In 2015 there were more mobile subscribers (7.4 billion) than people (7.3 billion) on earth. Cisco estimates that, in 2019, there will be 545 million Internet users, 654.1 million smartphone users and 1.6 billion networked devices in India. In 2019, mobile data traffic will be equivalent to 51x the volume of the entire Indian Internet in 2005 while video will be 66% of India’s mobile data traffic. As more devices capture more data, interact with more people and change the processes by which we live, learn, work and play , digitisation will have a profound impact on industries.
Forty percent of today’s leading companies globally will be displaced from their market position by digital disruption in the next five years, yet 75% of these companies have yet to address this risk by prioritising their digital strategy, according to research conducted by the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation. Digital disruption is a reality today and is transforming every industry, from healthcare to education, banking and financial institutions and more. Companies and cities are increasingly looking to drive digital business transformation and know that technology must be at the core of their business strategy to create and deliver unprecendented value as every person, process and thing in their organisation or city connects. Cities need to ask themselves: will technology simply enable, potentially differentiate, or fundamentally define their strategy.
In the digital world, data—and the insights from that data—will be the most strategic asset. The ability to secure, aggregate, automate and draw insights from the data—with speed—will ultimately define success for cities. For 50 years, the IT industry has been bringing data to the ‘computer’. Successful IT companies are now bringing computing—with analytics, insights and actions—to the data. Intelligent networks are needed to deliver the highly secure, distributed and intelligent infrastructure and solutions required in today’s highly dynamic digital world.
The government understands that digitisation can address the expectations of citizens and be a powerful engine of growth for India’s economy. The government has already laid the groundwork for transformation with the Digital India initiative which calls for the creation of large-scale digital infrastructure, digitally-enabled government
services and increased digital empowerment of citizens.
To succeed in the digital era, cities are already innovating with citizen services such as connected parking, intelligent traffic management, connected lighting and waste management, public safety and security, and Wi-Fi services.
Increasingly cities are building integrated operations centres with solutions integrated into a digital platform allowing cities to aggregate data from various sensors, solutions and partner applications; conduct advanced data analytics and support a wide spectrum of citizen services.
To become economically, socially and environmentally sustainable, smart cities in India will need to focus on achieving their digital transformation goals by capturing and analysing data coming from the many sensors, cameras and mobile devices in use. To innovate and succeed in the digital era, cities should look to employ new analytic techniques, such as fog computing, that is able to gather, process and conduct analysis at the edge of a network, where it can be acted upon immediately.
The scope, scale and economic impact of technology are enabling digitisation to disrupt entire industries. Companies should be encouraged to realise the value that comes with going digital in India and the tremendous value that has yet to be unlocked. The government realises that the future of competition is between cities. As a powerful way to attract talent and drive growth, cities are building out start-up ecosystems, creating environments conducive to innovation and job creation. Government leaders should provide continued support and investments to the start-up ecosystem creating more opportunities for cities, companies and citizens to compete on the global stage. By embracing digitisation, industries can increase efficiency, productivity and quality, in turn boosting GDP growth.
Across industries in India’s private sector, digitisation has the potential to create $393.4 billion, and in the country’s public sector has the the potential to create $116.2 billion, in value over the next decade.
India is well on its way to becoming one of the largest digitised countries in the world. As we move into this new digital era, government and city leaders should rapidly rethink how they approach the shift in infrastructures, processes and outcomes on a grand scale. Digitisation has the potential to create a revolution in how we use resources, how we communicate, how we get work done and what we come to know about communities, ourselves and the world.
DINESH MALKANI IS PRESIDENT, CISCO INDIA & SAARC