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It from India

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By roypaulmathew
Words 1325
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IT from India’ to 'IT for India'
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India has come a long way as a supplier of IT services to the world. Analysts say that India has revolutionized the services sector the same way as Japan changed the manufacturing sector. But, Indian IT sector has mainly catered to a global market, and very little was done for the local market in India in the past. India presents a very large untapped market in terms of technology adoption and usage. The scope of technology development for India as a market is at a position when the world was some 15 years ago. The major advantage is that India can start implementing technology from the point where the rest of the world is right now. It can leapfrog ahead of the rest of the world with very little legacy technology to cope with.
Indian Market-India should be considered not as a country but as another world in itself. People have committed the mistake of considering it as a single big unit of similar attributes and needs or in other cases, seen little value in understanding the diversity of the country. They concentrated more on the well-off English speaking crowd of the country and never seen any true value in tapping the regional segments. FMCG, Education, Entertainment almost everyone else except IT has understood the value of tapping into the regional segments. This can be mainly attributed to the fact that IT was never meant for the Indian market. While other industries aimed to cater to local demand, IT was basically present as a supplier, catering to demand generated from the US and European countries. Also, the suppliers in other industries belonged to the same regional segment to which they catered to providing them a better understanding of the regional market. Most of our IT demand on the other hand is met by foreign players operating either in India or outside and from Indian players who have borrowed foreign technology and processes.
This scenario is set to change in the future. This is a trend that is very likely to come true. Increased stress on e-governance; people becoming tech savvy, advent of 3G technologies in telecom industry, higher stress on education etc. clearly point to an increasing use of technology or to the least an increased exposure to technology. Whether or not these technologies will be accepted will depend on what value they offer to the customers. Let us focus on few of the areas where IT can be used in India.
Governance: e-governance in India is currently at a very nascent state. The government is going in the right direction and has increased its spending for its implementation. The UID project is a shining example of the government’s initiative, but there is still a long way to go. Currently, the government has leveraged technology in sectors like Indian Railways, RBI, TRAI, the Income Tax department’s e-filing of IT returns, Land Registrations, Law, etc. But, most of the remaining government (including central, state and municipal) websites are badly maintained static pages without proper structuring of data or regular update. This has to change. The government should make efforts to make it as easy as possible to traverse through the web of information, access information with minimum effort and make websites more interactive and responsive. This is where IT has a role to play. IT can enhance the operational efficiency of the government organizations and in turn improve the efficiency of any organization/person that interacts with them. Another major issue in today’s governance in India is corruption. The best way to beat this is through increased transparency. The introduction of RTI Act is a great achievement of the UPA government towards achieving this goal. So what is the next logical step in this direction? It is to make all public information available on the internet without the need to file RTI requests. Yes there would be some need of restricting the information in case of sensitive data, but that is just an operational issue. With this there will be greater amount of transparency and easy access to data.
Consumers: Most of the technology demands of India are met by foreign companies (who may or may not have an Indian subsidiary). Initially these companies saw India as one big unit with no difference between any of the regions. They didn’t see any value in segmenting an already small market any further. There is a clear difference between the needs of an Indian consumer from that of a global consumer. There are some generic needs that transcend all borders, but you really have to appreciate the uniqueness of India to understand the local needs. How many companies have really tried to tap into this cultural thread and develop something that integrates with the culture of India? There is clear trend in this direction that can be seen from sites like http://in.jagran.yahoo.com/, http://hindi.moneycontrol.com/, http://www.oneindia.in/, etc that have started providing information in regional languages. Most IT start-ups in India aim at the foreign market. They see very less value in aiming for the local market due to its relatively small size. Even the few companies who aimed at the local market more or less emulated an already existing process/idea from outside and implemented it in India. Flipkart would be an apt example in this case. It was started by a bunch of ex Amazon employees and does almost the same thing as Amazon does, on a smaller scale. This process of bringing proven ideas from outside and implementing them for India is good, to the extent that they are serving the local market and getting people to use technology. As most people do not know what to expect from IT, they can be trained to use it in a way similar to the rest of the world.
But, to really get people on to the technology bandwagon you need to build something they will easily understand. Develop something that can pull people towards technology rather than the technology being pushed onto them. Be a part of the Indian culture rather than make them change their habits to act or become something else. Matrimonial websites in India are one such example where the concept of arranged marriage was taken to internet and is big business in India. Also, we have a growing telecom market; this is something very unique to India where the mobile penetration is far higher than the Internet penetration. This scenario provides us a different challenge where preference to mobile communication needs to be given.
Corporations: With the increased growth of SMEs in India contributing almost 20% to the GDP, this is a market that has led domestic IT demand. SMEs in India are technologically behind their foreign counterparts. The ERP solutions are very costly and do not fall in the budget of all SMEs. Also the complex nature of ERP solutions makes it difficult to train the workforce of SMEs to use it. Technology has to be sensitive to both cost and usability of ERP solutions in SMEs. Cloud computing is one technology that helps in implementing it at low costs. It helps them scale on demand and have leaner operating processes. Indian industries like retail, pharma and e-commerce are some of the avenues that are growing. These industries strive to be the best in the world and want to follow the global standards. In this case, all a company needs to do is to emulate the global standards and processes and implement it for the local company. But, other areas like rural marketing and supply chain may need process innovations that are customized for India. When there can be innovations like MFIs in Finance for the rural sector, there is an even better scope of innovation in IT for the rural sector.

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