Dubai: The south Indian state of Kerala could soon tap its growing tech startup base to find better ways to tackle the frequent – and devastating – floods it faces. This is not wishful thinking, but comes from the state’s top bureaucrat on IT matters.
“The whole objective of technology is to solve real-world problems,” said John Thomas, CEO of Kerala IT Parks. “I hope some of our companies will come up with a solution using GIS (geographic information system) mapping or even scenario modelling on how an event can affect transportation and supply chain.”
Kerala is experiencing the full might of floods, just three years after billions or rupees worth of damage was caused by the worst flooding in over 100 years.
Kerala IT Parks offers government-owned IT buildings and those built by handpicked developers. The largest parks – Technopark (in Thiruvananthapuram) and Infopark (Kochi) – have not been affected by the floods so far.
“We have very good drainage mechanisms and culverts to deal with a flood kind of situations and we have done simulations and risk analysis even before,” said Thomas. “We are designed to deal with the situation - we haven't had a problem in the parks.”
While the pandemic hit budgets at most companies, IT spending actually went up as most enterprises went virtual. “There is an insatiable demand for talent - there are several aspects of the industry that are booming including digital transformation, data, cloud and cybersecurity,” said Thomas.
“Demand has gone up, but the supply of resources (IT workers) kind of remains the same. You can’t just manufacture an IT professional.”
High inward interest
Thomas, who was participating at last week’s Gitex event along with 30 Kerala-based companies, said there was a high level of interest to invest in the state’s startups. “Kerala’s startup ecosystem has got a good name and has achieved a level of maturity in terms of the products and services we offer,” said Thomas.
Although new COVID-19 cases in Kerala have fallen, the hybrid working model adopted by most IT firms will be around for a while. “There were some hiccups at the beginning because they had to pivot to a hybrid or work-from-home model - but companies by and large adopted that,” said Thomas. “The hybrid model is here to stay in some shape or form, but we are seeing a return to office as well”
By around next June or July next year, 75-80 per cent of the workforce at Kerala’s IT parks will return to their offices, he said.