After Facebook’s rebranding announcements, the keyword that we are all listening to is “metaverse” – a virtual space where individuals and communities can lead lives; communicate, trade, and exchange information and skills. This world is possible only through virtual and augmented reality. To understand this movement from tangible reality to augmented, we held a conversation with Mr. Atif Iqbal, the Chief People Officer at Salsoft Technologies, one of the leading IT companies of Pakistan.
Atif Iqbal is a thorough tech-enthusiast and an advocate of modern, relevant, and efficient solutions for challenges pertaining to People, Processes, and Products for all industries. He is the co-founder of Parhao Sabaq, an initiative that supports his passion to bridge the gap between academia and industries, and encourages entrepreneurship, leadership, and work readiness. For the last 12 years, he has been actively working in the realms of Human Resource Management and Training & Development and has worked with Junior Achievement Worldwide which is a prominent international organization with operations in over 100 countries across the globe. He also has experience working with leading organizations such as HSBC Bank, J.P. Morgan, ACCA, and Gulf Oil, among others.
In Conversation with Mr. Atif Iqbal, Chief People Officer, Salsoft Technologies
Q1: Why is Augmented Reality such a buzzword these days?
AR has been tremendous growth in the last 3 years globally. Especially because of the pandemic hit, the commercial use of technology has exploded since 2020. According to research, the global AR market was estimated at USD 17.67 billion in 2020 and it is expected to grow at an annual growth rate of about 44% to reach USD 340.16 billion by 2028. That is why, it is a huge deal. That is the reason it is such a keyword in today’s tech space.
Q2: How is Pakistan competing with the global AR market?
Pakistan has a long way to go; with the population being trained with conventional formal learning methods, we are at a disadvantage when it comes to critical thinking and going beyond what is already there. Having said that, we are breaking barriers and moving forward. There are many immensely talented tech teams in various organizations working in the local IT space who are doing extraordinary work.
Salsoft, too, is intentionally putting an effort to prepare our talent for the future. Our AR and VR production teams are encouraged to dedicate time to solving critical tech problems beside their production duties. Salsoft Technologies has been an advocate of modern and relevant tech skills for the youth.
Q3: Can you explain AR in layman’s terms for your local non-tech audience?
Yes, I would be happy to.
Imagine, you are going through a street in France, wearing a pair of ordinary-looking glasses; and the glasses are translating all the signboards into your native language at your glance. That is AR at its best.
Q4: What kind of talent do you think IT firms need to produce quality AR tools and products?
Interestingly, IT firms are opening up roles for a variety of professionals considering we are aiming to prepare diverse tools and products for all the different industries and businesses. There is something for everyone – doctors, pilots, engineers, retail enthusiasts, you name it.
From IT skills perspective, we are encouraging to take up individuals who have a spark of learning and which they can show through their personal and professional journeys. Now is not the time for teams with myopic approaches and restricted thinking.
Q5: What future do you see for AR?
Tech giants are aiming to prepare simplified AR tools that will be used by non-tech people without having to know too much about the tech lingo and knowledge. So the products are becoming more complicated from the developers’ point-of-view and more convenient for the end users’ point-of-view. That is what a common vision the tech industry has.
Every crucial part of our lives is going digital – our jobs, our friends, our entertainment, our identities, our assets – everything. The shift from physical world to digital world over the past two decades is making the virtual life more important for everyone – the metaverse concept. This is the future we are moving towards.
Q6: What businesses and industries do you foresee AR serving?
Augmentation already is being used across all industries globally; from health to retail to automotive to gaming to engineering to military. It is a key tool that is helping businesses. The local AR market needs to do a desperate ‘catch up’ with the international trends. I can say it for Salsoft with surety and confidence that Salsoft holds this mission to the top priority to prepare a cadre of AR talent that could serve businesses within the local and subcontinent space.