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.
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.
Gender Equality and Diversity has been a buzzword for a few years now, at least when it comes to a company aligning its Public Communications with the latest sociological trend. In a survey of 1,000 respondents, Glassdoor found that 67% of job seekers overall look at workforce diversity when evaluating an offer. Numerous studies have linked increased productivity with the same phenomenon.
While gender diversity seems an obvious way to go for all the companies, the implementation of it is a complex issue. From addressing the problem of “Equality of outcome vs equality of opportunity” to tackling one of the founding principles of capitalism: meritocracy; implementation of gender diversity is hard.
However, the leaders listed below went out of their way to not only champion gender diversity but to implement it in the right way in 2019.
Executive Vice President and CHRO, Union Pacific Railroad
Union Pacific has constantly been named as the top gender diversity destination and one of the best employers, all because of leaders like Beth. Seeing a decline in engagement for female employees in 2018, she organized several diverse female employee focus groups. The result of these sessions was enhanced maternity benefits and also the introduction of paternity benefits. Additionally, Beth partnered with the company’s women’s ERG to better understand how the company could support the work-life integration needs of women in operating roles.
If the rail industry, which is thought to be a male-dominated domain can make such efforts, most companies can take this example.
Global Head of Human Resources, Citi
In June 2019, Bloomberg revealed that men earn 29% more than women in the Citigroup. The numbers narrow down when adjusted to the number of hours worked and considering the job roles, however, the statistic is still a matter of concern, especially for the Global Head of Human Resources. Under Sara’s leadership, there is tremendous momentum behind efforts to increase diversity across the firm with a rigorous focus on outcomes. Realizing the business imperative of diversity, Sara has embedded these diversity goals alongside their business goals and is fostering an inclusive workplace environment for employees.
Head of CX Product Development, Cisco
Product development has traditionally been a male-dominated domain but Tony Colon wants to change that, at least for Cisco. To start with, he promoted diverse interview panels with equal gender representation in all panels. He also worked with Talent Acquisition to push for equal gender representation of female candidates in all candidate slates, regardless of market availability and type of role, including data scientists, software engineers, and engineering leaders were female candidates are far fewer.
Jennifer Abman Scott
Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, Society of Women Engineers
While more women than men are graduating with four-year degrees, women are significantly underrepresented in the engineering industry, and more likely to leave due to cultural influences. SWE partnered with career re-entry firm iRelaunch to implement a program that would target a hidden talent pool – women with technical degrees on career breaks – and engage them with internships as a vehicle for re-entry. The Task Force meets the needs of women wanting to return to work after a career break while also addressing the challenges encountered by employers in attaining a diverse workforce at all levels of their organizations. Jennifer has ensured that SWE utilizes its brand, global presence, and reach to find qualified talent and broaden the awareness of these programs to further the work of the Task Force.
SVP Global Engineering, Intuit
Vijay is the Executive Sponsor of the Tech Women Intuit initiative which is a program created to attract, retain and advance women in technology roles at Intuit. His response to solving the diversity-in-tech problem in India was so effective that it changed the course of workplace culture across all of Intuit’s global sites, including adding tremendous support for women in tech at its headquarters in Mountain View. Vijay’s style of empathetic management resulted in several highly impactful programs that were implemented in India, including Women in Tech Ambassadors and the enhancement of benefits related to motherhood, caregiving, and flexible work options.