One IT expert believes that key rural Indian sectors like agriculture, water and essential resources management can boost DX progress.

India is on the cusp of a massive digital transformation (DX), enabled through technologies like AI, Machine Learning (ML), Digital Experience, Digital Supply Chain Management, and Predictive Analytics.

Much like its South-east Asian neighbors, India has been implementing digital reforms across sectors over the past few years. How has the journey been like, and has the pandemic put a damper or boosted progress instead?

Here are some observations from P Rajasekaran, Chief Products Officer, Bahwan CyberTek, a digital transformation solutions provider riding the DX wave in the country.

P Rajasekaran, Chief Products Officer, Bahwan CyberTek

DigiconAsia: Can you give us a glimpse of the latest disruptions across the globe, and in the South-east Asian markets?

P. Rajasekaran (PR): The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the workplace status quo, and as companies around the world resume operations, business continuity has merged with a new operating model: a robust digital backbone.

In the last decade, the world was flat with all collaborative technologies. In this decade, the disruptions have reached the common man to leverage all the tools and virtual workplace globally. The credit, unfortunately, has to be given to the pandemic for the largest change management in the history of mankind so far.

The post-pandemic workplace will require technology integration, to expunge siloed operations and simplify complex disparate systems, to enable a 360-degree view of the business and the safety of the people within it.

AI and ML are no longer futuristic concepts, but fundamental criteria for a robust infrastructure, on which organizations can execute their business models and can take data-driven decisions based on actionable insights. Advanced technology will also need to be used for controlling cybercrime and fraud, enhancing sustainability and anticipating all kinds of trends.

DigiconAsia: Which technologies are crucial for new and emerging digital economies in the current decade?

PR: Going forward, organizations need to be agile enough to leap past challenges, empowered by digitalization of operations with seamless data flows across different technology applications.

  • Demand for integration: There is a rapid rise in demand for integration, as it forms the basis for any DX initiative.
  • Data-as-a-Service (DaaS), PaaS & IaaS: Data is the most strategic asset for any organization in order to tap into the power of data to gain insights. In the decade ahead, data will be the huge differentiator among companies. Another growing trend is to deliver Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).
  • Predictive analytics for data-intensive businesses: Predictive analytics is changing the way businesses are run today, across multiple industries. AI-powered solutions help track Non-Performing Assets (NPAs), process efficiencies, generation efficiencies, as well as manage operations and maintenance.
  • Cloud-native architectures and microservices: Organizations look to microservices to rapidly create new customer experiences. Deploying microservices to production requires some form of service mesh capabilities to scale.

DigiconAsia: How much of global DX is currently being driven by AI, Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) and Predictive Analytics?

PR: These technologies are everywhere, penetrating our everyday lives through gadgets and communication platforms. IDC predicts that worldwide revenues related to AI (software, hardware and services) are slated to grow 16.4% year-on-year in 2021 to US$327.5bn.

It is estimated that by 2024, the market will break the US500bn mark with a five-year compound annual growth rate of 17.5% and total revenues reaching US$554.3bn.

  • In 2020, AI software represented 88% of the total AI market revenues. In terms of growth, the AI software platforms market is forecast to be the strongest with a five-year CAGR of 32.7%. Within the AI applications market, AI ERM is expected to grow slightly stronger than AI CRM over the next five years.
  • AI and IoT adoption is highest in product and service development, manufacturing and service-operations functions. According to a 2020 report on IoT spending by IDC, the worldwide spending on IoT will return to double-digit growth in 2021, with a CAGR of 11.3%. Predictive analytics is gaining good traction, with predictive maintenance, demand planning, inventory management and supply chains being monitored using AI.
  • Big data and predictive analytics are a staple for banks and financial institutions, but they are also finding use cases in sectors like Human Resources and Marketing & Sales. AI is used in talent acquisition, understanding the employees’ better, performance management and supporting HR functions. In Marketing, AI helps with customer analytics and segmentation and identifying potential prospects.
  • Healthcare is taking a giant leap towards predictive AI, especially with the surge in need for drug development and clinical trials, tracking infection and assessment vaccine roll-outs. Some of the other most common applications are for process automation, hyper-personalization, smart manufacturing, product lifecycle management, product development enhancements, virtual assistance, query resolution and customer support, autonomous systems and image or facial recognition systems.
  • Detecting fraud, reducing risk and improving operations are important business parameters for organizations across varied sectors. Now more than ever, AI and predictive analytics help companies discover new opportunities while sustaining business ecosystems in the new normal.

DigiconAsia: Where does India stand in DX compared with its South-east Asian neighbors? What more can be done to push the envelope in our country?

PR: We have about 41% internet penetration in the country, compared to 59% in China and 95% in the United States. However, in terms of numbers, we rank the second highest in internet usage (about 560 million users), second only to China.

India’s DX potential is huge, and we have fared quite well so far: digital buying, digital payments and now, digital workforce. Although the adoption levels may be a little less compared to our South-east Asian peers, we are getting there, thanks to the ‘Digital India’ drive by the Union government.

We have seen 90% growth in digital adoption and are the second fastest digital adopter among 17 major economies, according to the latest McKinsey report. It is estimated that by 2025, we will have doubled our digital ecosystems.

India is already an IT hub and it is highly conducive for AI-driven DX. The pandemic has actually accelerated investments in digital, especially e-commerce, media/OTT platforms, banking, payments and healthcare. Our aim should be to push digital to the grassroots, especially across key sectors like agriculture; water and essential resources management; housing; power generation; financial services; education; logistics; retail; skills development and employment initiatives.

Quantum computing and AI-driven predictive analytics will be extremely useful in steering massive government and citizen engagement programs in a country like ours. We could also use these technologies to empower citizens to voice their grievances and assert their rights. More investments in connectivity infrastructure and digital literacy are the key to accelerate this process.

DigiconAsia: Which cutting-edge technologies do you bet on to have a remarkable impact on DX this decade?

PR: Organizations are investing heavily on data to achieve more efficiency and performance. Gartner has projected that, by 2022, 90% of corporate strategies will explicitly mention information as a critical enterprise asset and analytics as an essential competency.

AI, IoT and predictive analytics, Robotic Process Automation will become the growth drivers for many organizations. Owing to digital infrastructural challenges faced by remote teams, companies are investing to increase service excellence, reduce inefficiencies and streamline processes.

In this context, Robotic Process Automation and remote monitoring of assets have become key drivers to improve customer service and optimization of resources. With the prevailing restrictions on people movement and focus on safety, most of the purchasing across categories has moved to digital commerce. We are already seeing a huge spike in companies implementing digital malls and marketplaces.