Key tech trends driving Indian digital makeover

Bangalore, November 21 2017: We bring you key insights from the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) - ASSOCHAM,  knowledge paper on "Leveraging emerging   digital technologies for India's transformation 2017 ."
Says Sandeep Jajodia, President  ASSOCHAM: "Today, technology represents a way for developing nations to foster economic development, improve levels of education and training, as well as address the emerging issues within society. Modern India realises the fact that science and technology are a key element for economic growth. As businesses, big and small, face an ever-changing global market, identifying the next big idea is becoming essential to stay ahead."
The emerging technologies highlighted are AI, robotics, IoT, the blockchain, cloud, AR and VR.

How India is embracing IoT
 IoT has acquired significant market traction in India over the last few years and by 2020, at least two-thirds of Indian businesses will set up an IoT centre of excellence to drive the adoption of efficiency-centric technologies and applications1.  The Government of India is also upbeat about the growth prospects of this technology, as indicated by its flagship programmes such as Digital India, Make in India, and Start-up India. Moreover, in July 2016, it launched an IoT-focused Centre of Excellence in Bengaluru along with NASSCOM. Planned government projects such as smart cities (e.g. Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh – India’s first greenfield smart city project), smart grids and smart transportation are also expected to be major revenue-generating sources for IoT solution providers in the future .|
According to a Gartner report, 50% of IoT solutions will originate in start-ups that are less than three years old. IoT start-ups in the retail sector aim to help offline retailers target their customers better through IoT offerings that use Wi-Fi sensors to monitor customers in areas around retail outlets, record footfalls and generate more customer engagement for retailers. IoT is revolutionising the agriculture sector. For example, a Bengaluru-based start-up has come up with IoT solutions such as solar water pumps, allowing users to control them through a mobile app, web or SMS, thus modernising the entire sector.

How India is embracing cloud technology
According to a TechSci Research report, the market for cloud computing services in India is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 22% during 2015–2020.
In India, the adoption of cloud computing has gained momentum over the last few years. In a 2017 report,6 Gartner pointed out that cloud growth in India is expected to continue to be driven by IaaS—projected to grow at 49.2% in 2017, followed by 33% growth in SaaS and 32.1% in PaaS. This expansion will be driven in part by government support towards the adoption of emerging technologies and the potential of cloud computing to address the challenges faced by company leaders.
Further, the projected increase in IaaS could be an indicator of the potential plans of firms to migrate applications from on-premise infrastructure to the cloud and future deployment of applications on cloud. The development of cloud-native and cloud-ready platforms—that is, PaaS—is helping organisations approach development and deployment in a much more costeffective manner, with SaaS allowing them to pay as per use. But to achieve a certain scale of SaaS and PaaS, companies might require their own specialised infrastructure to operate more effectively than if they were run on an IaaS solution.
The manufacturing sector in India, for example, has used the cloud for customer relationship management (CRM) and supply chain applications for improved connectivity and integration with external stakeholders.
Global tech companies are taking a keen interest in the quickly expanding Indian market as they have been reaping handsome dividends from their investments in the past. For example, a Silicon Valley giant will open its first ‘cloud region’ in Mumbai, India, by the end of this year, competing against other global technology companies in the cloud computing services space.

How India is embracing VR and AR
AR utilises a real-time view of the physical world around us and enhances it by depicting digital information. On the other hand, VR creates a simulated world via supplemental devices that render and display information rather than just reflecting the real world. Data visualisation, marketing and branding, and training and development are some of the possible fields where AR and VR are gaining popularity.
According to a 2016 TechSci Research report, the AR and VR market in India is projected to achieve a CAGR of 55.3% during the period 2016–2021. Applications of AR/VR for headgear and mounted display are on the rise, particularly in sectors like retail, auto, defence, gaming and entertainment, which are at the forefront of AR/VR adoption in India.
In terms of adoption, retailers are using AR in various ways—online shopping; virtual retail stores through AR apps; AR advertisements with web content, product videos and coupons; and 3D product previews at stores.
In healthcare, nurses will be able to locate veins with the aid of AR. Pharmaceutical and medical instrument companies will find AR very useful for R&D as it will help them to visualise a design, drug or instrument. Further, surgeons will be able to learn complicated surgeries via VR, which will aid them in increasing their efficacy. VR can also be used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Finally, AR and VR can aid in extending essential healthcare services to remote areas.
In the gaming sector, AR and VR startups have an opportunity to change the way people consume content. For example, a Hyderabad-based start-up gaming firm launched India’s first AR mobile game.
Other examples include a real estate firm in India that offers retina headgear to view properties virtually in 3D, and e-commerce companies that have developed virtual trial rooms using AR to offer a better customer experience.

How India is embracing the blockchain
With cryptocurrency usage expanding rapidly, India could potentially become a hub for blockchain technology. However, there might be further considerations that need to be taken into account in adopting the blockchain in India. Some of the scepticism around distributed ledger technology (DLT) and the blockchain may arise from safety loopholes, the need for wide participation from banking institutions and regulatory bodies, limited understanding of the DLT and blockchain, regulatory clarity, etc.
Globally, the financial services industry is a first mover when it comes to the blockchain, and several banks and financial institutions in India are actively evaluating and looking to deploy certain workloads on the blockchain. As per RBI’s recommendation, banks have been encouraged to explore and develop applications for digital currencies and distributed ledgers.16 A large Indian commercial bank successfully implemented a smart contract-based vendor financing solution for one of its large clients in early 2017.
However, the impact of the blockchain is not limited to financial services. It can also come in handy in the public sector (managing public records and elections), healthcare (keeping records anonymous but easily available), retail (handling large ticket purchases such as auto leasing and real estate) and more.
The technology is in an exploratory phase but fast gaining traction as several Indian blockchain companies have sprouted recently and alongside large banking institutions in India, they are aggressively looking at blockchain technology. Over the past two years, start-ups have begun throwing their weight behind blockchain technology. A one-yearold start-up has created a ‘bankchain’for banks to explore, build, and implement blockchain solutions in areas such as anti-money laundering, cross-border payments, asset registry and syndication of loans. Similarly, a two-year-old start-up is using the blockchain with AI to enable banks to authenticate and identify a person in a few hours. Simultaneously, many IT players are starting to build applications to help banks use the blockchain.

How India is embracing AI and ML
AI refers to the ability of a computer or a computer-enabled robotic system to process information and produce outcomes in a manner similar to the thought process of humans in learning, decision making and solving problems. ‘Artificial Intelligence is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs.’ - John McCarthy, father of AI
There is potential for companies to set up AI-focused innovation centres in India with government encouragement through initiatives such as Digital India and Make in India, which have created a favourable regulatory environment.
Over 36% of large financial institutions are already investing in these technologies, and almost 70% report that they are planning to in the near future.
|AI start-ups in India are venturing into multiple industries, such as e-commerce, healthcare, education, and financial services, and retail and logistics.
Start-ups are clearly playing a major role in innovating faster than corporates as they do not carry the baggage of IT. This has led to several curious partnerships—a large multinational database company has invested in a niche AI start-up which created a bot that improves the ordering experience. A US-based computer software company acquired a small Hyderabad-based company that specialises in helping e-commerce players store, process, and visualise data, and use that data to improve conversion rates. Then there are other start-ups that would interest corporates—a bot that functions as a virtual communications assistant that improves customer engagement, converts a customer into a client and provides insights, and a bot that converts all potential queries into leads with its AI engine.

How India is embracing robotics
According to the IDC report ‘Worldwide Robotics 2017 Predictions’,  35% of the top enterprises in utilities, health, logistics and resources will explore the use of robots to automate operations by 2019 and 30% of the top organisations will either have a chief robotics officer role or have a robotic-specific task within their business.
The government’s Make in India campaign enables foreign companies to invest in India. Many Indian subsidiaries of multinational companies are also using and implementing robotics. Indian companies too are investing in this space to compete with dominant foreign players. The usage of robots and automation at these companies has helped reduce avoidable wastage  resulting in cost savings of 10–20%.25  For example, one of India’s biggest auto manufacturers has invested in around 100 robots at one of its plants. A manufacturing subsidiary of one of the largest business groups in India announced the launch of an India made robot, developed for micro, small and medium enterprises which require cost-effective robotic solutions for their manufacturing operations.
The Indian market has also seen robotics start-ups coming up across several segments—a start-up providing warehouse automation solutions to India’s e-commerce and logistics companies has built a mobile intelligent ground vehicle for material handling; a Bengaluru-based start-up aims to enable widespread adoption of flexible automation in industry for tedious and mentally fatiguing or hazardous tasks that human labour is ill-suited to perform; and a Mumbai-based start-up aims to introduce state of-the-art social and service robots that can communicate with human beings and their surroundings.