Aman Johar on the newest technological opportunities

Aman Johar is an engineer, passionate for technology and innovation mixed with business and the digital ecosystem.

With a degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, BHU, and having completed an MBA from the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon, his professional career has focused on creating technology resources for rapidly adapting business and consumer environments.

His areas of interest include connected devices, FinTech, decentralized technologies, applications and media and entertainment.

During the pandemic, the predictions for emerging businesses are more difficult to calculate. In your opinion, what are the trends in the technological sector right now?

The pandemic certainly created unprecedented challenges and an uncertain environment for businesses. The consumer sentiment had dropped and the services sector was disproportionately hit – sports, entertainment, cruise ships, music concerts all ground to a halt. On the enterprise side, most companies embraced technology and with remote working tools to create a highly efficient and productive environment for their workforce. As we enter year two of the pandemic, the biggest trend playing out is connectivity

One, connectivity infrastructure and solutions are ripe for huge investments with an emphasis on 5G technology to increase network capacity and low latency for real time applications. Second, increased connectivity and network availability translates directly to edge and cloud computing solutions, for example, in telemedicine, or industrial, agricultural and climate sensing, autonomous vehicles etc. The use cases are endless. Third, connectivity in the context of financial markets is ushering in a big shift by embracing cryptocurrencies for payments and settlements, that enable customers, merchants and businesses to move digital assets and value, instantaneously, and at lower costs. Finally, the pandemic has exposed global supply chains as inadequate and has created an appetite for onshoring manufacturing, a demand that will in part be fulfilled by additive manufacturing techniques. 

Do you believe that European technology is better than the American?

Innovation knows no boundaries and technology that solves unique problems rapidly permeates globally.  We have observed startups on both sides of the Atlantic and I think that there is a big need to cross-pollinate the American and European tech ecosystems. We have been impressed by the quality of ideas coming from Barcelona and Europe. We have made investments and are working with a select group of companies to establish them in the US. The cultures are obviously different. While European companies prioritize revenue, venture backed startups in the US go for growth and scale  – so the go to market strategies are completely different. The EU may be a single market, but language and cultural diversity make it a fragmented market. US companies need to understand the route to market in the EU. Along with Inlea, we also support American companies to expand their markets by establishing a local presence in each of the major markets here. For companies seeking to expand to the EU, we provide a blueprint to adapt their products and processes for local markets, and help create new distribution and collaboration partnerships. 

International companies arriving in the United States are often faced with unpredictable challenges. In your opinion, what do companies need to successfully start in the American market?

The short answer is an ecosystem and partnerships. For a foreign company to set up shop in the US, it is essential to show traction in the US market, which is very sophisticated. That often means a completely different mindset for the founders and a good understanding of the local market, marco-economic indicators, corporate governance, investor outreach, and a long list of corporate governance, tax and regulatory compliance, immigration issues etc. However, the irony is that these are not unpredictable challenges. US laws and corporate governance principles are largely predictable. What is perhaps not well understood is that the solutions are very much dependent on the stage of business you are in. The right corporate structure for a startup will look very different than that of a subsidiary of a successful company launching in the US. Secondly, it pays to have a depth of talent that is familiar with the US market. To incentivize and retain such talent is obviously more expensive in the US than elsewhere, so companies need to plan for that. These are all issues that should be well thought through before making a strategic decision to set up operations in the US. If these are well understood, finding the right set of partners and professionals to jumpstart the ecosystem is much easier than people sometimes think. 

How are the blockchain and cryptocurrency sectors evolving in the current situation? 

Decentralized technology is here to stay. The mood is as upbeat as ever and there are daily new innovations that hit the market with new protocols, new DeFi applications, NFTs, etc etc. The developer climate has never been as robust. Coinbase has over 55 Million users, which is larger than any other banking institution in the US. From the enterprise side, Jamie Dimon from JP Morgan, just called for a robust regulatory environment for crypto. There is a huge concerted push towards the ‘digital dollar’, which is basically a nod to real time payments and settlements with digital assets. VCs are pouring money into startups and The lists here are endless. BIS has long toyed with this idea, but it almost feels inevitable now. On the Bitcoin side of things, we are starting to see Lightning Network make some early gains towards a true decentralized P2P payments network as well. I think this wave feels different than the previous one and though there is a lot of scepticism still out there, the wheels have been set in motion and this sector will be a powerhouse of innovation, new ideas and applications. As I have noted previously, for companies to be successful in this market, they will have to straddle the technology, business models and regulatory landscape, sometimes delicately.