“We have a variety of programmes to create digital infrastructure. This will include digital delivery of services, empowerment,” IT and communications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, adding that this had to go hand-in-hand with the government’s ‘Make in India’ campaign.
Prasad also dwelt on the government’s ambitious proposal to create a 700,000-km fibre optic network across the country. “There is a huge untapped rural market and we have to create a digital equality,” he said.
These plans sit well with technology companies, not least global networking giant Cisco. Padmasree Warrior, Cisco’s chief technology and strategy officer, said, “Digital India is really a good vision for us. This aligns very well with what we have set for ourselves. The future is being internet of everything and every country has the opportunity to become digital.”
However, she cautioned that certain basic foundation technologies have to be in place. One is broadband access, and the second the idea of smart cities.
“For the transformation to happen, whether it is healthcare or education, we have to figure out how we deploy these solutions,” she said.
Side by side with the government’s digital drive, tech companies are also embarking on a concerted strategy. “Digital has become mainstream during the year with the industry increasingly investing in digitised solutions to drive future growth opportunities,” said Nasscom chairman R Chandrasekaran. “Digital solutions in the year accounted for 12-14% of the industry revenues.”
According to Nasscom, there are 7,000 digital-focused firms in India with around 1.5 lakh IT professional being proficient in these technologies.
The word digital also encompasses a wide scope of activity. “From our perspective, any person, place or thing which has a physical also has a virtual life,” said Malcolm Frank, Cognizant executive vice-president, strategy and marketing, offering a definition. “Tapping into this virtual thing and creating a business meaning out of it is digital.”