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Indradev Babu

Managing Director, UCAM

President, IMTMA

1 Rating

FUTURE TRENDS IN INDIAN MANUFACTURING SECTOR It pays to continue to be nimble

Jan 28, 2021

Indradev Babu, Managing Director, UCAM & President, IMTMA - Indian productivity levels famous for being low will see a positive movement (Interview by Juili Eklahare)

With the year 2020 now over and done with, what were some of your biggest learnings from the year? How will these learnings help you grow your market position in 2021?

The first half of the year 2020 was one of the most uncertain periods that mankind has faced in recent times. The challenges gave leaders and organisations huge learning opportunities and I am certainly pleased with mine. The shock and numbness led to a situation where everyone became more open-minded and ready to accept changes & new approaches. So, the biggest learning was that in the future we need to be conscious of what it is that can make teams be open minded to new ideas and learn to adopt quickly & implement. Also, we need to be efficient and lean in our thinking. This will lead to process improvement and optimisation. At UCAM, we learnt to be more business analytical and sell with hybrid model of remote & occasional meet selling.

What is your outlook on the current state of the industry? Do you foresee a change in market dynamics? In what ways are you expecting the market dynamics to metamorphose in the coming year?

I do see that the business outlook for India is positive, with a strong & sustaining demand side and with some challenges on the supply side. This is good but inflation is a cause for worry. Export demand is a serious issue with no foreseeable demand pull. The country’s inward look with the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan movement is, in my opinion, contributing to the demand pull, which I will expect to last all through 2021 and may well extend beyond. Plus, the automotive demand is encouraging.

But the challenge has shifted to the supply side; firstly, is the capacity to meet demand and secondly, inflationary pressures have crept in. Due to global demand, particularly due to China’s growing consumption, the cost of raw materials, such as steel, copper and aluminium, have risen steeply, putting a spanner in the works of companies wanting to make up for the first half losses. Hence, the task is cut out for the industry to innovate in cost saving measures and to compete while artfully taking the customer along in managing cost increase.

A point I want to bring out clearly is that the USA & Europe are reeling under waves of the pandemic with lockdowns and countries having started to look internally. This is a huge opportunity for Indian entrepreneurs to grab and leap. And while hiring is slower than before, enterprising individuals can make a great headway in their career.

What changes do you intend to bring into your organisation to ensure it adapts to the evolving market competition and meets the changing customer requirements in the future?

Now, it pays to continue to be nimble and to be with a flexible mindset, starting from myself. Reducing stress, building more confidence and security result in more innovative approaches. But lean thinking and concepts would be our approach. Externally, we wish to carry this confidence and maturity to our customers. Also, strategic sourcing will be a focus at our organisation this year. Several new strategies are being worked out to develop each of our four verticals. We are very enthused and looking forward to building our brands steeply.

In the year 2021, what according to you will be some of the big ideas that would make their way into the market, in terms of advanced technology adoption, innovation, shop floor operations, workforce management, skilling, upskilling & reskilling, as well as supply chain management?

My thoughts are that we will slowly see the adoption of AI by small & medium companies to build business and get more competitive. Also, SMEs would start to leverage analytics to build their businesses. Larger and more enabled companies would ramp up digitalisation. Besides, more competitive environments and smarter companies will lead. Indian productivity levels, famous for being low, will see a positive movement. Business model innovations, particularly by smaller companies, will be seen. What’s more, the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan throws huge opportunities.

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