The entire country is realizing the power of information technology as the government has finally started implementing on its vision of transforming India into a digital economy. The corporate sector has high hopes and is all set to take the lead in collaborating, equipping, and enabling the government to empower its people. Now, as the time has come, with words being put into action we take a look at how the process of digitization is unfolding and what can be expected from this audacious dream of countrywide IT transformation.
The story of Digital India traces its beginnings way back to 1976, when the government heralded IT in the country with the establishment of the National Informatics Center. The idea behind the initiation was the objective of integrating technology to enable ministries and departments to operate on a unified platform. The result was India’s first digital communication network, the NICNET. Technology since then has taken leaps and bounds, with its gigantic strides quite literally changing the face of the planet. Initiatives integrating technology with operations like e-governance have been in action since the 90s when the government first took a step towards Digitization of its public services.
“In this digital age, we have an opportunity to transform lives of people that was hard to imagine just a couple of decades ago.” –
Now, with the new leadership expressing its earnest views towards achieving a ‘Digitalized India’, initiatives and modernization plans are being put to action with fire like never before. The BJP government has been churning out campaigns and digitization plans in collaboration with a number of domestic and foreign IT players. It plans laying down massive optical fiber networks, not just covering the urban households but connecting villages as well. Initiatives like ‘Smart Cities’ and ‘Digitize India Platform’ are aimed at upgrading Tier 2, 3 and 4 cities, giving them the power of ICT in day to day life as well as transforming public services and administration.
“Digital India’s true impact is realized when the capabilities lead into specific outcomes such as healthcare, education, financial inclusion, smarter cities. These areas are all transformative in their own right and the possibilities are endless.”
IBM India / South Asia
There is no doubt that digitization will come as a boon for the country. Digitization will inevitably fuel the economy and propel growth across sectors. Enterprises have been realizing the benefits of transforming their businesses from book and paper management towards innovative tools and solutions that maximize efficiency, increasing profits and give a competitive edge. The government stated its vision of building digital depositories, digital highways, IT powered public services, WiFi and mobile access to all. It has been encouraging the private sector to share its zeal and partner towards a better tomorrow for the nation.
“India is in an exciting growth phase with the Govt.’s onus on utilizing technology for overall development through the Digital India and Smart Cities. These programs are the foundations of the current thrust to drive India towards decades of superior growth that its population needs.” –
Orange Business Services India
“India today is poised to become the fastest growing information technology market for the second straight year, and the country’s spending on IT is expected to rise 7.2% to $72.3 billion in 2016.” –
(Channel, IT Solution) & Marketing
Emerson Network Power India
“Not just enterprises, even public sector is becoming increasingly receptive to modern technologies which is further fueled by Government of India’s vision of building Digital India where technology is the pivot.” –
With that being said, IT might have been a part of India’s developments since more than three decades; digitization of India has only just started to germinate. Visions, missions and collaborations have been announced and initiations have started taking place. The government’s core objectives for Digital India – rural internet access, mobile for all, college and public wireless – seek to empower the common man giving unto him the power of information. With digitization in place, sectors like healthcare, education, BFSI and public services will see transformations with IT revolutionizing business models. Corporate markets would spur with technologies for surveillance and security, emergency services, transport management, disaster management etc. The digital fuel will fire employment in the country, resulting in an increase in the already burgeoning number of internet-based startups as well as massive public-private projects. Economically, the India will witness foreign collaboration and in turn substantial inflow of cash.
“Digital India is already leading to incubation of newer and innovative technologies being developed by companies big and small, which is creating new businesses, bringing about social change and making us a more healthy happy society.” –
VP – Information Management
Kodak Alaris India
In light of the transformation and gradual shift towards IT services, both the public and private sectors are looking towards exciting times of advancement. Digitization brings scalability and with it the ability to consolidate infrastructure and improve performance leading to more efficient business models.
“Today, Indian businesses are becoming more agile, and technologies such as social media, mobility, analytics and cloud computing are coming together to unleash unlimited opportunities for organizations across.” –
Vivekananda Venugopal Rao
VP and GM
Hitachi Data Systems
The corporate sector has been licking its lips, closely observing the developments and looking for opportunities to collaborate and progress. The private sector, as exclaimed by PM Modi in his speeches on Digital India, has a huge role to play in the government achieving its goals. Not just a market for IT deployment, corporate India influences modernization of services, creates jobs, executes govt. initiatives. Thus, acting as a catalyst for countrywide IT advancement, the corporate sector will be at the forefront of the digital revolution, transforming itself with time, adopting and implementing new technologies. Let’s take a closer look at how the Indian enterprises have received the mission of digitization, the changes being witnessed, their expectations, projections and plans for the future.
Adoption of Technologies
With a new wave of technologies coming in, enterprises have been gradually shifting towards adoption of SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud) services through business innovations. SMAC technologies have gathered momentum and enterprises of the day have been employing such technologies in their models. The recent changes in technology have prominently been related to mobility, abundance of information about client behaviors, development of Cloud Computing and the explosion of social networks both nationally and internationally. Orange Technologies’ Bala Mahadevan commented, “Enterprises today have been leveraging various innovations under SMAC to improve different aspects of the business, ranging from precision marketing with social platforms and customer analytics, seamless connectivity and scalability through cloud adoption for tasks like CRM and reducing capital expenditure.”
According to Ankesh Kumar, Director, Product Management and Marketing, Emerson India, “SMAC will come to have a huge impact on how datacenters will come to function. Social, mobile, cloud and analytics are at the forefront of driving the need for innovation in the datacenter. The increasingly global and mobile nature of business is also increasing the dependency on cloud-based services.” Sectors like Banking and Insurance industry, e-Commerce and Telecom players have been leveraging SMAC very effectively. Vivek Naidu of Kodak Alaris said, “Large Banks have started providing instant updates to their customers through multiple channels, including SMAC, to enhance user experience. The Indian Railways also uses SMAC for enhancing convenience of passengers both for services as well as for safety.” In manufacturing, Analytics is crucial. According to Prashant Pradhan of IBM Watson, “Many consumer facing industries have run successful digital initiatives using SMAC aspects and reached a good level of maturity.”
Apart from enterprises, SMAC has been empowering consumers as well. This is exemplified by that fact that smartphones are transforming the retail experience enabling mobile shopping and services. It is estimated that in the next few years, over half of smartphone users will check prices online when in the store. “This shows that Digitization has dissolved boundaries and empowered Indian users and not only corporate in adapting and adopting new technology with seamless ease,” added Naidu.
Shrikant Shitole, Managing Director, India, Symantec, said, “Waves of digital transformation have impacted businesses and governments alike. Technology such as cloud, mobility, and analytics have enabled businesses to understand the customer needs better. Not just enterprises, even public sector is becoming increasingly receptive to modern technologies which is further fueled by Government of India’s vision of building Digital India where technology is the pivot. Such high degree of digital transformation is making systems more complex, interconnected, while computing a lot more information. As per Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report Vol. 20, India ranks high both as a source and destination of cyberattacks. Insurgence of cloud, mobility and Internet of Things enabled devices makes information security a prerequisite for businesses where security needs to be considered as an integral part of the plan rather than an afterthought.”
He added, “Symantec is moving beyond traditional software to help customers protect against a wider range of threats. At Symantec, we believe it’s time to go on the offensive, leveraging the next generation of both threat and information protection technologies to fight increasingly sophisticated adversaries. With our scale and our assets, Symantec has a chance to change the game for cybersecurity, with our Unified Security Strategy. With data being our crown jewels, we see and analyze and therefore know more about the threat landscape than anyone else in the industry”.
Scope and Opportunity for Businesses
Technological innovations have brought along a disruption in enterprise operations. Organizations have been making shifts towards new IT services and have been witnessing major gains. Also, with nationwide digitization, the government has been encouraging technological adoption at all levels.
Counting on technological integration, Naidu said that the government wants to implement a G2C model for delivering services. G2C services will have numerous opportunities for the private sector to collaborate and enable the government in delivering digitized services. Keeping plans for universal web access in place, G2C services; few years down the lane would be hugely dependent on private imaging product vendors for enabling convergence of mobile scanning of records and integrating from remote locations into centralized repositories. Government’s stand on utilizing technology for overall development through the Digital India and Smart Cities initiatives has sent ripples of excitement across sectors. According to Bala Mahadevan, these two programs are the foundations of the current thrust to drive India towards technological prowess. Private players are expected to have limitless opportunities huge part catering to government projects for emergency response systems, disaster recovery systems, and security and surveillance systems, city-wide security, public surveillance systems in airports, malls or large campuses, and vehicle tracking systems.
Digitization is centered on providing a digital infrastructure as a utility to every citizen, governance and services on demand, and digital empowerment of citizens, this is bound to increase IT spending. With enhanced reach, electronic delivery of services will enable industries such as banking, retail, and telecom to offer services to a much larger user base, which in turn will again increase IT spending. “The interest in organizations on leveraging the possibilities created by deployment of SMAC technologies will continue to drive the demand for smarter and leaner datacenters in the enterprise,” says Kumar from Emerson India.
IOT and analytics are expected to take prominence. As per Rao, “We are building on our IoT and data analytics market momentum in 2016, with an aggressive rollout of new solutions and services planned. We see a lot of opportunity in the government’s Digital India and Smart Cities campaign, not just as a technology provider but more as a Social Innovation specialist.” Apart from being an initiative for technological advancement, Digital India also moots for a social transformation. It intends to inspire and empower the population towards collective modernization and growth of years ahead. Growth in IT spending is just one of the ripple-down effects of the digital initiatives. It would enhance productivity in the economy, savings in fuel, logistics becoming far more efficient, added Naidu. Digitization is already leading to incubation of newer and innovative technologies, which revolve around creating new businesses, bringing about social change and making a progressive and connected society.
Transforming Businesses and Industries
According to Venugopal Rao of Hitachi Data Systems, “Indian enterprises will focus on creating integrated data centers for optimizing existing IT assets and delivering non-stop IT services to business. This will drive greater emphasis on public cloud and software defined networking, and will drive demand for smarter and more secure storage infrastructure and data management systems.” With digitization comes automation. Naidu says, “Robotics and automation play a vital role in the consolidation of paper documents which is an important Government asset. Today, India boasts some of the most sophisticated robotic-arm based document record rooms. Protecting information assets by creating a paperless digital depositor is one of the core objectives of Modi Government as we realize the importance of securing information assets.” With the arrival of robotics on the scene, storage and retrieval systems are set for make headways across country resulting in the inception of a new industry, thus creating employment and revenue.
India already has a budding automation industry, having developed some of the most ground-breaking solutions in automation for converging information assets with business processes. Service providers and e-commerce players commonly use of global Shared Service Centers for extensive paperwork jobs like creating thousands of vendor invoices or insurance claims with minimal use of manpower, and high levels of accuracy. Kumar adds that, “Analytics/big data and Internet of Things technologies are likely to be in focus this year. Improving business environment as well as the digital India movement will positively see IT spends increase, thereby increasing the breadth of digital initiatives and the overhaul of applications and infrastructure to support those initiatives.”
With that being said, Industrial automation is definitely is especially on the rise and will continue to grow thanks to support initiatives such as Make in India. Domestic IT firms have commenced manufacturing industrial robots locally. “Deployment of robotics and automation in government operations and industries will help Indian businesses attain shorter RoI cycles and thus will drive short to medium term growth,” added Pradhan.
Expectations from the Government
The corporate world has welcomed the various initiatives like Make in India, Smart Cities, and digitization of documents (DIP) as these have expanded the scope for G2C services. States have been deploying products to digitize land records dating back to the 19th century. Crime records have been digitized and agencies have been using digitization technology to control crime by tracking, surveillance and networking crime information. Such tasks are being undertaken in all states with an all round push from the government towards a seamless and structured administration, Naidu said.
The initiative Digital India was launched with an aim to connect Indians globally. It is vital that a large population, perhaps the majority of it, is exposed to such digital platforms. This will not only fasten processes but also make these processes transparent and holds those in power accountable. Mahadevan says, “With such an expansive roll out plan, delay is an inevitable outcome as the projects encompass a number of partners, stakeholders and government departments. The government needs to buck up on the release of funds while also improving efficiency in its execution strategies.” There is a dire need of skilled IT professionals to tend to the growing sector. Policies should make Indian jobs and salaries more attractive than foreign companies. There is also a need for the government to observe and realize challenges in fields like healthcare and education and collaborate more to rapidly improve the state of these sectors in the country. Kumar further added, “We expect the government to provide clear guidelines on how they plan to ease investments and make them hassle free in rural India. This will help in creating jobs in tier-II and tier-III cities.”
Startups as Enablers
Young and driven, startups have been identified as a crucial driver for digitization by the government. There have been a number of solutions from startups which have been enabling the government to enforce the digital infrastructure. Big IT players across the country too have been majorly collaborating with startups using their technologies to provide cleaner solutions.
Additionally, e-commerce startups have stated that the Digital India campaign has been the main driving force for setting up businesses online. The government too has given startups due support, encouraging growth with favorable policies. Mahadevan added, “Presently, India has an estimated over 4,200 start-ups and is consequently the third largest start-up base in the world with more than 1,200 start-ups being created annually. The spread of digital technologies and advances in energy and genomics have been projected to increase the productivity of businesses, agriculture redefining sectors like education and health care for millions.” Growth of partner ecosystems across industries and disciplines is also a driving factor for startups as well as for collective sector growth. He further said, “As per NASSCOM, the country will serve as home to more than 11,500 tech/digital start-ups by the end of 2020 if the present growth trend continues.”
Areas of Growth 2016
As per Naidu, “the year will witness acceleration in internet penetration in India.” Expansion of digital highways will drive sectors like e-Commerce, entertainment and logistics. G2C services will be the mainstay in regard to the quantity of spending on improving IT structure. Consumer facing industries are expected to take lead with customer acquisition, customer service and marketing moving aggressively to digital channels. Industries in sectors such as manufacturing and distribution will also have significant IoT adoptions for productivity & operational improvements. The channel business in the country is expected to grow in the 2016. As HDS’ Rao points out, “Most of our business is driven through channel partners in India, and they will continue to play a key role in our growth strategy.”
Mahadevan added, “Security and surveillance will be crucial to development of smart cities and improving national security. The government has major plans for deployment of services like ERS- Emergency Response System and IBM – Integrated Border Management with the help of global technology giants.” Apart from security and surveillance, tactical communication will also witness an updraft in 2016. Planned digitization of official documents will result in a huge surge in market for data and cloud services. Enhancement and integration to cloud for businesses has resulted in emergence of data centers and storage solutions for enterprises. Security of data on both cloud and devices has become important and a boost is expected. As per Kumar, some of the areas within Digital India movement that can positively drive IT spending in the country include tech-enabled programs such as, MyGov citizen portal, Self-Employment and Talent Utilization (SETU) programs for startups and initiatives like Smart Cities and Make in India.
In the current scenario, digitization is bound to evolve as the foundation of businesses. Organizations and enterprises have started making the shift towards IT and so has the government with its structure and public services. Keeping data stored safely and accessible on the cloud is the most important aspect. Popular approaches to data management like migration, conversion and adoption have become obsolete. Enterprise architecture and records management professionals need to collaborate, working cross-functionally with business users and jointly developing their technical roadmap for the identification and exploration to store corporate records. Also, to benefit from digital transformation, organizations will need to rethink working practices, and choose better-adapted and more agile IT infrastructures, added Bala Mahadevan .
Compared with other countries, India currently resides some way short of being accepted as an IT giant. Although the sector has been an established one, its integration and impact on other verticals had been missing. Digitization of public services and enabling a digital population has been the government’s major initiative. India as a country might be highly resourceful; the sheer size of the digitization project is bound to create creeks and gaps in the process. Although the audacity of the initiative is commendable, and so is the mission, the government still needs to put a firm foot forward in transforming India as a feeder of IT professionals to a hub of information technologies.
The country has rapidly become a hot market for foreign companies with many venturing into India to reap benefits of the vast and encouraging digitization of the country. Digital highways and smartphone enablement is expected to empower the entire nation making knowledge accessible even in the most remote rural villages across terrain. Missions like the Digitize India Platform with initiatives like Make in India will result in spurring business generation, stabilizing the economy and giving Indians the onus to progress with the power of information technology in their pockets.