How to chart a digital roadmap

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Photo: iStock

Photo: iStock

History will recognize this decade as one of significant and disruptive technological change. It is little surprise, then, that the broad themes of the third edition of EmTech India held in Gurgaon this month included digital life, cutting edge technologies like machine learning, deep learning, and computer vision, and other artificial intelligence technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, robotics, 3D printing, smart cities and connected health.

EmTech India is organized annually by Mint in association with MIT Technology Review, published by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The sessions at this event were in keeping with the overarching theme of ‘Digital Disruption’ that individuals, companies and governments are facing around the world.

This quarterly edition of Mint’s Tech Report mirrors this broad theme. For instance, while the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) lists 12 technologies in its research for this Tech Report, it narrows down the choices for CXOs to ‘The power of three: AI, IoT and blockchain’—for now. BCG insists that the commoditization of AI has begun with Google, Microsoft and Amazon now offering cloud-based AI as a service. This, even as Bask Iyer, CIO of VMware and Dell Technologies, asks whether “AI really is the one technology that can change the world as we know it?”

As for the Internet of Things (IoT), a 2017 BCG study estimated that companies will incrementally spend $250 billion on IoT by 2020.

Blockchain, meanwhile, is finding favour with Indian firms too, but scaling up could be a serious problem for blockchain, argues BCG. This, even as other writers like Jaspreet Bindra and Jayanth Kolla explore the possibilities and limitations of blockchain. However, the technology landscape is very unforgiving. Consider this: all conversations are taking place at a time when we have Direct Acyclic Graph (DAG)-based blockchains such as the hashgraph algorithm threatening the dominance of blockchain. There exist a number of DAG-based blockchains such as Hashgraph, IOTA, Stellar, NEO and RaiBlocks.

Consultancy firm EY, in its write-up, brings cyber risk into the spotlight. It argues that the preparedness level of businesses in India leaves enormous scope for taking substantial steps—for example, 55% organizations do not have, or have only an informal, threat intelligence programme. On its part, PwC India asserts that it is people, and rightly so, who make digital transformation successful.

Last, but not the least, we have a full page dedicated to the top 10 Innovators Under 35 from India (emtech.livemint.com). The innovations range from the world’s first 5D printer to wiring the human body to make it a communications network.

We at Mint understand that digital disruption and transformation can make or break firms, given that the media sector is one of the worst hit by digital disruption. We took the cue a couple of years back and moved ahead on the digital path with great success. It’s our sincere hope you will be able to do the same with the help of the articles in this edition that have been written by digital experts.

Leslie D’Monte is national technology editor at Mint.

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