The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) organised its 10th Design and Engineering Summit 2018 in Bengaluru on November 15-16, 2018. The two-day summit addressed how industries are making digital real through three major lenses – Emerging Technologies, Skills & Talent; and Business Models. The summit covered various topics encompassing the engineering and R&D (ER&D) industry, on how digitisation is enabling companies across industries to migrate from analogue approaches to an always-on, real-time, and information-rich marketplace.
NASSCOM’s two-day Design and Engineering Summit 2018 summit included innovator sessions, leadership rendezvous series, masterclasses, panel discussions and keynotes. The summit showed that emerging technologies including Artificial Intelligence (AI), IoT, Industrial IoT (IIoT), Blockchain, AR/VR, Cloud, Automation, Robotics and 3D printing are creating a huge wave of transformation in every industry. Further, skills and talent have emerged as the most important factor for the digital transition that is taking place.
The summit brought to the fore the need to skill, reskill and upskill the talent the industry has and bring on board new talent equipped to accelerate the transformation in organisations. All these factors, in turn, are paving the way for changing business models, evolving organisational structures and restructuring, which will play an important role in high-pace digital transformation.
NASSCOM also released a report that was jointly published with Strategy& and PWC, titled ‘Impact of Digital on ER&D.’ This report said the Engineering R&D (ER&D) sector in India is expected to grow to $42 bn by FY2022 and also highlighted that the Global ER&D spends will continue to move upwards, and is projected to touch $2 tn globally by 2022. Out of this, 38 % will be contributed by top 1,000 corporates. The report highlighted six major trends – Internet of Things; Big Data Analytics; Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning; Cybersecurity; Advanced Robotics; Mobile Applications and Digital Reality – that are currently driving digital ER&D across multiple sectors globally.
The Indian ER&D industry is taking huge strides over the past and is now focussed on digital services to sustain its leadership position. This has prompted Indian service providers and Global In-house Centre (GIC) step up the value ladder in capturing global opportunities. Outsourcers are said to be having a positive outlook for offshoring ER&D services work from India across vertical. The key growth drivers of the industry are going to be India’s capabilities in the automotive, and construction and heavy engineering (C&HE) markets, which is being accentuated by local talent and rising domestic demand.
The availability of high-skilled talent has prompted several international companies to announce GICs in India, which currently account for 56 % of the overall ER&D export revenues, the report stated. GICs are also said to be maturing into capability centres, and are investing heavily on talent and innovation, building dedicated centres focussed on digital technologies. This is enabling digital services to outpace growth in conventional revenue segments, with Industry 4.0, electric vehicles, autonomous, connected vehicles, smart products, services and automation leading the way. Additionally, Indian firms are investing in automotive digital ER&D across autonomous, connected, shared and electric cars, and the digital spend in the sector is set to increase to 30-40 % by 2025.
On the sidelines of the Design and Engineering Summit 2018, NASSCOM organised a brief roundtable discussion on the future of the automotive sector with regards to ER&D. The participants of this discussion included Karthikeyan Natarajan, Global Head – Engineering, IOT and Enterprise Mobility, Tech Mahindra; Reguraman Ayyaswamy, VP & Global Head, IoT & Engineering and Industrial Services, Tata Consultancy Services; Samir Yajnik, Executive Director, Electrodrive Powertrain Solutions Pvt Ltd and Vijay Ratnaparkhe, President & Managing Director, Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions (RBEI). The discussion was chaired by Deepangshu Dev Sarmah, Editor-in-Chief, Auto Tech Review.
The discussions of this roundtable revolved around digital services offered by companies in India for future mobility solutions, shared mobility for last mile connectivity, BS VI and electric vehicles. The industry veterans also provided insights on how collaboration plays a key role in building the entire ecosystem, while dwelling on the preparedness of the Indian industry for future challenges. The importance of connecting with the academia was also discussed during the roundtable.
Natarajan spoke about the automotive industry witnessing a change in three key areas – internal combustion engine to electric; ownership to shared mobility; and driven to autonomous. Ayyaswamy also backed this statement by saying that the present is a deep inflection point in the automotive industry. He added that fully autonomous vehicles may not be seen on the roads soon due to their high costs; however, some active and passive safety features can be added in vehicles. Therefore, Level 2 and Level 3 autonomy features can be included. In terms of electrification, Ayyaswamy said the country could work on battery and battery packaging technologies, since cells themselves are not yet being manufactured locally.
In the area of shared mobility, Yajnik noted that India needs shared mobility more than other countries in the West, due to growing urbanisation, asset underutilisation and population growth. He said that shared and connected mobility are not driven by technology in India, but is enabled by technology. Ratnaparkhe said that last mile shared mobility will require two and three-wheelers to be converted into electric vehicles so that emissions can be reduced. The speakers were unanimous that electric shared mobility for last mile connectivity has a large role to play in the future. Yajnik added that efficient chargers and lowering the cost of power will enable the adoption of EVs in the country. Shared and connected mobility will also lead to increased amount of collaborations between various service providers, in order to be able to offer seamless solutions to end-users.
The country is in a state of preparedness for future mobility challenges, felt the four speakers. Yajnik said all companies are investing heavily and experimenting in future mobility technologies. He also added that NASSCOM brings together partners to address a number of these challenges. Ayyaswamy observed that edge computing, big thinking and deep learning are being used in the automotive sector to offer solutions to problems. A lot of testing and validation is being carried out, for which investments are being made to build competencies, he noted.
Ratnaparkhe said this is the right time to be in the automotive industry, with a large amount of opportunities to address requirements pertaining to mobility that is connected, autonomous, safe and electric. He added that the requirements will require solutions that are software-heavy. Natarajan noted that there is a need to reskill and prepare talent, while driving AI and working with start-ups for future solutions. In addition to this, localised investments and academia connect are of high importance, Natarajan concluded.
In conclusion, the NASSCOM Design and Engineering Summit 2018 brought together various companies that work in the area of software and engineering for solutions across a number of industries. However, a strong focus was on the automotive industry, which is said to be experiencing a ‘once-in-a-century’ change. It brought out the role that ER&D plays in developing solutions for future transportation and mobility requirements, by leveraging emerging technologies. It also discussed about the level of co-working required from the industry to bring forth reliable and seamless solutions to end-customers in the market.
TEXT: Naveen Arul