IT Industry's Tips For Digital India's Success

by Sohini Bagchi    Jul 22, 2015

india

Infosys, country’s second largest software services firm, has not made any profit on government projects because of red-tapism and other issues, according to its co-founder NR Narayana Murthy. His comment came at a time when PM Narendra Modi’s Digital India project is gaining some momentum and tech companies are upbeat on various government projects.

What are the challenges?

Highlighting issues like delayed payments, not accepting software on time, not defining project requirements and in some cases, corruption that IT firms face while working on government projects, the Infosys scion told CNBC-TV18, government projects need to have clauses at par with international practices to ensure participation from Indian players and to make campaigns like Digital India successful.

Murthy’s statements are justified given that Indian companies derive 90-98% of their revenues from global corporations, and prices are “very attractive” outside India, as he states, “If those things are all adhered to, I have no doubt at all that the entire IT industry will rally behind the government in making Digital India a success.”

At a recent business event in Kolkata, Rajan S Mathews, Director-General of GSM operators’ body Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) said, “The need of the hour is a common policy across the country for setting up say, telecom towers.” he explained, currently, there are about 5 lakh cell towers, which is very much on the lower side. “Additionally, a clear roadmap for adequate spectrum and a single fee structure are needed to realize the Digital India dream.”

There are other areas of concerns as well, such as cyber threat. As Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst and Group CEO, Greyhound Research believes, the national cyber security approved by the government last year comes with a major challenge of building a workforce of 5 lakh professionals skilled in cyber security space. Also to curb the increasing security breaches in the country, the government will have to come up with one benchmark which specifies what kind of minimal measures in cyber security has to be taken by each and every entity.

Subho Ray, president of IAMAI too believes now that companies are upbeat on government’s various projects on Digital India, it is important to see how far and fast government goes ahead. “India will leapfrog by giving Internet access to people - but then that’s quite some challenge,” he told ET in an interview.

Going forward, Ralph Simon, CEO and Founder of Mobilium Global, sees non-availability of localized content and lack of low-cost devices as some of the looming bottlenecks. “As majority of the rural internet population is not comfortable in accessing Internet in English and this is holding them back from using internet fully for other purposes than online entertainment. With more content becoming available in the local languages, more users will start using the internet, he says.

Simon also says that only one out of 10 internet users in India transact online. “Online transaction is still in its infancy owing and there is a pressing need to educate and inform the user of the benefits of the internet services to drive the growth of internet usage,” he says if India wants to see itself digitalized and smart.

“Let us make sure that we are reasonable in our expectations, that we show our commitment to completion of the project. Let us allocate enough time of our officers to define the problem properly… make sure there are no unfair penalties,” Murthy said adding that Digital India will become a very important instrument for creating large number of jobs.

Opportunities unbound

When done effectively Digital India sure has a lot of opportunity for businesses, as, Dinesh Malkani, President, Cisco India & SAARC states that the company is excited about the Digital India pragram and the momentum behind the government’s vision to transform India through a digital revolution.

“The foundation for a Digital India will be intelligent networks which will unleash huge opportunities, changing the way we live, work, play, and learn,” he says and this can become a success when companies and government can offer “Seamless services to citizens digitally, build broadband highways, enable digital inclusion and deliver information for all.”

Dr Ganesh Natarajan, VP & CEO of Zensar Technologies & Chairman of NASSCOM Foundation writes in a recent blog: “If the government takes the agenda forward and does not leave any of the constituent parts gasping for funds, the opportunities are huge for the country in general and for willing participants in the IT sector as well. What is important to understand is that like any elephant, Digital India has many parts and each has to be addressed to make the big vision a reality.”

The IT experts believe timely payment, adopting an standard approach, and encouraging companies to offer opportunities for applications in local languages will make the Digital India project a grand success.