Thursday, 4 August 2016

A Ringside View of the SEAP 2016 AGM

“India is the world’s largest experiment in digitalisation.”B. Santhanam, Saint-Gobain India at the CII Digital India Summit

It’s been a few months since I, and my agency Midas Touch Consultants, have been associated with SEAP. In that time, I have had the opportunity to view at reasonably close quarters the work SEAP has been doing in line with their mission of “Enabling the Pune technology eco-system.” In many ways, it is the Annual General Meeting that becomes the reference point for the activities of the year gone by and that sets the Association’s sights on the upcoming 12 months. This year I was fortunate to get a ringside view of the proceedings. Let me also clarify that this is not an official minutes of the meeting, rather a collection of impressions of a first-time viewer of these proceedings.

If there is one movement that is occupying the minds of Punekars and Pune companies alike, it is the Smart Cities Mission. Since coming 2nd in the Govt. of India shortlist earlier this year, those responsible for governing the city and those living and working in it have the task of making Pune smart front and center in their minds. An initiative like this has natural resonance with SEAP’s mission given the key role technology is slated to play in this transformation. This synergy found expression through 2 separate, but complementary addresses that kicked the AGM off.

Mr. Shrinivas Kowligi, of Ernst & Young, has been at the forefront of the Smart Cities debates in India and can claim credit for having helped a number of the other cities that made the GoI shortlist, put their proposals together. He made a wonderful case for how Smart Cities were both good for business and were good business too. He specifically pointed to smart manufacturing, IoT, Robotics, eCommerce and Analytics as the industries of this Smart future.       He also spoke of how Smart City initiatives have to go beyond what the government can provide, given how the transformative industries of the future will need their city eco-system to be smart to survive. The key takeaway from the session was how government and other organizations would have to embrace a more systems thinking mindset as the journey to a smart city started.

The Chief Guest of the evening was Mr. Kunal Kumar, Pune’s Municipal Commissioner. In many ways the man most closely identified with Pune’s Smart City bid, Mr. Kumar is in the hot seat as far as realizing the dream of Pune’s 6 million citizens is concerned. Mr. Kumar passionately communicated just how much the mission means to him. His view was very clear that the mission was all about effective implementation now, and the true test was just how the ordinary citizen would benefit. Mr. Kumar identified the 3 pillars on which Pune’s Smart City plans were built.

  •    Enhanced quality of life
  •     Strong and robust economy and
  •     Infrastructure

His definition of smart, as the capability to do more with less particularly made a lot of sense in the context of the resources available to Pune. It was abundantly clear to everyone in the room the scale of the task at hand, but also the potential benefits to our city.

The operative part of the AGM then took over. SEAP’s President, Mr. Ramkumar presented a report on many activities undertaken by SEAP over the preceding 12 months – an extremely wide range. The new Executive Committee was formed and took the stage, presumably tasked with making the next 12 months as activity-filled as the last 12. A very pleasant evening ended with networking with many of the technology game’s whos-who of Pune over dinner.

Speaking as someone who is a small part of the Pune technology eco-system, I think it’s fair to say that exciting times lie ahead for Pune’s tech community and it’s also fair to assume that SEAP will have a key role to play in enabling those exciting times. 

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