Archive for the ‘My views on IT’ Category

What’s hot in IT (July 2018) – A perspective from India

August 1, 2018

 

  1. Technology and Policy

 

  • ISRO tests out crew ejection feature on July 5, 2018, in preparation for manned space flights in future
  • Justice Srikrishna Committee submits its report “A free and fair digital economy – protecting privacy, empowering Indians” to Government on July 26, 2018, a landmark development in India’s growth in the digital world
  • WhatsApp introduces Forward button and 5-user limit on immediate forward, to stop mindless fear creation leading to violence in India

 

  1. Education & Research
  • On July 9, 2018, Government of India announce the Institutes of Eminence list with thee in the Government sector – Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, IIT Delhi and IIT Bombay and three in the Private sector – BITS Pilani, Manipal Academy of Higher Learning and the yet to be established Jio University

 

  1. Products
  • Microsoft announces Surface Go in July 2018 to compete with Apple iPad
  1. Markets
  • India’s stock market indices Sensex and NIFTY touch new peaks of 37,000 and 11,270 on July 26, 2018
  • Indian mid-size IT Services company of the RPG group Zensar acquired IndiGo Slate (US-based customer experience company founded by Sandy Sharma and Aaron Duggal) for $ 18 million on July 2018
  • HDFC AMC IPO in July 2018 oversubscribed 82 times!
  • Microsoft stock sky rockets on July 12, 2018 with stock price going past $ 100 and market capitalization going past $ 800 Billion, for the first time in history
  • Facebook sees a drop of $ 119 Billion in market capitalization on July 26, 2018, the largest ever single day drop for any company in the history of stock markets; even worse than Intel losing $ 90 Billion in market value in one day on Sep 22, 2000!
  • Xiaomi IPO on July 9, 2018 in Hong Kong sees mixed response
  • Broadcom (semiconductor company) acquiring CA (IT infrastructure and security services company) for $ 18.9 Billion on July 10, 2018 surprised everyone, particularly after its failed attempt to acquire Qualcomm for more than $ 100 Billion last year

 

  1. Indian IT Companies
  • HCL clocks a turnover of $ 2.05 Billion in April to June 2018 quarter; with this HCL threatens to take India’s No 3 position in the Indian IT services industry long occupied by Wipro
  • TCS announces quarterly results for April June 2018 quarter on July 10, 2018, with the highest growth in 15 quarters; Infosys announces muted results on July 13, 2018
  • Infosys announces $ 750 Crores investment in NOIDA facility with 5,000 seats in July 2018
  • French IT Services major Atos acquired Syntel (Bharat Desai founded Indian IT Services company founded, with 23,000 people and nearly $ 1 Billion annual turnover) for $ 2 Billion on July 23, 2018
  • PayTM goes to Japan thru Japanese PayPay in July 2018

 

  1. Global IT Companies in India
  • On July 9, 2018, Samsung commissions the world’s largest mobile phone assembly plant with capacity to produce 120 million mobile phones in NOIDA (near Delhi) with Rs 5,000 Crores investment
  • CSG to increase headcount in Bengaluru by 1000 more, as per July 2018 announcement
  • OnePlus announces its planned R&D Center in India in July 2018

 

  1. Telecom
  • Vodafone and Idea merger finally gets the Government approval on July 26, 2018
  • New Telecom Policy announced on July 11, 2018; Net Neutrality is upheld
  • BSNL starts offering Net Telephony (reaching any telephone from BSNL App Wings) on July 11, 2018 (said to be the first in India)
  • Reliance Jio announces the launches of Gigabit fiber service Jio GigaFiber from August 15, 2018 to customers in 1,100 towns in India

 

  1. People
  • South Korea’s President visits India in July and launches Samsung’s mobile manufacturing unit in NOIDA, said to be the largest facility in the world

 

  1. General
  • India becomes the 6th global economy as per IMF, based on 2017 GDP of $ 2.59 Billion (USA with 19.4 B, China with 12.2 B, Japan with 4.87 B, Germany with $ 3.67 B and UK with $ 2.62 B are ahead). France with $ 2.58 B is the 7th; Brazil (8th), Italy (9th) and Canada (10th) are the other Top Ten economies of the world.
  • GST completes one year on July 1, 2018, with more benefits and less problems, so far
  • 18-year old Hima Das of Assam creates history by winning Gold in the women’s 400 M gold at the world’s under-20 athletic championship on July 12, 2018, the first ever win in track events for an Indian
  • Modi government wins “no confidence motion” on July 20, 2018
  • European Union slaps a $ 5 Billion fine on Google on July 12, 2018
  • France wins the FIFA World Cup football game winning over Croatia on July 15, 2018
  • Twelve Thai boys and their football coach miraculously rescued by a global team on July 11, 2018 with amazing use of technology (that includes special pumps from Kirloskar in Pune)

 

 

IT in April – June 2018

July 1, 2018

General

Major general developments in April June 2018 quarter include

  • European data privacy law GDPR kicks in on May 25, 2018
  • Brexit Bill (that allows Britain to leave European Union) becomes a Law on June 26, 2018
  • International Yoga Day on June 21, 2018 celebrated globally for four years adds to India’s soft power
  • India achieves 100% electrification on May 1, 2018 with all villages connected to the grid; getting electricity to 100% households would be the next challenge
  • India’s Defence public sector unit BEL starts operation in Vietnam in June 2018
  • April 2018 saw North and South Korea brooking peace and Indian PM and Chinese Premier talk of cordial relations; US President Trump annuals Iran nuclear deal on May 9, 2018 and meet North Korean President in June on June 12, 2018 and North Korea is reportedly giving up “go nuclear” path
  • Several Government of India websites including Defence Ministry website saw a cyber-attack on April 6, 2018

 

Technology

Major technology developments in April June 2018 quarter include

  • Indian Space organization ISRO launched IRNS 1I on April 12, 2018
  • Flying car Kitty Hawk Flyer from Google with 20 mph speed, 20 min flying time and up to 10 feet high (needing no license) was demonstrated on June 4, 2018
  • India has 5 super computers among the Top 500 list released on June 23, 2018
  • Google I/O (May 8 -10, 2018), Microsoft Build (May 7 – 9, 2018) and Apple WWDC (June 4 – 8, 2018) demonstrated amazing technologies / products in the making; AI is at the center-stage
  • Microsoft announces $ 5 Billion investment in IoT
  • Delhi vehicles run on BS VI fuel from April 1, 2018, two years ahead of plan to move by 2020

Markets

Major market developments in April June 2018 quarter include

  • Microsoft surprises everyone by buying GitHub for $ 7.5 Billion on June 4, 2018
  • Wal-Mart acquires 77% stake in Indian e-commerce start-up FlipKart on May 9, 2018 for $ 16 Billion taking FlipKart value to $ 20 Billion, making it the world’s largest acquisition in e-commerce space
  • Stockholm-based Truecaller acquires Indian payment start-up Chillr in India enabling Truecaller payment integration in India on June 13, 2018
  • Schneider acquires Indian automation major L&T Automation division for $ 2 Billion on May 1, 2018
  • PayTM Bank gets ₹ 3,000 Cr. ($ 445 Million) from Softbank on April 2, 2018
  • Aneel Bhusri founded Workday buys Adaptive Insights for $ 1.55 Billion on June 10, 2018
  • French IT services company Teleperformance buys Intelenet for $ 1 Billion in India in June 2018
  • HCL Tech (India’s No 4 IT Services company) buys German firm H&D on June 27, 2018

 

Products

Major product releases in April June 2018 quarter include

  • Apple announces iOS 12, Watch OS 5 and MAC OS Mojave on June 4, 2018
  • Google upgrades its flagship e-mail Gmail in April 2018, said to be a major upgrade since 2011; launches Neighborly, a hyperlocal app in India on June 25, 2018
  • OnePlus 6 launched in May 2018 in India crosses 1 Million sales within 22 days!
  • Nokia released Nokia 5.1, Nokia 3.1 and Nokia 2.1 in Moscow on May 29, 2018
  • Huawei (Huawei’s most ambitious phone) and Asus ZenFone Max Pro (best value for money phone) were launched in India in April 2018

 

Indian IT Companies

Major developments in Indian IT Companies’ actions in April June 2018 quarter include

  • TCS posts good results for 3Q18; annual revenue for FY 2017-18 crosses $ 19 Billion; market capitalization crosses $ 100 Billion on April 23, 2018 and ₹ 7 Lakh Crores on May 25, 2018; announces buyback of Rs 15,000 Crores worth shares on June 15, 2018
  • Wal-Mart acquires 77% stake in Indian e-commerce start-up FlipKart on May 9, 2018 for $ 16 Billion taking FlipKart value to $ 20 Billion, making it the world’s largest acquisition in e-commerce space; FlipKart moves to its new campus in Bangalore with 8.75 Million square feet space to accommodate 7,600 staff
  • L&T InfoTech joins Billion Dollar club in 2018 after crossing $ 1 Billion turnover on March 31, 2018; opens Johannesburg facility with 250 seats in June 2018
  • Ritesh Agarwal founded Indian room aggregator Oyo starts Chinese operations in May 2018 (earlier in Dubai, Malaysia, Nepal, Indonesia)
  • HCL acquires c3i for $ 60 Million on April 5, 2018; forms JV to acquire US-based Actian (with the world’s fastest columnar database product Actian Vector) for $ 330 Million in April 12, 2018
  • NASDAQ-listed Indian IT Services biggie Cognizant enters the prestigious Fortune 200 club (at 195th position) on May 21, 2018; acquires Belgian Analytics & Advisory company Hadera on May 3, 2018

 

MNC Companies in India

Major developments in MNC IT Companies’ actions in April June 2018 quarter include

  • Analog Devices expands India operations in April 2018 taking headcount from 450 to 1,000 in its new 1,75,00 sq. ft. facility in Bangalore; its Founder and Chairman, 83-year old EDA veteran Ray Stata visits Bangalore to launch the new facility, the third largest for the parent company
  • Benz India rolls out 1,00,000th luxury car manufactured in India on May 28, 2018 while Suzuki rolls out 20,000,000th car on July 4, 2018!
  • Chinese mobile major Xiaomi has 3 plants – Sri City, Sriperumbudur and NOIDA – in India with a capacity to produce 2 phones every second!
  • Apple starts assembling iPhone 6S in India in Bangalore Wistron facility in April 2018
  • Automation Anywhere (RPA biggie) to double India count and add 700 in Bangalore
  • Amazon expands operations in India; warehouse headcount goes to 67 in April 2018
  • Uber Lite (less than 5 MB) App with local Indian language support introduced in India in June 2018
  • Cisco acquires July Systems in India in June 2018

 

Education & Research

Major developments Education & Research in April June 2018 quarter include

  • NIRF (National Institutional Rankings Framework) 2018 list of top ranking Institutions announced on April 2, 2018; IISc, IITM and IITB are the Top 3 Institutes. IITB (162), IITD (172) and IISc (190) make it to the Top 200 Global Universities in QS World University Ranking 2019 released on June 2, 2018
  • This is the quarter for a range of Admission Test results; the “big daddy” amongst them, JEE Mains examination saw 11,48,000 students taking the exam in May with nearly 1,30,000 qualify to take JEE Advanced Exam held on June 4, 2018 with expanded list of 31,980 short-listed on June 12, 2018 (the list was 18,138 on June 4, 2018) for 10,988 seats across all 23 IIT’s! NEET, the Admission Test for all medical colleges was held for the first time in all Indian States in May 2018 with 13,26,725 students competing for nearly 90,000 MBBS / BDS seats!

 

People

Major developments in People front in April June 2018 quarter include

  • On June 26,2018 12-year old R Praggnanandhaa from Chennai becomes the world’s second youngest Chess Grandmaster
  • Debjani Ghosh takes charge as NASSCOM President from R Chandrashekar on April 2, 2018
  • Biocon Founder & Chair Kiran Mazumdar Shaw invited to join the Governing Body of MIT for a 5-year term starting July 2018
  • Social activist and Sulabh International founder Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, gets Japan’s prestigious Nikkei Asia Prize June 6, 2018
  • Chennai-born Dhivya Suryadevara anointed as CFO of General Motors on June 11, 2018; interestingly, GM has a woman CEO! Indira Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi Cola is another Chennai-born CEO of Fortune 500 corporation!
  • Four self-made Indians – Ola Founder Bhavesh Agarwal, actress Deepika Padukone, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and Cricket Captain Virat Kohli – make it to Time Magazine 100 Most Influential People list of April 2018

 

Telecom

Major developments Telecom in April June 2018 quarter include

  • Vodafone-IDEA (the merged entity of Birla owned IDEA with Vodafone India) is close to a reality on June 18, 2018 with DoT clearance almost there; it will be the largest telecom service provider in India with 427 million customers
  • Bharti Infratel merging with Indus Towers on April 25, 2018 making it one of the largest tower companies in the world, with 163,000 towers

 

Startup scene

Major developments Start-up space in April June 2018 quarter include

  • Indian hotel room aggregator Oyo has 100,000 rooms in its inventory by June 2018; Taj group has just 17,000, the power of technology!
  • Siemens acquires Los Angeles based IOT / Building Automation Start-up J2 Innovations in May 2018
  • Hero Electronix (Part of Delhi-based auto major Hero group) acquires Gurgaon-based IOT start-up Zematix in May 2018
  • ABB Technology Ventures acquires Bangalore-based IOT-based Dairy Automation startup Stellapps on June 1, 2018
  • PayTM buys Cube26 in June 2018
  • Scandinavian company Truecaller acquires Indian payment Chillr in India in June 2018
  • India’s online travel aggregator ClearTrip acquires Saudi startup FlyIn in June 2018

 

Interesting applications

Key interesting applications in April June 2018 quarter include

  • Dibrugarh in Assam becomes the 400th Railway Station on June 7, 2018 to get free W-Fi as announced by Google CEO Sundar Pichai way back in in 2016; executed in partnership with the public sector RailTel the service has 8 million unique users every month, a “lighthouse” project indeed
  • E-Way bill for inter-State movement of goods under GST launched in Karnataka on April 2, 2018, the first State to do so; by June most States have implemented the same, including for intra-state goods movement.
  • HPCL commissions FastLane – automation of fuel pumps with payment systems – using AGS Transact technology at 35 petrol pumps in June 2018 in Mumbai to start with; cost of pumped fuel will directly debit bank accounts and minimize fuel diversion

 

Interesting numbers

Interesting numbers in April June 2018 quarter include

  • Government of India achieves fiscal deficit target of 3.5% for financial year 2017-18
  • Automotive major Maruti Suzuki cumulative production in India of cars crosses 200 million in May 2018!
  • India’s forex reserves touch $ 425 Billion for the first time in April 2018
  • Mobile wallet company PhonePe gets 100 million subscribers by May 2018
  • Reliance Jio’s customer base touches 200 Million in June 2018

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________Professor Sowmyanarayanan Sadagopan is the Director of IIIT-Bangalore. He has been writing these columns since 90’s with a focus in IT from an India perspective. These are his personal views. He can be reached at ss@iiitb.ac.in.

These monthly / quarterly / yearly columns had appeared in Times of India, Financial Express for many years. IEEE India Newsletter also carries these articles regularly in the past few years.

Analytics – a personal perspective

January 17, 2015

To me analytics has been around for long

In the 70’s

Airlines were “computerised” way back; I flew in 1976 from Madras to Chicago using a “computerised” ticket!

Out of the Airline computerisation came “planned overbooking” – Airlines found a “pattern” – last minute cancellation peaking on weekends but near zero on Monday morning

Simply the weekend effect and Monday morning catch up; thanks to data stored on tapes they could estimate with near 100% confidence, possible “cancellations” and introduced “planned overbooking”

It helped Airlines and passengers – but not scaleable – at best 20 Airlines in USA and may be 200 in the globe (at least then)

in the 80’s

Any Data mining book would give the example of another “pattern” – men in 20’s & 30’s picking up Diapers AND Beer cans on Friday evenings; by putting them together they could increase sales

Something that can be scaled to thousands of stores

In the 90’s

ATM switches could see a pattern of “unlawful” ATM withdrawals; by people who “stole” ATM PINs from unsuspecting customers

This was scaleable to millions as ATM base was nearly a million

 

Starting 90’s

data mining software could “discover” pattern; for example,

using software “IIMB student store data” could throw out a pattern; 89% of purchases happened in 2 days!

Everyone knew that most students purchased their items (tooth paste or pencils) for the full 3 month term;

the discovery was the extent 89% it is better to ask some stores to put a “window” twice a year rather than running a store all thru the year!

That is “discovery” and the area was called Knowledge Discovery; even today KDDI is the Conference for data mining!

 

What is possible today is to use Analytics to “disrupt” an industry c

For example, an industry called taxi hailing is getting disrupted right before our eyes; our own TaxiForSure is doing in for Autos in Bangalore since yesterday!

Uber started it in SFO 5,6 years back

Thanks to GPS, Smart phones, Google Maps, you can bridge the “information asymmetry

For example 90% of the time a cab / auto driver has a customer within 100 feet, but the driver does not know;

Similarly, 90% of the time there is a taxi / auto within 100 feet but the customer does not know!

 

If this asymmetry can be “managed”, we can reduce the number of taxi / auto on the road by 30%

 

We can do similar exercise for buses, ambulances, fire engines,… as well as doctors and hospitals, patients and nurses, … the list can go on

 

That I think is the real power of Analytics

 

(My Pep talk on the Inauguration of 3rd “Analytics Program” (Continuing Education Program) @ IIIT-Bangalore on January 17, 2015)

Information systems have the potential to “transform” business

March 9, 2014

It is important for B School students focussing on IT (Computing & Information Systems) to think “out of box” and go beyond minor improvements  (Though they are important); here are three cases where IT changed the very face of the industry!

 

1 OTIS Elevators thru its OTIS ONLINE in mid 80’s, could predict elevator failure and alert the mechanic in time before the failure was noticed by the end customer; in the process, creating “elevators that never fail”

2 Southwest Airlines could look at the very core of every business process, and, realize that the Airline ticket post full computerisation was just online copy of the record; and, with wide connectivity to end customers, thanks to Internet. by mid 90’s, one can go “ticket-less” and save money; by offering to share the benefit of cost savings, Southwest enabled majority flyers flying “ticket-less” with online tickets instead of paper tickets. By 2010, ALL Airlines moved this way and 100% electronic ticket became a reality

3 Core Banking in India changed the very notion of banking (going to a Bank Branch); in the process, Indian Banks could grow phenomenally in the period 2000-2014; all banks could offer “any branch” banking, multiple channels (Branch, Phone, Net, ATM and Mobile banking), once again changing the very face of Banking in India

(Inaugural Talk at BizEx (Business Excellence) Conference of Christ University (Mysore Road Campus) on March 8, 2014)

China continues with No 1 position in Top 500 Supercomputers list

November 19, 2013

Announced twice a year – June in USA and November in Germany – from 1993 onwards, Super 500 List has a list of the 500 fastest computers in the world.

In the list announced on November 18, 2013, China’s Tianhe-2 with a peak performance of 33.9 Peta-flops is on the top

India had a couple of entries (with C-DAC setting the trend in 1991 and Tata Eka reaching up to 4th position in 2007), but lost out recently.

US has 252, while China has 66 entries of the total 500, while India has just 11 in the current list!

The real contribution of Apple – mainstreaming a technology year after year – iPhone 5S mainstreams fingerprint authentication

September 22, 2013

A lot has been written about Apple introducing two new phones iPhone 5C and 5S on Sep 20, 2013. Long queue of Apple fans surprise Android fans as to why such an “inferior” and “expensive” phone is attracting attention. It is likely that Apple would have sold more than 5 million new iPhones, something that Apple achieved earlier too.

For many techies like me, who have been looking at technology for decades, the real contribution of Apple in the mobile phone and tablet category is the mainstreaming of a particular technology.

In the last week’s launch of iPhone 5S Apple has mainstreamed “finger print authentication” of a smart phone.

Mainstreaming means three important things –

  1. Integration of a technology into all aspects of a product
  2. Making it affordable
  3. Making the user-interface intuitive enough, that you do not need a thick “user manual”

Compaq laptops had USB-based “finger print” scanners to let only the “owner” access the laptop for more than a decade. It was an external device, costing about $ 30, and had the only purpose of a “gatekeeper” – nothing else. Several laptop manufacturers had such a solution; but, iPhone 5S brings fingerprint solution integrated into the “Main button”, at no extra cost and as intuitive as pressing the button! Also such a “personal authentication” is useable by all applications. Apple has a set of API that allows third party application developers to integrate “fingerprint” authentication in an intuitive way!

In 2007 launch of iPhone, Apple mainstreamed “touch” technology. In the past six years billions of user take “pinch” and “drag” for granted to “zoom out” and “zoom in” web pages and photographs. It was mainstreamed by Apple. Microsoft had Windows Tablet Edition that attempted to use “touch”; many “touch screen” monitors have been around for ages, but none of them integrated “touch” across the product and many first-generation “touch screens” were expensive!

In 2008 launch of iPhone 3G Apple mainstreamed 3G, particularly in USA and many other countries outside Europe. Through an exclusive arrangement with AT&T, Apple introduced users to a “consistent” broadband and data access that made voice, data and video seamless across “roaming” and across all applications. By integrating voice, eMail and browsing with the added convenience of roaming across the 3G network, Apple mainstreamed “mobile computing” (much beyond mobile E-Mail that was the real contribution of Blackberry).

In 2008/2009 launch of AppStore Apple mainstreamed Apps and delivering Apps through AppStore as a new way of delivering consumer applications. Suddenly the “barrier to entry” for application development got lowered and a huge “cottage industry” got developed which is estimated to be about $ 50 billion today! There were third party AppStores before. Palm, Microsoft Windows and Blackberry had App Stores, but none offered the scale, tools and a ready market that Apple offered.

In 2010 launch of iPad Apple mainstreamed “tablet” as a new category of computing devices, what Steve Jobs called “post PC devices”. By mainstreaming “Flash RAM”, iPad was convenient, instant on, battery good enough for couple of days use and an amazingly good display that made iPad compelling as eBook Reader, watching slide shows and videos (many from Google YouTube!) at a price that was affordable

In 2010/2011 launch of iPhone 4 Apple mainstreamed Retina display  with 326 dpi resolution; with 300 dpi said to match the resolution of human eye, this is what Steve Jobs called “the limits of what human eyes can see”. It did create enough controversy among the scientific community. What is important is the integration of superior display technology across the device – for better display of photographs and videos, better rendering of books, newspapers and magazines, better rendering of Web-pages, and of course, better capturing of photos and videos with dramatic improvements in camera technology. Once again Apple’s main contribution is “main streaming”; Amazon and Samsung had better display; Nokia had better camera, but none could match iPhone 4’s holistic experience.

In 2012 launch of iPad Mini Apple embraced “Phablet” as a category that combined phone and tablet functions. While Samsung and others (Google has been experimenting with Chrome laptops and 7″ NexusTablets for a while) had equal success with sale of phablets, the huge apps base particularly in the education segment made iPad Mini a category by itself, particularly for the budget-conscious and one-hand use that characterised student use.

In 2013 launch of iPhone 5S Apple is only continuing the trend of mainstreaming one more technology – namely, fingerprint authentication. Apple May or may not be selling the largest number of phones and tablets (that may go to Android). But what should not be forgotten is the fact that year after year Apple has been mainstreaming a technology – that is taken for granted by EVERY user – both the users using Apple products and those using non-Apple products. That is the real contribution of Apple. That partially explains the Apple fan club enthusiasm year after year, even two years after Steve Jobs is gone!

——-

Professor Sowmyanarayanan Sadagopan is the Director of IIIT-Bangalore. These are his personal views. He can be reached at s.sadagopan@gmail.com

How can youth benefit from IT?

April 15, 2013

 

Today’s youth in India are truly the “Gen Next” and use IT extensively to make their personal and professional lives productive and enjoyable. Four key examples:

1 Learn every moment:

In today’s competitive world, learning is very important. Thanks to the Net – lectures, library and laboratory are fundamentally changing thru e-learning, digital library and remote laboratories. Online courses and videos (NPTEL from IITs, Open Courseware from MIT, iTunes University from Apple) and the whole MOOC (Massively Online Courses) make it possible for any student to access the world’s best knowledge repositories practically free. Thanks to Digital Library  (IEEE / ACM Digital Library, for example), all scholarly journals and conference papers and several books are available online. Remote laboratories make very sophisticated instruments and Robots available over the Net.

2 Keep-up with friends:

For youth, it is important to keep up with friends. In today’s Facebook dominated world, it is so easy to keep up, using mobile phones, smart phones, tablets or PCs. With wireless bandwidth improving constantly (2G, GPRS / EDGE, 3G and 4G), the reach is improving and the falling cost make things more affordable. Other communication options including SMS / MMS, Email, Chat, Skype have brought the whole world at your fingertips.

3 Shop smart:

Today’s youth can shop online for books (Amazon or Flipkart), mobile phones & gadgets (eBay or Infibeam), music (iTunes or Flyte), airline tickets (airline websites or Yatra) or train tickets (IRCTC); one can also get the best deal for any item of your choice at the click of a mouse. In the physical world, one has to physically visit multiple shops to get to know the best deal; in the cyber-world, there are integrators like MakeMyTrip for multiple airlines, or RedBus for multiple bus operators. You can use the credit / debit card or directly use online banking offered by practically all banks.

4 Enjoy and get entertained:

Finally, it is important for youth to enjoy good food, great music or fun party, all helped by technology. Ordering pizza for home delivery, booking a seat in a restaurant for you and your friends or throwing a party, can all be done online. For music buffs, who enjoy devotional music or Bollywood music, there are many options of buying music, listening to streaming-music or tune into FM Radio.

In short, IT has made inroads into all aspects of your day-to-day life. The challenge is to keep the priorities right, manage time and costs, and avoid information / communication overload.

Professor Sowmyanarayanan Sadagopan is the Director of IIIT-Bangalore. These are his personal views. He can be reached at s.sadagopan@gmail.com

(Appeared in Education Times of Times of India on April 15, 2013)

How does IT help senior citizens?

April 1, 2013

Senior citizens in India often settle down in cities to take advantage of their professional connections. Information Technology helps them in four key functions.

1               Keep in touch with family and friends

With increased globalization, today’s senior citizens in India find their family members and friends spread across the globe. Earlier form of communication thru postal mail is just not feasible. Luckily, electronic mail and Video conferencing have suddenly shrunk distances. With free web-based email programs like Gmail and Yahoo Mail, one can be in touch with people around the globe effortlessly; with “chat” facility one can have interactive communication, often supplemented with voice / video, thanks to VoIP (Voice over IP) available in services like Skype.

 

2               Manage savings

For senior citizens, banking and financial services are important – getting pension credited, renewing fixed deposits and other investments (mutual funds and stocks). With practically all banks offering CBS (core banking services), one can do banking from the convenience of a home. Most CBS solutions offer online stock trading option as well. With Post Offices planning to introduce ATM, Core Banking and other services, and most insurance companies offering services online, senior citizens can manage practically all savings without depending on others.

 

3               Keep up with current developments

Professionals who have turned 60 and become senior citizens continue to be active till they turn 80+. Many of them will like to keep up with current developments in their profession as well as civil society. Luckily, most newspapers (Times of India, for example) are available free online. Most professional journals (IEEE Computer, for example) too are available at very low cost (Rs 1,000+ per year), permitting professionals to keep abreast of developments in their profession, not to mention “Current Science” that is free online.

4               Monitor health

Senior citizens need to monitor their health. While annual regular checkups are a must under the careful supervision of medical doctors, lots of informational articles can be read by accessing “Mayo Clinic” or ‘WebMD” sites. “GetActive” is a handy device (cigarette box size) that measures the number of steps, distance travelled and walking time throughout the day and upload the data to your personal web-site effortlessly (you simply plug into the USB port of an Internet-connected PC); it has memory for 30 days. Similar services would soon be available for blood pressure, glucose levels etc. If you have a smartphone like iPhone many free ”apps” allow you to monitor heart-rate, eye sight etc.,

Most of these services are free. All one needs is an Internet-connected PC!

Professor Sowmyanarayanan Sadagopan is the Director of IIIT-Bangalore. These are his personal views. He can be reached at s.sadagopan@gmail.com

(Appeared in Education Times of Times of India, April 1, 2013)

Does IT help? IT for visually impaired

March 18, 2013

 

It is widely acknowledged in India that IT (Information Technology) helps in the creation of lakhs of jobs, thousands of millionaires and hundreds of new companies. What is not widely appreciated is the less-known, yet equally important ways in which IT benefits Indian society, including the marginalized sections.

 

Globally, the largest numbers of visually impaired persons live in India; 1.45 million in the age group 25-29 alone, as per Census. Shun by the mainstream society, they get reconciled to a “cursed” life, getting confined to the homes. Many of them are very intelligent and given an opportunity, they can add economic value to the Nation.

 

1      Organizations like NAB (National Association of Blind) are doing an amazing job of providing “mobility training” to many visually impaired persons, so that they can live an independent life by taking care of their daily needs. Aided by such initiatives, several Schools have integrated visually impaired children into mainstream classes.

 

2      For those who are lucky enough to get education, the “text-to-speech technology” built into many smartphones and the Screen Reader software like JAWS on PC’s are a great help. You will be surprised to find some visually impaired persons responding to e-mail and SMS messages faster than many of us! They can read all the e-books / journals / magazines as well as the web-content of many websites.

 

Not every one is lucky to get access to education; not every employer would give visually impaired an opportunity to earn a decent salary that permits them to own a smartphone and a PC.

 

The case of “Netra Sarathy” is particularly interesting.

 

3      IBPS (Institute of Banking Personnel Selection) recruits entry-level staff for banks; they partnered with NAB to replace “scribes” (human assistants who help visually impaired during examinations); by re-purposing examination content and using standard software, IBPS enabled visually impaired to take the Bank Clerk Grade examination with no “scribe” suddenly freeing both the candidate and IBPS the trouble of finding a “scribe”! With 8,800 applicants from the visually impaired in one examination alone, one can gauge the impact of such initiatives.

 

At the higher end,

 

4      Retina India is working on an ambitious project of making an affordable “bionic eye”. It will be several years before it becomes a reality, but the goal of “making blind see”, is indeed a worthy pursuit! Image processing plays a key role in the creation of bionic eye.

 

Doesn’t IT help?

(Appeared in Education Times of Times of India, March 18, 2013)

 

 

 

Emerging applications for the connected enterprise

January 13, 2012

One key trend I anticipate in the next couple of years is the widespread use of “analytics

There was a time when users collected data for 75% of the time and did analysis 25% of the time. Today, with so much data available, data need not be collected; it is there! It is waiting to be analyzed

But analytics must be “everyday analytics”; users must have time to look at the results of analytics, seek results and not be busy with “archiving” data all the time! Often I get a response from CIO’s that we “faithfully archive data”; as the old saying goes “a car is safe in the garage, but it is not made to be kept in the garage alone”. Similarly, while archiving data is important, analyzing data is far more important!

For example, Airtel provides analytics for EVERY Postpaid users; not many use it though. Please log into your account and look at the “everyday analytics” that can be very insightful! Evert industry – BFSI, Manufacturing, Services, Education & Healthcare should start demanding “everyday analytics”

 

(Part of my talk in HP Network University 2012 at IIITB on Jan 13, 2012)