Women In Tech: Srividya Kannan, Founder, Director – Avaali Solutions Pvt Ltd
As the name suggests, this section is particularly dedicated to women who have contributed significantly in the field of technology. For today we have Srividya Kannan, Founder, Director – Avaali Solutions Pvt Ltd to give us deep insights into her journey.
Knowing that gender biases exist, how difficult is it to be a woman and thrive in your specific field?
I strongly believe that what you focus on grows. Hence if the desired outcome is to succeed and thrive in one’s field, then it does not make sense to focus on difficulties and hurdles. It could be more productive to focus on planning and executing actions that will get one closer to the outcome.
What role do you think technology plays in contemporary times.
Technology has almost become our lifeline. Irrespective of age, everyone has a smartphone these days and almost everything is online. With the pandemic, it is only going to further penetrate deeper into our lives with ‘touchless’ almost becoming a necessity in any engagement. This age of digital everything was anticipated at some point, but it has only been accelerated due to the pandemic. Business and IT which were separate functions seem to have been woven into one. No function can run without automation. Right from education, entertainment, healthcare, electronics, banking, insurance to consumer products, every industry needs to adopt digital technologies to produce better and sell better. With internet almost becoming like electricity, the world is moving towards pervasive connectivity that will further enhance the role of technology to meet stakeholder expectations.
Can we rely on technology solely to be the panacea for all problems? If so, how?
The technology could be used to solve various problems. But it cannot be a panacea. There are several enablers to support technology meeting its objectives and that includes skills and willingness of people to quickly adopt technology as well as thinking afresh to find innovative ways to solve problems. If adoption is slow or people are resistant to change, however good the technology, it is not going to make the change happen. Several parts of India, for example, are not literate. Deploying great technology to communicate with these people may not work. This requires speaking in their local dialect or getting these people to understand how to use smartphones or the applications that one builds for them.
Technology can be a great tool however cannot do much in isolation. Understanding the problem with clarity and finding innovative ways to solve problems requires the human intellect. Technology, when deployed to solve the right problems, could be good enablers.
What are the immediate and long-term milestones for your company like?
Our immediate milestone is help at least 250 customers run their business faster. Our long-term milestones include deeper investments in our Velocious solutions in addition to significantly growing our business across Asia, MEA and US.
Challenges are an inevitable part of the business. Could you highlight on some you had encountered?
As we started Avaali operations, the challenges were many – we’re a bootstrapped organization and it is not easy to juggle the multiple facets of finances, customer acquisitions and talent attraction all the same time. Getting across as a trusted partner to large enterprises was a huge task. These organizations already have various large incumbent vendors and in addition, had no dearth of large and mid-tier vendors who wanted to work with them. Building something from ground-up in such an environment and winning the trust of large enterprises has been one of the toughest things that my team and I have done. I think it is important to stay focused on the goal while also constantly validating the intent in the context of new learnings.
How can we have more women joining the bandwagon?
Getting more women to join the bandwagon should not be just the objective of women, it should be everyone’s objective. Children should be taught the value of financial independence, irrespective of gender. Stereotypes of men being breadwinners and women being caregivers is deeply embedded in several people’s behavior and only gets further reinforced by their own actions. This is a hard problem to solve. It is therefore extremely important that parents are sensitive to the upbringing of their children via their own actions. Education systems should have courses focused on career orientation in women and why this is important for their lives. Students of all genders should be a part of such ongoing curriculum so that they get a diverse perspective. Workplace should encourage strong performance irrespective of gender and all these observations and learnings in turn circles back to people’s behavior at home thereby raising children who respect diversity.