Blockchain may drive the next wave of digitization in India
A strategic imperative for any major organization is to understand the fast-changing pace of business and the uncertainty that results out of such flux. This is key to understanding a customer’s business and the challenges and opportunities that such flux presents.
At Deloitte, one of the markets we have been watching closely is India, given the significant presence and commitment of various multinational clients as well as a vibrant domestic market.
While there are sweeping changes all over the globe, as large companies in an array of industries focus on digital transformation, the level of energy and momentum in India especially is remarkable.
This digitization in India is happening on many levels. For instance, robotic process automation (RPA) is driving the ‘digitization of process’, where formerly manual rules-based tasks are now being performed by software bots. Many people don’t fully realize the magnitude of the change taking place in this realm, with now virtually every big multinational and private domestic bank working on such automation initiatives. It’s not limited to banking and financial services either—many back-office processes, from claims processing to invoice handling to human resources (HR) record handling, are ripe for automation. The multinational captive centres in India are not just looking at this as a cost reduction play either; automation also improves quality and compliance, and reduces the rate of error.
Sensor and IoT
More broadly, we see the “digitization of operations,” a key component of Industry 4.0. With sensors declining in cost and the Internet of Things (IoT) coming into play, this digitization of operations is resulting in a wealth of data that is now driving business insights powered by analytics. Sensors and IoT are creating transparency in the supply chain, tracking industrial assets, optimizing preventative maintenance, digitizing manufacturing, and so much more. The data available is just astounding if you think about where the industry was just 10 years ago, especially once you marry the leverage of such data with the cloud and cognitive technologies.
One of the efforts Deloitte has been working on is a network of global Deloitte Neuroscience Institutes, where we are now helping clients understand their customers’ reactions towards products, their areas of interest with respect to marketing materials, the effectiveness of key messages, and also usability of software. We form market research groups and use sensors that can track signals related to emotions, such as changes in brain activity, micro-facial expressions, heart rate, skin conductance, pupil dilation and more. This is basically the “digitization of perception.” There are companies out there building hardware intended for wide consumer use that are embedding standard features like eye-tracking. If you combine these capabilities with analytics and cognitive technologies, we’re essentially creating an insights machine.
This “digitization of insight” as machine learning becomes an everyday must-have for companies is an exciting opportunity. This needs the building of an ecosystem of partners to bring capabilities like sophisticated automated document analysis to hundreds of clients. Even sectors that have been traditionally slower to adopt new technologies, like law firms, are beginning to use these technologies. They are realizing that their future cost structure just won’t be competitive otherwise.
There’s also a big public thrust towards innovation in India right now as well that is invigorating, though not without its challenges. The drive for cashless digital payment systems, for instance, is incredibly ambitious but a long journey given that cash is still by far the dominant form of payment. The “digitization of governance and institutions” is inevitable, however. If you look at what’s happened with the Aadhaar ID system and now the Goods and Services Tax (GST), there’s a greater appetite for transformative change in government than ever before. The next wave could be blockchain, with the Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT) setting up a working group to look at use cases. There’s the potential here to build the necessary fiduciary trust through software mechanisms and cryptography rather than rely on human-only institutions.
All in all, it’s a fascinating time in India and all major organizations in India and the world are watching what’s happening closely while tracking the ecosystem.
There is optimism about the quality of the start-ups that are emerging, in areas like blockchain and cognitive computing.
Large clients are keen to understand new business models, digital transformation efforts, and related mergers and acquisitions. Things are just starting to heat up.
Andrew Vaz is global chief innovation officer of Deloitte and Rajarshi Sengupta is chief innovation officer of Deloitte India.
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