In Dec 2020, U.S. private equity firm Blackstone acquired a controlling stake in Piramal Glass, in recognition of its inherent business value and accelerated digital journey. The plant in Kosamba, Gujarat, is an export powerhouse which has adopted digital technologies like IoT and cloud, and is a lodestar for brownfield facilities looking to become globally competitive, data-driven, and Industry-4.0 enabled. Early digital innovation helped restore plant-wide operations within a week of the COVID-19 pandemic, whilst adhering to stringent regulatory norms and workforce restrictions.
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Individuals now generate copious amounts of personal data everyday – both online and offline. Devices and infrastructure extract data, which can be shared instantly across borders with diverse entities - without consent. It is imperative that countries come together to create regulations to protect individuals who are unable to control how their data is shared and processed. A model already exists in the Paris Climate Agreement.
Big Tech wields considerable influence over commerce, speech, media, and politics. Mergers and acquisitions have been key to their burgeoning growth. Now it is clear that their power is buttressed by anti-competitive and predatory practices. Governments across the world are moving to redress this through regulation, but the task is complex.
The growth of digital interconnectedness between the factory floor and the internet has led to a corresponding growth of potential risks with both humans and machinery susceptible to manipulation. This has deep implications for the safety of personnel, plants and machinery, and profits.
Tata Steel is one of the few global companies on the prestigious Global Lighthouse Network for its advanced digital manufacturing systems - and the only Indian company on the list. The vision of a digitally integrated manufacturing facility was introduced when the Tata Steel Kalinganagar plant (TSK) was conceptualized in 2006. The subsequent implementation and continuous upgrade of the facility has made it a global benchmark. This case study on TSK's journey can guide other companies to overcome challenges in upgrading systems, using artificial intelligence and big data analytics to increase efficiency and drive innovation.
COVID-19 has forced India and its manufacturers to quickly step up their adoption of digital manufacturing processes. There are four elements of this ecosystem already in place – the digital infrastructure, government schemes, academic learning, and a burst of start-ups. This, supported by key policy decisions by the Indian government, will propel Indian manufacturing to higher levels of efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness.
Drones have become vital to the operations of many industries and government organisations across the world. With huge economic opportunity to be derived from the use, manufacture and sale of drones, the Indian government must refine policy and address regulatory lacunae to help boost both technology adoption and drone manufacture in India.
The maturing private space sector in the U.S. has learned to raise money from the market in the form of sectoral equity-traded funds. Such financing mechanisms will keep the U.S. ahead in the global space economy, which is slated to grow manifold from $430 billion now to $4 trillion by 2040. India's fledgling private space ecosystem, financiers, and stock exchanges can learn from the U.S. and do the same for India's newly reformed private space sector.
Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have come under global scrutiny in recent months following their use to incite or misinform the public. For years, governments around the democratic world have not taken the responsibility to adequately regulate these platforms. Now that may be changing – and it won’t be easy.
India needs a policy mix that nurtures the Space 2.0 industry, secures it from hostile takeovers and predatory investments from overseas investors, and does not suffocate it under excessive protectionism.