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India in 2020 has been one of the biggest and fastest-growing technology markets in the world. Digital and technology adoption in India has been increasing at a steady rate over the last few years, and the current COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the rate of technology adoption across sectors, including in high involvement services such as education and healthcare.
From the consumer perspective, there is a behavioural shift in using digital as the primary channel, even for high velocity everyday purchases. Domestic and global investors are actively participating in building digital infrastructure — communication networks, data centre and cloud services, and electronics manufacturing — to support India’s fast-growing digital economy.
Specifically, 2020 has been a breakout year for the electronics manufacturing industry. Government incentives such as Production Linked Incentives (PLI), Scheme for Promotion of Manufacturing of Electronic Components and Semiconductors (SPECS), and Modified Electronics Manufacturing Clusters Scheme (EMC 2.0) under the aegis of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ generated significant interest from global investors in setting up manufacturing and supply chains in India. In October, the government approved applications of 16 electronics companies under the PLI scheme, and the scheme is now also being extended to 10 other sectors, including telecom and networking components.
A strong manufacturing ecosystem complements scientific and industrial research, and the developments in the electronics manufacturing industry in 2020 are likely to boost the overall technology manufacturing in India in the years to come. This will enable a self-sustaining ecosystem for research & development in advanced technologies, leveraging India’s cost-effective science and engineering talent.
In the export markets, India’s tier-1 technology services companies have shown resilience in not only revenue performance, but also in margin performance during this pandemic, and also stepped up hiring activity during the year. There has also been significant interest from tier-1 and tier-2 technology services companies to establish strategic partnerships with their MNC clients with respect to their captive technology and business operations, including acquisition and business transfer of certain assets.
For the MNCs, exiting sub-scale captive operations through strategic sale and business transfer helps unlock value, while ensuring business continuity. For service providers, such deals tend to strengthen client relationships and also provide revenue stability in the medium term along with skilled employees and capabilities. This year witnessed a few strategic transactions of this nature, and this trend is likely to continue into the future, as MNCs streamline their global product development and service delivery strategies in the post COVID-19 world.
From the demand side, digital transformation deals continue to gain momentum as enterprises invest in cloud based infrastructure for digitising their customer channels and business operations. Technologies such as artificial intelligence and edge computing are gaining momentum in designing next generation cloud-to-edge architecture and services. Workforce transformation in a work-from-anywhere environment has witnessed significant developments during the year, and also fundamentally transformed the way global delivery models are executed.
As we look into the future, global delivery models in technology services industry could witness a significant redesign, in the technology enabled world of work. Client project delivery would shift from mobilising resources to mobilising skills in a fully distributed workforce spread across multiple geographies, collaborating seamlessly for client projects delivered using cloud-based environments.
COVID-19 has brought significant shifts in technology consumption for enterprises, governments, and consumers alike, and 2020 has been the inflexion point in that transformation journey. As we look into the future, mass digitisation is a reality, across sectors and across the world, and a range of enterprise and consumer technologies — from 5G to the cloud to virtual reality and edge computing — will continue to offer opportunities to global enterprises. There is greater market potential, shorter adoption cycles, and possibly lower costs for next generation tools and technologies, and it’s imperative for organisations to reimagine customer experience and business processes for a digital first world.
Workforce transformation has proved to be one of the significant developments across industries. What started out as necessity in 2020 is likely to find a new equilibrium in 2021, as organisations reimagine workforce and workplaces at a more fundamental level keeping in mind long-term transitions in their business. Successful organisations will be those that are able to redesign their approach towards workforce management, in attracting, engaging, and retaining talent in a wholly different, technologically-enabled world of work.
The learnings on workforce transformation from the technology industry, which is one of the earliest to adapt to this phenomena would have relevance and resonance across the broader knowledge industries. The Indian technology industry’s talent machine coupled with fully distributed global delivery models is likely to play an important role in the transformation journey of the global digital economy in the years to come.