Deep Tech Opportunities – Kris Gopalakrishnan, Co-founder, Infosys


      photo credit: IndiaDiasporaForum

NPC finally becomes a teenager!

The thirteenth edition started off on a very different note (as one would expect from a teenager), and for the first time we had five “Summits” in parallel before the main sessions. I was there at the Deep Tech Summit, and it was a hard choice to give the other four a miss – Design, Fintech, Product Management and Sales & Marketing. What tilted my choice was obviously the fact that an industry doyen would be sharing his thoughts about opportunities that lay ahead. Kris Gopalakrishnan, one of the founders of Infosys, and he needs no further introduction. An unalloyed joy for us, to be able to stand on the shoulder of a giant, and see the future unfold.

At the very outsets, he set the tone and tenor, and spelt out clearly the aim for having a Deep Tech Summit. Deep Technologies is the future, and we will see an explosive growth in the next 20 – 30 years. However in India there are certain gaps which need to be fixed. The idea is to create a synergy between startups, academia, large companies and the government bodies, so all can leverage the ecosystem more meaningfully. The startups require help from academia to solve critical problems related to these technologies. On the other hand, academics are more enthused about publishing research papers than working with startups for solving specific sectoral problems. Challenges of resource scarcity remain on both sides, though glimpses of synergy which exists in pockets was showcased at the summit.

He underscored the significance of the ecosystem in Bangalore. Despite obvious infra related challenges, it was still amongst the most attractive destinations globally. Its real strength lay in talent – more than a million people in the IT sector alone, which was probably second only to the Valley. Moreover, upwards of 350 MNCs have their back offices, R&D centres and GICs in the city. Equally noteworthy is the presence of such great academic institutions like the IISC, IIM B among others, providing a hotbed for innovation. The sheer breadth of available talent was quite extraordinary and has few parallels even globally. 

Cloud, AI, Machine Learning, Nano Technology, Gene Editing, Stem Cell Research were all in various stages of advancement – some early, and others already exploited. Problems that we are faced with require a multi-disciplinary approach with cross-border linkages. He went so far as to say that for every 5 dollars spent on Research in US if India spent even a dollar, the output would double.

The IoT impact in future is likely to be 4 trillion USD. It’s very easy to plug in devices but governments need to protect the internet from such “Hacked Toasters” or else the impact would be severe because of breach in cyber security, frequent attacks and denial of services. From a future sustenance standpoint, the following are essential which will also create opportunities: New technologies for security, new operating systems (every new cycle has seen new OS come in), scalable platforms which can integrate with existing systems and advanced battery technology which will continue to power all these billions of devices.

On the future of work. Computing performance is growing exponentially – an explosion of sorts – whereas human performance has shown a linear growth. In specific areas, computers were always infinitely faster but now the outreach is much greater. The first wave of AI was observed in the 1960s but it died down. This is the second wave that we are witnessing. This time what we are likely to see different, is understanding the brain much better, new computing models, new process and memory chips and solve the software maintenance challenge once and for all. AI ought to be specifically directed to solve sectoral problems in financial services, healthcare among several others. We have to work towards incentivising academic institutions to work with startups, and also garner the support of incubators and accelerators in an intensified manner.

And he really did keep us in thrall. We came out richer.

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