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India’s digital journey – Celebrating 25 years of being online

August 24, 2020

A.S. Lakshminarayanan   

MD & CEO, Tata Communications

It’s been 25 years since Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) launched the public internet in India. In this blog piece, Amur S Lakshminarayanan, MD & CEO, Tata Communications, explores how being online has prompted a massive transformation in the Indian business landscape, in economic performance and the spread of education, healthcare and more.

The internet has become so embedded in our daily lives, it is hard to fully grasp the depths of its influence. Farmers in Maharashtra’s co-operatives are going online to make sure they are getting a fair price for their products; working professionals are eager to upskill and reskill digitally to be in line with the changing paradigm of technology and employment; while a sporting event in an empty stadium in Australia is produced remotely by a crew sitting out of Europe or India. Today, the seamless flow of data and information generates more economic value than ever imagined.

As India joined the world in this exhilarating digital race, socio-economic trends, driving and being driven by the Internet, favoured India too. The launch of business-friendly connectivity for Indian businesses enabled more products to reach the masses at lower prices. Better infrastructure connected the Indian cities with smaller towns, local economies with global trends, creating new jobs for a young India. The internet became the town square for the global village, spurring the Indian economy. Corporate customers maximised relationships with sophisticated software driven customer relationship management system. This, in many ways, paved the way for India rapidly becoming an important provider of technology and IT-enabled services.

But how can we truly measure how far we have come?

A comparative analysis of the Nifty 50 sector composition in 1995 vs present day serves as a good metaphor to view this transformation in the economy. The weight of the stocks from financial services sector has grown from 18.2% in 1995 to 33% today, fuelled by the emergence of online banking, and more recently, mobile services. The largest private sector employer in the country, the IT sector, was not represented at the time of the internet’s inception but today it represents 16% of the index weightage. It was in fact the year 1995-1996 when the Indian IT industry came to the fore. Indian IT firms lifted the Indian industry and the economy into global view, expanding faster than any other industry through the decade.

“From email to web-based services to web enabled services based on big data, cloud services, mobility solutions etc. all these innovations have transformed the nature and value of enterprises across the country.”

And now with industry 4.0, we are in motion for another great leap, strengthening digital transformation and new age technologies with a digital first persona. Virtual agents, autonomous cars, augmented reality mirroring real life experiences, spell the way forward for reimagining businesses.

As we look forward to the next 25 years, internet led services will continue to catalyse sectors at a faster rate, driving innovation, simplifying customer acquisition, and improving the customer experience.

“Increased adoption of smart networks and the integration of advanced technologies such as IoT, AI, cloud and cognitive computing will drive a huge push to the manufacturing, retail and healthcare sectors.”

As technology drives more immersive experiences, the media industry and online gaming will only go from strength to strength, while Aviation will bounce back to ride the skies again, with far higher levels of personalisation than we experience today.

Taking our heritage forward

August 15th, 1995 is a landmark event in our history and serves as a valuable example of the sustained investment and commitment to building the digital foundations of India. This spirit continues and is evident in the way essential services providers have come together through the COVID-19 period.

“We must take time to recognise the silent heroes, the guardians of the internet, who come in the form of on ground workers, risking their lives through the pandemic, ensuring this essential service remains uninterrupted for hospitals, home networks, enterprise networks and for civic governance.”

For Tata Communications, the launch of the public internet in India by VSNL in 1995, is our rich heritage – one that we continue to build on, making the internet fit for business through continuous innovation and transformation.

From 1995 to today, we have come a long way. Whether it is connecting enterprises in India and globally – enabling them to harness the power of the Internet and hybrid networks through our IZO™ platform or delivering seamless collaboration; safeguarding businesses against cyber-attacks; Cloud and IoT solutions to boost efficiencies and human innovation or even bringing live sports and entertainment to people’s homes and devices.

We have been driving innovation and transformation for our customers across the globe. These solutions are all the more relevant in the world we live in today. In line with the changing market and business requirements, we are delivering a Secure Connected Digital Experience to enterprises, as we reimage new ways of working for people and new ways for businesses to engage with their customers & partners to unleash new growth opportunities.

The past 25 years have been an incredible journey. We look forward to continuing to play our part in the next 25 years and beyond.

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