Based in Japan, with 123 years of experience developing world-class technologies and developing the capabilities to implement them, NEC has been working as a silent crusader in India for over 7 decades, significantly shaping its journey of digital transformation.
As India’s oldest technology partner, NEC has many remarkable firsts to its credit in the country. The global giant was the first to implement a 2Ghz microwave communication system at the National Physical Laboratory in 1956, the first to implement an analog switch for the Department of Telecommunications in 1964, the first to implement places a satellite earth station for VSNL and ONGC and the first to introduce the fax system in the country, to name a few. More recently, he was also involved in the implementation of the Aadhaar biometric system, which was the most complex and widespread multi-modal biometric system on the planet.
In a gripping conversation on a special, “NEC – Powering Billion Dreams”, in association with News18, Aalok Kumar, President and CEO, NEC Corporation India shares the company’s broader vision, its plans for the India and how it is fueling the country’s digital transformation.
“We are proud of the renowned megaprojects we have executed in India over the past 7 decades,” says Aalok Kumar. “Now we’re moving away from being enterprise-only and involved only in monolithic architecture, to connecting people and building technology that could be in anyone’s pocket.”
Considering itself a partner of its customers, in the public and private sector, the company supports projects from start to finish, from design and execution to maintenance. “Our core value proposition, unlike many of our peers, is not just to provide products and solutions, but technology infrastructure, implementation capabilities and maintenance capabilities,” says Aalok Kumar. “NEC’s major projects have focused on three areas: building infrastructure and structural digital foundations, then deploying technologies to improve last-mile productivity and connectivity, and finally, building technologies to leverage data, like AI and ML, a space in which India is fertile with opportunity.”
Under these three pillars, the company has undertaken smart city projects in hubs like Gurugram, Trivandrum, Saharanpur, Meerut, Hubli and Pune to name a few. In the transport sector, it automated bus rapid transit systems in Ahmedabad and Hubli. He recently completed a project for Airport Authority of India, which enabled completely contactless boarding, using facial recognition instead of boarding passes. At the logistics level, each container entering and leaving the country is tracked on an NEC platform, allowing 100% visibility and providing a leading indicator for the economy. In terms of communications, it connected India with neighboring countries and its vast union territories of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, by submarine cable.
But the company’s interest in India goes beyond that. “When I look at the opportunity India’s talent presents, it’s huge. I am on a mission not just to position ‘India for India’ but ‘India for the world’,” he shared. “We have a huge 5G lab in Chennai, the only one of its kind in the world, where we perform interoperability tests, even for our European customers. The first 5G O-RAN implementation for a private player in Japan was carried out in India and we are undertaking several projects in the Middle East, Europe, etc. outside of India. For us, India is an opportunity and Indian talent has potential that we can take abroad. is why Japan and NEC, Japan are so focused on India and I’m so glad our time has come.
To capitalize on this opportunity, NEC has established a Global Center of Excellence (CoE) for building AI platforms in India that will serve projects across the globe. It is also creating a CoE for the transportation industry globally and to expand its track and trace logistics technology to other overseas markets, it is setting up a CoE. As the largest and most advanced facial recognition biometric company in the world, NEC is creating a CoE in India which can add its facial recognition engine as a layer on multiple applications in different industries.
“Essentially, we aim to create industry-neutral technology. Wherever there is scale and multiple stakeholders, our technology can become a bridge to bring it all together and this is the power India needs today,” says Aalok Kumar.
“NEC sees India as a chosen investment destination as there are very few countries on the planet that are so fertile with the opportunity to make a difference. These opportunities to make a difference to society go hand in hand with what NEC has been doing for 123 years – improving people’s lives and solving complex societal problems. We are proud of our trip to India so far and are deeply rooted in the Indian ecosystem. We are also confident about the long track ahead of us,” he concludes.
This is a joint publication.