Unwavering commitment to digital progress is setting the stage for a revolution that will reshape industries and empower the lives of millions, feels Rajesh Nambiar, CMD, Cognizant India and Chairperson, Nasscom.
In a world undergoing an unprecedented digital transformation, India has emerged as a global powerhouse. The country’s ascent towards digital dominance is evident from the fast-rising digital economy, thanks to the rising internet penetration, a growing appetite for digital innovation, and rapid adoptions of digital products, services, and platforms.
With a population of over a billion and a growing economy, the nation’s unwavering commitment to digital progress is setting the stage for a revolution that will reshape industries and empower the lives of millions.
Crafting India’s digital ascent through skilling
In this journey of building a digitally empowered society, skills emerge as the coveted currency of the future. Also, as we construct and fortify the digital foundation, it is imperative to focus on building a skilled workforce capable of driving innovation and sustainable growth. India’s destiny in the digital age depends on its ability to nurture a workforce that not only adapts but thrives in the ever-evolving environment.
To achieve this, our nation must invest significantly in training and development programs that not only cultivate digital skills but also promote digital literacy. This mission is particularly critical among our youth and women, who are poised to play a pivotal role in India’s digital transformation. Promoting digital literacy among women is not only a matter of equality but an essential step in bridging the digital divide. By equipping women with digital skills, we can unlock their economic potential and empower them as active contributors to the digital economy.
Through a recently launched program called Synapse, Cognizant has set out on a mission to empower more than one million individuals, including those in India, with cutting-edge technology skills such as Generative AI (Gen AI.) Together with governments, academic institutions, businesses, and other strategic partners, Synapse will leverage evolving AI technology and the company’s premier tech services to prepare individuals for the future workforce.
The collaborative ecosystem
To ensure that all of the above objectives are fulfilled, collaboration between educational institutions, industry leaders, and government bodies is pivotal. Together, we can design and implement tailored training programs that cater to the specific needs of various sectors, with a strong focus on emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), data analytics, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. By nurturing a collaborative ecosystem, we can cultivate the seeds of innovation that will blossom into India’s digital future.
India’s leap into AI
For a country like India, digital inclusivity is of paramount importance due to its diverse population, socio-economic variations, and the potential for widespread impact. AI’s role is critical in powering India’s growth story and bringing digital inclusivity across various domains, from language accessibility to personalized services to skill development. By leveraging AI technologies thoughtfully, India can foster a more inclusive digital environment ensuring that the benefits of technological advancements reach all segments of its diverse population.
As transformative technologies such as Gen AI continue to reshape the workforce, India’s future workers need to adapt their skills and training accordingly. The rapid advancements in Artificial Intelligence and automation have redefined employability. Basic coding skills, while valuable, are no longer sufficient to meet the evolving demands of the digital age. With tools like ChatGPT enhancing programming capabilities, the focus has shifted towards a more holistic skill set.
Enhanced focus on people skills
In this new paradigm, a comprehensive understanding of the business context is paramount. It’s not just about writing lines of code but understanding how those lines can drive business objectives and create value. The ability to bridge the gap between technology and business goals will distinguish the digital leaders of tomorrow.
Moreover, cognitive skills have taken center stage in the workforce of the future. Communication skills, the capacity for effective leadership, and the ability to think creatively are increasingly critical for driving innovation and contributing to the Indian economy. In a world where human-machine collaboration is the norm, the unique qualities that humans bring to the table, such as empathy, intuition, and emotional intelligence, become differentiating factors in the success of individuals and organizations.
Basic coding skills, while valuable, are no longer sufficient to meet the evolving demands of the digital age. With tools like ChatGPT enhancing programming capabilities, the focus has shifted towards a more holistic skill set.
India’s path to digital leadership hinges on its ability to nurture talent that encompasses both the technical and the interpersonal. The synergy of technical expertise with creative problem-solving and effective communication is what will enable India to not only adapt to the changing digital environment but also shape it.
AI-First: A path to prosperity
To achieve digital leadership, an AI-first approach is critical. Embracing an AI-first approach opens up vast opportunities for economic growth, innovation, and social transformation. India, with its skilled workforce and a thriving startup ecosystem, can leverage AI to drive entrepreneurship, job creation, and global competitiveness. The potential for AI-driven startups and innovation hubs is immense in attracting investments, fostering collaborations, and propelling India to become a global AI powerhouse.
Gen AI can act as a huge catalyst for shaping product and go-to-market strategies and IP-driven revenue models. Skilling and reskilling in AI-related skills are hence vital for success. According to Nasscom, there is a significant demand for AI engineers in India, with a palpable need for an additional 213,000 professionals. To drive job creation in this fast-evolving scenario, India’s IT services industry can create specialized roles in AI research and development, data analysis, AI consulting, AI integration, and AI product management, to name a few.
India’s digital prowess unleashed
India’s prowess in tech services not only ensures a promising future but also holds the potential for expansion into diverse sectors. The software and services industries have strongly driven the past few decades, India’s position as a preferred hub across global value chains, on the back of transformative technologies such as AI, ML, IoT, robotics, and cloud will continue to drive economic value.
As we forge ahead, technology’s role as a strategic imperative is set to remain paramount, serving as a critical catalyst for business innovation and transformation. The well-established template in the IT and BPO services industry, combined with India’s skilled talent, creates opportunities for broadening capabilities, given that in many ways, almost every industry is now a technology industry. Segments like Business Process Management, and Engineering R&D continue to witness healthy growth as the addressable market is expanding with digital capabilities. According to Nasscom BCG “Seizing the ER&D Advantage: Frontiers for 2030” report, India will likely contribute 22% to the Global ER&D sourcing market by FY30. Sectors such as software, automotive, and semiconductors are expected to contribute more than 60% of India’s share of ER&D sourcing by FY30.
What is undeniable is the contribution of the Global Capability Centres (GCC), be it driving efficiencies, accelerating innovation or de-risking businesses. Indian GCC ecosystem has become a sandbox for multinationals in driving organization-wide transformative initiatives. This is evident by the fact that over 19 new GCCs have set up operations in the last 6 months taking the total tally of GCCs in India to over 1580.
The future belongs to the skilled
All this boils down to a single key attribute and that is the availability of large-scale skilled talent. One must remember that a skilled nation is a powerful nation, and India’s journey towards digital leadership must start foremost with skilling. In the global race for digital dominance, skilling is our passport to leadership, and the future belongs to those who invest in it.
Together, we can create a digitally empowered nation, that not only sets new benchmarks for innovation, inclusivity, and progress but also leads the world into the digital era.
CMD, Cognizant India and Chairperson, nasscom