Every year for the last five years I have had the opportunity to anchor and moderate sessions at the NASSCOM Technology and Leadership Forum. Previously called NASSCOM India Leadership Forum, this year the name was tweaked to give it the technology boost that it had built in, in its primary nature. With technology changing the world around us and the way we interact with it, the impact has never been as much as it is in context of businesses today. At the heart of every business today is technology and it is reshaping strategy, culture, jobs, policy and everything else around it. The conference was put together to look at both technology and the business of technology.
The theme for the year was – The Next – Opportunity versus Reality which was built keeping in mid the complex scenarios generated by today’s multiple disruptions which lead to new seeming threats which are new opportunities in disguise. It explored the adoption of new technologies, the pace of adaption, the level of disruption and the real impact delivered.
There were key messages that were the focus and included:
The CEO’s Technology Agenda: This segment had CEO’s speaking about their technology agendas and why it is the competitive differentiator.
The Potential – Reality Debate: With a lot of chatter around disruptive technology – AI, Blockchain, IOT, Mixed Reality, Quantum Computing, this stream focussed on looking at a 1, 3, 5 year band and at what stages the different technologies are at in terms of either being main-stream or still in a nascent stage.
The Changing Leadership Imperative: New mindsets, new business models, new org structures are all paving the way for disruptive technology to be at the core of business and this line of thought was explored here.
India Next: All the streams discussed looked at what these contexts meant for India and how we can solve this for India.
Age of Intelligence – Technology Disruption, Experiences Unplugged – Bringing Experiences to the Core of Digital, Unlocking Growth – Business Organisation Models, Dismantling the Walls – As the New World Order emerges were the four key themes that were discussed and debated.
It was an intense, immersive experience in the world of ground-breaking technologies that are changing the landscape and status quo and it was surely designed to expand the mind. This year exposed me to some stellar speakers and leaders with visions that have far-reaching implications in the world of business.
We started the conference with a session that took a Look into the Future with Flying Robots by the virtual magician, who guided these flying pieces of technology with just his hands to do his bidding and he spoke about how the world was now inventing the impossible. We had speakers discuss the topics of being futurists and spanning the contexts of how to innovate in the times of chaos and uncertainty. The diverse topics explored contexts that discussed Shaping Digital Economies and how advanced technologies enable countries such as India to shape their economies to drive productivity, growth, wealth and prosperity.
The age of intelligence, era of experience, employee engagement, trends decoded, digital transformation were all parallel tracks that ran through the course of the sessions. The role of business in a fractured world session was peppered with insights and the thoughts were intriguing and provocative. The Why Speed is the New Scale in Digital segment discussed the impact of digital technologies and how today’s organisation is transformational and agile, and needs keep pace with the changes in the decades to come. Magic in Machines was a stellar experience in context of virtual and augmented reality and how the world perceives them. The day ended with a powerful address by our IT Minister speaking about India and the Future.
The second day began with a bang and the session From Pupa to Caterpillar: Competing to Win in a Smart, Experience-led New Economy had everyone mind boggled with the statistics and numbers and ended with insights into India and what we have going for us.
Future of Work – Business in the Era of Applied Intelligence, Pervasive AI, Future of Technology and Leadership’s Role, Talent Track – Disrupt or Be Disrupted, Beyond the Clouds – A move to intelligent Edge Computing, Technology as the Driver and Reskilling, Symbiosis Between Human and Machine Intelligence, The ABCD – AI, Blockchain, Cloud, Data, Connectivity and 5G, Strengthening the Core to Expand Client Relevance, Businesses and Nations navigating the new normal were all the areas of focus and conversations. The finale was a two-time Pulitzer awardee speaking about Politics and World Economy and the myriad lenses we choose to see it through.
New Imperatives for Leaders had business insights and learnings spanning three decades and explored the context of business in the new world. New Age Entrepreneurs – Reinvent with Innovative Models that scale had three diverse business entrepreneurs speak about their businesses and how they are enabling growth by using technology.
We went down the future lane by exploring the technology of the 20’s and then looked at Young Global Leaders – Creative Transformation and Experience. Devices and IOT revolution was a segment that delved into how we interact with devices in the world of the IoT. If you want to succeed, first learn to fail was a deep dive into failure and risk and how it would then impact businesses and decisions. Scaling the next Billion market explored India and the nuances of marketing to the Indian consumer in context of two very different businesses.
Giving Matters was a session that explored a stellar actor in context of storytelling, giving back to society and building for impact on a large scale.
I was surrounded by speakers and leaders from around the world and conversing with them just made me realise that stepping out of our regular everyday can be so phenomenally experiential and steeped in acquiring knowledge and know how.
What was a marketer and communicator doing amidst a bunch of technologists and leaders? Let’s just say that the lines are blurring, and technology seems to be all pervading. I now have the exposure and experience of having been a part of this journey and it has given me so much to absorb, think about and share. I think all of us as leaders should get a world view of what is happening to business and technology and this was the perfect place for me to get these insights and spend time just learning.
You can stream and watch the sessions on YouTube and it will absolutely worth your while!