Emerging Technologies in Pushing India into the Post-digital Age
The Role of New and Emerging Technologies in Pushing India into the Post-digital Age
India has always had a reputation of being an active adopter of new technologies. The entire nation leapfrogged the computer phase and headed directly and enthusiastically to the mobile/hand held device phase. In 2019 the number of smart phone users crossed 500 million, while there are over 627 million internet users. Indians today consume 9.8 GB of data per month, which is expected to double to 18 GB by 2024.
It should come as no surprise then that both the Indian consumer and the Indian business owner has adopted numerous new and emerging technologies across sectors and industries. To be honest, the Indian consumer is leading the race for enhanced, customized, and on-demand services while the Indian business owner is scrambling to upgrade systems and processes to meet the burgeoning demand of 1.2 billion consumers.
The third player, the Indian Government, has also been an active participant in ensuring that the citizens have access to the latest and best technologies for better digital inclusiveness and empowerment. Their drive to encourage adoption of digital services across socio-economic strata includes various schemes that are powered by high-speed internet, biometrics, AI, IoT, Cloud solutions, data analytics and many more.
Today, the digital landscape in India is set to explode, and one can already get a glimpse of how the next 5-10 years will be shaping up. Let us take a look at some of the areas where new and emerging technology can make a difference in what is being described as the "post-digital age":
1. Smart Cities
A smart city is essentially one that is well-connected, safe and secure and makes the life of citizens comfortable. This would entail seamless smart transportation, enhanced surveillance methods coupled with a rapid emergency response system, city-wide Wi-Fi and high-speed internet, smart waste, water and energy management, eGovernance for painless access to government services, smart parking facilities (a major pain point in any urban society), access control to both public and private spaces, eEducation, etc. Facial Recognition Technology, Intelligent Video Analytics, AI, Cloud Computing, etc. are playing leading roles in making our cities smarter.
The scope for technology in seamless integration of logistics & supply chain is immense. Given India’s enormous size and complexities arising out of fragmented modes of transportation of cargo from ports to hinterlands, a smart, data-driven, RFID-enabled system to track the movement of consignments with near real-time accuracy will benefit thousands of businesses by reducing lead time, saving costs, and eliminating other inherent inefficiencies and bottlenecks.
Indian manufacturers with strong overseas markets are already leveraging the benefits of Industrial IoT, Intelligent Video Analytics Biometrics (fingerprint, facial recognition, etc.), ERP & Cloud services in their production processes and warehouse management systems as they need to remain competitive on a global scale. Smaller domestic manufacturing companies will be following suit to remain relevant and profitable. A centrally-managed, cloud-based system incorporating these technologies can lead to reduced costs, optimal use of resources, security of factory workers and equipment, better inventory management and effective preventive maintenance.
Consumers in India are tech-savvy and delight in comparing and identifying goods that are most competitively priced across different online platforms. In a consumer-led economy, it is the responsibility of retailers to customize products based on individual preferences and attract the attention of the buyer. Technology can help retailers to provide superior instore experiences to their patrons through attractive LED displays, updated prices and special offers, and enhanced visual merchandizing techniques. In-store video analytics powered by AI can collect data on user preferences, and smart inventory solutions can ensure readily available stock of high-use products. Retailers can also leverage technology to deliver a seamless shopping experience by integrating their physical and online stores.
5. Finance & Banking
With the advent of online banking and various fintech start-ups, the face of finance and banking in India has undergone tremendous disruption. New and emerging technology such as biometrics, AI, big data, cloud, etc. are further changing the field by ensuring fast, secure and seamless financial services. Biometric authentication is fast making the traditional user ID/password system redundant. AI and Data Analytics can help BFSI companies to offer customized financial solutions to their clients. Technology is also building user confidence in the financial institutions by successfully tackling cyber-attacks and fraudulent transactions.
6. Digital Transformation of Businesses
As mentioned earlier, businesses in India have to transform and upgrade themselves to meet the demands of a tech-savvy consumer. They have to adopt new processes and technologies, upskill their workforce and create an atmosphere of flexibility and readiness. Technologies like ERP & Cloud, AI, Data Analytics, etc. can play significant roles as drivers of change. These technologies can help businesses enhance communication systems, realize workforce efficiencies, and gain competitive advantages. The end-game of course, is to satisfy customers.
From the descriptions above it can be seen that technology cannot work in isolation. New and emerging tech need to be deployed in collaboration with each another to be truly effective and deliver maximum benefit. Governments and businesses need to invest heavily in setting up the infrastructure to enable these technologies and the average citizens need to familiarize themselves with how they work, abide by rules and regulations and raise privacy and security concerns if any.
(September 30, 2020)