With the Modi government aggressively focussing on power sector reforms and state-specific action plans for power generation, global power companies have been closely tracking the India story. Bazmi Husain, Chief Technology Officer of Zurich-based power and automation company ABB, which has been in India for a century, spoke to Times of India reporter Prasad Sanyal about technological changes transforming industry and its impact on India:
What are the key trends in R&D especially for emerging markets like India?
We are going through a revolution both on the energy side and the industry side. And I think this is one the moments in history that is very rare because if you look at the energy side, there is a whole shift going on from fossil fuel based energy and electricity generation to renewables, and that is placing demands on the system that it was not designed to accept. On the industry side, because of technology trends like the ‘internet of things’, artificial intelligence, greater amount of big data processing power, communications – all these things are driving a complete change in the level of productivity. So both on the power and the automation side, there are very strong changes that are coming.
Is India a better place to do business now than it was 10 years ago, especially on the technology front?
Certainly, India has always been improving and it has also been very much a place where technology was sought. But I think the big change that has come is that there has been a greater acceptance of technology that is being developed in India; not just relying on technology that’s coming from outside. That has incentivised companies, both in India and multinationals like ourselves, to put up strong R&D footprints there. So, yes, India is changing for the better in terms of its acceptance of absorbing technology, especially locally developed.
What does digitization mean for a country like India?
Digitization offers a step change in productivity. In a simple sense, it gives India a great opportunity to leapfrog, just like telecom gave. From not having enough landlines to everyone connected on mobiles was a leap-frogging revolution. As India digitizes more and more, it is giving an opportunity to leapfrog its productivity levels, what the rest of the world has gone through in the normal process.
We have heard about 5,000 robots being remotely monitored from your R&D center in India. What are the implications for India for such tie-ups?
Yes, we do monitor 5,000 robots (from India) but that is a small percentage of the potential. The real value in that is that we are able to see the robots, and are able to predict problems before they happen. And that really improves the productivity of our consumers.
Any new investments in India on the R&D side or the venture capital front?
Today, India is our single largest R&D location globally and we will continue to have that. One of the things we are constantly monitoring in India is the very fast developing space. Up until now most of the start-ups in India are based on business models and our interest is more in the technology space. We see very good movement coming up there so we’re monitoring the situation and we are very, very hopeful about it.
Credit: Times of India