How Technology, Education, and Mobile Moments are Driving India’s Digital Transformation

by Kulmeet Bawa

posted on 12-05-2018

The digital transformation is alive and well in India. The changes are, already, staggering — and we’re just beginning to experience the benefits.

According to one IDC study, an estimated 60 percent of the country’s GDP will, by 2021, come from digital products and services. By that same time, IDC projects this digital transformation will be responsible for a one percent CAGR in India’s GDP.

Layer in the 40 percent increases in productivity, customer advocacy, cost reduction, revenue from new products, and profit margin projected in the next three years, and you start to get a sense of the impact this seismic shift will bring to the world’s fifth largest economy.

What is takes to be an experience business

This transformation, though, isn’t just changing the financials of it all — it’s also changing the way we do business. With this shift, India is transforming into an Experience Economy — an economy in which customers demand brands deliver personalized experiences that support their unique journeys. It’s a change in thinking, strategizing, and delivery that, likely, won’t come easily to most Indian companies.

That said, a number of businesses are embracing this new world order and, as a result, are thriving with higher customer engagement and increased ROI. From where I sit, this is indicative of what a truly “Digital India” could be capable of — and, in the not-too-distant future, likely will be.

Getting here, though, means businesses must commit to not just a mindset shift, but also to enhanced talent acquisition and cross-channel experience delivery — and underscoring it all must be a marriage of India’s startup culture with emerging technologies. When those pieces align, transformation isn’t just possible, it’s inevitable.

Part 1: Integrating emerging technologies

Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will be critical to the evolution of India through an experience lens. While more indian companies are considering these innovations, many remain hesitant. “There is a big question of importance,” says Sunder Madakshira, Adobe India’s head of marketing. “They ask and are trying to understand what artificial intelligence or any of these new technologies can do for them.”

Part of that hesitation, he notes, comes from the belief that these technologies could potentially eliminate much-needed jobs — hence the suspicion. However, as I’ve seen over and over, AI and machine learning — among other emerging technologies — aren’t here to displace Indians or their jobs. Instead, this technology can eliminate time-consuming tasks, enabling us to focus on knowledge work — an area where India excels. It’s clear, however, that this will require a paradigm shift and a redefining of old boundaries.

Part 2: Aligning the workforce to Digital India

This also brings us to the challenge of assembling a workforce trained and ready to compete in the Experience Economy. To get here, India’s educational system needs to be realigned to meet the staffing needs of our now digital-first economy.

Granted, considering 65 percent of the population are digital natives — “screenagers,” as I like to call them — I believe realigning education won’t require a clean slate approach. We’ll simply need to work together as businesses and educational institutions to convert students into the top talent needed to fuel innovation and transformation.

It’s something we’re highly committed to at Adobe. As an organization, we’re working with several partners to develop the educational infrastructure required to support this conversion. We’re partnering with schools to dig into the research, we’re promoting education-expanding policy initiatives to government decision makers, and we’re actively providing cutting-edge internships to emerging talent across the country.

Going forward, we’ll continue to invest in digital skills training for Adobe India employees. This, we believe, is an essential piece of preparing our innovative teams for the future of work — and a major reason many high-performing companies have grown and thrived so much in this new Experience Economy.

Indian workers will need more than just technical know-how to win in the Experience Economy — they will need an equal measure of creativity as well. I am personally very excited about the potential of our Adobe Digital Disha Program which leverages Adobe Spark to encourage creative thinking and problem solving skills among students in India.

And that’s just the beginning.

That said, achieving all this means a dramatic change of focus for a country long immersed in science and technology. Creative pursuits have often been looked down on, with too little time invested in fostering creativity in schools and businesses. It’s a problem and, in many ways, could be a hindrance to our digital transformation.

Part 3: Making mobile moments count

The final piece of the puzzle is decidedly mobile-centric. India is rapidly becoming a mobile country with mobile-carried internet traffic jumping 290 percent in just three years.

This year, we anticipate smartphones making up close to half of all Indian internet usage. Clearly, Indian brands will need to embrace a mobile-first strategy to compete on experience — and those mobile-first moments need to be dynamic, customer-driven, and support cross-channel journeys that pivot, shape-shift, and evolve in real-time.

Putting it together to drive the digital transformation

These three challenges — incorporating emerging technologies, aligning the workforce with a digital economy, and driving mobile-first experiences — require a redrawing of old boundaries for Indian brands. It also requires adopting certain elements of digital corporate culture into a country that has, up to this point, been a “startup” nation.

Getting here, then, means learning to better collaborate and remove silos, while harnessing the power of AI and automation to generate real-time, actionable insights. It won’t happen overnight and it won’t happen without some serious mindset shifts. But the potential rewards are immense.

“We are still barely scratching the surface when it comes to the digital opportunity,” Sunder has said — and I agree. Whether it’s in broadband penetration, internet usage, or smartphone penetration, so much headroom exists for digital to expand and grow. We look forward to guiding India into its next stage as a leader in digital transformation and in the Experience Economy.

Learn more about Adobe India and how we’re driving the digital transformation in this critical market.

Topics: Digital Transformation, Personalization, APAC