InterviewsTechnology

Indian entreprenuers are best equipped to solve the real problems: Chirag Boonlia

There is no denying in the fact that technology, nowadays is running faster than the time and this technological advancement is giving rise to thousands of startups each day. Out of which, 90 percent of startup fails and only a few survive. India, being a developing country, has not remained untouched by the technological gust. According to the experts, India has a huge potential to be technologically strong and is on the cusp of transformation.

Punit Jain, Co-founder, IncubateIND got an opportunity to interact with Chirag Boonlia, Vice President, Group Head – IT, Virtuous Retail (APG Asset Management &  Xander Group) and talk about the status of technology and technology startups in India.

What’s your view on the current technology startups scene in India? 

Startups, arguably the confidence index parameter for any nation more often than not depicts the mood of the nation. India, a tech mecca of sorts, has one of the liveliest technology ecosystems in the world. The confidence quotient is still at the upper echelons in spite of funding slowdowns in the last few quarters.

The current crop of startups seems to be in a hurry for solving India specific problems and many are disruptions in making. While unicorns like Flipkart, Ola, Zomato etc have been around, there are many in the fray with latest technologies like Blockchain, AI, AR/VR etc.

However, the lacuna I see is with regards to the global readiness of any product as we haven’t seen anyone become as big as Facebook, Whatsapp, Google, Twitter, and Uber etc. This can be potentially be attributed to two major dampeners and that is the tendency of Indian consumers to ape western fashion and technology couture as well as lack of appetite for global dominance.

In your opinion, how does India rate on adopting new technologies? How can we better this in coming years?

There are two facets to technology adaption. India, in earnest, becomes the de-facto outsourcing hub for both low and high-end business processes and technologies on account of cost arbitration and in turn adapt to the latest in the technologies from development and support ecosystem perspective. Indian consumer, business houses, and the government is albeit slow to adapt to the latest in the tech world and are unwilling to bite the bullet and seek first mover advantage.

According to you, what are top five technology trends that will power the digital transformation era? Please do give your reasons for each. 

Blockchain: Governments and industries in various domains would seek a shelter under the new kid on the block, i.e. blockchain to bring transparency in anything and everything we do. This is slated to bring the much-awaited and most talked about fourth industrial revolution by democratizing the data from inception till culmination.

IOT: Technology is evolving at an unprecedented pace and bringing disruption in almost every walk of life. The buzzword for last few years has been on IOT and has not delivered the results yet. Hence I consider that as an underdog. Automation with the help of IOT can possibly be much larger when compared to what AI and ML promise. IOT would start making the buzz as the framework and hardware prices seem to be at all-time low leading to cost arbitration even from Indian labor cost.

Big Data: Data being the new currency in the town and the magnanimity of data deluge, both structured and mostly unstructured is so high that needless to say that one who harnesses the big data smartly and holistically would hold the pole position and thereby pave others to copy.

AI & ML: While IOT is slated to bring a disruption for (read against) blue-collared workforce, AI and ML are slated to bring a revolution for(read against) white collared workforce. Not that this wasn’t existing earlier, but the cost of storage and processing has come down exponentially low over the last couple of years paving way for data harnessing with the advent of new generational frameworks tapping on to the low-cost resources.

AR/VR & wearable devices:
Last but not the least, a lot of solutions are in the offing with the advent of AR/VR. It may not become as ubiquitous as Google map for that matter for now but has the potential to make it big over the next half a decade.

Please tell us the five global tech companies and leaders that you admire.
  • Google

My personal favorite has to be Google because their slew of products have changed the way we consume data. Having seen them grow when Alta Vista was the leading search engine to where they are (70% Market share in search).
From search engine to Maps to Android to name a few. They changed the paradigms in every sphere by introducing the new business models. While the disruptions are magnanimous, they top the chart for most employee friendly company year on year. Would give credit to the founders (Larry & Sergey) for now for the bringing a change in paradigm.

  • Alibaba

It has to be one of the tops on my list. A first generational entrepreneur, Jack Ma, who built the company from scratch and forayed into e-commerce, retail, technology, payments and so on and has a turnover of $170 billion with a market cap of $500 billion.

  • Uber:

What Google is for a search engine, Uber is for transportation. The concept itself has revolutionized the public transportation. Travis Kalanick, founder of Uber did the unthinkable by democratizing the transportation and also had the appetite to take this to the world in spite of red-tapism and nepotism beyond his home turf.

  • Tesla:

Elon Musk has been challenging the status-quo and also thinking the unthinkable. There are very few leaders in the world who can think as big as Elon. Be it electric vehicles, Hyperloop and space exploration, OMG, this guy is incorrigibly big match player.

  • Apple

Love it or hate it, but one can’t ignore Apple and its products. I personally don’t like the prophecy of Apple for the way they keep proprietary control over their products and offerings and thereby forcing the change at some obnoxiously priced products. Having said that the products have definitely drooled worthy and for sure Steve Jobs takes the credit for believing in an era of the consumer being treated as God that consumer doesn’t know what she wants.

What are the key traits that you look at when you hire resources in your team?

Hunger and aptitude to learn, unlearn, relearn and deliver one time and every time. It’s because I firmly believe that learned is going to be replaced by learners because of the unprecedented and exponentially changing paradigm.

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