As the world continues to undergo a rapid digital transformation within society and business, the potential for India to become one of the leading digital players is both exciting and believable. Set to become the most populated country in the world by 2028, India's overall focus on integrating digital technology within business and society will undoubtedly make an impact on future digital world trends.
There are many reasons why this is true, including India's younger demographics, rising adoption rates of cloud and mobile computing technologies, government digital growth initiatives, and innovations from forward-thinking tech companies. Let's explore these reasons in more detail as we look at the facts and figures currently floating the internet around digital transformation in India.
Demographics and Digital Growth in India
936 million active mobile connections
India is the second largest country in the world with more than 1.3 billion people, and it's expected to surpass China by 2028 as the most populated country in the world. The most remarkable aspect of this growth is the large percentage of young people making up the population; specifically, India's average age of 29.5 will manifest into 900 million people in the workforce by 2020.
Not unlike younger generations in other countries, this large emerging group within India's demographics are more tech-savvy and mobile-centric than older generations. An article found at Huffington Post explains: “India's digital trajectory has skipped some generations like the desktop and catapulted straight to mobile. The medium's affordability, ease of use for even the tech unsavvy, and portability have put potential digital access in the hands of over 1 billion mobile subscribers (936 million active mobile connections)”.
No doubt, India holds immense potential for mobile growth, especially when it comes to accessing the Internet from a smartphone. Only 39% of mobile phone users are using a smartphone in 2019, yet this number has steadily increased year after year from 21.2% in 2014 and is expected to grow far beyond that in the future.
Projected 635.8 million Internet users in 2021
It’s not just the use of mobile by a more significant amount of people that are putting India on the forefront of digital transformation. It’s the rapid growth of Internet access, smartphone usage, and social media penetration. Already, India is the second largest online market in the world, even with only around 34% (462 million) of the population using the Internet in 2018; the projected growth, however, is to 635.8 million Internet users in 2021. Which is a nearly 40% increase.
India is using cloud and mobile computing technologies to catch up to the world's digital leaders at rapid speed. The lower cost of entry, streamlined functionality, integration and remote access capabilities of cloud and mobile solutions are being leveraged to expand Internet accessibility and functionality throughout India's rural and urban areas.
As for India's place in the digital world today, according to an IMD study, India ranked #48 out of 63 countries (up 3 spots from 2017). While still low in the rankings, the state of India's digital transformation is rapidly on the rise. An article found at DataQuest explains: “Almost all Indian businesses (99%) have started their digital transformation journey, but only 34% have reached maturity. (...) 92% of Indian businesses are already adopting cloud technology (via SaaS, and other cloud services / technology)”.
Another important study by Microsoft explains: “Around 88% business leaders in India polled...acknowledged that cloud computing is an essential part of their digital transformation strategy and that the cloud has made it more affordable for companies of all sizes to embark on their digital transformation journey.” A digital transformation that will see the use of cloud technologies such as AI, IoT, VR/AR, Quantum Computing, Next Generation Computing.
Government of India (GoI) Initiatives
While cloud and mobile solutions are expanding Internet usage with accessibility and affordability, there remain many challenges for India's government and businesses to digitize legacy enterprise systems. From building the infrastructure for expanding data storage to integrating secure software systems for businesses with remote capabilities, India's modern enterprises are in the disruptive process of initial, wide-spread digital adoption and growth.
In an effort to streamline the digital growth process, India's government started multiple digital initiatives in 2014, including Make In India, Digital India and Smart Cities. These initiatives focus on promoting and managing digital growth within India's society and industries. The Indian government has been proactive in their digitization efforts since initiating the Aadhaar in 2009, the largest biometric ID system in the world.
An article by CIOL shares the conclusion of thought leadership: “...Digitisation is profoundly changing the shape of business today in India, as organisations make use of data technologies for productivity expansion, data monetisation and value creation, impacting consumers and companies in every industry. In tandem, the Indian Government's focus on information and communication technologies to power India's rapidly growing digital economy mandates a robust, secure and efficient data management strategy.”
The government's digital growth initiatives are designed to optimally manage critical aspects of the country's digital transformation such as data management and cybersecurity. Yet even though the scope and scale of this transformation is clearly tremendous, it isn’t necessarily going at the speed it was projected to. In the aforementioned Microsoft study, “40% of the business leaders surveyed believe that they have a full strategy in place and are well on their way to transforming their business. 53% are progressing in their digital transformation journeys, and 7% have a limited or no strategy today.”
The State of Digital Transformation in India
Overall, the state of digital transformation in India is in the foundational stages, yet is growing rapidly with the help of younger demographics, cloud and mobile computing technologies, government digital growth initiatives, innovations from Indian tech companies, and global tech partnerships.
While digital growth challenges will have to be overcome by India's government and businesses (security, rural penetration, language barriers, affordability, standardization, etc.), their large workforce and population offer major potential for future innovation and market expansion. How this evolves will largely be determined by the effectiveness of government initiatives, future innovations, demographic preferences, and strategic collaborations with global tech companies.
Essentially, India is an exciting country to keep an eye on for digital growth. All key indicators point towards rapid digital growth and expansion within the next 5 years. This means India is on the short path to emerge from the shadows of digital world leaders as a major digital player.
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