Is technology democratising innovation and levelling the playing field?

3 Apr 2019

At the Xynteo Exchange/India2022 on 2 April, 2019, the second 'square' – a space to have challenging conversations – discussed the implications of technology in levelling the playing field. Moderated by Ashish Bhatt, Executive Vice President New Growth – India, Xynteo, the session had three panellists - Prerna Mukharya, Founder, Outline India; Terje Knutsen, EVP Sales and Marketing, Yara and, Krishna Bodanapu, CEO, Cyient.

Technology is key to bring solutions to scale. We are now applying digital tools to improve our capability to respond to increasing complex challenges within economic, social and environmental spheres. Speaking about big data and how it enables us to generate timely insights, Prerna added that "when we talk about innovations, we need to think very basic. We're trying to assist people to create small datasets to be able to make more impact on the ground and work towards the greater good. If we're talking big data in India we're talking huge numbers so it's difficult as a starting point. A small dataset could mean 800 million people."

Yara International, one of the world's leading companies providing fertilisers and environmental solutions, is deeply invested in utilising technology to leverage positive impact. "We meet around one million farmers face-to-face every year and that is an impressive number but there are 500 million smallholder farmers around the world. From this engagement we learnt to deliver knowledge. So the question is, how can we empower all of these people who are so important?" he asked.

Krishna Bodanapu, CEO, Cyient, spoke of the correct use of technology being key. "It's a solution looking for a problem. We need to think of how we're using it to solve the problem. Technology can play the biggest role in healthcare." Key for us is not to look at the big data but look at small datasets. The conversation also considered the ways to reach the 'unreached' and how technology can help tackle systemic challenges.

This session was followed by the last session, opened by Ashish Bhandari, CEO – India & South Asia, Baker Hughes – a GE company. In his talk, he spoke about exchanging silos for systems. Our systems are often thought of as webs but can we think of them as dominos, where one small action creates a ripple effect and engages with every element of the system? "Sustainability or development is not a choice. We have to do both together. Energy is at the bridge between these. It makes things happen. BHGE is a good example with its commitment of becoming carbon neutral by 2050," he said. The talk followed by reflections from the Studios which are the co-creation workshops where participants work on the systemic challenges and ideate action points. The four themes this year were Sustainable Mining, Energise, Waste to Value, and Healthcare.

India Executive Commitee

This was followed by sharing of thoughts from the India2022 Executive Committee, moderated by Harry Brekelmans, Projects & Technology Director, Royal Dutch Shell plc., and included Rajnish Kumar, Chairman, State Bank of India; Satish Pai, MD, Hindalco Industries; Nitin Prasad, Chairman, Shell India; Krishna Bodanapu, CEO, Cyient; Bhaskar Patel, MD, TechnipFMC India; Ashish Bhandari, CEO – India & South Asia, Baker Hughes – a GE company; Pradeep Banerjee, Executive Director - Supply chain, Hindustan Unilever; and, CVL Srinivas, Country Manager, WPP India.

The event came to a close with reflections from Dr Osvald Bjelland, Chairman and CEO, Xynteo who said that "our time is now". He thanked all the programme participants for their enthusiasm, creativity and refreshing reflections. Talking about the concerns many participants raised over the two days, he said, "We know what the problem is - we know that we are leaving too many people out of the systems. We are playing a losing game on the climate and we are unacceptably wasteful." "Looking at the marketplace, the studios, we have an enormous amount of ideas. How do we combine talent, capital and ideas and direct this into projects that can help us make the world better? The solution is leadership. My appeal is that when we go home to our organisations, I hope that we will find proof points that a new growth model is possible and collect these proof points and share them," he concluded.