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Digital transformation in India: unleashing a mega economy

April 9, 2018

Vinod Kumar   

Managing Director and Group CEO Tata Communications

Explaining the economic growth of India over the past decade cannot be simplified down to the sheer weight of population alone. There are economic, political, societal and cultural headwinds, visible and invisible hands which have shaped its growth experience.

With that said, unleashing the potential of any billion-person economy throws up a common denominator: technology.

Poised for growth

India is one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the world. In 2017, Indian technology startups raised over $10bn – comfortably an annual record. Perhaps more notably, however, is the focus on products rather than India’s traditional technology money maker – outsourcing.

Reports that outsourcing is on its last legs may be exaggerated, but it is fair to say that the outsourcing market which was described as a symbol of the “New India” in 2010 faces decline. A product of globalisation, outsourcing is severely threatened by the rise of Western protectionism and, ironically, technological progress with the onset of automation slowing employment in more low-skilled sectors.

With that said, the IT outsourcing industry is still worth over $150 billion, employs hundreds of thousands within the country, and could be the platform for its next tech boom. Looking more broadly at India’s technology heritage makes for more encouraging reading.

Over 10 million people are employed by India’s booming technology industry – around 40% of which is concentrated in Bangalore around giants such as Infosys, Wipro and Texas Instruments. However, on the path to realising its position as the world’s second-largest economy by 2050, India will look further than its booming tech startup scene and decades of technology heritage and expertise.

Investing in skills and infrastructure

India’s digital infrastructure is coming to life, through a combination of policy-making and technological innovation. Its technology industry is valued at around USD 150 billion, while the Digital India plan is predicted to boost GDP by up to USD 1 trillion by 2025.

Digital India aims to transform the entire ecosystem of public services through the use of technology. Along with India’s ambitious Smart Cities Plan, it is an example of how the national campaign for technological progress is backed by the central government as well as led by private enterprises.

As well as infrastructure, India is investing in skills. Through Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship’s (MSDE) flagship scheme, India hopes to develop a 500 million strong workforce with industry-relevant skills by 2020.

These tech-focused investments all contribute towards supporting rapid economic growth – with GDP rising by 7.2% in 2018 and a predicted 7.4% in 2019 – thanks to initiatives such as Make in India, which have brought about a boom in Indian manufacturing.

Digital transformation in India

It is fair to say that India, as a nation, like many global businesses is undergoing a digital transformation.

It is not only embracing it but accelerating digital disruption at break-neck-speed to ensure its full potential for economic and social inclusion is realised with initiatives such as Digital India, PMKVY and Make in India.

However, the societal challenges created by digital disruption, challenges both expected and unintended, are real. And ones that will be addressed only with a combination of administrative humility and entrepreneurial determination.

Against this backdrop, we’re proud to have joined forces with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to announce the CII Tata Communications Centre for Digital Transformation to accelerate digital change for the nation.

Through this initiative, we will spark connections within the industry to spur adoption of mobile, cloud, Internet of Everything and champion the cultivation of new digital talent that will propel the next phase of growth and transformation.

The reality is that India is moving into the future at an unprecedented rate. And the path it is taking to get there is digital.

 

Read more about India’s plans for digital transformation here.