VP – Sales
Infinova, MEIA (SAARC)
SecurityLinkIndia (SLI): 2020 has been the year of Covid 19, fatal for all – more so for business and economy; and future is also not certain. How do you explain it with your experience?
Milind Borkar: I do not think it has been fatal for the industry. It has been bad yes, with more than four months of lockdown, travel restrictions and what have you. I personally was stuck first in India and then in Kuwait for the mandatory period of quarantine before being able to do work related travel.
SLI: How far has the security industry – both in India and globally – stood resilient during this Corona pandemic?
Milind Borkar: A survey carried out in the US shows that end-customers will now be more willing to accept IP based solutions and the acceptance of AI will accelerate.
SLI: Covid 19 has brought various unforeseen challenges to the fore. What specific challenges did you identify the most difficult for you and how did you tackle them?
Milind Borkar: Business continuity was a major challenge in these times with everything shut down. The other challenge was maintaining employee security and safety. The business needed to develop strategies to take care of both these challenges. We took care of the business side of the challenge by developing required strategies. As far as staff security is concerned, we took all the necessary safety precautions as mandated by the Government of India in its lockdown notifications and lockdown opening circulars.
SLI: Lockdown was horrible that brought the whole world to standstill – how did you spend your time personally as an individual and socially, and how as the VP of Infinova?
Milind Borkar: For me lockdown was not at all horrible. It gave me time to connect with my family and with myself. I have been travelling all over the world most of the time and staying away from family. This was like God’s message to take it easy and spend quality time with family, introspect, exercise and meditate. There was very little social interaction because of the lockdown though of late we have been meeting friends and relatives all the time while maintaining the safety protocols. As VP of Infinova I encouraged team work.
SLI: What opportunities did you explore and enable during and post lockdowns to keep your business intact?
Milind Borkar: The team did a great job by conducting several training sessions with SI tech teams virtually.
SLI: Work from home has been a new normal. How did you manage your workforce during and post lockdowns and how far has that impacted the manufacturing – especially of hardware?
Milind Borkar: Even though work from home has become the new normal – for me it was always so in a way, as I have always been traveling and have been in touch with my office and clients digitally through e-mails and phone conversations. The impact on manufacturing has been severe with the restriction on import of material and the time taken for it to clear customs. The lead time to delivery thus has gone up. Our production of cameras also took a hit because of the lockdown and it is only now that things are easing out a bit.
SLI: What has been the business of the company so far in this FY, and how far have you been able to achieve the target?
Milind Borkar: Yes indeed, this FY has been a bit tough upon the industry, and we are lagging slightly behind our vied upon goals. However, in last three months the speed has really picked up and have been able to cover up almost 80% of our targeted numbers till now, and as in India major billing and closures happen by the last quarter of the FY which is currently in progress, effectively if not surpassing we shall be able to break even with our expected plans.
SLI: What are your updated and revised business strategies in the scenario to achieve the target at the earliest?
Milind Borkar: At this juncture the most important aspect is the relations and the brand value that we have created, along with delivery capabilities. As the JFM schedule is all about deliveries and billing before the FY closure on March 31, we are targeting those clients and cases which we are sure of closing within next 30-45 days so that the deliverables can be met within stipulated time.
SLI: Which new products/ innovations/ adaptations befitting COVID scenario have you brought out in security during this phase, and which ones are in the pipeline of production?
Milind Borkar: Innovation is the ever changing need of the industry, and with pandemic looming over the business, new strategies and products were devised to reach out to the market and gather the maximum advantage. In the line of sight we started immediately thereafter with thermal body imaging cameras with AI based algorithm to identify human temperature aspect, and initiating preventive mechanism to stop the further possible spread. We did not stop at that, we also ensured that our production capabilities are well sorted and planned the fulfillment of orders which were getting delayed and the prospective projects which went on hold, so that as soon as the lockdown is relaxed we are all geared to supply and fulfill the requirements of the customers with minimum delays. Additionally we have been working on an additional IR module which can be integrated with any camera and can use the metadata integration at camera level or at software level and can provide an easy cost effective replacement for high valued thermal cameras.
SLI: Layoffs or wage cutting, and termination of contract labours have been global phenomena during Covid 19. What has been Infinova’s policy on the issue?
Milind Borkar: We have not laid off anyone in the India office though there have been a couple of resignations. We believe in taking care of our staff through thick and thin.
SLI: What new trends do you see in security industry that will define the future – especially in India?
Milind Borkar: I personally feel we will go more and more the AI way as that takes care of individual safety. With more and more advances taking place in AI, this could be a game changer the way the industry will go in times to come.
SLI: What are the inevitable challenges and opportunities for security industry in the current scenario and the days ahead?
Milind Borkar: The current challenges include supply chain management and the very real fear of losing customers. The opportunities include adopting and integrating newer technologies to take care of the challenges posed by the current scenario as well as moving forward.
SLI: Time demands value addition to security products and technologies to make them more inclusive. How do you comment on that vis-àvis Infinova products?
Milind Borkar: Infinova is always been known as integrators manufacturers, we keep taking regular feedback from the partners and the market, and keep investing in developing the products which are required for practical solution meeting in the market, and not just high end fancy product which finds very less takers, Our focus has always been on designing and providing solutions which can be applied for the majority product use. That’s why unlike companies which have a range of products in high end, middle category and low end market approach, we have always had a single product line which is able to cater across spectrum, and our references speaks about it. Be it transport – airports/ metro/ railroad, smart and safe cities or industrial and commercial establishments we are one of the most deployed solutions in these segments in our market of operation.
SLI: What is the future of technologies like artificial intelligence, IoT etc., in security industry and how far Infinova is adopting/ promoting it? Kindly explain with examples.
Milind Borkar: As our industry is purely based on IP, it is imperative to think of the advent in this segment without having an impact from AI and IoT. These Jargons are now literally making their value add, and are no more just technical words but the substance of the surveillance solutions especially with the better understanding of customers and utilisation of data points thus derived which could be implemented using the Metadata by arriving on actions to be taken rather than just dumping the data on huge storage boxes. Also with cloud coming in the picture, the relevance of data points and their utilisation along with categorisation of what is more important and how it is to be utilised has really set the ball rolling, like automated health management, ITMS solutions, people flow, manpower management, and many such solutions derive their strengths from IoT/ AI based surveillance solutions.
SLI: What will be the impact of 5G on security and surveillance industry? Kindly state its pros and cons.
Milind Borkar: Categorically speaking, with the improvisation of network every few years it was probably need of the hour, and with 5G a few things are pretty clear:-
- High speed upto 20Gbps is expected, which means faster downloads and uploads, ultimately resulting in utilisation of higher resolution cameras thereby providing better images and more data which can be converted into information for useful purposes.
- Latency will reduce, resulting in efficient decision making using the information.
- It’s still at nascent stage as intercommunications and role of IoT communications and functionality will be explored further and need of cable/ modem/ Wi-Fi would be reduced. However, as I said there is a huge conundrum which needs to be explored for effective usage in our segment.
- As of now it is more theoretical; yes the tests have been conducted and results received after tests are great. However on paper, deploying the entire new infrastructure of towers and overall connectivity will still take years, as this will lead to taking many calls, especially it will result in environmental concerns.
- Technically speaking having a 5G means higher bandwidth but it equally requires more signal strength while 4G was faster than 3G but it required more towers to be placed closely. Undoubtedly they were pushing out a stronger signal however, the signal covered smaller area as already the radio spectrum is highly utilised. Not only that, it also resulted in longer period for 4G rollout and is still not fully deployed and already we are starting towards 5G, so it may take a bit longer time for becoming prevalent.
- As of now even if we think about telecommunication segment very few phone manufacturers have started 5G compatible phones. even the likes of Apple and Samsung who lead the foray in smartphone segment has just started 5G compatible phone rollout a couple of months ago. May be in my opinion it may take its own course for deployment which could run into a few years from now at the most.
- Last but not the least, with data the utmost important aspect is of security and with huge data security inception/ threat becomes even more plausible, hence security has to be a forethought and not an afterthought.
SLI: Kindly give your views on the policies and efforts of government in terms of handling Covid 19 and compensating the business during pandemic.
Milind Borkar: The government has done a great job in protecting its citizens from the pandemic as well as providing economic support to the really needy people through direct benefit transfer. The government has also given a lot of leeway to industry through tax reforms as well as relaxation towards compliance of various laws. The GST collection for December showed a 12% increase over the same month of the previous year. This definitely indicates an economic recovery. Plus the PM has been found to be the most popular leader by a survey carried out in the US with a 55% rating. In fact, he is the only world leader whose popularity has gone up which indicates that the people are happy with the steps he and his government have taken during these trying times.
SLI: How is security industry contributing to the cause of Atmanirbhar Bharat and Surakshit Bharat?
Milind Borkar: The CCTVs installed all over the country are taking care of the security monitoring aspect to a great extent. As far as being Atmanirbhar, India needs to do a lot more by giving more concessions for industry to set up factories in India. A lot of steps have been announced but we will really know when industry applies for setting up plants – it is then only that we will come to know whether the ease of business in setting up business has gone up or not.