What was initially spoken of as a much-needed assault on both the stock and flow of black money in the country has morphed in recent weeks into a campaign to move the transaction habits built over decades in this country from cash to digital. Critics may point out that barring Sweden, no developed country has any pretentions to being a cash free society and point out that of the 100 million retail outlets in the country, barely a couple of million are ready for cashless transactions. But there should be no doubt that the vision of a truly digital India can be achieved if the right steps are taken to transform technology, processes and mindsets across the country.
In this matter, there is much to be learned from the experiences of large business corporations who have embarked on a digital journey, and are in various stages of making the transformation a reality. If one were to look at a global “best in class” case, there is none better than China’s Ping An Financial Services. Ping An’s real transformation started with the setting up of Ping An Digital in 2014 which induced a new culture of innovation, created a marketplace where every type of customer could interact digitally and set Ping An on the path to becoming the first truly customer centric integrated digital financial services company in the world. Its vision for 2018 is to have a fourfold jump in transactions and revenues with 80% of transactions being digital.
Ping An or, for that matter Citibank, or visionary Indian corporations such as HDFC and Bajaj Finserv pride themselves on their ability to effect large scale transformation by focusing on a Run-Transform-Innovate approach. The Run dimension will ensure that processes, technology and customer touch points are tightly managed with high security, new incremental ideas for transformation are brought into day-to-day processes and disruptive ideas for innovation are explored to change the rules of the game.
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What is the message here for a truly Digital India and the audacious goal of a cash free country? Niti Aayog, the ministries of IT and telecom besides Nasscom and the internet and mobile and e-commerce and m-commerce lobby groups are already hard at work in designing scalable models which can provide the reach and ease of use to citizens. The opportunity exists for the Common Services Centres (CSCs) of the ministry of IT, the Digital Literacy Centres (DLCs) and large scale volunteering to carry this message to every Indian—let us help you to go digital through a step-by-step understanding of digital access, e-banking through Aadhaar and Jan Dhan accounts and e-payments through multiple options. Pressing call centres and telecom companies into the mission and conducting collaborative public awareness programmes will also show every Indian citizen that we all care and help make Digital India a vibrant reality!
The approach that works for successful digital transformation in large national and global corporates will work for Digital India as well. There needs to be a strong push from the leadership, collaborators have to work together to design an effective process for skill development, the technologies must be competitive and easy to disseminate and use, and there must be a real effort to understand the diverse needs of citizens.
Should we sit on the sidelines and wait for some miracle to resolve the demonetisation fallouts? The magic is in our intent and every Indian can get involved and make it happen!
The writer is Chairman of 5F World and Nasscom Foundation