India’s advantages of cost-effective R&D and a thriving domestic market for mobile-centric digital services could be effectively leveraged to create localized solutions.
Editor’s Note: As India finds itself on the cusp of a new era of economic growth, it’s time to ask a big question: Can a nation of one billion people build a global giant? of technology as new technological frontiers arrive? The answer involves understanding global economic dynamics, innovation, ownership, management, competition, regulation, finance, and intellectual property rights. Firstpost publishes a series of stories that will seek to address these issues in a way that helps entrepreneurs, decision-makers and ordinary citizens understand what it takes to reach new heights without losing their footing in a world where threats are as real as the opportunities. This is the seventh coin in the series.
Information and communication technologies (ICT) act as an essential catalyst for economic growth and development. According to various estimates, a 10% increase in broadband penetration can lead to a 1.4% increase in GDP growth in emerging markets.
Around the world, the first phase of technology-driven business transformation has been enabled by the proliferation of enterprise software and productivity tools, as well as the skilled workforce provided by industry. technological services. Over the years, advances in consumer technology such as internet commerce, digital and social media have enabled digital-centric consumption, providing businesses with a personalized distribution channel and real-time feedback on the use of their products and services.
This intersection of digital technology in producer and consumer markets has brought an enormous amount of structured and unstructured data into the realm of business operations and contributed to the next phase of technology-driven transformation, creating business-driven businesses. on insight harnessing the power of data.
During the first two phases, the United States took a leading position in the technology industry in various fields, and other countries also built their own niche, such as Germany and Japan on robotics, Israel on cybersecurity, China on Internet technology and telecommunications equipment. , Taiwan and South Korea on electronics and semiconductors and so on.
In India’s case, our advantages in cost-effective scientific and engineering talent have helped us build a global technology services industry, but our potential for cost-effective R&D and product development, demonstrated with great success in our space research and defense programs, is still under-leveraged.
As the productivity gains of the first two phases plateau, advances in advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), IoT, blockchain, industry 4.0, among others, promise to usher in the third phase. of technology-driven transformation in the global economy, by transforming business models, creating new sources of revenue, optimizing the use of resources and maximizing value for stakeholders. Global tech majors and countries are in a race to create their own niche in this emerging landscape, and we are seeing the early stages of commercialization of applications such as driverless vehicles, chatbots, intelligent automation, among others.
At the same time, years of rapid economic growth and development have created alarming pressure on our natural resources, and the effects of these negative externalities on global warming and climate change portend a calamitous situation, further affecting emerging economies. .
It is in this context that the next phase of technology has enabled the transformation of businesses, industries and the economy will be evaluated, in the decades to come, by its ability to provide solutions for sustainable development.
This is where India has the potential lead. Our strengths in cost-effective R&D and product development, successfully demonstrated in our defense and space research programs, could be effectively leveraged to create localized solutions to national problems, which can be exported. to world markets. For example, an AI-based solution for agriculture to maximize yields using advanced weather forecasting models, optimizing the mix of inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, etc. will not only be relevant for India, but also for other emerging and advanced economies.
A recent report on AI by a task force set up by the Department of Industrial Promotion and Policy (DIPP) identified ten specific areas for AI applications in India, in areas such as manufacturing, fintech, health, agriculture, technology for people with disabilities. , national security, environment, utilities, retail and education. These are exciting areas where mass digitization and advanced tools like AI and machine learning could have maximum impact. Some use cases include:
• Agriculture: crop and soil monitoring, optimizing the mix of inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, predictive analysis for weather forecasts, etc. can help maximize yields
• Healthcare – smart diagnostics, predictive models for population health, empowering primary health workers in preventing epidemics.
• Education – intelligent tutoring based on personalized learning modules to improve learning outcomes
• Security: improved emergency response, predictive models to predict extreme weather events
• Public transport and mobility – predictive models for traffic congestion by analyzing traffic patterns, video/image analysis for traffic violations
As clear policy direction continues to emerge from these deliberations, Indian industry and the start-up community could begin to leverage these cutting-edge technologies to create globally scalable localized solutions. India has a vibrant software product ecosystem and is home to over 300 SaaS startups in areas like CRM, Data Management, HR, Accounting, Healthcare, among others. Indian product companies are making inroads globally and are expected to gain a larger share of the global IT-as-a-service market, especially among small and medium-sized enterprises. With the right investments and a conducive environment, India has the potential to play a key role in the global adoption of advanced technologies.
The biggest advantage we have is that we now have a large and growing domestic market to support such ideas. In the past, the growth of India’s tech industry was largely export-driven, as the domestic market was still underdeveloped and less remunerative. However, today there is strong and growing domestic demand for mobile-first digital services, driven by market-driven changes and a favorable policy environment. After the commercial introduction of 4G/LTE technologies in 2016, mobile Internet penetration has multiplied, and we now have about 400 million mobile Internet users, driving the explosive growth of service consumption. digital. This is a significant advantage that could be leveraged by the domestic tech industry ecosystem to create scalable, made-in-India global solutions.
For more than two decades, India has been at the forefront of technology-enabled business transformation for the world’s largest corporations and governments. As new era technologies such as digital, analytics, AI, robotics and Industry 4.0 are disrupting industry, value chains and driving a higher level of productivity gains, it is time for India to leverage its national strengths and opportunities to build scalable global businesses.
India’s strengths and advantages of cost-effective R&D and a thriving domestic market for mobile-centric digital services could be effectively leveraged to create localized solutions, which will have wider application in emerging economies and advancements.
(The author is partner, Deloitte India)
Read previous parts of the series here:
Part 1: right or left? At home or away? Time has come for India to talk about double-edged tech nationalism
Part 2: The Facebook crisis holds lessons for India and Aadhaar: We need multi-pronged regulation to ensure fair play and innovation
Part 3: Visionaries or “employee entrepreneurs”? India’s tech unicorns hide weaknesses that deserve careful consideration
Part 4: Tech nationalism is a complex game; a ‘swadeshi index’ can support good Indian startups
Part 5: Technology needs a MAD formula: Time for India to go from dukandar to disruptor
Part 6: True technological power comes from harvesting patents: ISRO, Cipla and Biocon show the way for future entrepreneurs