Cognitive Technologies

The third meeting of the SKOCH Cyber Patriot Task Force, focused on Cognitive Technologies was held on the 29th June 2019 at the Constitution Club of India, New Delhi

The third meeting of the Cyber Patriot Task Force, focused on Cognitive Technologies was held on the 29th June 2019 at the Constitution Club of India, New Delhi. CISOs from various verticles participated.

Following is the list of attendees:

  1. Mr B R Nath, CTO, Edelweiss Agri Services & Credit
  2. Dr Chandan Halder, Manager ( R&D), Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited
  3. Dr Deepak B Phatak, Director, Skoch Development Foundation
  4. Mr Dharam Raj, CIO, ONGC
  5. Mr Dilip Panjwani, CISO, Larsen & Toubro Infotech Ltd
  6. Mr Gagandeep Arora, Associate Partner/Sales Leader – Public Sector, IBM
  7. R Adm L V Sarat Babu, NM, IN(Retd), Chairman & Managing Director, Hindustan Shipyard Ltd
  8. Mr Manoj Jha, Chief Information Officer and Head of IT, BEML LIMITED
  9. Ms Mansi Thapar, Head Security, Jaquar
  10. Mr R Srivathsa Ramanathan, Director- Cyber Risk Services, Deloitte
  11. Mr Rajiv Arora, Group Head of Information Technology and CIO, Siemens Ltd
  12. Dr Shefali Dash, Former Director General, National Informatics Centre
  13. Dr V N Alok, Professor, Indian Institute of Public Administration

Cognitive Technologies and their building blocks will change the business paradigms yet again. There is a massive disruption ahead for all businesses. Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) would become a mainstay for businesses. Quantum Computing will either make even Blockchain vulnerable or potentially offer near foolproof security. 5G will provide the requisite network bandwidth to introduce Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications. Fog Computing will decentralise Artificial Intelligence (AI). Indian legislation and implementation would be compelled to move in this direction. The next set of winners will be decided by our readiness and understanding, and our ability to tame these technological disruptions for business advantage. This Discussion takes stock of our current knowledge and contributes to a better understanding of technologies of the future.


Session 1: Emerging Trends in Disruptive Technologies

  1. Workforce upgrade: Before technology investments, it is important for the industry to upgrade its workforce by reskilling and upskilling on the job. This can’t wait till project implementation because the pace of change here is rapid and to protect jobs and intellectual capital, it’s important for the whole workforce to stay ahead of the curve.
  2. Multidisciplinary approach: While tech experts can make everything sound like a modern marvel, domain experts are a must on every project implementation team to bring in the ground realities and problem-solving capabilities. This goes for both business and government projects especially welfarist policies like the health stack where over-reliance on tech experts lead to policy gaps.
  3. IT Governance: It is important for corporations to have a robust IT governance framework which guides decision making on the scale and breadth of technology upgradation. A framework needs to serve as a playbook that guides managers while keeping the organisational data safety in check.
  4. Charting a different path:  It may seem lucrative but aping the west isn’t the best idea. India is a labour-surplus country with a mostly poor and illiterate population and hence, technologies which don’t replace jobs need to be judiciously used and considered deeply before distorting the labour markets.
  5. Policy enablement: The government is pushing digital in a big manner but without appropriate policy and regulators to man the digital borders, the data of citizens and growth of businesses remain at constant risk of attacks, sabotage and of course, obsolescence. Strong, specific and clear policy direction is the need of the hour.

Session 2: Operational Impact of Disruptive Technologies

  1. Data transferability and security: Machine learning restricted to just one department or process of a large organization is not just limited by use but also by effectiveness. Hence, an organization must take steps to ensure that all of the data is transferable, shareable and workable inside the ML models to discover insights that are ripe for the AI to build upon.  At the same time, strict guidelines on IT Governance must ensure that personal data is anonymised and shared over closed-loop networks which maintain its integrity.
  2. Analysing business before choosing a technology: It’s important that organizations look across their business processes, their products, and their markets to examine where the use of cognitive technologies may be viable, where it could be valuable, and where it may even be vital.
  3. Talent training: It’s important that technology claims to be taken with a pinch of salt and not dispense all humans in the workforce. At the same time, it makes more sense for an organisation to train its domain experts in technology also rather than scout for technology-savvy people who will need to be trained in their respective domains to understand business.
  4. Knowing when to stop: Cognitive technologies are evolving so rapidly that the relevant technology could change in the time it takes an organisation to implement a project. Hence, it is important that means and ends are clearly defined and adhered to. Jumping from one technology to another serves no one.
  5. Humans in the loop: The use of cognitive technologies for the foreseeable future looks like that humans will be very much “in the loop”—not only to develop, customize, and train the systems, but also to oversee, guide, and improve them. Indeed, a promising approach for making effective use of cognitive systems is designing them to work hand-in-hand with people, leveraging the strength of each.

Session 3: Leveraging disruptive technologies for advantages

  1. Industry benchmarks and regulatory standards: While the lack of regulations is often seen as an unbridled growth environment when it comes to disruptive technologies the lack of standards and guidelines is actually hurting the project implementation. The government needs to clarify its policies around disruptive tech including AI, ML, Blockchain and Cloud Computing while the industry needs a best practices blue-book to ensure that it’s not misguided.
  2. Upskilling of senior management: It’s not adequate to just reskill the workforce on the factory or shop floor.  The understanding of disruptive technologies needs to follow a top-down trickling approach with senior management leading the charge in understanding how best to harness these technologies and allocate resources. Specialised programs by public institutions like IITs and IIMs in this regard will help immensely.
  3. Connected planning: Enterprise resources must be aligned with the organisational objectives when implementing disruptive technology. In this regard, connected planning which takes along all lines of business and departments becomes very important as spillover effects shouldn’t hamper growth. The same principle goes for the government as ministries, departments and quasi-government institutions like NITI Aayog should be on the same page regarding regulations.
  4. Security doctrine: Much like the country needs a cybersecurity regime, organisations should come up with their own cybersecurity doctrine and even larger industry groups must adopt such charters to provide benchmarks for a safe transaction. A security doctrine must focus on risk assessment, proactive audits, threat reporting and mitigation in case of a breach/attack.
  5. Preventing robot crawls:  As back-office functions look to automate “swivel chair” activities, such as fax entries, or eliminate bottlenecks through adding RPA capabilities, organizations have to be careful to avoid robotic sprawl. To some, it’s reminiscent of what can happen when Excel permeates across an organization until it becomes a permanent if fragile, crutch. The dependency may seem fine until a macro breaks or gets stuck in a permanent loop. Data cleansing, however, is a function that lends itself to RPA and, ultimately, where the technology is most effective.

Part 1 of the Cognitive Technologies Session at the 58th SKOCH Summit

Part 2 of the Cognitive Technologies Session at the 58th SKOCH Summit

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