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    Nasscom's 25th annual IT event a muted affair

    Synopsis

    "It's possible that more people will come in tomorrow. There are more sessions so it may improve," an executive attending the event said.

    ET Bureau
    MUMBAI: The mood at the Indian information technology industry's marquee annual jamboree was sober, even as the ongoing tussle at , rising protectionism in the industry's largest markets and job impact due to automation continued to loom large over the gathering.

    The three-day long event-the Nasscom India Leadership Forum (NILF)- which began here on Wednesday, did not have the enthusiasm from last year- there were no flying drones, no gimmicky hand bands, and no walking robots on day one. It also did not have the celebratory vibe that one would expect of an event completing 25 years.

    "It's possible that more people will come in tomorrow. There are more sessions so it may improve," an executive attending the event said.

    The sessions on Wednesday focused on all the new buzzwords- automation, virtual reality, augmented reality, design thinking and the like.

    At least four executives in the Indian IT sector said the event was more muted than they were used to and that there were fewer people.

    Some were, however, more optimistic. "The session on virtual reality was quite interesting. They showed a demo of creating a VR avatar of Angelina Jolie, and it could change expression as you want. Very cool stuff," said another executive with a Delhi-based IT firm. The hall was however, only one-third full, according to another person who was in attendance.

    "I like that the topics are more relevant this year. It's good that the industry is tackling these issues (related to automation) and not sweeping it under the carpet," said Sumit Sood, managing director, GlobalLogic.

    While Nasscom delaying the announcement of its annual growth target to the first quarter dampened the mood further, the ongoing corporate governance battle at Infosys kept coming up in conversations through the day.

    "It doesn't look good, a company of Infosys' stature having to explain how many kilometers its CEO travelled in a plane. It doesn't bode well for the sector or business. We have bigger issues to focus on," said an industry executive at another MNC.

    The Indian IT industry has been reeling under pressure from protectionism in its biggest markets- the United States and United Kingdom, which is further compounded by the uncertainty of jobs caused by automation in the sector.

    With H-1B visas and automation threatening to upend how the industry does business, few executives were in a partying mood.

    Nasscom executives were, however, quite upbeat given the circumstances. While chairman CP Gurnani spoke at length about a skilling and reskilling programme, president R Chandrashekhar took the stage at the inaugural session and said "25 is the age when the human body is at its prime" and that the Indian IT industry is set to hit the $155 billion revenue mark.

    A bright spot in the day was the food, which got near-universal approval, with one industry executive even remarking, "Even the queues for food are smaller this year. Well good thing, at least everyone can eat," he laughed.

    The main event entrance had a large screen at the door, projecting images from what looked like an intricate mechanism of pipes, with steam bellowing from the stationary images every few seconds. This was interspersed with images of red-and-yellow coloured lava being poured from the top into the sides of the doors every few minutes, giving the main area a halo of almost crimson light.

    "At least it looks bright. It looks a little bit like a disco. Maybe in the evening it will switch," an executive with a multinational company said.
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    2 Comments on this Story

    Rag1476 days ago
    These events are waste of time and money. Nothing is gained.
    ramya s1477 days ago
    IT and digital mania has reached its peak with VR and IoT.
    Why would anyone create a VR avatar of Angelina Jolie, with multiple plastic surgery and missing parts. That shows that mind altering VR will die a quicker death than expected.
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