Prosperity in Adversity: Which Electronic Product Categories Will See a Boost?

  • A webinar, organized by ELCINA shed light on the new normal & emerging post Covid-19 scenario,
  • Industry veterans discussed about the deeper aspects of the crisis, what we should learn from it and emerge successfully into a more sustainable and prosperous world
  • Verticals including telemedicine, health tech, work from home products, medical devices, networking devices and environment friendly electronics devices will see huge growth
Veterans at the ELCINA Panel

The outbreak of Covid 19 has created adversity in almost every business verticals. It has harmed human life as much as it has harmed us economically. But with every adversity comes an opportunity!

The theme Prosperity in Adversity – ‘The New Normal Emerging Post Covid-19 Scenario’, was addressed by a highly experienced, knowledgeable and capable panel consisting of

  • Ajai Chowdhry, Founder, HCL,
  • Amrit Manwani, President ELCINA & Chairman Sahasra Group,
  • Vinod Sharma, MD, Deki Electronics,
  • Dr Sreeram Srinivasan, CEO, Symra Technologies;
  • Bhupender Saharan, CEO, VVDN Technologies and
  • Narendra Mohanpatra, CEO, Electronic Sector Skill Council of India.

Organized by ELCINA, this panel was moderated by A.M. Devendranath, COO, Feedback Consulting. The panelists pointed towards tele-medicine, health tech, work from home products, medical devices, networking devices and environment friendly electronics devices as areas where opportunities will see a big boom, in the post Covid Era.

The agenda for discussion was as follows:

  • The Covid-19 crisis- not just a virus but a larger malaise inflicting human life;
  • How Technology and Electronics can provide a solution for a more human, eco-friendly
    and sustainable life state;
  • Sectors which will emerge stronger Post Covid;
  • Specific Opportunities and Products that may drive Electronics Industry and Market;
  • Each panelist brought his own experience and perspective to the discussion and at the outset we are summarising a few key insights from each expert.

What the industry veterans said?

Ajai Chowdhry

An entrepreneur at heart and hugely successful industry leader, Chowdhry has vast experience in electronics hardware, technology development, building organisations, supporting start ups and social causes.

He spoke about the uncertainty around Covid-19 and the expectation of spikes before it ebbs. Further, there is going to be immense opportunity in Tele-medicine and many start ups are working on this opportunity and building products around this technology.

A challenge that we would have to face is less and less permanent job opportunities and may also result in multi-tasking skills. Chowdhry referred to the concept of PURA espoused by Dr Kalam, Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas and why this idea would become
more relevant.

Among several other insights, Chowdhry highlighted the growing importance of home devices, rapid growth of 5G and broadband, Do-It-Yourself kits, no touch devices, quick design skills, use of environmentally safe technology and of course demand for medical devices and equipment which were currently being imported.

Bhupender Saharan

Bhupender is a young entrepreneur who is working intensively on Design Technology, R&D and Manufacturing in today’s highly competitive scenario. He was of the view that India has excelled in Software and now is the time to do the same in Hardware. Bhupender shared the following key insights :

  • There were growing opportunities in emerging technologies such as IoT, Industry 4.0, 5G and others and India needs to focus on their development and building IP.
  • In order to compete with  other countries India should focus more on Mould designs / mould engineering in India. This would enhance our capacity to design products for domestic and global markets. This will also reduce our dependence on China where we
    have to go repeatedly as they are good in this domain.
  • Their company, VVDN Technologies had worked on 5G and developed solutions competitively which were being used by global telecom companies.
  • We Should focus on Design & Packaging of electronics and components. Components ecosystem has to come up in order to compete on global scales.
  • We should  create a healthy environment for product engineering startups and encourage them  for product development and manufacturing in India.
  • Focus relentlessly on design and development which was the way forward to develop our capability and establish global leadership.

Vinod Sharma

Sharma, a highly experienced, successful and creative entrepreneur in the components domain, spoke about the leanings from Covid-19 and the need to respect nature and its resources which were to be used carefully with sustainability as a priority

  • There is a dire need for developing a components based eco-system in the country.
  • Equipment manufacturers buying components should support local components makers more and more.
  • The three Schemes announced by Ministry of Electronics & IT, viz. SPECS, PLI and EMC 2/.0 gave an opportunity for development of components and mobile eco system in the country.
  • There was a need for viability gap funding to take advantage of the PLI Scheme which was very attractive but the requirements of investment and output were hard to achieve.
  • We should stand together as one ecosystem and work on a collaborative approach in order to get benefit of PLI and Other Schemes.
  • Also we should have cross road maps from customers and plan accordingly.

Dr. Sreeram Srinivasan

Dr Sreeram focused on the learnings and opportunities in India in Post Covid era

  • Homeland Security, surveillance will increase and there will be sharp rise in demand and cutting edge tech in these domains.
  • Electric Vehicle Mobility-Consumers will start switching to environment friendly products like electric cars, more use of E-rickshaws and E-buses.
  • There will be greater concern and focus on the bottom of the pyramid in our society.
  • A big learning was from the huge challenge India had faced with respect to migrant workers who had to move in masses after the lockdown and many had to suffer.
  • There would be greater emphasis on agriculture and food processing and use of technology in this sector. This would create greater opportunity and prosperity for our population in small towns and villages.

Narendra Mohapatra

Mohapatra spoke about the drastic changes in requirements of skilling due to need for new skills and also the skilling methods with more online and remote teaching methods.

  • Till now, ESSCI was hiring people from rural areas and providing them training to carry out jobs in different areas. However, at present ESSCI must support the rural people in risk environment and provide them training to work from their Rural BPO,
    IOT Based support activities.
  • The life on rural side will change-More Productivity of rural people within rural India.
  • There would be need for workers and service providers to understand and follow safe
    practices and methods when interacting with clients and use no-touch or minimum touch
  • Collaborative R&D – we should be open to explore and show  India’s capabilities to other countries.

Amrit Manwani

Manwani spoke about the emerging opportunities for Electronics manufacturers in India due to the shifting supply chains driven by trade preferences and safety as well as security concerns.

  • Focus on exports will enable development of economies of scale and enhance competitiveness.
  • Opportunities are growing in medical electronics, emerging technologies such as Electric Vehicles, IoT, 5G and Industry 4.0 and also in IT and data processing where demand will soar globally due to growth of online products and services
  • We have to be proactive in exports, contact representative in other countries, have some joint ventures, so that we can succeed faster.
  • India had strong export potential due to its strategic location, good reputation and improving image.
  • We had all the resources including understanding of technology and educated and skilled manpower. We must pursue this opportunity as was done by all successful Asian economies.

Some General Points

  • Supportive policies for Electronic industry have been introduced by government and they should market/promote them.
  • Demand in networking devices will increase in all areas of business particularly in India.
    Vocal for local- customers are now willing to look at Indian OEMs.
  • We need to start manufacturing more products in India.
  • Manufacturing components facilities should be made available at reasonable rates.

Covid 19: Which Product Categories Will See a Boost and How to Tap the Opportunity

  • Telemedicine alone might see development of around 30 to 40 products. The approach should be to deploy these not only in India but on the global stage as well.
  • The adoption of Work from home will increase after Covid 19. The same will create a need for specific work from home devices. Companies and professionals should start working on the same now!
  • Networking devices might also see a big boom in demand. This demand will be driven by almost all verticals of India.
  • Increased use of broadband services will give birth to increased demand of internet compatible devices. For example setup boxes might see a complete revamp in terms of design and usability.
  • Medical electronics will remain a key priority in times to come. Companies in India should use this opportunity to design such devices for global markets.
  • The faster adoption of Industry 4.0 will create a need for automated products. Working around IoT, AI and ML will be an added advantage.
  • Consumers might start switching to environment friendly products like electric cars. This arena will also see a lot of growth.
  • A huge DIY-devices opportunity is going to open up.
  • Customers are now willing to look at Indian OEMs despite price gap with Chinese counterparts thanks to Vocal for Local.

What can be done to tap the opportunities?

  • Start by having bigger aspirations. Time has proven that aspirations help create resources. In simpler words, creating aspirations will automatically lead to creation of resources required for taking the electronics industry to the next level.
  • Stop complaining about the government and start utilising what we have for creating a better electronics value chain in the country. The current government, is helping and certainly not stopping anyone!
  • Start by implementing ways to retain IP created in India, in the country. We have the design capability, now the focus should be on manufacturing products designed within India.
  • The time might be right to unlearn a few things and create a healthy environment for product engineering startups. These need to be nurtured and encouraged for product development and manufacturing in India.
  • Don’t miss the rural bus. As a lot of people have started shifting back to rural areas, these will see a boom in demand for devices required to work from home. The idea around rural areas should not focus on cheap devices but devices and technology that help.
  • Keep an eye open around what’s happening around you. Covid 19, social distancing and lockdowns are creating a demand for new product categories. Use your imagination and experience to innovate such products.
  • It is time to revisit the basics and amend all the mistakes of the past. For instance developing an ecosystem of components requires companies to collaborate and work with each other instead of competing against each other.
  • The time is ripe for creating a consortium of component companies, design companies, R&D companies and manufacturing India. This will enable the ESDM sector to move together in one direction and create more opportunities for everyone.
  • Electronics enables us to do things from a distance. Hence, it looks like a major opportunity for the electronics industry.

Areas to focus on

  • A number of focus areas have been highlighted in the insights provided by the panellists and additional points are listed below:
  • We need to start manufacturing more products in India instead of other countries. The same can be started with products designed in India.
  • The current developments in the geo-political arena hits towards the world looking for alternatives for China. While India may or may not be the top choice, it will always be in the top five contenders. We need to grab hold of the opportunity and prove the world that they can make in India.
  • Collaboration between ESDM companies has become the need of the hour. Whether it is design and research collaboration or design, components and manufacturing collaboration, be open to explore all as we need to stand together to show India’s capabilities to the whole world.
  • A collaboration between academia, SMEs and startups can help create global products here in India. The same will benefit SMEs too!
  • The developments might also give birth to demand for defense products. It’s time to step up like Israel and commit to make India proud of its electronic industry.
  • To get benefit of PLI scheme Consortiums to be created by like-minded firms operating in sectors such as components. Example–a consortium for passive components, another for PCBs, etc.

Can the government help?

  • The government has introduced several good policies around electronics. It needs to market these policies and their benefits in, and outside India.
  • An incentive for people buying local can be a great step as this will encourage both buyers and sellers. For example a majority of PCBs manufactured in India are exported because foreign players can pay better prices than domestic customers.
  • Facilities for manufacturing components should be made available on reasonable rates. Components makers do not usually get a high margin and hence find it difficult to sustain expensive and big real estate facilities.

Reported by – Mukul Yudhveer Singh


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