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Slow processes in India are a challenge, says Thales CTO

Forum Gandhi Recently in Paris | Updated on December 05, 2019 Published on December 05, 2019
Thales pledged to maintain current job levels at Gemalto’s French operations until at least the end of 2019

Thales Group sees India as a competent and important market, but the “slow processes” are a challenge, said the Chief Technology Officer of Thales. India should be concerned about data protection and cybersecurity, he added.

Thales recently organised its Innovs Day, 2019, in Paris where it showcased 70 technological demonstrations by 20 start-ups. While there were no start-ups from India, CTO Marko Erman said that several of those demonstrations were inspired by India and could be beneficial for India.

He explained that finding the right start-ups in India would take time.

“We did engage with a few start-ups when I was in India the last time. We also understood how the Indian system is managed. I think it’s just a matter of maturity,” the CTO explained.

French multinational Thales has been expanding its footprint in India. It has two engineering centres in India. According to Erman, Thales is already working on two projects — digital engineering and open-source hardware.

When asked about the ease of doing business in India, Erman said that India is a great opportunity, thanks to the Make In India program. However, “the perception of time in India is different from the perception of time in Europe. So, things might take time,” Erman explained.

For Thales, the India market is very different from where Thales has its presence. And because Thales’ team is unaware of India’s ecosystem, supply chain of stakeholders, and operations, “trying to develop these is not always very easy”.

Thales has been an integral part of setting up digital identity and data protection in India. One of the immediate challenges that India needed to work on is data protection, he said.

Erman said that in a country like India, where several people do not have any proof of identity, the digital approach made sense. “But this also exposes you as anybody else in the world. All I could say is that India needs to be very careful about what happens to the data.”

“Being a democracy, it is the government’s job to guarantee the citizen that the data will not be corrupted, leaked or lost,” he added.

The other immediate challenge for India, according to Erman, is to be able to prevent credit card frauds. According to him, other countries, including France, are using cutting-edge technologies to avoid such frauds. “Other societies are concerned about it; so should you,” he added.

Delhi ranked 12th in the list of smart cities in 2016. Erman said, “A ‘smart city’ is a very fuzzy term, because, I think, the smart city is a city where you live well.”

Thales has installed ticketing, and supervision systems at metro stations in India. But because of the sheer size of the population, a technology that is meant to avoid different queues for ticketing, baggage and security checks, is posing a hindrance to the fluidity of travel. But it is all being done by the transport operator keeping in mind the interests of the citizens and the city’s security, he explained.

On the positive side, Erman concluded that because India is an open market and did business with several countries, finding synergies wasn’t difficult. To top that, India has enough and more talent and capabilities to combat these concerns.

(The writer was in Paris at the invitation of Thales)

Published on December 05, 2019

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