This 20 Minutes live session with Ninad Karpe, partner 100X.VC features Keshav R Murugesh. Ninad introduced Keshav as Group CEO,WNS Global Services, Immediate Past Chairman NASSCOM, and Member of the prestigious Wall Street Journal CEO Council. Mr. Keshav is the man who is known to lead and manage more than 40 different verticals of business and 40,000 people.
Ninad also explained the format to Keshav where he said that the initial 10 minutes would be all on Keshav and then the question and answer session will begin. And then the screen switched to Keshav as the host.
COVID – Year of opportunity
The webinar began when Ninad asked Keshav that since the IT industry has always been synonymous with crisis times, for instance – the Y2K crisis, 2008 Crisis. So, how are they dealing with the COVID crisis?
Keshav replied quite affirmatively about the correlation between the crisis and the IT industry. He recalled the year 2007 when it was also characterised as the year with lots of technological innovations and breakthroughs. Keshav said that 2020 is also the supernova year because, with Corona, the digital industry has boomed up like anything. The transition of working in offices and shifting to complete work from the home model has been phenomenal. Within some days only, the digital transformation is impeccable. He also stated figures highlighting the fact that workforce utilisation has been over 95%, cybersecurity threats have also reduced, and the clients are extremely satisfied and happy. He further added that the IT industry has learned a lot during this phase and they have come out quite well. And COVID 19 is more of a healthcare crisis rather than a financial or IT crisis. In contrast, all other problems in the past were financial or IT or mismanagement crisis. He concluded the question by saying that the only challenge is that the demands must keep coming through even after things get normal.
Future of IT Industry
Ninad raised a good question when he asked Keshav that NASSCOM and many other giants have said that the IT industry is expected to be a 350 billion dollar industry by 2025. He asked Keshav if the same is still achievable.
Keshav said that since COVID was declared a pandemic all across the globe at the same time, thus every stakeholder of the business was able to understand each other’s plights. And thus they all made sure that the torch was burning at everyone’s house. One of the best things about COVID 19 is that businesses will focus more on saving money now.
And this directly brings us to digital acceleration. Also, the best part is that new business models based on output and outcome will happen like never before. He further added that GOI is regularly interacting with big business houses, and many changes in labour policies are also anticipated shortly. With changes in labour laws, many women who have obtained secondary education but are unable to work could also be employed in a part-time manner. COVID 19 and maybe post-COVID 19 scenarios will give rise to several part-time jobs as well. Cybersecurity is expected to become a distinct line of business.
Ninad questioned Keshav which industry he hopes to accelerate post-COVID 19 scenarios from the IT perspective.
Keshav replied that every business sphere had got tremendous scope because clients across the globe were surprised to see how everyone managed to switch millions of desktops to a complete home-based model. But his bet is highly on the healthcare sector, especially the remote healthcare and tele medicines. He also feels that personalised retail therapy and even travel and airlines might also completely change their business model. The future is quite hopeful, and it has opened several doors everywhere. He also added that many business houses that have not adopted the global model have also suffered and thus, they will surely adopt the global model in the future.
Ninad then asked Keshav one of the viewer’s questions, why can’t GOI adopt blockchain technology?
To which Keshav replied that GOI is looking up to any and every digital model. And thus AI, cloud chain, blockchain, and all might be quite prevalent in the coming times. Keshav further added that the Government would give anything which does not involve physical handling may be in the form of cash or citizen services preference.
Layoffs in the IT industry
Ninad then asked about the layoffs in the IT industry. To which Keshav replied that currently the companies in the IT industry are looking after the safety of the employees and they are more concerned about how to keep delivering the results. Companies are also looking to shift back to office life gradually. But since the utility side is completely stopped, the purchasing capacity of the customer has gone down. Thus it will be quite challenging to keep the business surviving in such difficult times. And maybe the layoffs might occur but in the coming future.
Ninad further asked Keshav that since the IT industry employs more than 4 million people, then what about the scaling of the same? To which Keshav replied that once digital acceleration happens which is bound to happen very fast and very soon, there will be tremendous changes in employability as well. It is all about connecting the right skill of people to the correct company.
Connectivity Issue in remote areas
One of the viewers asked how the Government will tackle the connectivity issue in remote areas. To which Keshav replied that this is again an opportunity. During COVID times, we all have witnessed how the Government, along with very few parties, came forward and managed the entire lockdown quite well. And COVID has also made every business house look at the opportunity and deliver even in these areas.
Ninad had a very valid point when he questioned Keshav about the cybersecurity threats when maximum people are working on the WFH model. To which Keshav replied that Indian companies have been quite good at managing such threats in the last 4 months in India, the cyber laws are fine. And the client at present is more concerned about how their data is being managed and what is the source of the same.
Future of WFH
Ninad asked Keshav about the future of work from the home model by citing an example of TCS who said that by 2025 they would only have 25% of employees working in the office. To which Keshav replied that they are in talks with the Government to make the same enable and also working from the office will also be there. The major reasons are cybersecurity and even office culture.
Ninad asked that since Reliance, Facebook and Whatsapp are merging to give shape to one of the biggest digital models of all times, thus what is expected shortly? To which Keshav said that of course, this move is a total game-changer and a widely accessible digital model to even the remote corners of the country is a huge plus, and it will reflect positively for the country.
India – Service Economy to Product Economy
Ninad further asked Keshav that will India switch from being a service economy to a product economy. To which Keshav said that India would continue to deliver in the service lines only, but shortly it is expected that the service economy will continue to jump like anything.
Ninad further asked Keshav about the opportunity of start-ups in Tier 3 cities to which Keshav replied that there is an opportunity. And maybe changes in the law might make that happen soon.
Advice for Medium Business Houses
Ninad asked Kesav what your set of advice for people who are of medium business houses is. To which Keshav replied that many of them had not adopted digital means of work and that is one of the biggest con. Saying yes to technology should be started from today, and another important thing is to have a good set of people working with you.
Ninad asked about Keshav’s closing remarks to which he said that the future is quite positive and once things start coming back to normal, the clients will like to move up the value chain, and in terms of technology there will be quite rapid advancements.
Ninad asked about Keshav’s mood to which he replied that he is cautiously optimistic.
Finally, Ninad asked about Keshav's one piece of advice to students and graduates passing out in 2019 and getting into the IT industry. To which Keshav replied that they must know sales skills.
Lastly, Ninad asked about any personal hobby which he developed during the lockdown phase to which Keshav said that he has started baking bread.