Editor’s note: This is a sponsored post contributed by the USA India Business Summit and Georgia Tech CIBER.

“Hyper-digitalization” accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic will frame the ambitious agenda of the 11th USA India Business Summit and 26th Georgia Tech Global Business Forum focusing on the Southeast’s advanced technology sector.

Being held virtually for the first time Oct. 26-27, the event will feature more than 35 speakers addressing topics that highlight the rapidly transforming U.S.-India business climate as well as global manufacturing trends. 

John McIntyre

Of special interest this year will be the impact of COVID-19 on speeding up global businesses’ and manufacturers’ adoption of digital processes amid the pandemic, according to one of the event’s organizers, John McIntyre, founding director of the Georgia Tech Center for International Business Education and Research, or Georgia Tech CIBER. He added that there will also be greater emphasis on cybersecurity at this year’s event.

Digitalization and the pandemic are now “co-acting” to impact how companies communicate and how they run operations overseas, he said. Digital technologies that haven’t been fully embedded in normal business processes – like virtual conferencing — are now at the forefront of global commerce. 

While the pandemic has halted much international travel, it has accelerated virtual trends and improved those technologies, even leading to the creation of new corporate sectors to respond to the needs of the digitized world.

In this milieu, the conference will look at changes in manufacturing that are compelling those industries to come to the Southeast United States. 

Manufacturing jobs in general are reshoring to the U.S., he added, but they look vastly different from recent decades.

“On the one hand, we want jobs to come back with reshoring, but they will likely be reduced in number because of the advancements in ‘factory of the future’ manufacturing. The jobs that come back will be high-quality jobs incorporating advanced technology,” Dr. McIntyre asserted.

India’s Emergence

Nearshoring, in which international corporations locate operations offshore but in locations closer to company headquarters, is also shifting, said Ani Agnihotri, program chairman of the USA India Business Summit. 

Even within Asia, supply chains are being rethought. Especially in light of U.S.-China trade tensions and the border clash and ensuing tech battles between India and China, multinationals are moving operations from China to Southeast Asia and India, Mr. Agnihotri noted. 

Ani Agnihotri

India is emerging as an integral part of the U.S.’s China strategy as one of the few countries to which companies are looking to “de-risk their China basket,” Mr. Agnihotri said. 

Though multinational manufacturing has been shifting to places like Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, India is the only country with the potential to operate on as massive a scale as China, he asserted. 

It’s not as if U.S. firms are strangers to India, and manufacturers could follow the well-worn path technology companies have already taken.

Apple Inc.’s online store recently launched in India, and some 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies already have “some sort of technology piece” in India, with American software giants Cisco Systems Inc., Oracle Corp., IBM Corp., Intel Corp. and the “big four” consulting firms (Deloitte Ltd., Ernst & Young Global Ltd., KPMG International Cooperative and PricewaterhouseCoopers) having strong relationships in the country.

The Southeast U.S. has been increasingly attracting opportunities flowing from these global changes. Atlanta is developing a burgeoning cluster of foreign investment in advanced technologies, from automotive to fintech to biotech, and has distinct logistical advantages as a port of entry to the region, as well as to the U.S. and North America.

“Expect more and more visibility to accrue to Atlanta,” Dr. McIntyre said. “As the world reorganizes itself and new competitors emerge, Atlanta is well-positioned to grab a significant share of activity.”

Speaker Highlights and Conference Themes

The companies featured in the conference are representative of technology cluster investment in the Southeast and in India, hailing from France, Germany, Israel and other countries in addition to the U.S.

Glen Raven Inc., for example, whose CEO will be speaking at the conference, is a North Carolina-based textile company that has survived a major crisis in the textile industry by shifting its business strategy to include India.

“When you think of India, you must think of ‘gray matter,’” Mr. Agnihotri said. “Indian intellectual capital is significantly impacting the U.S. economy beyond just imports and exports.” 

But the event also focuses on technology more broadly, reflecting the organizers’ longstanding partnership.

Mr. Agnihotri and Dr. McIntyre have been hosting the joint event for the past decade, and the Georgia Tech Global Business Forum has an even longer history, beginning in the 1990s. The forum has shifted away from highlighting different countries each year in favor of pinpointing the technology sector, which made for a natural fit with the India business summit, Dr. McIntyre said.

Networking via the virtual event will be different this year, Mr. Agnihotri acknowledged, but he said that an advantage is the “scalability of going anywhere in the world to invite speakers,” which was not possible in previous conferences.

It also comes at a particularly global crisis, and speakers will be encouraged to share views on adapting to COVID-19. 

“We hope the conference will enhance our ability to rethink all paradigms on how to leverage business opportunities – quite an ambitious goal.”

The organizers encourage attendees to register now at http://www.usaindiabusinesssummit.com/registration.php.

For more information about sponsorships and participation, contact Dr. Agnihotri at ani@usaindiabusinesssummit.com or (404) 394-6678.