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India’s Data Disruptors: Unstoppable

A new breed of data scientists, data designers and data decoders are coming to the fore as the ‘data-of-everything’ is triggering the ‘transformation-of-everything’

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A week ago, MyGov, the Government of India’s citizen engagement platform, put out a very interesting infographic titled ‘Data is the New Oil’. The first time this phrase found its fame was back in 2017, when Reliance Industries’ chairman and managing director, Mukesh Ambani had said this at a forum, alluding to the massive opportunity India had in this arena.

Back then Ambani had said that in the next 10 years (by 2027), the Indian economy would rank among the top three in the world. To achieve this, the Indian IT industry would play a foundational role in creating a future-ready digital infrastructure. India did miss the first three industrial revolutions — mechanisation, mass production and automation. However, the country was perfectly positioned to break from its shackles in the fourth industrial revolution. Fuelled by connectivity, data and artificial intelligence, this was India’s Mukesh Ambani’s optimism was rooted in the mobile growth that India had seen. The business visionaries subsequent decisions saw Reliance Jio playing a transformational role in data proliferation in India. This was aided by significant work done by many other national and international companies including the Big Tech (Microsoft, Meta, Alphabet, Amazon) players. The support and initiatives from the government of India set the right building blocks for India’s transformation into becoming a robust tech economy.

The MyGov infographic was interesting was due to some of the points it highlighted, as they reinforce why 2021 is another milestone year in India’s data and digital journey.

Citing several sources, the key points included the fact that India exported software worth more than the oil exported by Saudi Arabia in 2021. Software services exports are estimated at $133.7 billion during 2020-21. Employment in the data industry is expected to grow from 5 million to 10 million in 10 years. IT industry is expected to contribute 10 per cent to India’s GDP by 2025. IT & software market revenues will cross $195 billion in 2021. And finally, India already ranks third worldwide in the number of ‘cloud experts’ in FY 21.

Each of these is not a surprise, and in fact, there are much more statistics and data points out there on why this year is defined as India’s best tech year yet.  If one looked in the rearview mirror, India’s impact on the planet is evident when it comes to IT services, global innovation centres or the various allied capability centres coming out of India for global companies. But the most important driving force behind all this is the existing skillset pool in India, arguably among the leaders in this aspect globally.

India’s scale cannot be replicated and some trends of the past signal the nature of the change that can be expected on this front. There is a constant disruption in skillsets in play. The internet gave birth to skills that never existed; data is creating more of these. Data is the foundation on which artificial intelligence, automation, and most new trends are shaped — the ‘data-of-everything’ is the trigger for the ‘transformation-of-everything’. The presence of data has led to the debate of including intangibles in the balance sheet, and what would be the universally accepted way to do this.

Due to these emerging needs, and the resulting skillset gap, a new breed of data scientists, data designers and data decoders will come to the fore. This will demand not just a hardcore technology requisite but will have a creative layer to it. Skills of very different kinds will be needed as companies leverage the new data and digital wave. People will be riding this in unique ways both as consumers and service providers.

Enabling this digital wave will be an important subject for all. This is where digital skills will be the big differentiator and this is where India’s digital disruptors will shine globally.

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Magazine 28 Dec 2021 Nooring mukesh ambani