NEW DELHI : Today, India is at the cusp of digital transformation. With nearly 500 million internet users and roughly 340 million smartphone users in 2018, the digital wave is touching the lives of millions of people, shaping them into a digitally empowered society.

According to a new report by AIMA and KPMG on the ‘Socio Economic Impact of Digital Transformation, businesses are adopting digital technologies to achieve higher operational efficiencies and provide better customer experience.

Technology start-ups have further accelerated the trend by disrupting the traditional industries through innovative use of technology across different facets of business.

The government is also giving significant impetus on the adoption of digital technologies to improve the scale and speed of public service delivery.

Digital technologies are recasting the relationships between customers, workers, and employers as the digital reach permeates almost everything we do — from buying groceries online to booking cabs on mobile apps, the report notes.

As computing and communications improve dramatically and more and more people across the nation participate in the digital economy, we need to make choices, which will create profound impact on our economy and society, according to the report.

The idea of ‘digital transformation’ is vast enough to re-shape the investment, trade, jobs and skills of any nation. Digital transformation is not a one-time event; instead, it refers to phase-driven digital progress, maturity and diffusion of innovations at various levels of society.

According to the report, the first phase of digitalisation was associated with ‘mature’ technologies, such as management information systems (MIS), internet and its corresponding platforms and telecommunications technologies (voice, broadband).

The second phase, according to the report, entails the adoption of a range of advanced technologies, such as Big Data/analytics, Internet of Things, robotics, and artificial intelligence, aimed at automating work processes and improving overall human productivity and efficiency.

It is crucial to understand the impact of all these technologies and devise policies that will allow us to fully leverage the economic benefits and minimise social anomalies.

Each phase of digital transformation influences the society at numerous levels and has a specific set of social and economic impacts. On the social front, digitalisation strengthens the delivery of public services such as healthcare and education by improving the speed and scale of service delivery to the citizens.

In addition, digitalisation contributes to the overall development of society by providing financial inclusion and communication services. On the economic development front, it enables the automation of business processes, leading to operational efficiencies, such as reduction of manufacturing costs and higher productivity.

Digital transformation also open door to new business opportunities, thus creating employment. However, digital transformation can trigger societal impacts such as jobs displacement, talent shortage and cybersecurity concerns.

As India is ushering into the digital era, there is a strong need to establish robust infrastructure to leverage the growing opportunities and create a digitally empowered society.

Policymakers have to take a fresh look at their regulatory approach, which should support the development and implementation of innovative technology solutions.

The future will require a technology-agnostic and flexible approach, where the government enables a level-playing field for the private sector and facilitate investment in building secured infrastructure and digital-ready talent pool.

The digital growth will also require continued investment and innovation from the private sector to enhance consumer choice and economic growth.

The report also points out that digital transformation and adoption of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, internet of things and augmented reality is leading to widespread disruption of traditional business models and providing new economic opportunities.

Organisations that are adopting digital technologies are witnessing significant enhancement in business operations and customer advocacy. On the social front, digital solutions have also transformed the way citizens interact with their governments, especially in the areas of health and education, while facilitating social inclusion and communication.

It is expected that the future economic growth of the nation will be derived from digital products and services driven by digitally enhanced offerings, operations and relationships.

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