but persuasive images, videos and voice recordings of others. As law professor Danielle Citron explains, these highly convincing digital counterfeits can erode the truth. And if you can’t trust your own eyes and ears, you may begin to lose faith in governments, institutions and other people.
A bold idea to replace politicians – César Hidalgo
César Hidalgo has a progressive proposal for mending our tottering political system; automate it. In this provocative talk, he outlines a bold idea to bypass politicians by empowering citizens to create personalized AI representatives that participate directly in democratic decisions. Explore a new way to make collective decisions and expand your understanding of democracy.
The pharmacy of the future? Personalized pills, 3D printed at home – Daniel Kraft
We need to change how we prescribe drugs, says physician Daniel Kraft: too often, medications are dosed incorrectly, cause toxic side effects or just don’t work. In a talk and concept demo, Kraft shares his vision for a future of personalized medication, unveiling a prototype 3D printer that could design pills thatadapt to our individual needs.
How AI can save our humanity – Kai-Fu Lee
Conversations on AI often trigger doomsday thinking, but Kai-Fu Lee offers a more positive outlook. Lee, an innovator in the field of AI, blends gentle humor with heartfelt accounts of his experiences, which include his passage through cancer into remission and a new perspective on life. His position as an investor in Chinese technology firms also provides an insider’s take on the dawn of AI.
How to get empowered, not overpowered, by AI – Max Tegmark
MIT professor Max Tegmark subscribes to the latter school of thought, but he cautions that AI developers must imbue their flourishing technology with the right values and safeguards to ensure that AI will act in the interest of humanity as a whole.
Can we build AI without losing control over it? – Sam Harris
In this Ted Talk, Neuroscientist Sam Harris speaks to the dichotomy of our enthusiasm quest toward artificial superintelligence while we knowingly ignore the perils that await us at our desired destination. It is a frightening yet intriguing conversation about where we are going with AI.
What happens when we take humans out of work? – Tomer Garzberg
AI will take our jobs—and that is a good thing, argues Tomer Garzberg. He tells how intelligent robots are already supplanting people, freeing us to imagine new roles for ourselves, and also surveys endeavors that are likely to remain human for some time to come.
How we’ll earn money in a future without jobs – Martin Ford
Futurist Martin Ford says intelligent machines will replace humans throughout the workforce, causing widespread unemployment and rattling the economy.
The incredible inventions of intuitive AI – Maurice Conti
What do you get when you give a design tool a digital nervous system? Computers that improve our ability to think and imagine, and robotic systems that come up with radical new designs for bridges, cars, drones and much more — all by themselves. Take a look of the Augmented Age with futurist Maurice Conti and preview a time when robots and humans will work side-by-side to accomplish things neither could do alone.
How AI can enhance our memory, work and social lives – Tom Gruber
Tom Gruber is the co-creator of Siri, so he knows what he’s talking about. He takes a more positive view of the advances in AI and how it can help us enhance the way we live our day-to-day lives. He shares his vision for a future where AI helps us achieve superhuman performance in perception, creativity, and cognitive function.