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Dance with Madhuri: Madhuri Dixit’s online dance app ‘Dance With Madhuri’ records 5X growth during lockdown

MUMBAI: Bollywood actress Madhuri Dixit’s online dance training venture ‘Dance With Madhuri’ (DWM), which she started with her husband Shriram Nene in 2013, has witnessed a 5X growth during the lockdown.

The service, available across iOS and Google Play Store, has seen a major uptick in time-spent and user logins from across 206 countries, co-founder Nene told ET.

“During the lockdown our business has grown 5X. We thought people needed something to keep them up and occupied and get their minds off the situation, so we also gave a lot of free content and the numbers just grew. We’re now planning live classes where choreographers or schools can teach dance one on one or one is to 30. And we’re also credentialing those into buckets, so that you can actually get a diploma or a certificate from us,” Nene said.

DWM was initially launched in 2013, but it was only in 2015 when it started to gain traction when the company partnered with Indian DTH player Tata Sky for a linear dance channel.

“In 2015, India did not have the bandwidth necessary for video learning so we launched on Tata Sky as a linear service with over 100 hours of content. Within a month, we had 100,000 paid subscribers, and it made us EBITDA positive and profitable,” said Nene.

Today, DWM is available across top DTH platforms – Tata Sky, Airtel Digital TV, Dish TV and Videocon d2h, and has 300,000 paid subscribers.

The app and website, where the company is putting more focus on now, has users across 206 countries. “From the beginning we wanted to democratise how you learn dance, and allow everyone the ability to learn from a master like Madhuri, irrespective of whether you’re living in India, Russia or in China. As per latest analytics, we have users from all the countries except three,” he added.

Nene said going forward, DMW would like to expand into other areas, both extracurricular as well as co-curricular, including acting, music, cricket, gourmet cooking, etc.

“When we started, no one was doing this. Even today it is very different from any other offering available in the market. So I think there’s a huge opportunity to scale this because,” Nene said. “We are in talks for a strategic partner, to raise up to $5 million. We’re not just looking at India but we’re looking globally, because we have such a strong base, all over the planet.”

The couple own 100% in the company. Nene said that DMW is EBITDA positive and has a free cash flow. “We’re not taking money out of the company. We did this for passion to build something which we thought was needed, and to fill a gap. We’d like to continue to take it forward as founders, with the right partners who can kind of see the vision and build on that and take it to the next level.”

The company intends to use funds for scaling up technology, personnel, and marketing.

At present, DMW has a team of 24 people and it has partnered with 86 top choreographers.

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Cognizant to acquire Chicago-based cloud specialist firm 10th Magnitude

MUMBAI: Cognizant announced that it is acquiring Chicago-based 10th Magnitude, a Microsoft Azure focussed cloud specialist company. The acquisition is expected to add to the company’s Azure expertise within its ‘Microsoft Business Group’ segment. The acquisition adds to the company’s portfolio of development and managed services hubs in major cities throughout the US. This will be Cognizant’s sixth cloud-related acquisition in 2020.

10th Magnitude offers advisory and managed services, including data centre transformation, application modernization, and other solutions.

“Modernizing business platforms by shifting to the cloud is a key priority for our clients,” said Greg Hyttenrauch, President, Cognizant Digital Systems and Technology. “The acquisition of 10th Magnitude underscores our commitment to Microsoft, one of our leading strategic partners, and will further strengthen our ability to provide Azure expertise to our clients as they embrace the cloud. We are excited to unlock the power of this acquisition and to welcome 10th Magnitude’s outstanding team to Cognizant.”

“Hyperscale cloud infrastructures are enabling organizations to be more agile and improve their business performance to better serve customers. The ability to pivot, innovate, remain flexible and resilient, with remote access to key applications, is especially important in these uncertain times,” said Alex Brown, Chief Executive Officer, 10th Magnitude. “With Cognizant, we will be able to offer greater scope and scale to help our clients use an open and highly-adaptable cloud computing platform to compete more effectively.”

Upon the close of the acquisition, 10th Magnitude’s Azure employees will join Cognizant as part of the Microsoft Business Group. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2020, subject to the satisfaction of closing conditions, including regulatory clearance. Financial details were not disclosed.

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Tech Mahindra launches cloud operations and subscription management platform for enterprises

PUNE: Tech Mahindra today announced the launch of an intelligent cloud operations and subscription management platform, iCOPS, for global enterprises. The platform simplifies and streamlines cloud operations to improve efficiency by leveraging AIOps and analytics with data security and cost optimization.

iCOPS will deliver a unified management experience across hybrid and multi-cloud operations with a focus on enhancing compliance and security for enterprises. The platform leverages AIOps (Artificial Intelligence for IT Operations) and analytics to provide insights for cloud operations including capacity utilization and continuous cost optimization across all cloud environments. The end-to-end platform will help enterprises get the benefits of simplified cloud operations, reduced cloud spends and comprehensive visibility across operations.

“As part of our CloudNxT methodology, Tech Mahindra has invested in developing the iCOPS platform that will enable global enterprises streamline diverse cloud operations and help in cost optimisation. By combining AIOps, Analytics and DevOps, iCOPS will help enterprises move towards a zero-touch cloud operations model while ensuring complete security and transparency in operations, making Tech Mahindra a partner of choice for streamlining multi-Cloud operations,” said Vivek Gupta, Vice President and Head, Global Cloud Services, Tech Mahindra.

The platform comprises of pre-configured core and integrated software for public cloud operations to provide a unified view across enterprise IT operations. Amalgamation of iCOPS with Tech Mahindra’s infrastructure operations platform – ‘TACTiX’, hybrid and multi-Cloud management platform – ‘mPAC 3.0’ and ‘NetOps.ai’ will help enterprises build a single view across enterprise IT operations.

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Xiaomi seeing ‘very strong’ rebound post lockdown: Manu Jain

NEW DELHI: India’s smartphone market has rebounded “very strongly” after the lockdown ended, mainly driven by pent-up demand and demand associated with online education, among others, according to Manu Jain, India managing director at market leader Xiaomi.

In an interview with ET, Jain said that production though hasn’t reached its previous levels, and the company is still importing small quantities of phones from abroad.

“Eventually, the aim is to again go back to the same level as earlier, maybe even to a higher level. Of course, we keep facing challenges because sometime in some factory, there will be some Covid-19 patient and then we need to shut down the line, sanitize. But despite all of those, things have scaled up significantly,” Jain said.

Even as the pandemic has disrupted and delayed the handset maker’s offline plans, Jain said that the channel will contribute 50% of overall sales by the end of this year.

“Because of Covid-19, a lot of clients got disrupted. And now, hopefully very soon, 50% of our business should come from offline…We are ensuring that offline business grows and are giving tools like Mi commerce to drive the growth,” Jain said, adding that conversion rate in offline retail has increased significantly for the company.

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How official affiliates circumvented Facebook’s political ad policies in 2019 elections and beyond

A
Wall Street Journal report on Sunday, quoting sources, revealed how “Facebook declined to act after discovering that the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) was circumventing its political ad transparency requirements.” The rules, the report added, “required advertisers to verify identities and disclose them to users.”

It also said that in “addition to buying Facebook ads in its own name, the BJP was also found to have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars through newly created organizations that didn’t disclose the party’s role.”

These ads, multiple highly placed sources told
The Economic Times, would concern an official affiliate of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which ran about six to eight pages during the 2019 elections, while spending over Rs 4.9 crore amount till date. Some of these pages were spending on ads as recent as April 2020.

These pages included ones floated by the affiliate like “Bharat ki Mann Ki Baat”, “Phir Ek Baar Modi Sarkar”, “My First Vote for Modi”, “Nation with Namo”, and “Modi11”, sources confirmed to
ET.

Several of these ads have now been taken down, with a disclaimer by Facebook saying, “We took down this ad after it started running because the disclaimer doesn’t follow our Advertising Policies.” It is unclear when Facebook took down these ads.

Facebook did not respond to
ET’s questions about its ad policies being circumvented during the elections.

ViolationsAgencies

To be sure, every political party uses affiliates — both official and unofficial — a network of pages or groups about an ideology, a fan club, a leader. The official affiliate in question assists the BJP on its digital campaigns — with multiple properties (pages) on Facebook. For instance, the Trinamool Congress is currently running a campaign called ‘Banglar Gorbo Mamata’ and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam has its own called ‘TN Deserves Better’. Both these campaigns are run by the Prashant Kishor-led Indian Political Action Committee. The Congress too has
used affiliates in the past with pages like “Mahayuti Adhogati” in Maharashtra last year.

Some of these including “Phir Ek Baar Modi Sarkar”, “Nation with NaMo” for instance, as confirmed by recent media reports, displayed addresses that matched with the official headquarters of the BJP in Deendayal Upadhyay Marg, New Delhi. Besides, each of these phone numbers would be serialised. Some of these pages did apply for and receive their media certification. On different occasions, others like Modi11 and, “Phir Ek Baar Modi Sarkar” also had addresses that merely said “Barakhamba Road, New Delhi – 110001.”

Barakhamba RoadAgencies

Modi SarkarAgencies

“The modus operandi was simple. The easiest option to circumvent these rules was to create websites, apply for authorisation and then park the domain on GoDaddy with stock content once they received the political authorisation. Then, political networks (like this official affiliate) will start posting these ads by the hundreds and thousands,” says a person familiar with the development. “They were also spending money on ads to recruit users for WhatsApp groups,” the person adds. The latter includes pages like Bharat Positive, also part of this affiliate, which spent Rs 200 on two ads to lure its followers to sign up for WhatsApp groups.

BPAgencies

Multiple pages, including “Bharat Ke Mann Ki Baat” and “Phir Ek Baar Modi Sarkar”, spent on ads featuring a link ‘
bjpwa.com’, which had links to WhatsApp groups these affiliates were running. Modi11, which was released during the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Instagram and Facebook, had content people could download and share on WhatsApp.

ET can confirm that some of these websites (“Ghar Ghar Raghubar”, “Mai Hoon Dilli”) do not have any content on them, including for the ones the affiliate recently created as part of its campaigns for state elections. Other websites (Bhak Budbak and Nirmamata, for instance) have the exact same template with stock content from their respective Facebook pages.

Bhak BudbakAgencies

In the run-up to the elections last year, Facebook had announced a series of moves aimed at bolstering transparency during the elections, including requiring advertisers to disclose their identity and location. In an email to advertisers — both individual and agencies, in December 2018, it
said that individual advertisers and agencies must provide scanned copies of address and identity proofs, which would be verified by visits by its agents.

“While by and large, the elections went off smoothly for Facebook, everyone had teething issues, especially around KYC with Facebook relying on third-party vendors for verification. But there was informal help from some Facebook officials to overcome these issues,” says another person aware of the matter, on a condition of anonymity. “Adding to the issues was Facebook’s actions against some BJP-linked pages on accounts of ‘Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour.’ For a while, some relations were strained, and things were put on hold.”

To be clear, these problems were not unique to the BJP. “Other parties also faced these issues. There were people who would handhold them, as they would with any major advertiser,” this person adds. The
WSJ report added, citing former employees in India and the US, also “where the decision was discussed”, that “Facebook neither took down the pages nor flagged the ads. Instead, it privately raised the matter with the BJP.”

BJP IT Cell head Amit Malviya did not respond to
ET’s email questionnaire.

facebookAgencies

Facebook officials like Sarah Schiff, a product manager, had told
ET that “Those engaging with political advertising in India must comply with the policy.” Last year, it hired former NDTV journalist Natasha Jog as election integrity lead for India. Jog was said to be working closely with her former NDTV colleague and then director of public policy for India and South Asia, Shivnath Thukral. A recent
Time
Magazine
report citing documents revealed that Thukral, prior to joining Facebook, “had worked with party leadership to assist in the 2014 election campaign.” In the report, Facebook acknowledged Thukral’s association.

Facebook also put together a cross-functional “
war room” for the Indian elections that spanned continents, in locations like New Delhi, Singapore, Dublin and it’s Menlo Park headquarters. A smaller part of that war room was based in New Delhi.

Continues in state level

While the attention is on the 2019 general elections, the affiliate also works extensively on state-level campaigns. For instance, in Maharashtra, it ran pages such as “Distoy Farak Shivashahi Parat” as part of Devendra Fadnavis’ re-election campaign, again using similar modus operandi as it did in the general elections. For instance, it parked a domain, with the advertiser address as “Civil Line Road, Civil Line, Nagpur, India – 440033.” When Shiv Sena, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party came together to form a government in November, a page called “Aghadi Bighadi” (spent Rs 1,376,970) was deleted.

Other campaigns in the Haryana elections included “Phir Ek Baar Imandar Sarkar” and “Chor Machaye Shor” with its address to “Rohtak Bypass Road, Rohtak” and later in Jharkhand, “Ghar Ghar Raghubar” and “Thugs of Jharkhand”.

In New Delhi, it ran pages like “AAP ke PAAP” and “Main Hoon Dilli” with an address linked to Tughlakabad Extension in New Delhi for the former, and Digboi Road, Tinsukia for the latter. For the upcoming elections in Bihar, the official affiliate also runs pages such as “Bhak Budbak”, and “2020 Modi Sang Nitish” with different Patna-based addresses.

Over the last six months, it has also been running pages critical of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and the Trinamool Congress, with titles such as “Nirmamata” and “The Frustrated Bengali”, with addresses in Siliguri and Asansol respectively.

The FrustratedBengaliAgencies
NirmanataAgencies

It is unclear if Facebook verified these addresses as disclosed by these affiliate pages, as per its authentication policy, or whether it considered this affiliate a sole advertiser, giving it permission to run as many pages as it wanted from multiple addresses. A Facebook spokesperson — Andy Stone told
WSJ that “Facebook decided not to act after concluding its rules hadn’t been specific enough.”

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Technology

Asus enters into commercial PC category in India, eyes 5% market share

New Delhi: Taiwanese tech major Asus on Monday announced its foray into the commercial PC segment in India and said it aims to capture five per cent market share in the next one year. The company, which held 16 per cent share in the country’s consumer PC segment in the June 2020 quarter (as per IDC data), has named Dinesh Sharma as the Business Head for the new vertical. He will continue to head the mobile phone business for Asus India as well.

“India is the key focus country for Asus and in the consumer PC segment, we are already among the top players in the market. We want to introduce the same amount of consumer centricity for businesses in India, providing customers with a wide range of innovative, cutting-edge products to meet their needs,” Sharma told .

He added that the company will have a range of at least 11-12 base products with multiple product specifications that will be presented to customers across segments like education, government, small and medium businesses (SMBs) as well as large enterprises. The products will be unveiled next month.

“The commercial PC market in India is estimated to be about 5 million units and we are targeting 5 per cent share in the first year,” he said.

According to IDC, the countrywide lockdown drove strong demand for notebooks in the enterprise segment as organisations rushed to ensure business continuity by providing its workforce the required infrastructure to work at home.

This, it said, led to an all-time high of enterprise notebook purchases with shipments growing by 105.5 per cent year-on-year in June 2020 quarter.

IDC had noted that enterprises reduced desktop buying and even converted a few orders to notebooks. Small and medium businesses (SMBs) also increased their procurement of notebooks with relatively moderate growth of 12.1 per cent year-on-year in the said quarter.

Asked about competition from players like HP, Dell and Lenovo that have a strong position in the enterprise segment, Sharma said Asus competes with the same set of competitors in the consumer PC segment as well.

“We are already a leader in the motherboards and high-tech Gaming PCs, and this move is the next strategic step for us. Companies across industries have employees working from home in this time of pandemic and they need robust working solutions,” Sharma said.

He added that Asus will launch products across all key segments covering notebooks, desktops, All in Ones (AIOs) and mobile workstations. The company will work with partners like system integrators to strengthen its position in the segment.

It will also be closely working with Microsoft and Intel to introduce the product range with the latest processors. In addition to products, Asus will also offer value-added services for enterprises such as Warranty Extension options, Accidental Damage Protection, Hard Disk Retention Service, and Priority Service.

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jiofiber new trial plan: JioFiber launches 30-day free trial plan, offers free access to 12 OTT services

Reliance Jio has launched a 30 day free trial for its Jio fibre customers, in a bid to bring in more subscribers at a time when there is stiff competition from Bharti Airtel. The Mukesh Ambani led telco’s offer for the month long trial at Rs 399, option of free return , will help push its broadband subscribers beyond the one million mark , as large part of India Inc continues to work from home .

“JioFiber is already the largest Fiber provider in the country with over a million connected homes, but our vision for India and Indians is much larger. We want to take Fiber to each and every home and empower every member of the family. After making India the largest and the fastest growing country in mobile connectivity with Jio, JioFiber will propel India into global broadband leadership, thereby providing broadband to over 1,600 cities and towns. I urge everyone to Join the JioFiber movement to make India the broadband leader of the world,” said director of Jio , Akash Ambani .

This offer-NAYE INDIA KA NAYA JOSH- comes at a time when the telco is betting on using its broadband services to expand further into education, healthcare , enterprise amongst others.

jio new planGuest Contributor

The offer includes internet speeds of 150 Mbps, a set top box with access to 10 OTT apps and free voice calling . The new plan will get activated from September 1 and the company said on Monday that plans of existing Jio fibre customers will get “upgraded to match the benefits of the new tariff plans”. Customers who ordered their fibre to home (FTTH) between August 15 and August 31, can also avail the 30 day trial plan.

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From a buzz to biz lever: How new technology is becoming central in a post-Covid world

Industry 4.0, robotics, artificial intelligence — all were thought of more as buzzwords than necessary business interventions until recently. But the coronavirus pandemic has forced us to reconsider not just how we consume things but also how we produce them. The Economic Times got together the leaders of four companies at the forefront of the adoption of automation and artificial intelligence in manufacturing. Fast-changing business realities are forcing manufacturers to innovate and rethink age-old conventions, they said at The Economic Times-Back to Business Dialogues – Automating Business, Accelerating Growth: Increased role and impact of automation in manufacturing. The session’s moderator, Daisy Chittilapilly, set the tone for the conversation around the fourth industrial revolution and Covid-19 by quoting Lenin: “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” Excerpts:

DAISY CHITTILAPILLY, MANAGING DIRECTOR, DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION OFFICE, CISCO INDIA & SAARC

What are some of the new behaviours, habits and rules that are shaping your industry today and will have a long-lasting impact on the manufacturing industry in the country post-pandemic?

SANJEEV SHARMA, MD, ABB INDIA

Our ability to adapt and to be able to serve our customers with the kind of restrictions these circumstances have put on us has increased. And, for us, the ability to service customers remotely with the expertise they used to get at their plant is one of the crucial factors. And that’s where we are seeing quite a strong shift in behaviour, both on the customer side in accepting it and in our abilities to deliver it.

SUNIL MATHUR, MD, SIEMENS INDIA

We are in an environment that is getting more and more volatile every day. At the same time, customers are becoming even more demanding. The challenge that most manufacturing companies are facing is how to balance these two.

As you move towards meeting the demands of the customers, you are tending towards trying to figure out how to manufacture a batch size of 1. On the other hand, it has become painfully obvious during Covid-19 times that you need to be watching your costs and capex and be able to adapt very quickly.

All that put together, I think this is exactly the right time to be discussing how automation and digitalisation can provide these benefits of greater efficiencies, greater cost competitiveness, productivity and shorter time to market.

PAWAN GOENKA, MD, MAHINDRA & MAHINDRA

Anytime there is a crisis, all organisations and customers go through a behaviour change. But if I go back to the last 3-4 crises, the changes reverted to what it used to be before, after some time. I think that’s a big difference this time — the changes are here to stay. And the reason is that we have realised that it is all for the better. Coming to the consumers, there is going to be the digitalisation of everything, whatever we do. Touchless selling is going to be the big thing where customers want everything sitting at home — not just for convenience but for safety and for maintaining social distancing. How we sell things will go through a complete overhaul. For example, with cars, the need for physical dealerships, salespeople or test drives — all of that will go through a change.

The impact of that on business will be that the way we do planning, going all the way back to the tier-III supplier, would be a lot more efficient. Since everything is digital, a lot more artificial intelligence (AI) can come in and we’ll be able to predict demand much more precisely. Therefore, the whole supply chain will get compressed. The kind of inventories we carry today, which in the auto industry from end-toend would be about two months, could come down to one month. If the inventory is half, you are taking out a lot of working capital, space requirement, and a lot of loading-unloading that happens.

Automation is going to benefit the most out of this whole thing because of the need for social distancing at our plants. Automotive plants are never designed for social distancing. How do we maintain distancing there? By replacing a human with a robot in some places. And that’s the reason automation will become a lot faster than the normal speed at which it was going to grow.

CHITTILAPILLY:
When you talk to clients, are there any new points and considerations with regards to the automation conversation?

MILAN SHETH, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, IMEA REGION, AUTOMATION ANYWHERE

We always assume that the physical goods which get delivered have to be coupled with a physical process. One fundamental shift that we see across customers is that digital solutions are now being thought first and then where physical touchpoints are needed is thought later. At least in the services industry that shift has happened. They are talking about whether to keep branch offices and distribution offices.

Probably the manufacturing industry will take a while to follow. There is also the thought process to bring automation to improve productivity in the entire cycle and not just the manufacturing process. For example, a shipment reaching from port to the factory involves three days of processing time at the port, two-days of trucking and then some time for offloading. While automating these processes doesn’t add to manufacturing productivity, it helps in reaching faster to the customer.

And finally, the conversation on technology is no longer a CTO/CDO-only domain. People involved in operations and the business leaders now have a strong view about this.

CHITTILAPILLY:
If automation is a subset of Industry 4.0, how easy is it to embrace the fourth industrial revolution and how ready are we?

GOENKA: We first need to take a step back and define what is industry 4.0. Many people think that it simply means automation, which is not true. Industry 4.0 is to put the end consumer at the centre of everything. The roadblock is that the competitive advantage of being an industry 4.0-enabled company is not so easily seen yet. The moment a company sees this, they will work on achieving it.

There is also a perceived sense of it not being affordable. The costs that it (industry 4.0 implementation) saves are sometimes unseen costs, it doesn’t go into the cost of supplying a product.

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CHITTILAPILLY:
Where do you see the adoption of AI/ML for automation in the manufacturing space?

SHARMA: We have about 8,000 robots globally working at customer locations. We are connected with them online and we monitor them out of the India centre. This equipment is giving us a lot of data and so we are able to analyse what kind of issues can come in different equipment. By using AI and ML routines on top of the data that we have gathered for the last 5-6 years, we are able to predict certain reliability issues for the customers. We can predict when they need to plan routine maintenance or maybe do a small intervention so that there is no outage and the availability of the production line is higher. That is one example.

CHITTILAPILLY:
Are the talks on industry 4.0 and automation equally applicable to small and medium businesses?

MATHUR: If anything, it is even more applicable to small and medium businesses. Everyone is talking about how industry 4.0 takes a lot of capex and how it is very complicated. We decided to do an experiment. We have a factory in Mumbai where we were manufacturing 80 variants of conductors. We needed to do many more, but there just wasn’t a business case for it as an additional business line was needed to put in and it needed a lot of capex. We instead decided to implement automation into the process. We went from doing 80 variants on three lines to 180 variants on one line. Production time went from 21 seconds down to 9 seconds and a lot of space was saved too. We used the same labour to produce three times as much. That is the real benefit for small and medium enterprises who don’t have the money to expand.

SHETH: It is unfortunate that only larger industries are where technology and digital changes are being adopted. One of the reasons other than capital is also the talent. The talent pool in an SMB (small and medium business) is either focused on revenues or operations. Where the digital or technology element occurs, there is a talent gap. In Germany’s SMB ecosystem, there are a variety of cloud-based service providers for SMBs to consume. Unfortunately, today we don’t have a similar ecosystem in India.

CHITTILAPILLY:
If you were to go back a year, would automation help you to deal with Covid-19 better than it is being dealt with now?

GOENKA: I would probably say that if I had known Covid-19 is coming, I don’t think we would have done anything much differently. Because we were already on a path of automation. In some sense, we are lucky that Covid-19 didn’t happen two years ago. The kind of digital tools available today are a lot more and a lot better than they were two years ago. I think we did very well as a country. The way the Government of India has digitised is mind-boggling.

CHITTILAPILLY:
We are challenged by an economic downturn. Do you think automation has a role to play in addressing cost as an outcome?

SHARMA: Most of the time, automation leads to a reduction in cost, but not all the time. That is why it is very important that when you deploy automation as a process or a plan, you should be very clear what kind of return you will be expecting out of that investment. If you keep customers as the centricity of the organisation, automation makes a lot of sense.

You make the processes more predictable, repeatable and measurable so by the time you finish producing the product, you have not only manufactured it within the assured standards, but you also have captured the data about it. In case an issue props up, you can do the root cause analysis and overwrite it with customer experience.

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HCL’s US arm faces patent infringement claim related to one of its software products

Mumbai: HCL America, the US subsidiary of software exporter HCL Technologies, is facing a patent infringement claim related to one of its software products.

HCL America is due to respond to the lawsuit filed by a Texas-based company, Coretek Licensing, by 28 September, as per court documents reviewed by ET.

Coretek Licensing, a legal arm of technology services company Coretek Services, filed the case in the southern district court of New York in late June, alleging that HCL’s software product, HCL Sametime, had infringed on its patent.

HCL Sametime is an application used for collaboration by enterprises and has features like instant messaging and web conferencing, according to HCL’s website.

Coretek has alleged that similar to the claims in four patents held by it, HCL Sametime also enables wireless devices (like smartphones) to initiate network connections without using a user’s home location details. It has sought a jury trial and an accounting of all alleged “infringed sales” and damages.

HCL did not respond to ET’s queries on the lawsuit.

According to Coretek’s petition, three of the four patents held by it relate to wireless communications and one relates to phone service over the Internet or the Voice Over Internet Protocol. It has alleged that HCL Sametime infringes upon at least one or multiple claims in these four patents.

In legal parlance, patent ‘claim’ refers to the features of the patented invention and the exclusive right to those features. ET has seen a copy of the lawsuit.

Salman Waris, a partner at technology law firm TechLegis Advocates & Solicitors, said HCL America’s intellectual property compliance team would have to prove that the company’s product was different from the patent claims.

“The company has to prove that it has developed another method to enable a wireless device connection without using an operator’s home location register,” Waris said.

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Chinese smartphone brands’ market share in India slips: Counterpoint Research

Chinese smartphone brands saw their market share in India fall to 72 per cent in June quarter from 81 per cent in the preceding three months due to COVID-19 supply chain disruption and growing anti-China sentiment, Counterpoint Research said on Friday. Chinese brands such as Oppo, Vivo and Realme had a commanding market share in the world’s fastest growing smartphone market but their share declined during April-June, Counterpoint said in a report.

India’s smartphone shipments declined by 51 per cent year-on-year to just over 18 million units in the June quarter, impacted by the nationwide lockdown imposed by the Indian government to combat COVID-19 in April and May, Counterpoint said. Shilpi Jain, Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research, said the contribution of Chinese brands fell to 72 per cent in June quarter from 81 per cent in March 2020 quarter.

“This was mainly due to the mixture of stuttering supply for some major Chinese brands such as Oppo, Vivo and Realme, and growing anti-China sentiment that was compounded by stringent actions taken by the government to ban more than 50 apps of Chinese origin and delay the import of goods from China amid extra scrutiny. This all resulted from the India-China border dispute during June,” she said.

However, local manufacturing, R&D operations, attractive value-for-money offerings and strong channel entrenchment by Chinese brands leaves very few options for consumers to choose from, she said.

“… in the era of globalisation, it is difficult to label a product based on country of origin as components are being sourced from many different countries. This development has given a window of opportunity for brands like Samsung and local Indian brands such as Micromax and Lava, to recapture market share,” Jain said.

She noted that Jio-Google’s partnership – which was announced earlier this month – to bring a highly affordable 4G Android smartphone could also gain ground, banking on the growing #VocalforLocal sentiment. Xiaomi led the tally with 29 per cent share of the smartphone market, followed by Samsung (26 per cent), Vivo (17 per cent), Realme (11 per cent), Oppo (9 per cent) and others (8 per cent) in the June quarter.

In the March quarter, Xiaomi had 30 per cent share of the smartphone market, while Vivo had 17 per cent share, Realme (14 per cent) and Oppo (12 per cent). Samsung – which had fallen to the third spot with 16 per cent market share in the March quarter, regained the second position in the June quarter cornering 26 per cent share.

Smartphone vendors had shipped a little over 31 million units in the March 2020 quarter, and 37.7 million units in the June 2019 quarter, as per previous Counterpoint reports. The Counterpoint report said the coronavirus-induced lockdown had resulted in zero shipments during April. However, the market is starting to return to normal and in June 2020.

Indian smartphone shipments registered a mild decline of 0.3 per cent y-o-y in June on the back of pent-up demand as well as a push from brands, it said. Due to concerns over potential COVID-19 infection, consumers prefer contactless purchasing and online channels, it said adding that smartphone brands are also recognising this trend by pushing more inventory to online channels.

“The COVID-19 pandemic wiped-out almost 40 days of production as well as the sales of smartphones due to the nation-wide lockdown… the market witnessed a surge in sales as the lockdown restrictions were slowly lifted,” Counterpoint Research Senior Research Analyst Prachir Singh said. The quarter was, thus, marred by both demand and supply constraints which led original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to rethink their go-to-market strategies, he added.

“On the supply side, the factories were shut down in April and started operating in May, which resulted in supply shortages for some manufacturers. Some brands maintained the supply of their products by importing fully assembled handsets,” Singh said. Additionally, the last week of the quarter saw components being held up at customs, which also impacted the supply chain, he added.

OnePlus regained its top position in the premium market (over Rs 30,000 segment), while Apple remained the leading brand in the ultra-premium segment (over Rs 45,000). In the feature phone segment, Itel occupied the top slot with 24 per cent share, followed by Lava (23 per cent), Samsung (22 per cent), Nokia (9 per cent) and Karbonn (5 per cent).

Counterpoint said the feature phone market was the worst affected segment as it declined by a massive 68 per cent y-o-y in the June 2020 quarter as consumers in this highly cost-sensitive segment tried to save money by reducing discretionary purchases. In the near-to-mid term, this could actually boost the used and refurbished mobile phone market, it said adding that India is home to more than 350 million feature phone users.

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