Covid-19 and beyond: Startups on the leading edge
Sudhanshu Mittal April 26, 2020
Head - CoE Gurugram & Director - Technical Solutions, NASSCOM Centre of Excellence
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As the world battles with COVID-19, the technology startups are playing their role at the leading edge. Be it the solutions for patient tracking and creating the profiles of people “At Risk” using their mobile location tracking, adding remote management capabilities to the hospital devices like ventilator, using innovative approaches to build low-cost ventilators, solutions for remote consultants by doctors, using AI to analyze the X-Ray – the various methods being experimented with and brought to the market are only limited by the imagination.
At NASSCOM Center of Excellence – IoT & AI, we are working with a multitude of startups to enable their solutions and take those to the right state and central government authorities for possible adoption as just development of solution in isolation is not good enough. It has to reach the right eyes and ears to be part of the battle.
Looking beyond the immediate crisis, we also have to start thinking about the situation once lockdown starts easing and how the current crisis will shape the future. One thing that practically everybody agrees to is that some impact areas will be permanent in nature. Many only initially, till we have herd immunity all across so that the impact of COVID-19 starts looking like regular cold/flu; but some beyond that also because we find that the new approach is more useful than the old methodologies.
We can identify the Work-From-Home or remote working as a permanent impact since it provides a significant saving for the corporates in terms of office rentals and facilities. Already some corporates are cutting down on office cost by having only the front office staff (primarily sales team) in high-end offices while shifting the back-end staff to cheaper locations.
However, the remote working will also open up more opportunities for gig workers/freelancers and for women workers who for specific reasons can’t travel a long distance to the office. It will also open up similar opportunities for people in remote areas as long as they have decent internet connectivity.
Another impact that we can expect is to reduce the resistance to the digital technology adoption by corporates/ manufacturing/ healthcare/ agriculture players. While there has already been the movement in this direction, going forward, it is only going to accelerate.
Once the users start seeing the benefits of adoption, they will only want more. For manufacturing players, being able to remotely monitor the production status, inventory status, current pipeline and getting timely customized reports is hugely critical. For example, players like bike manufacturers who have finished goods warehouse of the size of a football stadium, spend a considerable amount of time to look for a particular model when the shipment has to be made. For them having the capability to move the trucks quickly is a significant advantage.
Similarly, for healthcare professionals being able to access past patient data collated from different sources or be able to access the expert advice remotely and on-demand, are areas whose value can’t be underestimated. In the agriculture domain, being able to save water consumption is an area of critical importance where many of the startups are deploying the solutions.
As these technology adoptions grow, so will the challenges. The data being generated will grow exponentially, and so will the concerns around privacy, cybersecurity apart from the expectations in being able to utilize the data for further improvements. It will require the out-of-the-box thinking and innovative approach, which is the primary hallmark of startups. Since many of the solutions don’t currently exist, we can expect the startups to exploit the business opportunities by developing newer solutions. Such solutions may be adopted as it is by the users or may be integrated into the larger platforms by large corporates which will allow the required scalability and repeatability of the solutions.
In summary, as we start looking to the future planning, the role of innovative digital solutions by startups is unlimited. The digital-savvy users who are open to the idea of working with such innovators to explore the technology adoption will be the ones to benefit in terms of cutting down the costs and scaling up the operations. The biggest challenge of getting suitable startups on the same platform as the users is what the NASSCOM CoE – IoT & AI are striving to address. The smart startups who understand how to work with the users will be able to capitalize on the opportunities quickly. The space for innovation is unlimited.