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Digital economy: Platforms are pervasive

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By Kunal Kaul

There are some events in history that are considered as resets of time itself—the Industrial Revolution, discovery of electricity, and of course, invention of the internet. The last has, perhaps, been the most significant development yet, forever transforming how we live, learn, play, work, and think.

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In the corporate world, the last two decades bear testament to how the internet has changed the formula for business success. Now, of the top 10 companies in the world, eight operate in the technology space, and most are, at least in part, involved in the business of the internet.

India’s IT industry primed to lead next phase of global digitisation

Today, the IT industry has become our nation’s most strategic asset, contributing 8% to the national GDP and 27% of total exports and employing close to 5 million people and impacting several times more! Now, propelled by the pandemic, businesses are looking at digitalisation as an enabler of growth, not just efficiency, and increasing their investments therein. According to Gartner, 70% of CIOs will increase their spending on technology this year. As a result, the Indian ITeS sector could accelerate growth by 2-4% over the next five years, reaching $300-350 billion in annual revenue, according to a new report by Nasscom and McKinsey. As they straddle both the demand and supply sides of the value chain, IT service providers (ITSP) will play a major role in shaping every aspect of the next phase of digitalisation.

Digital platforms will drive renewed growth for Indian ITSPs
Every industry—banking & financial services, retail, manufacturing, energy, and utilities, or even the hyper-scalers themselves— relies on IT service providers. They have a global presence, robust delivery models, agility, knowledge and deep customer insight. However, in this dynamic environment, customers are looking for flexible consumption models that allow them to use, buy, and manage technology services easily. Therefore, demand for as-a-service models is becoming commonplace. To cater to these needs, Indian IT/ITeS (ITSPs) players have made advances in building solutions and offerings focused on business transformation and outcomes, leading to a rapid emergence of a platform-led digital revolution. Here, a broad spectrum of digital solutions, services, and outcomes are delivered leveraging various kinds of shared service and multi-tenant platforms, allowing ITSPs to build a platform once and replicate it at scale across a large number of customers globally.

Increasingly, digital solutions are being delivered not from piecemeal bespoke architectures but purpose-built, carefully engineered, and highly specialised platforms. These range from foundational platforms like cloud and analytics but are evolving into advanced platforms like IoT, blockchain, AI/ML, etc., and industry-specific platforms like insurance and healthcare.

The top Indian IT service providers have already begun operationalising digital platforms and are looking at strategies to accelerate consumption and global monetisation. A majority of the larger Indian ITSPs are already reporting 50% or more of their revenues coming from digital.

The opportunity in front of us is too good to miss, and we have everything we need to capitalise on it—ITSPs that can deliver relevant services to a global audience, a burgeoning tech-proficient talent pool, mounting investments in and adoption of new technologies, favourable regulatory frameworks, etc. Bringing all these disparate pieces and stakeholders together will guarantee India’s place in the digital economy.

The writer is director, Enterprise Sales, Cisco India & SAARC

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