Revamping Pune’s IT Industry to IT 2.0

Taken from the hill behind Infosys Campus, Hinjewadi IT park Phase 2, Pune, India

From being the cultural capital of Maharashtra to evolving as one of the leading IT hubs of India, the city of Pune has witnessed a transformative journey. Its growing IT sector has created a skilled workforce, many employment opportunities, and an in-service industry which has indirectly helped in infrastructure development and multi-fold growth of Pune.

The globally trending topic of Industrial Resolution 4.0 promises to transform technology drastically, and this is bound to impact Pune’s IT sector. To cope with these changes, the sector needs to revamp itself, primarily with Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Automation, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Under the umbrella goal of increasing IT revenues, Pune should also aim for a number of goals such as becoming one of the top five cities known for Data Science/AI/ML globally, becoming the first cybersecurity hub in India, and leveraging India’s economic interests through diplomacy.

To achieve these targets, Pune must focus on building the required skilled workforce, crafting business strategies, incorporating corporate governance, encouraging social entrepreneurs, developing cybersecurity clusters and improving diplomatic and business relations with the rest of the world.

Human resources play a vital role while undergoing any transformation and the IT industry is no exception. Training and creating manpower with a strong background in maths and statistics will be a prerequisite for careers in dominant technologies such as AI and ML. Hence educational institutions across the Pune Metropolitan Region must create and harness a large pool of visiting industry experts to train and update students and faculty alike in these two departments. They must also work closely with the IT industry to design and execute faculty up-gradation programmes, and student interaction programmes, especially those from siloed institutions. Together, the corporate industry and academia can change and create a skilled workforce, proficient in new technologies and equipped with the required range of soft skills.

The goal of skilled workforce creation and capacity building should not be limited to educational institutions but must extend to companies. The IT industry must work to create adequate opportunities and an eco-system allowing middle-level managers exposure to leadership roles on the ground, training and mentoring facilities, and the space to achieve excellence in selected technology domains. Middle-level personnel should also be connected to global level teams and must be viewed as a global resource in the corporate domain. Also, each IT company should strive to place at least one or two of its technologically strong senior managers on the World Standards Committees, in their respective domains. Apart from being a great honour, this can push IT companies to strive for professional excellence, and collectively elevate the IT profile of Pune.

Pune’s IT companies should also focus on business strategies and culture. They should attract and facilitate the setting of VCs (venture capitalists) and funding agencies in Pune. If Pune is to excel in new technologies and domains, it will need to retain and retrain its existing talent pools on a large scale. Together with educational institutions and smaller IT companies, corporate IT leaders should imbibe the Agile Process or Dev Ops in Pune’s IT community, so that its overall “quality profile” will improve. This will attract more and more IT players to Pune.

Currently, Pune’s IT companies focus on providing services instead of products. This focus can and must be changed through building centres of excellence in innovation. 

Centres focused on AI/ML, Cyber Security, IoT, automotive electronics, agro-electronics, medical electronics, etc. will drive research as per the requirements of the specific industry by picking doctoral scholars from respective domains. Further, if Indian IT engineers have to build, plan and design products, then they must be linked closely to global teams. In fact, the process must begin at university/college level itself where students and faculty with adequate professional knowledge are given a chance to engage in building products/platforms in their respective domains.

In order to upgrade their culture, IT companies also need to focus on their governance style and structure by incorporating the following parameters in their planning:

  1. Revenue generated per employee.
  2. Percentage of doctoral scholars in the entire workforce. 
  3. R&D expenditure as a % of Gross Revenue.
  4. Number of patents filed in domains of choice.
  5. Number of academic institutions linked, based on their domain knowledge.

Further, the IT industry must also focus on social innovators/entrepreneurs to stimulate growth which can be shared with all stakeholders, and not only financers/investors. Through the combination of technology, entrepreneurship and social consciousness, Pune is already turning into a major hub for social innovation and more efforts should be put into strengthening these combinations and models.

Pune must be home to a Sustainable Business Centre of Excellence (SB-CoE) that enables existing businesses to adopt sustainability reporting standards in line with global benchmarks like Global Reporting and Social Return on Investment. The centre should also provide sustainability consulting and impact investment advisory services to foster the creation of sustainable business and build the Impact Investment movement.

Pune is in a position to aspire to be a leader in securing India’s position in the Information Age. It can be a catalyst, and eventually, an implementing force for the first cybersecurity cluster in India.

In addition to friendly relations with other countries, India must focus particularly on developing commercial, cultural and innovation ties with Israel, Vietnam, Estonia, Poland and Hungary. Pune should be at the forefront of this national effort; it should identify champions and techno-cultural ambassadors for these countries from within its community, encourage joint events and cultural, educational, technological and intellectual exchanges with them.

Of course, all these initiatives need robust political will. Pune’s MPs and MLAs need to demonstrate long-term vision and commitment for the growth of Pune’s IT sector. Along with academicians, scientists, industry leaders and eminent personalities from Arts and Culture, they should establish an “All Parties’ (Political) Pune Development Forum”. This forum can not only design the decade-long IT growth plan for Pune, but also make it a part of an overall development plan for the city. The entire concept is modular, and any citizen of Pune, if he/she desires, can contribute to making it a success. Indeed, it is only the participation of all citizens and leaders that will elevate Pune as a city across the country and the world in an all-rounded manner. 

Anand Khandekar

Anand Khandekar is Ex-Head MNC Software Design Centres NVIDIA and MOTOROLA.

Sanjay Kanvinde

Sanjay Kanvinde is a Pune-based investor and mentor. He is actively involved in several charities and social organisations.

The views and opinions expressed in the article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Tilak Chronicle and TTC Media Pvt Ltd.

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