The outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic has inflated the significance of technology and re-skilling by multiple folds. It is the time when IoT (Internet of Things) has come to the forefront and companies are adapting it quickly to maintain their efficiency amid social distancing and the deadly virus. Highlighting the importance of IoT (Internet of Things) and the need to res-skill people rather than re-deploying them, Ranjeet Koul, Vice President & Country Manager APAC & MEA, Aeris Communications, in an exclusive conversation with Elets News Network (ENN), shared why going digital is the only way and how Aeris communications is helping organisations maintain their momentum during the pandemic with technology. During the conversation, he also shared the future plans of the organisation to work in the areas of Smart Cities, Healthcare, and many more.
Excerpts of the interaction
Tell us about your professional experiences with the past companies you have worked with. What is your current position and work profile at Aeris Communication?
I have working with tech companies for more than two decades across several companies such as HP, Xerox, Intel, etc. My last assignment was with Intel where I used to handle the entire Asia Pacific and Japan in the final four years and it was all about IoT. Those were the days when we at Intel were seeding the cloud and analyzing the future of the cloud and its usage. And, then I moved to Aeris communications. Aeris being an end to end IoT Solutions company attracted me more. Because I wanted to interact with customers and understand the utilization of the solution, and I wanted to see how it changes the actual business scenario. The difference between Intel and Aerie\s is, at Intel we create the market and at Aeris we dress the market so, that people can use the solutions. At Aeris, I am the Vice President & Country Manager APAC & MEA.
How IoT is helping in the BFSI sector?
From the technology point of view, most of the businesses across the BFSI sector are on automotive loans and white good loans apart from homes. Because when you do home loans you have your collateral and it is significant collateral and it is an immovable asset. But when you do financing for an automotive of white good, it is a movable asset and it can even shift hands. It is imperative for the BFSI institutions who have their vast business of giving loans to the consumers to understand what is happening on the asset and make sure that the Non-Performing Assets that they get because of the moving assets remain under check. So, when the underwriter sees the NPA, he understands that it can be reduced significantly if the technology has an intervention into it. It makes the life of an underwriter and the people who are selling these loans very easy. At the same time, there are a lot of checks and balances when IoT comes into play. You can reduce the NPAs and make sure where the asset and find out how the asset is being utilized. You can actually grade your things on a few steps- How safe is my asset, how it is getting utilized, am I getting paid timely and what is the depreciation.
Can you tell us about Aeris communications and its operations in India?
It is more than six years that Aeris started its operations in India. We have a large customer base. We are primarily into B2B business. We are working with big names in the BFSI industry and today we have both sizeable businesses and teams in India. Our operations in the country are Pan India. We have 24/7 operations which is based out of Noida, India called GSoc where the customers reach out to us and we help them with the support requirements. We also have the biggest tech investment team in India which is based out of Noida who are responsible for enhancing the capabilities of the various solutions Aeris offers. It is a very sound business that Aeris has established in India over the last six years.
What are the benefits that the IoT solutions offer in the B2B as well as the B2C segments?
IoT provides a variety of solutions in any segment that you utilize it in. In the B2C segment, there are various utilizations that are these corporations are driving. One set of utilization If I talk about is, if you look at factory floor shop there would be three or four senior Research and development (R&D) engineers across the shop and your floor shop has 45-50 machines today in any manufacturing given area and you have four or five senior supervisors who take care of the entire set-up, so if a factory set-up goes down, a person has to be recalled to know where the factor supervisor is. When you call someone in a quite office set-up the scenario is different but when you call supervisors in a factory set-up they are engaged in different sorts of responsibilities but they have IoT devices hung around their neck so, that people would know in which area the Engineer or the supervisor is and the IoT device helps us in deciding the place where the person should be shifted. So, you make sure that you maintain efficiency by moving the right person.
In another example, in the traffic police department in India, you have these 100 cabs sitting out of place and there is a requirement which comes up in a place B and the cabs are in A, B, C, D, H as they are all connected by IoT you can easily find out which has the maximum proximity and can reach the desired destination in no time. So, you can make these decisions. So, these are very life-saving business-critical decisions that B2B can take while using IoT as a service. Hence, that derives the criticality of using the platform. At one place, you derive the optimal usage of resources and at the other example that I gave you, it determines how many in an accident or any uncertain situation, how many lives can you save, and how quickly.
Can you tell us about your collaborations with the government in terms of services?
We do work with the government. BSNL is our Pan India partner through which we have a strategy of co-working to deploy IoT across India. Because that is the number one government connectivity player in India and they work with us to provide these solutions with government agencies. But what we have seen right now Police departments are the first ones to use these solutions because of the nature of the job that they have. And, the second area that we are going to concentrate soon, is going to be the health area as you look at the Covid outbreak and you need to understand how fast you can reach a person who is in dire need and the health resources needed to be moved there. So, there are two areas that we are focused on and we already have projects that are ongoing in the policing area and we are working on a couple of projects that are on the healthcare side and that are purely government.
Do you have any plans to work in the Smart Cities domain?
We will work with the national SIs and we have a partnership with TCS and Tech-Mahindra, and there are components that need our services to make the cities smart and that could be in terms of smart utilities i.e power so that you can make sure that the consumers are build according to utilization and we are also working on smart grids which are making sure that how can you reduce the power losses. We being the technology leaders in the space, we are working at the backend to help India to overcome the transmission losses by having an implementation of smart grids and Aeris thinks that’s the critical area wherein we want to invest our energy.
Can you elaborate us more on how is IoT helping the BFSI sector in optimizing their operations?
BFSI in a way is getting very tech-savvy and moving their data to the cloud, a higher number of people using credit cards today, and a higher inclination of customers towards apps to make payments, all this has been driven by IoT. But the area where Iot Impacts their revenue directly in the area where they provide the loans to the people.
How has the pandemic impacted the market? What are the lessons that should be learned for any such future situations?
For a tech-based company, the way we address our market has changed. It was a bit of a lag when the pandemic started because every company like ours began to think about innovative ways for reaching out to the customers. How do we approach our current customer line? What are the challenges that we are going to face? The first thing that we set-up in India was to make sure that our GSoc becomes the functional operation for the organization so, that where ever we are the customer using our solutions doesn’t suffer. Because GSoc not only supports the customers in India but the customers across the world. So, we made sure that our GSoc is fully operational and it has backup lines available, our agents can log-in from home. That was the first set-up. The second, focus point was how do we talk to our customers. So, I think that has taken a lot of change but then we have adopted a new way of working in the technology area. This has brought a positive impact on our industry because more people were eager to understand what’s happening in their business without having the need to physically meet each other. So, they came to us to understand how can we completely help them in virtualizing their operations so that they can utilize their manpower better and keep them safe.
I think the adoption of technology which has been averse in India has to be looked at from a different angle. India needs to understand how to look at the nitty-gritty of the service industry and give it a very sharp look because as everyone is saying it is the first pandemic after so many years. So, India and all the organisations have to re-Strategise their operations and understand how to evolve their operations around technology. It is time to be technology-friendly and not be tech-averse. There were few organizations in the manufacturing domain who were on the fence and on wait and watch mode when we approached them with our solutions on technology. But they wanted to wait and see the relevance. After the outbreak of the pandemic, they approached us for virtualising their operations which we did after doubling up our speed but in the meantime, they lost some of their momentum. So, it is significant to take the correct decisions at right time.
What are your views regarding the readiness of people in India pertaining to technologies and the new normal post the pandemic?
If you would have asked me the question before the pandemic, I would have said that India is at an average of 20 percent who are open to use the technology and live the change in daily lives because technology is something wherein you have to keep your processes upgraded, it gives you freedom of keeping your operations intact during the adverse situations but at the same time it has to be kept operational and upgraded and you have to make sure that the people around it are trained enough.
But after the pandemic, I would say that we are at a 45 percent adaptation rate of technology. India has understood that it is all about re-skilling people not re-deploying people. It is important to make people understand the new skills that they need in the new environment. Because every job need to evolve over time.