Hacking India: Developers build vertical applications for local market Credit: (From L to R) – Gary Barnett, Sr. VP&GM, Engagement Solutions; Vishal Agrawal, MD, India & SAARC; Raman Adlakha, R&D Lead, Pune, Avaya along with Winners of Avaya Hackathon

Hacking India: Developers build vertical applications for local market

Last month, Avaya staged its first hackathon in an effort to boost India’s developer community. The two-day event attracted developers and enthusiasts from universities, colleges and businesses across India. Teams used platforms such as Avaya Breeze Client SDK and Zang Cloud, as well as the Avaya’s Vantage Device, to create smart applications aiming at supporting India’s digital objectives in industries including hospitality, healthcare, smart enterprise, and smart cities.

This was the first hackathon held at Pune R&D centre, and Vishal Agrawal, Managing Director for Avaya India, explains that Avaya plans to use India as one of its incubation centres help grow young talent. “Building an ecosystem of developers is a key focus for Avaya. We will encourage developers to build solutions on our platform, incubate those solutions and sell them to generate revenues.”

From next year, Gartner expects market demand for mobile app development services to grow five times faster than internal IT organisations can deliver them, so the plan is a solid one, and one that’s good for India as a whole. “Challenges like this,” Agrawal explains, “give software developers across India the opportunity to create the breakthrough ideas that will support India’s digital objectives. [The hackathon] shows that India is progressive and digitally transforming at a rapid speed. It makes new talent more accessible to corporates and also opens up innovative channels for organisations to ideate and develop solutions for their customers.”

Of course, it’s good for business too: “Working with India’s developer community is essential to our business because it allowed us to build platforms that enable innovation and respond to digital transformation agendas with test cases, as opposed to out-of-the-box solutions. Being open with the APIs encourages new developments to grow quickly, and this is essential to help our customers transform with agility and flexibility.”

A total of 482 teams participated in the hackathon, with 22 teams making it to the finals. Points were awarded based on complexity, creativity and impact as well as integration of the Avaya communication features. Up for grabs was a first-place cash prize of Rs. 2,00,000 [$3,100], with prizes of Rs. 1,25,000 [$1,900] and Rs. 75,000 [$1,200] for the first runner-up and second runner-up respectively.

 

The winning solution was for the insurance market

The winning team, DigiCrafters – Alok Kulkarni, Imran Solanki, and Tanaji Bhale – developed an insurance application that solves practical challenges faced by the industry. The team’s application aims to deliver instant communication between patients, service providers and insurers for an enhanced patient experience. Kulkarni explained to us how the application works:

“Any accident involves parties such as claimants, insurance agents, hospitals, police, vehicle towing and other service providers, insurance company engineers, legal departments etc. Using Avaya infrastructure, we are collaborating these parties over video calls, video conferences, chat, multimedia message sharing. Analytics can be run over data to identify driving patterns of policy holders to determine their insurance premium.

“The collaboration technology used was Avaya Breeze Client SDK running over Android mobile devices and Avaya Vantage device. The Client SDK provides all necessary functionality required for communication. Video conferencing is done using Avaya Equinox conferencing. Text messages are sent by the Insurance agents to concerned parties over Avaya Zang Cloud Messaging.”

Thanks to the prize money from the hackathon, DigiCrafters will be able to get the additional infrastructure and hardware required to develop the current prototype into a complete solution that can be showcased to insurance industry. Kulkarni believes contests such as this can be invaluable to startups: “While contest prize money may not suffice the entire funding needs for startups, they are surely a booster, and winning the contests ensures that the startup is heading in the right direction. Winning a contest helps the startup to get noticed and thus may get additional funding from companies interested in rolling out the solution to market.”

 

A reflection of the local business market

Startups in India face a number of challenges; the country lacks a developed startup ecosystem, and startups are considered risky - investors remain sceptical about investing and skilled people considered well-established corporations to be a safer career move. But Avaya’s Agrawal tells me there is a “strong public sector agenda to transform into a more digital India.”

“The developer community in India is constantly looking for opportunities and integrated platforms to showcase their innovations. In this new-age India, where the ecosystem has changed and organisations are looking at a multi-layered engagement with customers, developers play a crucial role. They need to develop more cognitive solutions to drive digital transformation for enterprises.” And digital transformation is the way forward Agrawal believes: “Organisations may be at different phases of their digital transformation journey, but every organisation is making progress in that direction and that is the way to go.”

The Indian tech industry has relied significantly on the US in the past, but with more restrictions on immigration under the Trump presidency, Kulkarni tells me, “[the] Indian tech industry will need a changeover in the way it provides services.”  Initiatives introduced by Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, such as Startup India, and Make in India, Kulkarni says, “look quite encouraging. For years, talented Indian minds have shifted to developed countries. [But now] smart cities and smart healthcare are getting more and more focus in India so there is lot of scope for building solutions for it.”

Kulkarni tells me that despite some negative aspects to working in India (he mentions a lack the exposure to latest trends and technology updates and a poor work-life balance), he “gets to work on a variety of technologies and to solve challenging problems, and to work along with highly talented people all around you.”  And India is not the only country showing promise, as Agrawal says, “Across Asia as a continent, the sense of entrepreneurship is overwhelmingly growing.”

 

Also read:
India begins to plan its move into IoT
Can data change lives in India?

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Kate Hoy

Kate Hoy is Associate Editor at IDG Connect

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