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Making Bold Moves

The decisions we take in the next decade will shape India’s digital transformation journey

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In its seventh decade of Independence, India is a dynamic, young nation — witnessing immense growth and transformation. We are living in exciting times with unique advantages — entrepreneurial culture, healthy demographics, young workforce and a stable economy. With an estimated annual growth rate of 7.4 per cent, the Indian economy is poised to become the world’s third largest economy by the next decade.

Technology is playing a crucial role in scripting India’s growth story. In today’s mobile-first, cloud- and cognitive-powered world, digital disruptions are clearly ubiquitous. Be it  facilitating a convenient ride or enabling a seamless shopping experience, digital disruption is creating profoundly new experiences, platforms, ecosystems and business models.

The digitisation of the economy is one of the most critical issues of our time. Digital technologies are rapidly transforming both business practices and societies, and they are integral to the innovation-driven economies of the future. India has a great potential to lead digital transformation at a global level.

Digital players have unique advantages as they can easily leverage new age technologies such as cloud, cognitive, blockchain to revolutionise business models at a rapid scale. Government initiatives such as ‘Digital India’ and GST are steps in the right direction, designed to deliver on the promise of better governance. However, accelerated implementation of these programmes (and more) and greater transparency is quintessential to make the vision of growth a reality. Corporate India has a strategic contribution to make in this metamorphosis. Never before has there been an urgency for us to step in and create value by addressing key societal needs. Public private partnerships are important to see faster implementation of strategic developmental solutions.

While technology implementations emerge rapidly, organisations and skills advance slowly, and the gap between swiftly evolving technology and human capital begins to widen quickly. A host of new skills, new world view and capabilities are required to grow and stay competitive to accrue the ‘digital dividend’. Unfortunately, India is caught between a widening skill gap and a higher education sector struggling to keep up. The emergence of a new set of jobs or the ‘new collar jobs’ – jobs that combine technical skills in areas such as cloud, cognitive, security, data science, etc., will require a deep knowledge base rooted in higher education.

The fast paced economic environment requires significant up-skilling and re-skilling across job profiles and sectors. Industry academia collaboration to introduce relevant curriculum (aligned to current and future industry/technology trends) along with training/mentoring will be imperative. In addition, organisations must have a coherent strategy that includes a plan to reskill workers. They need to create learning experiences which are current, relevant, standardised, continuous and delivered in interesting formats to engage employees.

If we, as a nation, can create capabilities for growth and new solutions, the opportunities ahead seem limitless. The fear of automation leading to job loss is highly misplaced. Technology adoption has historically transformed economies and resulted in the evolution of new types of jobs and it will continue to do so.

The decisions we take in the next decade will be fundamental in shaping our digital transformation journey. We need to look at ourselves as a knowledge economy – focused on skills, innovation and technology. We need to make bold moves both in terms of decisive reforms and policies to realise our vision of a ‘new India’ emerging as one of the superpowers of the world!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Karan Bajwa

The author is MD, IBM India

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