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Technology at the heart

CONNECT 2019 has continued to live up to its billing as the top IT event of Tamil Nadu.

The then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, J Jayalalithaa, inaugurated CONNECT in 2001 organised jointly by the Government of Tamil Nadu and CII. She spelt out her government’s goal to make Tamil Nadu a leader in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) business. CII saw this as a platform for ‘connecting’ all the stakeholders, policymakers, industry representatives, academic institutions, and IT professionals with the avowed objective of working together to make Chennai in particular and Tamil Nadu in general as the preferred destination for global companies. This was a forum where industry voiced its demands for better infrastructure and for higher levels on interaction among industry, policymakers and academic institutions to usher in India’s Silicon Plateau. We voiced our demand to create a Knowledge Industry Township (KIT). OMR, the bustling extension to Chennai, was the result of the KIT concept propagated in CONNECT 2002. Since then, the government also made it a point to announce new ICT-related policy measures during every CONNECT.

CONNECT has multiple objectives. It deliberates on emerging technologies so that companies and professionals can prepare themselves to operate in emerging areas. It deliberates on capacity-building activities, whether they relate to education or infrastructure. It brings in partner countries, who can see the development features in Tamil Nadu and identify areas of cooperation. It provides a platform for start-ups to talk about their products and services and also display them in the exhibition.

Chennai the SaaS Capital

CONNECT 2019 was inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Edappadi K. Palaniswami. IT Minister RB Udhaya Kumar spoke both at the inaugural and the valedictory sessions. The Chief Minister called Chennai the SaaS (Software as a Service) capital, showing how companies like Zoho and Freshworks, besides other start-ups, have become world leaders in this technology. He dwelt on the e-governance initiatives of his government.
The theme for this year’s CONNECT was “Technology at the heart of India’s $5 trillion economy,” clearly showing that ICT should be the major force to take India towards this goal. We had a star-studded panel discussion to deliberate on this theme, with Ramkumar Ramamoorthy (Chairman, Cognizant India) moderating the session. Sridhar Vembu of Zoho talked about how his company was spreading itself to remote corners of Tamil Nadu and how these initiatives will result in the balanced growth of Tamil Nadu. Sameer Garde, President, CISCO India, spoke about the technology initiatives in Smart City projects. Josh Foulger, Managing Director, Foxconn India, dwelt on electronic manufacturing areas critical to the Make in India programme.

Expanding e-governance

Santosh Misra, CEO & Commissioner, Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency, has been active in several areas, ushering in digital services in the state, creating the ecosystem for emerging areas such as Blockchain and in creating thought leadership in areas such as artificial intelligence. The state has already started rolling out high-speed broadband connectivity to all parts of the state, including rural areas, as part of the BharatNet programme. The session on “ICT & Governance – How ICT was changing the life of the common man,” provided a platform to Santosh Misra to talk on the enablers created by the state. Kalyan Siva, Managing director of the exciting healthcare start-up, 5C Network, talked about his company reaching remote areas for diagnosis and treatment, using technology. David Nabet, Founder and CEO of Sagiles, France, talked about critical areas of sustainable living, such as water usage and conservation, where technology plays a major part. Our own popular weatherman, Pradeep John, talked about his experiences in weather prediction.

Other sessions dealt with technology and applications. The event had a large exhibition where large and small companies showcased their products. There were also awards given in several categories. It was good to see technology companies working to improve the conditions of disabled persons.

CONNECT 2019 has continued to live up to its billing as the top IT event of Tamil Nadu.

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