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Tech Talks

In Conversation With Gary Shapiro – CES & Kaushal Nevrekar – CMO, Reliance Digital

gary shapiro interview ces 2019
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Like each year, Exhibit CEO Ramesh Somani sat in exclusive conservation with the main-man Gary Shapiro, CEO-CTA and Kaushal Nevrekar, CMO-Reliance Digital to ponder over the massive and enthralling world of tech and dissect CES 2019. What came out of the blend of the two insights and future predictions.

Ramesh Somani: What has changed since last year in CES 2019?
Gary Shapiro: It is the largest event by far. This year, we hit 2.9 million square feet (290,000 square metres) and we have over 4,500 companies with exhibits, we have over 180,000 people over, and 7,000 media personnel. But there are several stories of the show, first, the 5Gs, this is where a lot of the companies have chosen to talk about, they are making big announcements and pushing it, of course, it will take many years to get where we wanna go. Second, Artificial Intelligence, which is the ingredient technology of the future. Also, this is a show where we are launching 8K Ultra HD TVs, TV sets, more and more self-driving cars, all sorts of robotics, and healthcare products, and an explosion of innovation. And this is also the show where my book is launched, Ninja Future: Secrets to Success in the New World of Innovation.

RS: How would Indians benefit with what Gary just said?
KN: It’s great! Just walking the entire show, looking at great technologies, I think it’s very exciting, both as a professional of this industry and as Reliance Digital. Our onus of bringing in the latest and the greatest technology to the Indian consumers lies on us. I’m excited to see all the products and technologies and can’t wait for all these to come to India soon.

RS: We have seen a lot of brands talking about connected devices, Smart homes, and IOT, 8K is also becoming mainstream, isn’t it?
GS: 8K isn’t becoming mainstream yet. 8K is just getting started. But, connected devices are definitely becoming mainstream. The story of the last couple of years in the United States, and I do not know about India, is that there are new media of connection, and it’s the voice. You control things with the voice, you can go to Amazon or Google or Microsoft or Apple where your voice can control what you order, it gets you information, it tells you about the weather, it tells you about traffic, it tells you anything that you want with a voice. The good thing about this is that you don’t have to type into a keyboard, which is good for older people with disabilities, it empowers people that need to be empowered. And it’s getting cheap, before, it used to be a discreet smart speaker and now what we’re seeing in this event is that it’s incorporated into many different products. Soon, the voice will be a medium in many products.

RS: How would Reliance Digital make such technologies accessible to Indians?
KN: I’m very excited about both, the connected device and the voice. Thanks to Jio, bandwidth now is available consistently, which is far better and cheaper than ever before across India. That makes it a perfect use case for having connected devices deployed. With this, I foresee a faster adaption. Voice is the next medium, and I completely agree with what Gary said. Coming from a country with multiple dialects, it’s gonna be interesting to see how it works out, but yes, we are getting geared up, building the right consumer experiences in our stores. For an average Indian consumer, how does a connected device benefit my life? And that’s where our focus is.

RS: Out of the showcased different technologies, which technology do you see coming to life in
2019. Can you pick one of your favourites?
GS: I like where the health technology is going. We have relied heavily on drugs and you have to go to a doctor and it’s expensive when you have to make the trip. It’s a difficult trip to make for many people around the world. So, we’re heading towards a world where there will be remote monitoring, diagnostics, and even treatment. So people don’t have to travel great distances, and there’s a shortage of doctors in the world, so I think where we’re going with healthcare is going to be very beneficial. Also as we use Artificial Intelligence technology, we’ll be able to treat people based on their unique DNA, their specific abnormality, their characteristics, their age, their sex, and their treatments would also be better. That will result in healthier people cause the one things that’s really difficult than life is to be sick, and the only thing which is worse than that is dying. We’re on our way to curing most of these diseases and extending healthy life and empowering people that are older. So, that’s in the scheme of what we do matters, nice looking TV sets are great, as they are enjoyable but changing people’s lives where they can be healthy is also very meaningful.

RS: How do you see Indians adapting to the technology happening globally and what role does Reliance Digital play?
KN: What’s happening is, technology is helping healthcare get better, be more affordable, and is getting deployed much faster. As it matures, the adaption of all of that is happening, we will continue to be at the forefront of bringing it quickly to India. Not just on healthcare, but every technology that you saw in CES, we work very closely with all the leading brands. We define the consumer journey for a particular technology, for a particular product. We work on really defining the right consumer experience back in the store and then bring it back to the consumers. India has changed dramatically in the last couple of years. It’s no more than an afterthought for most of the brands. I think, all the brands now look at a simultaneous launch of their global product and include India in their global launches. I’m excited about getting all of this technology to India from Artificial Intelligence, healthcare, all of that should come to India very, very soon.

RS: Personalizing technology is the way ahead. What are your views?
GS: Yes, this is our philosophy of personalizing technology and our responsibility. Every product’s use case in the family is different, so i’s our responsibility really to take that product and help you personalize it yourself. It’s going beyond the rudimentary use of technology in the house, it’s personal. That’s the philosophy we continue to believe. For us, our responsibility for the journey does not really end at the store level, but its how do we help you identify and buy the right products and personalize it for you.

RS: Reliance Digital’s philosophy is personalizing technology. What are your views?
KN: Yes, this is our philosophy of personalizing technology and our responsibility. Every product’s use case in the family is different, so i’s our responsibility really to take that product and help you customize it or personalize it yourself. It’s going beyond the rudimentary use of technology in the house, it’s no more house, it’s personal. That’s the philosophy we continue to believe. For us, our responsibility for the journey does not really end at the store level, but its how do we help you identify and buy the right products and personalize it for you in your home. That’s what the philosophy has been for you.

RS: Ninja Future: Secrets to Success in the New World of Innovation is authored by you, what are the key takeaways for our young leaders to take away from this book?
GS: A lot of startups think that how can I compete with these big companies, they have more money, experts, and it is daunting. But the truth is, in the big companies, they’re really slow moving and it takes a long time to get a project approved, to have a lengthy plan. By the time the product is even closer to the marketplace, the marketplace has changed. So, the truth is big companies are really slow moving, so if you’re an entrepreneur, you could be fast, you don’t need a business plan, you need an idea that you could show to your potential customers. They could respond and keep changing the idea based on what they say and then you go get it built and start selling it. Big companies will have to stay with a bad idea for a long time, an entrepreneur changes on the dot. And the truth is, big companies are really looking down to small companies cause they know they are weak that way, and they want to partner, they want to invest, and they are also willing to be their first customers. They want to help little companies, so these opportunities are reversing now. In CES, we have 1,200 companies in the Eureka park for startups, and every one of them spends four days here and they leave with a different idea with their business, also with investors, buyers, media coverage, and basically with a new strategy.

RS: So, Jio has transformed INDIA, when do we see Jio at CES?
KN: Jio has been spoken about in various conferences, and case studies have been made in various forums, the Mobile World Congress, and in other areas. I’m not sure whether Jio will have the bandwidth right now to clearly deploy more technology. But, I wish someday Jio will come and share how do you really take an idea and take it disruptively and practically go on the path to improve the lives of 1.3 billion people.

RS: What do you think is the Next Big Company or technology that is going to disrupt the world in 2020?
GS: We are increasingly seeing various Artificial Intelligence incorporate into products, which will allow predictions about what consumers will do so that they will be better served. There will also be an extension of voice into all sorts of products.
KN: I agree with Gary and see a far greater adaption of AI in how products are developed, how it gets integrated within our lives, and with far greater usage too.

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