The digital economy will be worth $19 trillion (around `6,000 trillion today) in the next 10 years and digitization is the biggest change ever, which will have 10 times greater impact than that of the Internet, says Chambers. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
The digital economy will be worth $19 trillion (around `6,000 trillion today) in the next 10 years and digitization is the biggest change ever, which will have 10 times greater impact than that of the Internet, says Chambers. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Digitization can help India leapfrog others: John Chambers

Cisco chairman says the transition on digitization is the biggest thing happening in India and that the process is revolutionary but brutal

New Delhi: Digitization presents India with a chance to leapfrog other nations to become the global technology leader, John Chambers, executive chairman of Cisco Systems Inc., said on Friday.

“For India, which has been a slow follower (in technology adoption), this is a chance to leapfrog and become a technologically advanced country," said Chambers while addressing the EmTech India event organized by MIT Technology Review and Mint in New Delhi.

Digitization is revolutionary but brutal, said Chambers, who is also the chairman of US-India Business Council.

“Majority of the companies going forward will become digital. But 40% of existing companies today will not survive the next 5 to 10 years," he said.

“Only those who can reinvent themselves in the process will be able to survive," he said, adding that in order to increase longevity, every company in the world has to become digital.

“Digital is basically the capability to get innovation done faster," Chambers said. “Digitization is how you innovate and how you change business processes. It is how you will disrupt the existing systems."

According to Chambers, the digital economy will be worth $19 trillion (around 6,000 trillion today) in the next 10 years and digitization is the biggest change ever, which will have 10 times greater impact than that of the Internet.

“From the outside, you see what is going on in every country. India has a young population with an average age of 26-27," he said, indicating that there is a lot of scope for innovation in the country.

“Then there is broadband connectivity of more than 10 Mbps being rolled out," he said. “But most importantly, it has a leader who gets it." Mbps, short for megabits per second, is a measure of data transfer speed.

“The transition on digitization is the biggest thing happening. India is a country whose leader is truly a visionary. (Narendra) Modi is the man with a mission and he is extremely intelligent," said Chambers. “When he talks about digital India, he understands the complex problems we will have to face. He breaks the complex problems into smaller ones and takes action on those."

India, the world’s largest democracy, has the courage to make that change, he added.

The other important growth engine, according to Chambers, is the start-up ecosystem.

“If you want to do a start-up, this is the right time, the inflection point has just happened in India," said Chambers.

“Even though India (start-up ecosystem) still has a long way to go when you compare it with US (Silicon Valley) in the ’90s, India is going to see a generation of start-ups coming up who will set up examples for the world," he added.

However, one of the major challenges that the start-up environment faces, said Chambers, is the need to change the culture.

“If a start-up fails in the Valley, it starts again. But if a start-up fails in India, it gets a bad market, which makes it unable to start over again," he said.

Still, Chambers remains excited and bullish about India.

“Going ahead, every country has to be digital and need to change their organizational structure accordingly," he said. “Five years from now, India will be the fastest growing country in the world."

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