When it comes to Digital Transformation, India is building a powerful edge

| Updated on July 01, 2019

Debjani Ghosh, President, NASSCOM

While developed nations invest to compete at the top end of innovation, India is choosing to do things a little differently and in the process creating the playbook for digital at scale and real time on ground impact.

As the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) rightly calls out in its report ‘Payment and Settlement Systems in India: Vision – 2019-2021’, payment and settlement systems are the backbone of any economy! And in a master stroke, this is where India decided to begin its phenomenal journey of transforming 1.3+ billion lives with tech disruption. And, the transformation of India’s digital payment story is nothing short of inspiring, especially when you see the impact it is creating at the grassroots. Driven by progressive regulatory policies that led to increased use of mobile internet, growth in a robust ecosystem of non banking players like Paytm and most importantly the interoperability between players, the India digital payment transformation has become a global case study of transformation at scale.

As the nation celebrates Digital India, we are well poised for the next level. As per a study by Assocham and PWC India, in less than four years from now, digital payments will more than double itself, from $64.8 billion (at present) to reach $135.2 billion, growing at a mindboggling CAGR of 20.2 per cent.

On cue and challenges notwithstanding, the Rural BPO playbook has created tremendous hope and skill-building opportunities to provide a major push towards generating employment for the rural youth. As per MeitY–Mckinsey study, this segment has the potential to create jobs for at least 1.5 lakh indians. Approximately, 184 companies are operating in 110 locations, spread across 26 States and two Union Territories. Once again, a transformation that is designed for scale for impact.

And then, there are opportunities waiting in the pipeline. Did you know that 95 per cent of indians communicate in local languages? We have close to 780-odd languages but multi-lingual software solutions are being offered in only a handful of them. Driven by massive smartphone penetration compounded by phenomenal data consumption, yet another billion dollar opportunity lies in the offing.

Another phenomena that I am very excited about is the rise in start-up ecosystems in tier-2 and 3 cities in India. As per the Nasscom start-up report, 40 per cent of the 7,700 tech start-ups in 2018 were incepted outside the main metros, rising from ~35 per cent in 2017. That again, I believe will create a transformational model. Talent availability, government initiatives, infrastructural support, have all contributed to its propagation.

The India Digital Transformation narrative must find a special mention of the 43 billion dollar e-commerce industry. While leveraging social media, AI-driven tools, chatbots, immersive media and the digital payments ecosystem, this segment has changed buyer behavior beyond recognition. Even remote locations have not been left untouched. Online retail may well rival electricity in market penetration in New India.

At the heart of these transformations, is one significant change that is taking shape in all of India’s towns, the changing Indian mindset, driven by the youth of India. No more are we ok to wait patiently for change to happen — we dare to dream big, we are impatient and we have the conviction in our dreams and ourselves to go after them. Be it one man’s mission to restore the dyeing lakes of Bengaluru or one woman’s commitment to turn her passion in AI to find non obtrusive and cost effective ways to detect breast cancer early to save fatalities, the next generation of Indians are on a mission to drive change. And imagine the possibilities even if 10 per cent of the population are successful!

If India has to become the processing hub for the world, we have to focus on growing capabilities, R&D like never before and create the right transformational policy framework that allows us to build competitive advantage across the entire data value chain — from creation to processing to impact. No one part of the ecosystem has the answers and as we move to the next phase of Digital India, Goverment, Industry and Academia will need to collaborate more effectively than ever to create progressive policy frameworks which provide adequate legroom for innovation without compromising on security and privacy.

But above all, we have to ensure we grow the new way of thinking, that’s fuelled with aspiration, hope, confidence, courage and urgency. We have to ensure that we do all we can to nurture the new mindset and culture of change. Ironical as it may sound, the culture and capabilities will be our biggest strengths in the digital era.

The writer is President, Nasscom

Published on July 01, 2019

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