The World was forced to transform at an inadvertent pace in the wake of the unforeseen pandemic that has overtaken our routines for almost six months now. New circumstances call for newer challenges. While the world has resorted to a work from home scenario, issues concerning safety and privacy in the digital space are rising. Thus, this is the best time to deliberate about these concerns by involving experts from the tech field for their greater insights.
Respond. Recover. Reimagine
COVID 19 has been the watershed moment for digital transformation businesses, remarks Neelima Dwivedi. In the last few months she observed three distinct phases, namely RESPOND, RECOVER and REIMAGINE. Many organisations have responded swiftly to the crisis by adapting to different technologies to maintain continuity of work. The second phase involves the recovery stage, where individuals have started functioning in the ‘new normal’. The third phase of reimagining constitutes individuals reimagining business strategies in accordance with the current conditions, as technology has now become the backbone of almost everything. All businesses across the globe have now pivoted towards remote working environments. Neelima gives an example of the product Microsoft Teams to show how it has enabled communication and collaboration to support not only workplaces, but also educational institutions. She further adds how Microsoft has contributed in building industry-leading security solutions. Such secure technologies are empowering consumers in these difficult times.
Decentralisation of Work
The COVID Paradox is that it has slowed down the world, but accelerated change, asserts Jaspreet Bindra. Work From Home enabled decentralisation of work. The term “Work from Home” will be now replaced by “Work from Anywhere”. Decentralisation has occurred in all sectors, from education to retail. Technology has definitely bridged the gap in all spaces, and there has also been an explosion of innovations. However, the Digital Divide between people who have access versus people who do not have access to technology has become evident. Thus, technology must also help bridge this Digital Divide between groups.
Right to do V/S Right thing to do
There is a difference between knowing “what is our Right to do” and “what is the right thing to do” reminds Kuppulakshmi. We must look at each person’s values, cultures and geographical locations while deliberating upon Work From Home policies. She illustrates how Zoho keeps the privacy policies simple,transparent and accessible. The kind of internal conversations one has with the employees, and the external conversations one has with the people must be transparent. During these times, the softwares people use must also be economical in price so as to pander to all sets of consumers. It is also important to hire the right people who we can trust, keeping in mind the remote hiring setting. The way we handle our own information, and the way we handle the user’s information also becomes increasingly important during such times.
Many companies are well versed with the digitalisation journey, while many are not, claims Giri. During these times, companies were forced to make the business continuity plans from crisis as their complete regular work plans. He illustrates the divide between companies by noting that while bigger companies knew how to swim in this sea, many smaller companies were literally pushed into the water without warning. For example, In the Pre COVID world, digital transformation in the health sector was happening at a steady pace, but now the sector is forced into a rapid transformation, as facilities like Video Consultancies, which never happened before, have become the new realities. The third segment of companies are those who are novices in the digital field. For example, a Saree shop in Chennai has now started using WhatsApp video calls to display his collection to the consumers. Thus, all sectors are using new innovations to adapt to the changing times. There has been a significant evolution and in the cloud and network space. First, there has been a decentralisation of the network. Second, most applications and data available will be uploaded on cloud. Third important thing to consider is, security is not an afterthought, it has to be an integral part of work. We must always do the right thing, but the question largely is what is the right thing as there is a thin line between legal and ethical. Thus, many regulators are struggling with the measurement of security policies.
How big a role can policy play in democratisation of technology?
Neelima Dwivedi: Firstly, Government has thankfully made necessary relaxations in the Work From Home regulations.However, it is critical to make these policy changes permanent as it enables BPOs and Call Centres and helps workforce of rural areas.Companies must expand their reach and cover tier-1 and tier-2 cities. This policy will further help in decongesting big cities. Secondly, there must be uniformity in the OSP Regulations. Thirdly, we must promote the Data Center Industry and create Cloud Economic Zones. There should also be laws governing WFH policies. Lastly, there should be incentivisation of software products.
Giri Govindarajulu: Firstly, there should be new changes made in workplace policies. Secondly, it is important to work on a Public-Private partnership and ensure that leaders are coming with laws which are realistic.
Kuppulakshmi Krishnamoorthy: People today need customization and personalisation of data without compromising on privacy. Firstly, we must work to educate policy makers and ensure that talented individuals do not leave India. Secondly, one blanket does not fit everyone. There should be different policies for different populations.
Jaspreet Bindra: Tech Industry in India became what it is today because the government did not interfere much. There has to be a balance between the areas where we need government policies and areas where we need innovations from the people. In only matters of Security and Privacy and Access, Government must be included, whereas the innovations must be handled by people alone.