In India, as throughout the world, the IT industry has grown at an astounding pace. Just a little over 30 years ago, mainframes were still the primary type of computer in use. The programming languages that went with them were COBOL, and the Job Control Language (also known as JCL).
It wasn’t long before microcomputers began gaining widespread acceptance. As the name implies, these computers were much smaller, and for the first time, could literally sit on top of a desk.
One of the more popular microcomputers was Radio Shack’s TRS-80. It pretty much had the same processing power as a mainframe, but with a more powerful programming language named BASIC which stood for “Beginners All Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code.” The popularity of the TRS-80 grew even more when they released a pocket-sized version.
During this time period, computers got smaller and faster and by multiples more powerful. Then with the advent of the internet in the late 1990s, personal computers took a back seat to servers, which were required to host all of those .com websites.
Seizing on increasing internet use by consumers, Sun Microsystems made a splash with its famous tagline, “We’re the dot in dot com.” Venture capitalists were soon pouring funding into almost any business with an online store and e-commerce-fueled transactions.
Security became the watchword following the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, in New York City and Washington, D.C. This included everything from Physical Access Entry to Logical Access. Cyber-based threats also became commonplace with daily news reports of malware, spyware, and adware attacks.
With the growth of the internet and the miniaturization of the personal computer occurring simultaneously, the advent of wireless devices came into play. People could now carry a smaller version of their personal computer or workstation wherever they went, and shortly thereafter they were communicating with others whenever and wherever they happened to be.
This trend towards size-reduction and portability gave rise to one of India’s most in-demand tech devices, the smartphone. While cellular devices have been widely used in India for some time, the smartphone is changing every facet of our lives.
Everything is now crammed onto the smartphone. It has become in an indispensable extension of our personal and professional lives. The majority of Indians accessing the internet do so through their smartphones. Many professionals no longer need to go to the office to conduct business; all of their required job functions can now be accomplished via smartphone.
In many ways, the smartphone has become a technological mirror of our nation. With 300 million smartphone users, we are second only to China, which has 718 million. That is 25 percent of our citizens, and that percentage is expected to climb dramatically as the Modi administration builds out the internet’s support structure in India.
Mobile technology has also propelled us into the forefront of e-commerce. We are the world’s third largest e-commerce system, behind the United States and the United Kingdom. Our citizens are increasingly using their smartphones to ditch traditional brick-and-mortar stores for the ease and convenience of online shopping. Industry experts predict that e-commerce revenue will soon reach $38 billion (U.S.).
The Mobile Health service industry (also known as “M-Health”) is another sector that is rapidly expanding due to smartphone usage. To meet the demand of millions of online citizens the Government has launched four online health services; Kilkari, Mobile Academy, M-Cessation and TB Missed Call initiative.
Smartphone use will continue to increase. As of next week, consumers will be able to purchase made-in-India iPhone SE smartphones as Apple has begun to rollout their first set of locally-made devices from their Bengaluru plant. This move is expected to capture market share and eventually reduce the cost for smartphones to consumers.
As impressive as mobile technology’s impact has been on India, she is simultaneously experiencing four other technology trends that are altering our business and private lives in previously unimagined ways.
Like the rest of the world, Indians of all stripes have become more security-conscious than ever. This emphasis has been triggered not only by geopolitical forces, but also by the daily news stories of data breaches. The average citizen reports that their biggest IT security concern is the likelihood of having their personal data stolen. In response, the government is becoming very proactive in identifying ways of protecting personal data.
When it comes to software development, we are also one of the world’s “Silicon Valleys.” The sheer amount of intellectual property created by Indian firms warrants a high level of protection, and companies are becoming obsessed with securing it against bad actors.
The emphasis is on securing the Network Protocols which are used nationwide by our smartphones, in particular the Network Access Control Protocol (“NACs”) and the Virtual Private Networks (“VPNs”). The Modi government has also instituted restrictions on wi-fi and Bluetooth usage in certain parts of New Delhi that are deemed to be security-sensitive.
As our homegrown IT professionals continue to increase in skill and knowledge, a great many multi-national corporations, especially from North America and Europe, are increasingly turning to India for their software development needs. Apart from the cost savings, outsourcing to India enables foreign based companies to conduct operations 24/7 all year long.
Increased use of these technologies means that swift and easy communication can happen between multinational development teams on different continents. For example, when U.S. IT workers leave work, Indian software development teams are starting their daily routines and tasks. Some of the more common collaboration technologies being utilized include: Web Ex, Go to Meeting, and Skype, as well as various kinds of Instant Messaging (IM) packages.
Data analytics is the ability to compile and analyze mountains of data. Because India is a prime destination for software development and the adoption of e-commerce, we are creating vast amounts of consumer data. Understanding the purchasing practices of hundreds of millions of consumers is valuable because it enables companies to predict future trends and offer new products and services.
Data Analytics also involves examining datasets related to market intelligence about our competitive business landscape. An increasingly important subset of data analytics is Artificial Intelligence (AI), which mimics the thought and reasoning power of the human brain. Growth in this new field is exploding in India, especially when it comes to predicting covert cyber-based threats and risks.
The “Indian Stack”
With the heavy usage of mobile technologies by Indians, the trend towards using Virtual Payments is increasing, with the dream one day that we will be a completely “cashless” society. With no more hard currency, all e-commerce and business transactions will be conducted via smartphone.
The ultimate goal is to transform India into a 100 percent digital society, where every transaction and government service is virtual and connected by the IoT. The basic crux of this is a set of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) which include the recently implemented government programs, Know Your Customer (eKYC) process, the Unified Payment Interface (UPI), and the Digital Locker Facility (used to issue, secure, and verify digital documentation). These APIs have become affectionately known as the “Indian Stack.”
Although unique, each of these IT trends and technologies are working towards a common goal, a digital and mobile world in which eventually all Indians will be tethered to the internet through their smartphones. A formidable goal to be sure, but imagine the wondrous possibilities when the wireless tools and devices of 1.3 billion people are brought into play!