I vividly remember every day of my trip to the Silicon Valley in 2012 as a part of the second edition of the International Advertising Association (IAA) CEO Tech Tour. The idea of organising the CEO Tech Tour took shape when Pradeep Guha was the President of IAA India Chapter.
Since I had missed the first tour, I decided to never miss one again. The best decision I've ever taken. Spending a day each with the who's who of the tech world from Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter was a high we craved for.
This year, Neeraj Roy the President of IAA - India Chapter, proposed Israel as the destination for this tour. After the experience at the Valley, I wasn't sure what more could be expected and what would Israel have to offer. However, the delegation having a comfortable mix of senior members representing print, television, outdoor and digital was in for a very pleasant surprise. The experience was as good as being in the Valley.
We had almost 25 + interactive meetings and one mega India-Israel Tech summit. The line -up of interactive meetings was had big data, retail tech, digital creation, interactive publishing platforms, personalised self service (customer engagement solutions), interactive wearable technology - a step further than the google glass, something which is already deployed in the commercial space.
If you thought that was enough, one also had, consumer behavioural biometrics, immersive digital story telling, autonomous driving technology, notification enrichment platform and then the bigger one's Google and Intel (VR & AR were a part of an Intel presentation). All of these topics were covered in a span of four days.
The evening sessions were completely different from the days proceedings. There was an exchange of views, ideas and an interaction with highly recognised leaders of field of technology in Israel.
An interaction with Yossi Vardi was one such instance. For all of us who remember ICQ as the first chat messenger, it was his creation. His start ups have mostly been acquired by the likes of Microsoft, Cisco, Yahoo! amongst others. A 90-minute session with him was enough to understand how the start-up culture in Israel took off, the life cycle of a start up, the current global scenario in the start- up space and its future. He spoke extensively about how the efforts of the Government and society at large has helped Isarel become start up nation. It was culture that they embraced and worked towards achieving. For them there is nothing like a local market, he said. They think international while designing any innovation or product.
The second evening we had Shmuel Eden (Mooly) a former top executive at Intel as the key attraction. Understanding the DNA of Israel Tech world from him was a wonderful experience.
Then there was Michael Oren, the Dy Minister in the Prime Minsters office of Israel, who spent the evening over dinner with the delegation. Among other things he shared with the group included his expierence with PM Modi. When quizzed why PM Modi was often referred to in Israel as a rock star he replied that the way Modi carried himself, the warmth he exhuded, the camaraderie he effortlessly established all pointed out to great possibilities for the two countries to have a mutually beneficial relationship in many areas ranging from agriculture industries to surveillance systems and defended based industries.
One of the highlights of the tour was the Israel - India Tech Summit organised by our chapter to facilitate interaction between the members of delegation and over 300 start-ups from Israel spread across various sectors . Since, the rest of our interaction was all about our industry, this was in its own way a platform for us to interact and understand innovations in other areas like Fin Tech, Agri Tech and other sectors.
The key take away is simply about the diversity in tech and innovation that a country like Israel has to offer. Given the size of their companies, it's easier to work and relate to with them as our scale of operation is almost at par or feels like that. One is able to speak with the decision makers directly (and not get caught in the hierarchy issues that one could face with bigger US corporations). Also, these innovations are rolled out simultaneously across the world. The same may not be the case with the West, where there is a time lag in most cases.
While we did enjoy the interactions and meetings, there was also the fun element attached to the trip. The city of Jerusalem has a lot of history to offer so it was a rich and stimulating overall experience. The Dead Sea was also one of those unique experiences for the delegation.
Neeraj Roy and Abhishek Karnani compliments to you! I believe by the end of the trip we already had a few of us taking the business level engagement to the next level. In fact over half a dozen members of the delegation initiated dialogues that could lead to fruitful business endeavours and that in itself validated the success of the Tour.
(Janak Sarda is the JMD, Deshdoot Group)