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Technology Akin Catalyst

The Indian clan of inhabitants tends to stay spectacular at all times whenever it comes to habituating and adapting to dynamic technological trends and advancements around the world. We have been through a substantial transformation in almost all the spheres of the economy in the past couple of years, altering the conventional approach and innovating new ways to solve excessively complex problems so as to stand upfront in this highly competitive world. In the light of recent years, we have performed equitably well in various aspects of the economy even while being confronted with some slowdowns on the contrary [such as in the case of GDP]. Having a sizable amount of netizens in the country, we emerge as a prodigious family of around 451 million monthly active internet users (as of the ending of FY19), serving as the second-largest internet user base in the world. According to a report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), India is now second only to China in terms of internet users. Taking the gadgetry fondness of the masses into consideration, we have a smartphone penetration of 27.7%, making a total of 374,893,000 people accessible to the use of the internet which, ipso facto, depicts our inclination towards technology. Today, we are on the verge of unfolding a plethora of new opportunities and challenges where technology acts as a catalyst and accelerates these prospects en masse. Given the quantum of hurdles ahead, the innovation quotient with which our technology must grow is proportionately high.

In this digital transition phase, we’ve set out towards targets like a cashless economy, a $5 trillion economy, a digitally equipped nation and the rural-urban unification. We need a common strategy in place to give a kickstart benefaction to the making. Though we have already performed well in multiple sectors, we still have a long way to go. “In 2019, India has become a $2.7 trillion economy, having added one trillion US dollars in the last five years. Our vision to become a $5 trillion economy by 2024-25 is challenging, but it is realisable”, says finance minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman (According to a report by The Economic Times). When we have already achieved a notable mark of a $2.7 trillion economy in 2019, taking it up at $5 trillion won’t be a duck soup but integrated efforts of all sectors can actualise the same. Today we see a significant increase in the number of consumers willing to go for digital payments leading to more transparency and convenience in tracking and monitoring activities. A recent online survey conducted by YouGov and ACI Worldwide states that 42% of the Indian consumers prefer digital payments. This widespread technological influence has helped us to achieve copious groundbreaking upshots in sundry domains, thus elevating the overall growth trajectory of the nation.

There has been a massive boom in the Indian e-commerce space over the past few years. The Indian e-commerce industry is high on captivating businesses. The industry is being flooded by merchants, traders, service providers and sellers sailing through to secure a space in the global marketplace amidst big business giants such as Amazon, Flipkart and Paytm mall dominating the marketplace universe alongside a league of other e-commerce companies. The market is apparently burgeoning at a stupendous rate i.e. from $3.9 billion in 2009 to $38.5 billion in 2018, and is expected to reach $200 billion by 2026. The rise is quite obvious because of the rising smartphone penetration in the global market. India’s e-commerce revenue is growing at an annual rate of 51% (highest in the world), making India one of the fastest-growing economies in the segment. There are innumerable cadres such as internet marketing, supply chain management, logistics, electronic fund transfer, warehousing operations, client relationship management, and many analogous roles providing working opportunities to a lot of people in their fields of endeavour.

Today, the E-retail sector is enthralling millions of sellers to lend a hand and sell using technology as a medium to expand their businesses. With a major proportion being shifted from offline to online, the retail market has experienced a remarkable change in terms of both consumers’ approach and the services provided by the sellers. A report by NDTV reveals that 89% of Indian consumers prefer online shopping to offline purchasing. As the digital landscape is evolving, it’s more convenient for sellers to get themselves registered in the directories of various marketplaces and operate. There are a surfeit of services available to the merchants with numerous technicalities consolidated to a click of a button. According to a report by the IBEF (India Brand Equity Foundation) the E-retail market is expected to continue its strong growth, prospectively registering a CAGR of over 35% and to reach Rs 1.8 trillion (US$ 25.75 billion) by FY20. Today consumers can go online for anything and everything as there exist a vast range of products and services available to accommodate their needs. The overall market share is also diversely spread, with electronics holding the biggest share of 48% followed by apparels at 29%. The explosion of E-commerce has helped both domestic and international merchants to scale up their businesses beyond geographical constraints. Amidst all this, the B2C variant is also performing extensively well. A lot of digital marketplaces such as Amazon and Flipkart are rendering new opportunities and investments, thereby helping merchants and service providers to discover upcoming business possibilities and serving as a platform to give these sellers a push-start to expand their reach. In a recent event organised by Amazon India (Smbhav) addressing the growth of SMBs, Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon) announced an investment of $1 billion to help digitize small businesses. Jeff’s prediction read – The 21st century to be the Indian century. The inherent potential and talent of Indian entrepreneurs tends to fetch the attention of myriad business houses to bring in their investments. Also, the common belief that the Indian markets can act as a fortune for most of them urges even foreign investors to flow in through FDI.

With a fine blend of resources, skills, infrastructure, and manpower available, India is a beloved global destination for many multinational companies, business houses and corporate giants. The ease of business-grade is attracting a lot of venture capitalists and angel investors to invest in the Indian ecosystem in many unicorn startups which are going through a series of seed funding rounds. Reforms such as mergers & acquisitions and transfer of ownership stakes have convinced many international conglomerates to keep an eye on the escalating graph of the industry.

The Indian economy holds the third-largest startup ecosystem in the world, which is expected to grow at a consistent rate of 12-15% YOY. India has even jumped to the 63rd position in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report this year (2020). The latest government statistics (Released on 29th January 2020) assert that out of the 50,000 startups in India, 8900-9300 are tech-based, with 1300 new tech startups born in 2019 alone, implying that there are 2-3 tech startups born every day, with Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, and Bangalore housing the majority of them. The Indian startup-hub has been highly saturated with cut-throat competition off-late in almost all business domains with 59% of B2C, 37% of B2B, and 4% of B2C/B2B forming the respective proportions. The ease and cost of doing business, market size, intellectual property rights, proximity factors, government support, and the inevitable technological adoption, are coming out as some major growth drivers in the making. Entrepreneurs are busy thrusting their efforts, delving deeper down into multiple verticals and bustling around innovative business models ranging from FoodTech, FinTech, EdTech, HealthTech, Real estate, Agriculture, Supply chain, Logistics, Hotelling to Big Data & Analytics, High-tech end companies and the like. ‘Tech’ is emerging as a common suffix nowadays, given that virtually all successful and tempting startups are tech-based. Paytm, Oyo, Ola, Swiggy, Billdesk and Byju’s are few noticeable unicorns in this league.

According to a report by Nasscom, 18% of all startups are leveraging deep-tech. The Government, under its Startup India initiative, is galvanizing a lot of entrepreneurs by giving them grants under various schemes and funding through SIDBI. Immense focus and attention is being given to R&D by setting up startup/incubation centers. Research parks are being established to cater to the entrepreneurial dreams of the youth by equipping them with all the resources to enter the ecosystem. Approximately 18000+ startups have been recognised so far by The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (data up till May 2019), which includes 8,993 recognised in 2018 alone. With the industry experiencing an all-time high since its inception, reports claim that there are more than 50,000 registered startups in India till date, and with the same rate of progress, we are expected to double this figure by 2024. On the whole, the Indian startup-hub stands out to be quite exuberant albeit a lot of space is still vacant to harbour and nurture the worthy entrepreneurial minds of the nation. The amalgamation of efforts can surely raise us from the third spot to develop into the largest startup ecosystem in the world.

The present-day e-commerce and startup scenario is undoubtedly gaining ground at an unbeatable pace and needs no evidence to pitch. The startup atmosphere is altering the thinking and tendency of a lot of people, setting the minds of critics to doubt and think again and challenging and igniting the spark in the minds of the entrepreneurs every single day. Daily newspaper headlines are flooded with startup stories and achievements reinforcing them to venture into the ecosystem. “Startups are the future of India”, noted Suresh Prabhu, the Minister of Commerce & Industry (as per a press release of 2018). FORTUNE INDIA prints #ApnaTimeAaGaya for Indian startups. The inception of e-commerce has broken the barrier of non-availability of services in remote places. Advanced technologies are helping in serving the consumers best according to their needs using various techniques such as AI/ML (Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning) driven Bots and Analytics, Behavioral/Predictive targeting, Site/Search retargeting, Data-driven analytics and a lot more. As we live in the age of technology the earlier we cognize, the earlier we will rise.

THE ROAD AHEAD

The scope of technology is not only confined to the e-commerce space or the startup ecosystem. It possesses widespread influence, perhaps within all the realms of the economy and acts as a major contributing factor in the development of the nation. And in order for that to happen, we need more and more people to take part in the making. There is a compelling need to spread awareness and educate people about the unbound potential of technology through high-class technological education which is feasible and at the same time within the reach of everyone. Today we are strengthened and capable enough to bear the hit of any stumbling block because of the brace of technology we wear. But as we steer through the digital transition phase we still lie in the trenches of development and have a long way to go. To quote Bill Gates, “Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don’t think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without talking about the other”. It is quite evident that technology is emerging as a new facade of the decade and reinventing ways to make every mission realisable. It is well and truly preparing the race to fight all possible plights and quandaries on its way to bag zenith. With the catalyst up and moving, let us all aim in conjunction to make India the next Silicon Valley.

By Sanskar Belsare



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