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India is at a tipping point, set to see innovations at scale

At TechSparks 2023 Mumbai edition, Rajesh Ramdas, Head of Customer Engineering, Digital Natives, Google, and Arvind Jayaprakash, Senior VP of Technology, Glance, spoke about the many trends and innovations that will help India disrupt the global market in the techade.

India is at a tipping point, set to see innovations at scale

Tuesday April 11, 2023 , 5 min Read

In recent months, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has focused on the need for India to be a developed nation by 2047, vociferously backing the cause of the country’s techade.

India has emerged as a leader in advanced tech adoption, with growth being driven by disruptive technologies such as AI, machine learning, AR/VR, cloud, blockchain, and others. Enterprises, startups, MSMEs, and others are doing their bit to ensure a decade dominated by technologies.

Several experts concur that the Indian tech industry will lead the global disruptive tech market in the years to come.

At a fireside chat during the Mumbai edition of TechSparks 2023, Rajesh Ramdas, Head of Customer Engineering, Digital Natives, Google, and Arvind Jayaprakash, Senior Vice President of Technology, Glance, spoke on ‘Tech-nically speaking: Mega trends set to disrupt India’s future’.

Ramdas began the discussion with insights about trends in India – which has been more of a consumer of innovation, for a long time. “Earlier, India was mostly on the sidelines, while innovation happened elsewhere. But now, we are in a bidirectional place, with innovations from India going to other countries as well,” he said.

Most innovations in India address three important problems, Ramdas said, listing them down as “complexity, scale, and the price point at which they are delivered.”

“We have started moving away from consuming innovation to creating innovation. We are at a tipping point. We will see innovations at scale; [things] will start here and everybody will consume,” Ramdas said.

The tech leader cited the example of Googlepay, which was initially made in the United States, for India. But the company quickly realised that the model they built did not work well here. The application was quickly redesigned and has become the base for all Googlepay applications around the world.

While Ramdas highlighted homegrown innovation, Jayaprakash, cited the example of computing, which has seen immense inclusion. “About 30 years ago, a computer was a scientific device; 20 years ago, it was meant to be used in offices; today, it is in the hands of everyone across India. Social and economic strata are no longer barriers and everyone has a modern version of a computer, a smartphone,” he said.

As inclusivity goes up, one must put in efforts to enhance ease of use, he added. “If you keep your eyes on usability, you won't get obsolete,” he said, backing up his theory that anything that increases “participation of humanity” has a future.

The Glance tech head said India is witnessing something seen nowhere across the world - the population that is digitally online today versus 10 years ago.

“At least half the nation is online; this kind of inclusion has still not happened across the world. So, go build products where you can get more people onboard; that will lead to newer applications,” he said.

Bridging the skill gap

Many surveys suggest that tech leaders in India have serious concerns about talent retention and getting the skill sets right.

The Equinix 2022 Global Tech Trends Survey revealed that 74% of IT decision-makers in India view shortage of personnel with IT skills as one of the main threats to their business.

The panellists also touched upon how institutes or companies could address the skill gap as they moved ahead in the techade, where Ramdas said that the skill gap, far from being an Indian problem, is a global phenomenon today, as the surge in online engagement lacked enough people to handle demand.

“I don't view this as a tech shortage, I see it as an abundance of opportunity,” Ramdas said, adding that the market for newer tech companies is nowhere close to saturation.

Jayaprakash said he saw skill gaps in certain areas, and it was vital to identify these newer areas quickly. “One of the things most organisations can do is create a programme - what I call the ‘train the trainer model’. This means people can start scaling without formal training,” he said.

When asked how companies can continue cultivating a mindset towards tech and innovation, Ramdas reiterated that India is at a tipping point with a lot of innovation.

“We need to move in two different directions. First, fundamental innovations, by creating something that can be on a global scale. This means looking at industries/areas like agriculture, healthcare which offer a wide scope for deeper work and could translate to huge benefits for the country and globally,” he said.

He advised exploring these areas and doubling down to really scale and create a moat for India and also creating a strong security framework with new technologies to build trust.

Ramdas also backed the idea of constant exploration and examination. “Look for newer innovations, at large learning models like ChatGPT. How do you use that? How do you apply current work in AR/VR in industry? How do you address the Tier III and Tier IV markets?” he asked.

Persevere and persist

Jayaprakash said companies and employees should not be disheartened by failure.

“Innovation and failure are two sides of the same coin. We are trying to do something for the first time. If we fail, we need to try again,” he said.

He added that innovators must not carry “the pressure of being a genius maverick who gets it right all the time”. The 100/100 mindset gets in the way, he said, as people don't let themselves explore and get things wrong.

“Innovation is about perseverance, about ultimately getting it right. So stop labelling obstacles as failures. Freely innovate and maintain momentum,” Jayaprakash concluded.

TechSparks Mumbai