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View from India: Tomorrow beckons as India goes digital

India is gearing up for 5G or the next generation of wireless broadband technology, with the Government aiming for rollout in 2020. As one of the world’s largest markets for telecom services, the country is on the point of dramatic change in areas ranging from finance to agriculture.

The Government of India (GoI) has formed a high-level committee to evaluate an action plan for rolling out 5G technology. Considering India is one of the world’s largest markets for telecom services, GoI has set a timeline of 2020 for the rollout. Support is expected to come in the form of a corpus fund of about Rs 500 crore (£57m) to facilitate research and development activities for creating an ecosystem conducive for 5G.

For us, the implementation of 5G would mean more digitisation. It is intended to deliver around10Gbit/s in urban areas and 1Gbit/s in rural areas. Besides digitisation, 5G is expected to boost the domestic manufacturing segment for telecommunication equipment. 5G start-ups, design trends and patented products are some of the anticipated outcomes.

Along with 5G, we are at a pivotal point of exponential change, where the accent is on digitisation, datafication and robotification. Hyper connectivity, mobility, Internet of Things (IoT) and quantum computing will bring in unprecedented and unexplored opportunities.

“India’s rising force as a technology hub is being acknowledged globally,” said Suman Reddy, managing director and country head of Pegasystems India. “This year, the country has focused on amplifying efforts to break into the top 25 nations of the Global Innovation Index (GII). R&D efforts across India have taken a two-pronged approach: consolidation of efforts on existing technologies like big data analytics and neural learning in artificial intelligence, coupled with development of new systems like robotic process automation and intelligent apps.”

The explosive adoption of new technologies and strong innovation centres in India are fuelling this rapid advancement, backed by quality talent pool and a supporting infrastructure which fosters ingenuity and adaptability.

“As industries are increasingly investing in their digital initiatives, technology firms of different verticals and scale are taking an approach that leads to a better business-customer and client-customer connect,” Reddy continued. “In a diverse country like ours with evolving customer and business needs, companies are focusing on leveraging model architectures that makes it easier to build and evolve apps over time, facilitating real time interactions.”

This is further bolstered by intelligent apps/bots that will continue to talk to the central decisioning network, to enable better productivity and drive better customer-oriented decisions. Additionally, the menace of cyber-security threats will see increased focus by the government and industry, to combat complex attacks that could disrupt critical business functions.

Secure digital payment

Given the government’s drive for a Less Cash Economy, the Data Security Council of India (DSCI) in association with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Google India has announced the launch of the ‘Digital Payment Suraksha’ awareness campaign to help educate end users and merchants on security and safety best practices while making digital transactions. According to a press release issued in December 2017, the Digital Payment Security Awareness Campaign will engage communities including individuals (users), traders, and micro, small & medium businesses, by making them aware of best practices and dos and don’ts on six payment channels including Debit and Credit Card, Online and Mobile Banking, Mobile Wallets, Unified Payment Interface (UPI) & BHIM, Aadhaar Enabled Payment Systems (AEPS) & USSD Payments. ‘Digital Payment Security Alliance’ will facilitate the ecosystem to deliberate on a common agenda focusing on policy, deriving best practices from global success stories and stakeholder collaboration.

Clearly this announcement is welcome to players who tailor services for cashless transactions. In the near future, the fintech sector will see more clarity in ensuring digital readiness in its ecosystems, both as an investment internally, as well as a growing expectation from customers. “Fintech enterprises will have to deliver hyper-personalised value for each customer rather than going by the traditional model of merely providing cost reductions or answering support queries,” said Sameet Gupte, CEO, Servion Global Solutions, a customer experience management company whose biggest vertical is the banking, financial services and insurance segment. “With virtual assistants and chatbots emerging as the most preferred interaction channel, they are very likely to have little to zero direct human-customer relationships,” he continued.

Gupte believes there will also be an increased dependence on digital sensors and smart devices to cross-sell, up-sell or even offer a brand experience that is on par with their customer expectations. “Taking cue from the retail industry, the fintech world will follow suit and prep for the power of decision-making to shift entirely to the customer. A seamless, unified and purposeful experience will upstage price or product as the key differentiator in building brand loyalty,” he said. Hence, it is crucial for enterprises to have already adopted disruptive AI and IOT advancements such as Process Automation, Natural Language Processing for Big Data and Analytics, and Virtual and Augmented Reality, as well as transformational blockchain technologies.

Another futuristic thing to watch out for is the speed at which learning is happening. It is predicted that in 10 years computers will have an intelligent quotient (IQ) of 200,000 and that by 2050, machines are expected to have capacity of all human brains. 

Forthcoming trends indicate that analytics will be structured in a manner that will facilitate decision-making, and this can pan out to various sectors including education and healthcare.

Agriculture and water

Agriculture contributes around 50 per cent of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 600 million people are dependent on it. Hence it’s no surprise that our prime minister, Narendra Modi, has appealed to farmers to reduce their dependence on urea by half. The year 2022 is the timeline set for the farmer community. Appropriately so, as the country will then celebrate 75 years of Independence. This means that there’s a greater thrust to think differently and arrive at a scientific method of farming that makes use of natural resources and is less dependent on fertilisers.  

What we can also look forward to in the future is the digitisation of agriculture. Technologies that facilitate precision agriculture are expected to give a transformative push for this sector. Farm operations will be digitised, thereby ensuring precision in the supply chain and better yield. Geospatial technologies, soil and insect monitoring and sensor technologies for monitoring the weather are some of the anticipated initiatives.

We must not lose sight of the fact that food production gets adversely affected by the temporal and spatial distribution of rainfall. By this measure, water scarcity is rampant in almost all parts of the country. This year, we can look ahead to government departments, entrepreneurs and private entities to turn crisis into opportunity to create water solutions. A case in point will be management of water resources, along with conservation and sustainable efforts and tech solutions for reusing water, which will all result in better urban planning. Once such efforts roll out, it will attract marketing and brand-building investments.

You reap what you sow. Let’s wish new hope trickles through innovative waterways.

 

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