January

Why a slump in US may not be bad news for Indian IT

A possible slowdown in the US economy is unlikely to hit the growth momentum for Indian IT services companies, say analysts, because their clients in the largest market would outsource more digital technology-led services that they have built over the past couple of years by also hiring local workforce in the US.

Companies such as Tata Consultancy Services, InfosysNSE -0.31 %, HCL TechnologiesNSE 0.32 % and WiproNSE 0.08 %, besides midtier firms like L&T Infotech and CSS Corp are already disrupting their business models where they look at building value through productivity and IP, moving away from the traditional cost-arbitrage model. “If it is a moderate downturn, given the digital imperative, hopefully Indian IT can ride it,” Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice-president at Nasscom, told ET. “Digital technology spend is significantly low and I think the headroom for growth is much higher… Banks and financial services companies are already thinking about what can be done to invest in these technologies to deal with such change.”

Last week, Goldman Sachs cut the US economy growth forecast for the first half of 2019 to 2% from 2.4%, saying it was still “not worried about a recession”. While the bank was optimistic of a soft landing of the US economy, a Duke University survey in December of US CFOs claimed nearly half the chief financial officers expected the country to hit a recession by end-2019. The worst-case projections included a fall in capital spending with flat hiring.

“In the last economic crisis in 2008-2009, offshore outsourcers held on fairly well initially, and made adjustments to boost revenue and profitability. Hiring continued to happen although at a reduced pace. However, towards the fag end of the recession, it was clear that IT firms were witnessing pricing pressures and slowdown in business velocity,” said Manish Tandon, chief executive of CSS Corp. He added that the industry had shown tremendous resilience in the past and reinvented itself through flexible business models.

“Hence, it might emerge as a strong partner for global organisations to wade through their economic pressures.”

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IT firm expands Philippines operations

MANILA, Philippines – Information technology (IT) services and support company CSS Corp. is expanding its operations in the Philippines by opening a third facility in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig. CSS Corp. Philippines country head Arvind Appavu said in an email interview, the third facility which is opening this month would allow the firm to expand its presence and offer opportunities to provide jobs.

 

“We, at CSS Corp, have always recognized the rich talent pool and growing opportunities to expand our business in the Philippines. We will do whatever is necessary to drive our presence in the local market to meet our client requirements,” he said.

Located at the Asia Century Center, the new facility would require hiring 500 employees to serve clients such as internet service providers, original equipment manufacturers, and telecommunication companies in the US, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Australia.

 

“With the opening of our newest service center in the Philippines, we are expecting to continue the hiring momentum in 2020. In terms of headcount, we would be looking to add another thousand employees in the next 12 months or so,” Appavu said.

 

CSS Corp. has two other service delivery facilities in the Philippines located in BGC. As of last year, the company’s workforce count in the Philippines is at 1,500. After opening the new facility, he said the company wants to expand further in the country by going to the provinces.

A moratorium was imposed by the Office of the President last year on the processing of applications for economic zones where outsourcing firms locate in Metro Manila to encourage growth in the countryside.

As CSS Corp. is expanding its operations, Appavu said the company also has a positive outlook for the business in the country this year.

 

“We are expecting to grow our offices to house over 2,500 employees by the end of 2020, which will drive our business to serve more clients and secure more partnerships throughout the year. This would result in doubling our revenues out of the Philippines,” he said.

 

CSS Corp. uses artificial intelligence, automation, analytics, cloud and other digital solutions to address customer needs. At present, CSS Corp. has more than 6,400 technology professionals and is present in 18 global locations.

 

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How Analytics Can Revolutionize the Healthcare Ecosystem

Big Data and analytics have transformed the way we look at data. While the healthcare industry is no stranger to tools that capture and store data (Electronic Health Records), the industry is swiftly moving towards deep healthcare analytics, to radically change the way healthcare is delivered. The focus is shifting from merely treating, to prediction, and subsequently prevention. The move from volume-based to value-based models creates a strong case for deep analytics that provides personalized medicines tailored to the needs of individual patients, while widening the understanding of population health, to spot trends and prescribe effective solutions to the forecasted issues.

What is Deep Healthcare Analytics?
Gartner predicts that “automated healthcare could account up to 85% of all healthcare customer experiences by 2020”. This automation could range from a simple patient form to detecting diseases from an MRI or CAT scan (AI-based).

Under the umbrella of AI-based healthcare analytics, predictive analytics though in a nascent stage itself, is giving way to cognitive analytics, which includes conversational AI and related complex technologies. But one shouldn’t look at them as independent technologies, rather as levels on the scale of analytics adoption. Predictive analytics uses data from the past and present to forecast future scenarios, thus, allowing healthcare providers to plan, manage, and even preempt. Cognitive analytics using machine and deep learning techniques has the capability to provide actionable insights in real-time, by piecing together relevant data and applying the findings to a particular context. It is meant to supplement human decision-making.

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A glimpse into what cybersecurity has in store in 2020

“With the advent of digital transformation across sectors, being cognizant of cybersecurity challenges and safety is of utmost importance. The security landscape in 2020 will include optimal utilization of AI, with deep learning algorithms and mechanisms to combat malware and phishing attacks. As IoT, autonomous things and pervasive connectivity continue to drive digitalization, the possibility of cyber-attackers using more sophisticated AI-based threats looms large. Data threats and cloud security issues are pertinent ones that threaten the scope of cybersecurity now more than ever. Going forward, there will be an increased awareness of the need for a cybersecurity strategy. More cybersecurity products and services that leverage AI/ML and automation will be developed. We also expect cybersecurity to be deeply integrated into more tech products and pave the way for transformation across industries and organizations.”
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Geospatial data analytics: The way forward in analytics

Data analytics is one of the hottest trends in enterprises today. Companies are dependent on data analytics for a wide array of services and features which help the company achieve its goals faster and deliver utility to its customer in a timely manner. When conventional data analytics is powered with location and geospatial, it holistically takes care of the customer requirements. Geospatial technologies enhance the utility, functionality as well as the relevance of data analytics.

“Data Analytics provides a 360o view of customer segments and their needs. Organizations can foresee customer demands through predictive models and drive supply chains more effectively”, says Nishikant Nigam, EVP and Chief Delivery Officer, CSS Corp.

GIS tools have the unique ability to slice and dice terabytes of data in real time to derive decisive insights into understanding spatial trends and associations, adds Nigam.

There is a wide prospect of an increase in the use of spatial technologies. Geospatial data analytics is driving businesses and fostering innovation across different verticals. It also enriches the user by offering him a new perspective of data interaction by enabling users to recognize new patterns and connections, which can’t be showcased in traditional methods using graphs.

“Geospatial technologies enable a 3D view of business data through a map, the required spatial information can then be identified through latitude and longitudinal coordinates to extract demographic and customer information. This collaboration of tabulated data and locational data gives precise context by analyzing heterogeneous information available across complex system environments”, believes Nigam.

Faster decision-making

The use of geospatial in data analytics infuses fresh dynamism and assists companies and customers, but it also has an important application in streamlining decision-making. The first prerequisite for good decision-making is complete knowledge and awareness of data. Convergence of GIS and data analytics merges flexibility and foresight which is crucial for any company looking at exploring new markets and focusing on customer satisfaction. Location is a vital component of geospatial which unravels the complexities and provides new insights about current and emerging trends.

Data analytics has been increasingly leveraged to discover new markets, develop customer insights, create better customer experiences, streamline processes, and drive innovation. It has also become indispensable and provides businesses flexibility and foresight while charting future roadmaps, opines Nigam.

Nigam also concurs with the immense benefits that convergence of GIS and data analytics yield. He adds, “This convergence is of true value since it helps in locating valuable customers, predict purchasing decisions and patterns, mapping similar customers, evaluating success and failures of marketing campaigns, and the impact of weather on customer footfalls. When data insights are associated with location data, it can generate actionable insights, which can further be visualized to infer what and where to act on, while optimizing leadership efforts to take more informed decisions. “

 

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Automation and AI trends for 2020

AI and automation are two levers of digital transformation that are helping enterprises reimagine work and the larger workplace. Here are some trends that could sustain their momentum as we step into 2020.

Hyper-automation: Hyper-automation(HA) is gaining momentum as a key technology trend for 2020. It brings the totality of an organization’s automation effort under a single umbrella. HA is not just about automating tasks – it’s much bigger. It’s about seamless integration between systems. With HA, organizations can automate most of core business areas and involve everyone in the transformation.

Starting with RPA (at the core), it adds AI, process mining, ML and other tools to expand its capability. It also creates a digital twin of an organization (DTO) that becomes an integral part of the HA process and the organization. As a result, HA unlocks maximum efficiencies for organizations and that’s why it commands such attention.

Quantum computing and AI: Quantum computing is essentially harnessing and exploiting the laws of quantum mechanics to process information. The ability to store information in quantum bits simultaneously (both 0 and 1) unlike 0s or 1s discretely, and having the innate ability process massive amounts of data provides new avenues and opportunities for AI.

For example, a quantum computer could help develop virtual assistants with true contextual awareness and near human-like understanding for customers. Though this technology is still in a nascent stage, AI and quantum computing are likely to emerge as two sides of the same coin with the potential to accelerate the most complex transactions.

Digital workforce: Welcome the future of work! Digital workers! At its core, they are creation of disconnected automation tools – each one of whom has incredible potential to augment human efforts. We are already seeing this in action with RPA, AI and ML. These technologies create digital personas who “think” and “analyze” like humans, and have the capability to execute actions with speed and accuracy 24/7.

For instance, a digital worker can automate the entire process of submitting and raising invoices, can process cheques, process work orders without any supervision. These digital workers are different from bots as they have skills that combine routine tasks, cognitive functions and analytical abilities.

Autonomous things powered by AI: This is an era of intelligence-enabled devices. AI has given devices the capability to think, see, read, write, move and talk. These functions are helping humans in every sphere. They are based on recent developments in deep learning and artificial intelligence, giving devices the ability to actionize and control their environment on their own.

For instance, drones from Amazon have already started delivering packages. Amazon also uses a completed automated warehouse to bring orders home.

AI-based security: The stupendous rise of AI has everyone questioning where to draw the line because the same technology can be used for harmful effects. Cyber security is a growing issue mainly fueled by the widespread adoption of interconnected systems with multiple interfaces which open up new threat vectors.

Hackers are increasingly leveraging “Offensive AI” to launch systematic cyber-attacks. As we step into 2020, organizations will need to counter this with even more sophisticated AI capabilities.

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Fast-learning digital assistants are finding their voice in India

N Chandrababu Naidu is currently in his fourteenth year as Andhra Pradesh’s chief minister. For the first 13 years, which were spread across two stints, he resorted to the time-consuming approach of seeking a report from bureaucrats every time he wanted updates about a particular district or the status of a welfare scheme. But since last February, he has been simply asking Alexa, Amazon’s digital voice assistant, to spell out the statistics.

Beyond the chief minister’s office, voice assistants are becoming ubiquitous in India across smartphones and connected homes. The likes of Alexa and its peers such as Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Samsung’s Bixby and Microsoft’s Cortana are accomplishing a wide variety of tasks such as hailing a cab, calling a friend, sending a message, and playing songs.

At enterprises, voice-enabled bots are handling core functions in areas such as enterprise resource planning, human resource management and to support business intelligence or run banking operations. Typically, these functions include generating proactive reports, citing anomalies and boosting efficiency of employees.

The vast majority of technology majors have been running R&D programmes for voice computing and are launching commercial products as well.

“Voice computing went mainstream in 2018, gaining more prominence among consumers and enterprises,” said Vivian Gomes, vice president and head of marketing & inside sales at CSS Corp.

In fact, at one million utterances a week, more people summon Alexa in India than anywhere else in the world. And at least one user says “I love you, Alexa” every minute, according to Puneesh Kumar, country manager for Alexa experiences and devices at Amazon India.

Technological advances

The current boom has come on the back of two decades of experimentation by the industry, according to Puneet Gupta, chief technology officer of digital product engineering services company GlobalLogic’s India division.

“Voice assistants can be fundamentally broken down into two key technology challenges. One, converting voice to text and two, interpreting the text for the intent,” he said.

 

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Hottest skills for the tech sector in 2019

UX designers, extreme programmers, big data engineers, AI and natural language processing experts and data scientists will be in-demand in 2019, reveal recruiters in India. 

While there’s an array of technical skills needed for today’s competitive job market, the IT job space itself is undergoing massive changes.

The incessant need to produce innovative solutions and services puts the onus on prospective job seekers to keep themselves well versed with the hottest skills in IT. Here we take a deep dive into skills recruiters in India are scouting for in 2019.

Keeping up with the evolving workplace

Technology is changing so fast that the ability to keep up with the pace and adapt in real time is becoming a core survival skill for all employees. The speed of innovation is also cultivating a proactive mindset in the workforce.

Enterprises can only keep up with the when employees take ownership, stay relevant and add value to the disruption cycle. Job seekers in 2019 will need to be in tune with changing technologies, and will be required to relearn new skills with the ever evolving work environment.

“In 2019, employees will be more generalists than specialists, working across multiple teams, functions and even businesses – using mobile technologies and the ‘personal’ toolkit provided by the digital enterprise to maintain contact, alignment, productivity and effectiveness,” explains Mohan Sitharam, Chief Human Resources Officer at Subex.

“Cognitive technologies require people who can not only understand how they work but also think, innovate and solve problems using them. This will result in an inevitable shift in demand to recruit professionals with higher cognitive skills such as creativity, critical thinking, decision making and complex problem solving combined with basic technical and programming skills,” tells Visweswara Rao, SVP & Chief HR Officer, CSS Corp.

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CSS Corp wins the 2020 BIG Innovation Award

CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technology company, today announced it has been named a winner in the 2020 BIG Innovation Awards presented by the Business Intelligence Group.

CSS Corp was lauded for its Digital Customer Experience Platform for its ability to transform customer support from an effort-led to an intelligence-led ecosystem for modern B2B and B2C enterprises.

CSS Corp’s Digital Customer Experience Platform has been closely built on the experience of managing complex support environments for leading technology vendors and SaaS companies for over two decades.

The award-winning platform seamlessly unites the three essential pillars of technology support – end-user experience, operational efficiency, and support engineer productivity.

It leverages technologies like AI, analytics, automation, and augmented reality holistically across the support functions in multi-device, multi-channel, and multi-technology ecosystems.

This platform is being successfully used today, bundled with CSS Corp’s best-in-class services, by top tech vendors to manage their technology support environments.

“CSS Corp has always been a frontrunner in empowering premium customer experiences by harnessing technologies like AI and automation. The Digital Customer Experience Platform has been designed to suit any client environment and provide maximum value across industries,” said Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp, while speaking on the occasion.

“We are honoured to receive this recognition as we endeavour to scale even greater heights on our quest to transform CX and provide solutions that are simple yet significant,” added Tandon.

“Innovation has become a major theme for organizations across virtually all industries and this year’s winners are a testament to the creativity, passion, and perseverance of individuals worldwide,” said Maria Jimenez, Chief Operating Officer of the Business Intelligence Group.

“We are thrilled to be honouring CSS Corp as they are leading by example and making real progress on improving the daily lives of so many,” added Jimenez.

Organizations from across the globe submitted their recent innovations for consideration in the BIG Innovation Awards. Nominations were then judged by a select group of business leaders and executives who volunteer their time and expertise to score submissions.

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