This report is an update to the retailer hiring numbers we published in our report on September 24. Three key updates in this report are:

  • Amazon has announced that it will hire 100,000 seasonal workers, down from the 120,000 it hired last year.
  • Kroger has announced that it will hire 10,000 seasonal workers, down from the 14,000 it hired last year.
  • Nordstrom will hire 24,000 seasonal workers, which is almost double the number of workers hired by the retailer last year. 

The Coresight Research team attended the second day of the Bengaluru Tech Summit in Bengaluru on November 30. This was the 21st edition of the flagship event of the Department of Information Technology, Government of Karnataka (Bengaluru is Karnataka State’s capital city).

While the discussions and keynote presentations on the first day focused on cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and data, the second day’s talks centered on blockchain, agriculture and healthcare technology, entertainment, and using technology to build digitally inclusive communities. Below are our top takeaways from the second day of the event.

Panel: Beyond Blockchain—Solutions in Governance

Sreeram Ananthasayanam, Partner of Government and Public Services at audit and advisory firm PwC, moderated a panel discussion on blockchain technology. He gave a brief explanation of blockchain and remarked that adoption of the technology has progressed beyond fintech to include the supply chain, logistics and healthcare industries and even government agencies that wish to streamline processes. Ananthasayanam said that the key challenges in adopting blockchain technology are that users have low confidence in the technology, there is regulatory uncertainty surrounding its use globally and there is an inability to bring the network together. He outlined a four-step process to help organizations overcome these challenges:

  1. Blockchain providers need to make a business case for the technology and have a pragmatic conversation with businesses to help them find strategic clarity. This will help define problems clearly and identify relevant solutions.
  2. Providers should build an ecosystem focusing on a cooperative few who are willing to adopt the technology and build a network gradually.
  3. Technology providers and other stakeholders need to design deliberately, confronting risks early on in the implementation process and addressing concerns regarding privacy. Investing in data and processes will help providers build a robust architecture.
  4. Organizations and providers need to navigate regulatory uncertainty collectively by working with existing regulations and closely monitoring regulatory changes and announcements.

Manikam Selvendran, Commissioner of Land Records, Government of Madhya Pradesh State, presented a use case for blockchain technology in the transfer of land ownership titles during a sale. Typically, people in India need to go through several stages of paperwork and clearances involving visits to lawyers and various government agency offices to complete the sale of land and obtain an ownership deed. This can be time-consuming and arduous.

By digitizing land ownership records, all data—including time series information on ownership, the shape and area of the land, and the value of the property—can be contained in a single digital property ledger, Selvendran said. This will enable attorneys and authorities to complete various legal and regulatory processes quickly, without the buyer and seller having to physically visit several government offices. Selvendran said that Sweden and Georgia are among the countries that have adopted blockchain technology for land records and title registers and added that these countries claim to have reduced transactional costs by more than 90%.

Selvendran noted that while this is an ideal scenario for India to work toward, several challenges exist that complicate implementation. First, the government needs to decide what type of blockchain to use: a permissioned blockchain (which requires users to obtain permission in order to view information on the blockchain) or a nonpermissioned one. The government also needs to consider the digital literacy of users and whether the technology and system can be simple enough for a person who is not technologically literate to use. The party that hosts the data (whether it be the government itself or a third-party provider) and subsequently controls it is another aspect authorities must consider before India can seamlessly implement a digitized, blockchain-based land record system.

Panel: Digital Content Creation in Communications—Animation, Visual Effects, Games and Comics in India

Biren Ghose, the India Country Head at animation firm Technicolor, began a panel discussion on digital content creation with a brief summary of the state of the animation and visual effects industry in India. He remarked that Bengaluru, India’s startup and innovation capital, is turning out to be its animation capital as well, thanks to the growth of several global firms’ offices in the city. In addition, the government sanctioned the opening of a 30,000-square-foot lab (the largest in Asia) in Bengaluru to help companies across the healthcare, retail and automotive industries, among others, visualize ideas and create interactive digital content.

James Allen, Creative Director of postproduction company The Mill, stated that there are stark differences in the makeup of the visual effects industry in India compared with Europe and North America. In India, quality is tailored to satisfy the film pipeline, while European and American studios are better equipped to handle the short-turnaround pipelines common to the production of commercials.

Sean Mullen, Creative Director for Technicolor Animation and Games, noted that despite this, technology and specialist training provided to artists in India have evolved, helping Indian studios produce quality work for commercials with aggressive deadlines. Mullen stated that while the animation industry is young in India, it is still capable of competing with global studios that are mature in terms of artistic quality.

Panel: Strategies for Digitally Inclusive Communities

In a panel that discussed the key building blocks of digitally inclusive societies, KPMG Partner Nilaya Varma remarked that India needs to go the public-private partnership (PPP) way. PPP refers to collaborations between government agencies and private sector companies. Varma said that to build and leverage digital technology for communities, one needs to define the outcomes, not the inputs and costs, when looking from a procurement point of view, as the outcomes’ long-term benefits will outweigh the inputs’ short-term costs. He cited the example of Bangladesh, where mobile network firm Telenor partnered with the government to create a basic healthcare consultancy program called Tonic. This program allows telechats between users and physicians and allows users to get prescriptions filled at a discount. Some 80% of calls in Bangladesh through Telenor are made through bots rather than humans, Varma said.

Praveen Mysore, Technical Director at Dassault Systèmes in India, remarked that multiple municipal and utility agencies in cities work in siloes. If each of them were connected to the others and there were greater collaboration, it would help build a digitally inclusive community, he said.

Steven Kenway, Associate Professor at the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Queensland, said that better utility management will help build smart cities. For example, more conscious measurement of water consumption and storage, and creating forward-looking forecasts of these actions, will help cities manage their utilities better.

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