India: Leading the world into the digital cohesion era

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By Dinesh Verma

The Government’s campaign for a Digital India has created significant buzz not just locally, but internationally for its compelling and exciting vision, with the potential it has to connect and empower every citizen equally. However, while this presents major opportunities for greater business automation and consumer convenience – the transition is heavily dependent on the readiness of the populace, and their trust in how smoothly these processes and technologies are envisioned to work together. Interestingly enough, this ‘future’ is fast-becoming reality.

We recently engaged in a major global survey, speaking to 4800 consumers and senior IT professionals in 16 countries across three continents. And from the statistics and results, we’ve found that there has indeed been a significant shift in business and consumer attitudes towards an acceptance and adaptation of the era of Digital Cohesion.

Defined as the era in which multiple applications self-assemble to provide autonomous and predictive services, which continually adapt to personal behaviors – some of the many benefits of this transformation we foresee include improvements across community infrastructure, emergency services, time and energy utilization, educational capabilities, healthcare facilities and decision making. These will all not only enhance productivity and boost the country’s GDP, but will also create new workforce management models and innovations.

With the ability to change people’s lives in areas ranging from healthcare to education, entertainment, and more, the impact of the Digital Cohesion era will potentially be felt in business applications across more industries and domains than we had ever imagined possible.

Digital Transformation Begins at Home
As consumers evolve in parallel and demand wide-spread seamless connectivity, it is inevitable that the home will eventually become their major hubs of ‘cohesion’, with smart devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) becoming critical elements of the era’s desired home infrastructure.

For example, the research has shown that 75% of people in India rely on mobile connections to live safer, smarter and more efficiently. This is of course, in addition to the consumer expectations of numerous qualitative and quantitative improvements – from that of time savings, improved energy efficiency or better (and automated) decision making, to a generally reduced cost of living from the interconnectivity of these smart systems.

With one-third of all Indian respondents identifying themselves as early adopters of technology, the potential for smart devices and services to propagate and generate positive social impact is greater in India than any other country across Asia Pacific – and perhaps this transformation into the Digital Cohesion era will be one which is first driven from the home.

The Pervasiveness of Digital Cohesion across Businesses
But while the typical Indian consumer might be ready, are businesses and service providers ready to secure its place in this new era?

Particularly with the proliferation of smart devices within business environments, the investment in connectivity and automation is increasingly higher. With a 77% and 63% increase in the number of network-connected personal and corporate devices seen over the past three years respectively, businesses in India are required to effectively manage this via the adoption of smart solutions and services for improved network performance, infrastructure distribution and automation.

When it comes to readiness for the Digital Cohesion era, businesses in India are generally optimistic, with 41% ready to embrace the interoperability of services and applications. The underlying benefits that they see here are:

50% – expect business services innovation
92% – expect flexible workforce management
68% – expect increased productivity
79% – expect increased automation and control
71% – expect better customer experience

To us, it is thus crystal clear that businesses will need to formulate unique business strategies to improve their levels of service, solidify their brand value and to remain relevant in the Digital Cohesion era, as opposed to an over-reliance on unsustainable pricing competition.

Trust and Security to Determine End Outcome
We have long predicted the inevitability of the era, and its corresponding positive societal impacts.
But even as the research shows consumers and business readily coming on-board in acceptance, risks and concerns do remain – the biggest being that of trust and security. A whopping 82% for example believe that security and compliance issues are the biggest risks involved in Digital Cohesion, suggesting that trust is non-negotiable for the end-user.

No surprise, considering the massive predicted changes to the way we live in this era.
Thus begs the question – are our technology service providers ready to provide the proactive and transparent infrastructure required to fulfil the reality of the Digital Cohesion era?
The survey’s results have left little doubt that the world, and especially India is more than ready to embrace the era of Digital Cohesion.

And it is the businesses, services providers and enterprises who prepare now, who will be the clear winners of the economy in the new Digital Cohesion era.

The author is the managing director, India & SAARC, Juniper Networks

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