Technology is having a massive impact in India
It’s a trend that will continue to grow at a substantial pace throughout 2018, according to research from Gartner. While many in North America and Europe view India’s growth in terms of outsourced technology, internal growth will continue at a rapid pace, which, when paired with India’s growing economy, will make it a major player on the international IT stage and a leader in certain fields.
According to Gartner’s research, spending on software and IT services will rise by 8.9 percent in 2018, growing from $7.8 billion dollars in 2017 to $8.5 billion. Software spending saw an especially large increase through 2017, growing by 15.6 percent, and 2018 will see similar growth at 15.1 percent; by 2018, total spending in this field will reach $1.2 billion. Spending on IT services by the end of 2017 is expected to rise by 15.3 percent to reach a total of $2 billion. In 2018, spending will grow by 13.8 percent, reaching $2.3 billion.
Playing an integral role in the country’s IT growth are government start-up initiatives, including Skill India, Start-up India, and Make in India. Various new policies covering a range of fields, including new data security and protection policies, software product policies, and electronic policies, are expected to contribute to better IT growth going forward. The chief policy expected to have an impact, according to the Indian government and Gartner, will be the Digital India program, which is designed to further India’s transition to a knowledge and digitally empowered society.
These policies, and spending by both the government and private companies, are coming together to create a never-before-seen transformation. Changing Indian society is no small task, as the country’s relatively small economy and huge population base of more than 1.3 billion people mean change is more difficult than in smaller and wealthier countries. Despite these challenges, the Indian government, in November of 2016, aimed to eliminate 86 percent of the nation’s currency notes as a means of effectively relaunching both the nation’s monetary and fiscal policy.
Harvard Business Review notes that some have viewed the sudden change as poorly implemented. Many others, however, point to positive signs, especially in terms of digital growth. India features a government payment system designed for a cash-less society, and use of the system grew from approximately 100,000 transactions per month immediately before the change to 76 million transactions in October of 2017.
In tandem with the move to cash-less operations, India is also spearheading efforts with its new identification system, called Aandhaar. Instead of being used as a self-contained change to Indian society, the Aandhaar process is being used as a base of the so-called “Indian Stack,” which aims to serve as a foundation for Indian’s ongoing financial revolution. Biometric identification capabilities make Aandhaar uniquely suited to serving as this foundation, and the fact that it was launched from a public source, instead of private entities, make Aandhaar a powerful tool for leading this innovation. The program, launched in 2009, has proven to be a tremendous success and already serves more than one billion individuals.
The name “India Stack” is also revealing. While the tech world often appropriates terms from real-life concepts, India’s use of the word “Stack” derives from its use in the digital age. Identification and strong encryption serve as a solid foundation upon which additional layers can be built, much like low-level programming enables more abstract software development. This new paradigm, which will affect the daily lives of everyone living in India, is a cornerstone of Prime Minister Modi’s agenda.
One of the difficulties companies around the world have is dealing with incompatible and cumbersome interfaces. Banks use their own methods of identification, as do other businesses that need to verify users’ identities. The India Stack provides a graceful solution, and the government itself is providing application programming interfaces and other tools that allow safe access to the India Stack’s capabilities. Among its advantages include easier paperless access to information, which is possible due to strong security. All of India’s banks are slated to work with the stack, making cash-less operations even easier. Data privacy and consent, a major issue throughout Europe and the rest of the developed world, will be far easier to manage when integrated within the India Stack.
Mobile Payment Initiatives
Building on these services, India is also poised to provide the breakthrough mobile payment interface many countries have been seeking. The vast majority of Indians lack the buying power of their counterparts in more developed regions. Low-cost mobile phones, however, provide a gateway to the internet. At a relatively small price, mobile phones combined with India Stack is poised to make mobile phones powerful financial tools, empowering workers and entrepreneurs at all income levels.
Mobile payment programs also seek to cut back on two problems common in Indian society: Corruption and expensive travel. As the Harvard Business Review points out, Indians entitled to payment from the government might have to travel to a government building, where they’ll have to spend a portion of the check to receive it due to corruption. This follows with a trip to the bank, and travel can be challenging, especially in remote parts of India. With Aadhaar used as identification and digital banking capabilities, no travel would be needed, and corruption could be eliminated.
India is growing at a rapid pace, but it will be some time yet before it catches up with the developed world. Furthermore, China’s continuing growth is presenting it with a natural competitor. Innovation can go a long way toward closing gaps, and through the convenience of technology, combined with the substantial cost-savings it can provide, India is poised to reap the rewards of innovation and even gain an advantage over the rest of the world in certain fields.