Future of Work 2020: top highlights from India's largest product, tech, design conference

As the third edition of YourStory's Future of Work wraps up, here's a look at some of the insightful talks, panels, workshops, and masterclasses held at India's largest product, tech, and design conference.

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YourStory's flagship event Future of WorkIndia's largest product, tech, and design conference – wrapped up on Saturday after two days of thought-provoking talks, discussions, and workshops where some of the most revered names in the tech and startup ecosystem decoded the next generation of business.


Future of Work

Siddharth Pai, Shradha Sharma, Vatsal Gaur




In its third year now, the event has not only grown in scale but has also emerged as a platform for technology enthusiasts and young professionals to come together to share their ideas on the disruptive trends that will define our future.


More than 2,000 people attended the conference at Taj Yeshwantpur, Bengaluru, with close to 100 speakers, industry leaders, and tech entrepreneurs taking to the stage. 


This year, discussions ranged from restructuring of product, tech, and design teams to the influence of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), deep tech, among others, on tech-first professionals.  

The future is AI

It is no secret that across the ecosystem – from big and small private entities to non-governmental organisations – every stakeholder is now harnessing the power of AI to solve a legion of issues.


The government of India is not to be left behind in this race. To this end, NITI Aayog has been working relentlessly to build the country’s AI capabilities. 


At the second day of Future of Work 2020, NITI Aayog’s Programme Director Arnab Kumar shed light on some of these developments. Addressing a hall full of engineers, techies, and coders, he spoke about the various headways the think tank has made in terms of utilising AI for feasible solutions.


These include building an agricultural stack, solving core problems in healthcare, and endeavouring to attract the best talent in AI to focus on India-specific challenges. 


He said, “Some of the best faculty in AI and ML across the globe are Indians, but not a lot of them are working in India. How do we make sure that we bring them back to India and ask them to start focussing on India-specific problems has been our endeavour." 


Arnab Kumar, Niti Aayog



From building data sets and AI capabilities to tweaking organisational structure and work practices, the conversation gradually shifted to young professionals in tech-driven work environments.


Parvathi Menon, Managing Director at Innovation Alchemy Consulting and also a learning facilitator at Harvard Business Publishing, highlighted the many challenges faced by this demographic – including office politics, restrictive work culture, unclear or changing work roles, and excessive workloads – limiting their productivity and personal growth. 


With technology being increasingly assimilated in the organisations, she suggested that people with intrinsic knowledge of technology will bring in their individual work practices. Organisations in the future, naturally, will have to be more fluid and flexible. 


Besides these, Day 2 of Future of Work also had Anandamoy Roychowdhary, CTO of Sequoia Capital, talk about the chaos theory and embracing the unknown to produce extraordinary results; Haptik’s Swapan Rajdev, who shared his take on the role of product managers in AI; and Pramod Varma, Chief Architect of Aadhaar, who took us on the UIDAI product journey and shared how one can build tech for a billion. 


Pramod Varma


What's next in design? 

Design leads from leading startups of the Indian startup ecosystem came together to discuss the future of design across two panel discussions and eight sessions. 


The first panel, moderated by Meeta Malhotra of The Hard Copy, included Vivekanand Pani of Reverie, Shayak Sen of Meesho and Sumi Gwalani of EpiFi, who discussed how design will be different for India's next billion users. They also threw light on the trends to watch out for in the space in the near future. 


The Hard Copy Founder Meeta Malhotra

The Hard Copy Founder Meeta Malhotra

Next, Jay Dutta, Senior VP of MakeMyTrip, and Founder of DesignUp, spoke about the importance of design in the tech world. At the event, he also discussed a report by DesignUp – Design Deconstruct: Understanding the state of Design-in-Tech, in India and SE Asia – that showcased the past, present and future of design. 


On the other hand, Navneet Nair, Director of Product Design at PhonePe, spoke on how Design Thinking can help bring back the ‘R’ in R&D. 


The second panel Designing for fintech included Chetty Arun, Design Manager at Razorpay, Siddharth, Head of Product and Design at Headout, and Dharmest BA, Design Lead at Setu.


The three spoke about the regulations in the Indian fintech space opening up opportunities for innovation for fintech players, why UPI is flawless, and how language will play a fundamental role in fintech. They, however, added that even as India is going digital, we still have a long way to go when it comes to insurance and investment. 




Powerhouse of learning 

Similar to Day 1, Future of Work's second day also had a series of workshops providing hands-on experience to the audience.


The first one was by Parvathi Menon, MD of Alchemy Consulting, which focussed on soft skills. She taught how to deal with potential barriers pertaining to behavioural skills at the workplace, expounding on skills that can help one navigate the future of workplaces.


Navnath Wadekar, GM of Startup and Digital Channel at Vodafone India, conducted a masterclass on how to scale-up a startup. He spoke about the Flexi-Kit, a unique proposition by the company that helps startups to scale their business. He also covered a range of solutions in Internet of Things (IoT), cloud, mobile analytics, and marketing. 


In Business of Design, Meeta Malhotra shed light on the power of storytelling in the business context. Through interactive discourses, the brand and design expert explained how product managers and designers can better present their designs and new product features to the leadership, and ensure the end product reaches the users.


Shreya Satish, Founder and CEO of Ownpath, and Sameer Bhiwani, VP Design and Customer Experience, Scripbox, conducted masterclass on Managing Design Outcomes –Your Missing Skillsets


Last but not least, Ripul Kumar, Co-founder of Utterwise focussed on User Research and what it is all about.


Like Day 1 of Future of Work, which ended with a stimulating conversation between YourStory's Shradha Sharma and Swiggy Tech Head Dale Vaz, Day 2 also ended on a high.


Shradha wrapped up the two-day-long conference with a fireside chat with Siddarth Pai, Founding Partner and CFO at 3one4 Capital, and Vatsal Gaur, Associate Partner at HSA Advocates. In a free-flowing conversation, the duo discussed pitching, funding, trust, rejection, and other challenges faced by entrepreneurs, especially in the early stages of their journeys.



(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta and Tenzin Pema)




A big shout out to our Future of Work 2020 Sponsors: Alibaba Cloud, Larksuite, Vodafone Idea Limited, Gojek, Adobe, Udaan, Pocket Aces, Junglee Games, Share Chat, Open, Vesta Space Technology, Maharashtra State Innovation Society, Kristal.AI and GetToWork; and our Knowledge Partner: Ascend Harvard Business Review.

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