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The India Electronics and Semiconductor Association (IESA) the industry body that represents the industry, had its annual conference – the IESA Vision Summit – in Bangalore last week. There were many eminent speakers, one of them being by Nivruti Rai, Country Head and VP Data Center Group, Intel India, who gave the plenary industry keynote.
Nivruti’s talk focused on opportunities for India in today’s new economy. She started with the premise that innovations started industrial revolutions and traced the history of various innovations which has propelled mankind forward over the past 4,000 years. Her point was that every time there was a revolutionary innovation, it led to an ecosystem of innovations around it, and that combined, complimentary effect has advanced mankind. For example, with the advent of mechanization in agriculture, related areas such as irrigation and transport also made advancements. The same thing can be applied to Industry 4.0 where a leap in one technology can drive advancements in a host of others.
Nivruti’s talk mainly focused on the various areas where India could make an impact on Industry 4.0. She divided these into technology, capabilities, policy/regulation and manufacturing. Some of the technology opportunities that she outlined were:
In terms of capabilities, Nivruti discussed many factors that are required for success, including entrepreneurship, cultivating a risk taking mindset, encouraging women in technology, ecosystem collaboration and industry-academia-government partnership.
One of the important things that she mentioned as a critical driver for success is re-skilling. She said that Indians have a strong base in the fundamentals of science, math and technology; what is required is to learn new and adjacent skill sets that are required for the upcoming technologies like blockchain, 5G, quantum computing, etc.
The one thing that really caught my attention was the reference to the gig economy, which is related to re-skilling. Nivruti felt that the gig economy will thrive in India. For those who are not familiar with the term (as was the case with me a mere one week ago), gig economy means an economy where part-time, project work is the norm. People become domain experts and work as freelancers or contractors on short-term projects rather than as full-time employees. At present, according to this article, jobs that require skills in deep learning, block chain, robotics, and ethical hacking are the highest paying. The gig economy is being hailed as the future of work.
(On a side note – I participated in a panel on Women in Tech during the Vision Summit. That panel will be covered in a newspaper shortly, but one of the things we spoke about is the problem of the large number of women who drop out of the work economy after marriage and/or having children.)
If a gig economy is the way of the future, then it could appeal to the thousands of smart, qualified, and experienced women in the country who are not able to (or choose not to) work full-time due to family commitments. Harnessing and leveraging that talent would be a huge advantage for India, and indeed Nivruti mentioned that getting women into technology as one of the key advantages that can help drive India’s success. It remains to be seen how enthusiastically companies encourage or support the gig economy.