What is your outlook on the current business scenario and what are the changes anticipated in this year? How optimistic are you in terms of the economy bouncing back on track?
The year 2020, irrespective of whether it’s the financial or the calendar year, is a bit heavy for the industry. So, we don’t expect anything dramatic to happen in the next couple of weeks or months. We believe that it’s going to be slow, because we are amidst a whole lot of restructuring, and we are all still trying to make sense of the situation. Perhaps, a clearer picture may emerge by the end of the first quarter of the next financial year, and hopefully we’ll see some progress in investment sentiments by then. Until there is a visible progress, the focus is going to be on surviving, watching, making internal corrections and training.
What is your agenda / plan-of-action for the year 2020, in order to be competitive and stay relevant to customers and catch up with the growth momentum? Upcoming challenges can no longer be met using conventional methods. What's your take on this?
The focus is essentially going to be on doing a lot more in terms of the Industry 4.0 initiative. Well-connected machines, that can not only do production but also give the status, data of production, how they have fared in terms of target vs achievement, etc is going to be a crucial addition. To be ready for this sort of development, our focus is channelled on understanding what’s value and what’s cost, and lot of internal training, developing of hardware & software interface are also happening. From a product perspective, there is planning & programming happening for cross skilling, computerisation as well as for inculcating electronics, mechanics and software into analytics for daily production monitoring.
To meet the challenges today, a lot of internal and external communication needs to happen in the marketplace. The blend of product vs service is going to change, and it will be essential to understand problems and then bring-in technologies to solve them. If this has to happen, one must start with the customers, identify problems, find solutions & educate inside the company and externally in the marketplace.
How should a company effectively bridge the gap between optimising existing technologies and investing in advancements? Would you like to share examples from your organisation?
Most companies used to measure themselves in market share, turnover, number of units, etc, which still are the metrics to decide if a company is faring well. But some more rows need to be added into this metrics, like intellectual property, trademarks, patents, etc. If this happens, there is going to be more spending, learning and experimenting of different things in R&D. Cycles are changing much faster than they used to, one needs to try small pilot experiments, learn, correct and then transform them into bigger pilots. Earlier, the mantra for success used to be, ‘be sure and succeed in the long-term’ but now, it has to be altered to, ‘fail quick, easy, cheap and change continuously’. There needs to be a shift happening from labour productivity to white collar productivity. Ace Micromatic was one of the earliest companies to introduce Industry 4.0 under the garb of production monitoring/productivity monitoring to record, measure and improve daily productions. Since we have been trying it on for quite sometime now, it has given us an edge over the competitors in the industry.
How can India build sustainable breakthrough ecosystems for nurturing global businesses and achieving manufacturing-driven growth? At the same time, how can the industry respond to uncertain economic cycles and technological disruptions, simultaneously?
Pertaining to achieving a manufacturing driven growth, we need to integrate with the world more. In India, because of its size and large market, most of the Indian companies do not look outside for opportunities to cater to the globe. If we look at the total exports happening in India, from a product perspective, it’s still a very small percentage. So, there needs to be a mindset change from the Indian industries as well as the government. Also, we must look at benchmarking globally. From a company mindset, the people who own, manage and run companies should consider themselves in comparison with their global competition and not just their Indian adversary. All of this cannot happen in one day, so start by taking small steps & we may see positive progress in the coming three to five years.