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The Tryst With Technology

The radical evolution of the technology sector in India has created a different chemistry between people and technology

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It is indeed an affair, but one may dare not fall out of it. The impact of technology on human lives, companies and even countries, has been massively written about. As human beings, irrespective of our age or roles in life, we are much more adept at dealing with technology-led platforms, be it consuming entertainment, shopping, making payments, using technology-intensive solutions at work, offices, homes, hospitals, schools, so on and so forth. The change has already happened. We are already much more intimate with technology, and this will only deepen further.

The year of crisis indeed saw a tech revolution as people became more digitally savvy, and digital percolated to the long tail or the large underbelly of society. Households across the economic strata were looking for handheld devices or other screens for their education and health needs. Tech began to be counted among essentials. Before anyone knew it, they were already using data to get their daily work done and then some more, since the option was available.

The first change, in the domino effect that has positioned India as a tech economy to reckon with, begins with exactly this intuitive change in people behaviour that has pushed them deeper into interacting with digital. Everything else is just riding the wave. However, people are emotional. At some point, this very natural way of accepting technology will lead to the resurfacing of some age-old questions, such as how it impacts personal lives, personal information, and interpersonal relationships.

Tech companies, consequently, have a much larger role to play in the building blocks of this relationship. Consumers want more control over how they share their information. There is increased awareness of which apps can track them even after they have exited the service, or which apps can read their mails, message and phonebooks and who all can access their shared information. Many companies, such as social media platforms, the share or hail services and so on, have built in checks and balances for this. Some of this still fails to work, but it is this level of protection that is now expected of all tech platforms, including the local grocer who took to WhatsApp to deliver milk and eggs. It doesn’t matter if the information shared is sensitive or not, the possibility of it turning intrusive is enough to raise the red flag.

Large tech companies understand this. They realise the importance of consent, navigating security threats, providing the highest form of data protection, but this understanding cannot stop with them. The onus falls on them and other stakeholders like the government and the socalled digital natives to further push this ‘protective’ agenda, as everyone makes the technological shift. The awareness at the people level is increasing on its own. There is more to read, see and hear on this subject than ever before. This awareness also has to increase in businesses. All companies and businesses may already be tech companies and businesses but some of them are young in this journey. Ushering them onto the right path is vital for the change. Just ticking the boxes is not enough, getting it right is more important. And all in all, the aspects of getting it right and respect for access to consumer information, is most important. Unfortunately, a lot more work needs to be done. Unless the vectors move, the big changes will continue to be limited to the ones that were going to convert anyway.

If India moves in the claimed direction of getting 1.5 billion connected over the next two years, this transition of educating companies needs to happen even faster, because only then will 2021 always be remembered as India’s best tech year and not just one of many to come.

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magazine 14 Nov 2021 Nooring technology