Digitally empowered road to economic resurgence


IoT, Big Data, analytics, Blockchain, AR/ VR and drone technologies will also see growth.

By Prakash Mallya

As the pandemic kept Indians housebound and limited their access to essential services, technology played a crucial role in ensuring seamless continuity. In fact, there was a massive 500% increase in healthcare teleconsultations, a 33% increase in digital payments, and an almost threefold growth in e-commerce. The Unified Payments Interface (UPI) saw a whopping 2.2 billion transactions in November 2020, bringing India to the forefront of digital payment infrastructure innovation. India’s strong digital foundation, focus on digital innovation and its deep and diverse talent pool will prove to be its biggest strengths and the key drivers of its economic resurgence. I foresee four major trends defining India’s growth, development and most importantly, resilience over the next year.

The future on the cloud: From grocery delivery to remote collaboration, the cloud helped India meet the unique challenges of 2020. Over the next year, 56% of Indian organisations are expected to increase demand for cloud software and 75% of CEOs believe that cloud will help transform their business models for a more software defined future. On the enterprise front, we will see XaaS or “Everything as a Service” models move to the forefront while end-consumers will increasingly engage with cloud powered services and products across all walks of life. From the NIC Digital Office solution to the eCourt platform that connects 20,000 courts, we are already seeing increasing government push for cloud adoption. Greater cloudification will also democratise technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to drive better delivery of essential services to remote areas.

Changing workplaces and evolving talent landscape: 2020 proved that with the right technology platforms, people can connect, collaborate and work from anywhere. As a result, 71% of enterprises now have a more positive outlook towards remote working models. This is significant for a country that is home to the highest proportion of digital talent across industries. Freed from the barriers of location, organisations can now work with the best talent to help establish India as a global innovation hub. This has special significance for women as increased acceptance of working from home could help them balance their myriad responsibilities. With three million gig workers, India is the fifth largest flexi staffing market in the world. Fluidised workspaces will boost this emerging economy by allowing enterprises to hire contractual workers with specific skillsets for short term projects.

Digitally empowered and diverse ecosystem: India has always had a diversified economy and the accelerated pace of digital transformation across key sectors will drive recovery over the next year. SaaS companies focusing on innovations for India and the world will see exponential growth. By the third quarter of this year, the start-up sector had already recovered to pre-Covid levels as sectors such as healthcare, education and e-commerce increased their digital consumption. Over the next year we will see a significant increase in the number of start-ups headquartered in India focused on global markets as well as those headquartered elsewhere in the world but building products from India. India’s deep tech market will also expand as one in four companies aims to invest in AI.

IoT, Big Data, analytics, Blockchain, AR/ VR and drone technologies will also see growth. Integration of deep tech across sectors such as agriculture, education, energy, financial services, healthcare and logistics will revolutionise business models and drive faster economic recovery.

Local infrastructure development: As India moves towards achieving its goal of becoming a global superpower, it must continue to focus on infrastructure growth. Bridging the digital divide is top priority as this will expand access to platforms like UPI built to power India’s digital economy. The accelerating pace of cloud adoption, connected devices and launch of 5G networks will create huge volumes of data, necessitating increased investment in world class data centre infrastructure. India will see an explosion in AI applications as it strives to draw usable insights from localised data. 5G will open up a wide spectrum of opportunities for mobile applications across industries, and unprecedented future pathways. In addition to driving grassroots development, adoption of 5G, IoT and AI will lead to greater automation across industries like healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and transportation.

Policy support for a digital ecosystem: Initiatives such as Aadhaar and GST have helped India establish a strong digital foundation and created a wealth of data. At this juncture, the country must focus on developing a comprehensive digital ecosystem that effectively analyses data for better decision making, connects businesses and customers, and automates processes. These trends are significant opportunities for a swift economic recovery.

The writer is VP and MD – Sales, Marketing and Communications Group, Intel India

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