Ingredients of Futuristic Tech-Business: Responsible AI, Democratizing Knowledge & More
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Ingredients of Futuristic Tech-Business: Responsible AI, Democratizing Knowledge & More

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Thompson P Gnanam, Managing Director & Global CEO, 3i InfotechTechnology never waits for anyone. It’s no wonder tech-businesses are rushing to leverage every buzzword emerging from the technology world; generative AI is just an example. That’s also where it gets tricky. Amidst the flood of tech-business ideas, finding the ideal formulas, executing them with the right business models and technology innovations, and building a value-based, people-centric organization while respecting the need for democratizing data use across the functional departments is more challenging than ever before. With more than 30 years of experience in the technology domain, Thompson P Gnanam, Managing Director & Global CEO, 3i Infotech Ltd, walks us through the modern-day technology landscape. An expert in enabling businesses to transform into AI-first, cloud-native, edge-computing-ready, cognitive enterprises, Thompson engages in an exclusive interview with CEO Insights. Below is an excerpt from the interview.

How is the IT services market currently poised, and what aspects does the industry need to focus on?

This tech-ade will be vastly driven by 5G, 6G, and quantum computing. There are several aspects to this anticipation. Fundamentally, 5G networks will drive forward edge computing, which is the convergence of the Internet of Things (IoT)-or rather, the Internet of Everything, exponentially growing big data and real-time applications. Intrinsically, there's an increasing need for speed, low latency, reduced bandwidth costs, connection reliability, and AI capability at the source of action.

The orchestration of these technology aspects will be the new mantra for service business models


It is clear that cloud-to-edge migration needs near-zero latency so that mission-critical applications can be processed at the edge. This will also force the change from centralized GPUs to CPUs at the edge. The orchestration of these technology aspects will be the new mantra for service business models.

Secondly, Gartner predicts that only 10 percent of enterprise-generated data is created and processed outside a traditional centralized data center or cloud. With the prominence of Edge Computing, this number will accelerate to almost 75 percent. This is a huge business opportunity for technology service providers like us to offer application management, micro data centers, application development, and much more at the edge. Fundamentally, it opens up Anything as a Service. 

Data is the new oil; the third aspect is tethered to it. IDC predicts a 3x explosion of data in the next five years. This will lead to more processes at the edge. However, it must be done intelligently because cognitive agents need to decide on the data lifecycle, data prioritization, etc. This will also lead to huge opportunities for optimizing virtual machines, storage costs, real-time inference, and digital support, not to mention help in decision-making from an edge analytics perspective. 

When it comes to the fourth aspect, 5G-powered IoT will also drive convergence and coexistence of humanoid coexistence. It calls for next-generation cognitive monitoring, which is going to lead the way. Last but not least, one of the key aspects, which is also our strategy, is the convergence of network security operations and securing the network so that edge computing can establish trust. 


What kind of working structures do business leaders need to build in the technology era to attract, retain, and maneuver that talent to achieve organizational goals? 

That's a great question, which is extremely valid today. Amidst the rush of technology transformation, hyper-automation, innovation, and disruption, it is important to remember that people are still at the heart of all these. Our philosophy at 3i is extremely focused on people. We take pride in saying they are the key differentiators of all our services. Technology and everything else can be copied, but the value our people bring to the table can't be imitated. We must understand this fact and build value-focused, people-centric cultures that are perfectly aligned with customer outcomes and goals. The entire convergence of people and customer goals is extremely important. 

It's also important that the workforce is adaptive, empowered, and self-managed, mainly because innovation cycles have become smaller and shorter. We have to constantly learn, unlearn, relearn, and reset. It's extremely important for us to continuously challenge the status quo as well. 

The third aspect is building a flexible and elastic work culture - an empowered workforce that works at will. We recently ran our 'Bring Back the Moms' campaign, which focused on bringing back women who had career breaks to become mothers into our workforce. Another predominant aspect of our culture is fostering intrapreneurship - making leaders within our fold part-owners of our company. This contributes toward creating the right, high-level motivation to drive results.  

We have to also talk about the elephant in the room - as our workforce has to learn to coexist with humanoids and AI. The modern world is where your employees have to coexist with cognitive power.

How do you look at India as a destination for IT investors? Also, how can organizations better utilize the funds for further improvement in the future?

Over the past two decades, India has had a great run in the global IT technology services space. We have been successful in creating a hub of IT services. But it is true that we have also reached a point where we need to reinvent ourselves to continue being a preferred investment destination. Because the low-cost labor arbitrage model, which worked so well for us in the past, is not working anymore. The business realm is no longer flat. The low-cost arbitrage model is dying. Hence, we must reinvent ourselves and develop an alternate business model. But how do you do that? I would say there are multiple ways. 

One of our initiatives that aims to democratize knowledge using AI-enabled models is a case in point. We leverage the power of Generative AI to help employees from Tier-3 and Tier-4 cities deliver more efficient, effective throughput. This helped us create a superior, extremely motivated workforce comprising people who otherwise wouldn't have had the chance to work in Tier-1 cities. While this is a great initiative to manage the capitalist needs of investors and shareholders, it also helps us give back to our societies - providing the less privileged with jobs and complementing them with capabilities using AI. This generative AI-powered model is the way forward, and all investments must be aligned with these models to disrupt existing ones.

How is 3i's NuRe Bharat Network (NBN) enabling and facilitating SMEs across the country? 

NuRe Bharat Network (NBN) is a consortium consisting of 3i-Infotech, Yellow Inc, and FISST in partnership with RailTel. NBN aims to monetize the vast potential of the Indian Railways Network with millions of daily commuters through efficient WiFi at 6100+ stations in a Free and Premium model. Aligned with the Digital India and Connected Bharat Story, NBN offers accessibility and visibility to businesses across the nation. We are talking about 20 lakh unique users a day. It's massive. We are developing a Super App for performing cutting-edge analytics on this user base and providing services on top of it. The small and medium enterprises in the country will get access to this massive consumer base. We are also looking at working with Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) platforms to further enable e-commerce providers in the country. 

What would be your advice to the future leaders in the technology realm?

It's an era of disruptions. You must challenge the status quo and reinvent business models aligned with customer goals while ensuring people remain at the center of everything. All the while, you have to comprehend your responsibility toward society. As Mr. Narayana Murthy recently mentioned, we need to embrace compassionate capitalism. 

AI is an essential aspect of the next era in the business realm. Hence, responsible use of AI is of extreme importance. We need to leverage AI as a co-pilot, and we should never allow our capitalist greed to make it a pilot. Human-humanoid coexistence is a must. Humans must learn to leverage AI. 

 

Hobbies: I love traveling with my family—exploring new geographies and cultures. Hence, staycations are one of my favorites.

Favorite Destination: Japan

Favorite Cuisine: "Asian! I love rice-based cuisines."

Favorite Movies: I grew up with adventure & action movies of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, like the Rambos Rockys and Terminators. I definitely carried on with that. I also love Tom Cruise and SRK movies.