The unique convergence of superior business acumen and transformational technology is enabling the telecom and technology landscape to change dramatically every three to five years. India, despite being a late entrant in this space in 1995, has not only been able to catch up but has become the country with the second largest subscriber base and primary market for large technology companies.
The wireless data subscriber numbers indicate that India is at a vantage point, where it is building its technology superhighway, its ecosystem of telecom and technology that will together underpin the massive digital growth being predicted and planned for, and will take India towards becoming a $1 trillion digital economy. India has the right ecosystem for start-ups and is a nation that has the potential to develop unique business and monetisation models.
Artificial intelligence (AI), big data and analytics, cloud, IoT, blockchain and cybersecurity are bringing about a change in customer expectations and behaviour. With India being on the cusp of the 5G roll-out, it is critical to assess the current state of readiness of businesses in India Inc. to effect this change.
A survey was, therefore, conducted by KPMG in India across 150 companies to understand the technology readiness and priorities for business leaders. While business leaders in India appreciate the need and importance for digital maturity, only 31 per cent of the respondents had a roadmap for digital transformation. Business leaders believe that technologies that drive data analytics, AI, IoT and blockchain have the largest potential and have not been optimally utilised.
The most immersive, intelligent and inventive of all technologies, IoT will soon be ubiquitous. From smart homes and spaces to autonomous vehicles, to predictive and personalised medicine, IoT, underpinned by 5G, will fundamentally change how we live, work and play. From wearables to smart cars, smart homes, smart stores, smart offices or factories, “digital” is invading the physical world.
Customers need ubiquitous and seamless access to data and computer power, reducing friction and wastage while enhancing quality. Nearly two-thirds of potential consumers drop out of the purchase journey of telco products and services due to friction. While the current investment and focus are on creating an enriched omni-channel experience for customers using AI and machine learning, the survey respondents reckon it is face-to-face video communication and the use of bots and blockchain that is going to be a game changer in enhancing the customer experience over the next five years. The need for use cases that are affordable, agile, scalable and customer-relevant already pervade this space.
With the implementation of the Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulation, 2018, India has seen one of the largest implementations of blockchain beyond cryptocurrency. The next three years will see a shift in receiving, storing and working with customer data. Businesses will need to be more responsible and protect customer data privacy.
Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and AI will all come together to form “extended reality (XR)”. Although these technologies have been around for a few years, they have been largely confined to the world of entertainment. Going forward, as businesses delve into the world of possibilities offered by immersive technologies and based on how well customers respond to them, XR tools will become increasingly popular for training, sales and customer service as well as simulations of various types.
Sectoral innovation through connected cars, digital logistics, smart spaces and m-health is already changing the way companies do business and engage with customers. There is a definite need for technology applications that are affordable, agile and scalable.
The pace of technology proliferation in the country is directly linked to policy reforms. Policy changes relating to ease of doing business, right-of-way clearance, public-private partnership (PPP) models for infrastructure development, creation of a national portal to monitor and track the development and adoption of emerging technologies, expediting the roll-out of projects and incentives for start-ups amongst others will accelerate the adoption of digital technologies in the country.
With smartphones becoming more affordable and data penetration on the rise, the possibilities are endless. It is estimated that India’s smartphone user base will exceed 800 million by 2022, driven by demand from the younger population.
With the government and the private sector working together, India is naturally poised to become a technology superpower. With the highest data usage per user in the world, it will be interesting to see what the future has in store once 5G comes in. One thing is for certain, it will be intelligent, immersive and inventive. It will be a new hyper-connected India that will see telecom companies transform and truly become digital service providers through convergence, quad-play and technology platforms.
Purushothaman K.G., Partner and Sector Lead, Telecom; and Aditya Rath, Partner, Customer and Operations, TMT Sector, KPMG in India