Two critical ingredients for India’s successful digital transformation

By Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise

Digital commerce will shape people’s everyday lives and help grow India’s digital economy into a US$1 trillion behemoth. Prasath Rao, India and South Asia Country Business Leader, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, identifies two factors crucial to making the country’s digital transformation a success.

India's digital economy is expected to achieve a value of US$1 trillion by 2030, if digital transformation efforts continue to bear fruit. Image: Canva

The next decade for India’s digital economy looks promising, as it is poised to grow more than fivefold and be valued at US$1 trillion by 2030. 


Backed by strong investor confidence, this growth will be fuelled by digital services and an increasing willingness by consumers and merchants to embrace the consumer Internet economy.  


This is according to the India e-Conomy Report published in June this year by Google, Temasek, and Bain and Company, which highlights that digital commerce will become integral to Indians’ daily lives as household consumption is set to double by 2030. 


To make this vision a reality, private and public partners will need to work on strengthening infrastructure, promoting digital literacy, and boosting cybersecurity, says Prasath Rao, India and South Asia Country Business Leader of technology provider, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE).  


GovInsider sits down with Prasath as he shares two key steps the country will need to take to fulfil its true digital potential.  

1. Ramping up infrastructure and digital literacy 


Less than a third of India’s rural population uses the Internet, and 70 per cent of the country’s population still has poor or no connectivity to digital services, according to the India Inequality Report 2022.  


“Most of the rural areas and remote townships, still do not have enough coverage, and to an extent do not have full knowledge about the Internet and its potential uses,” says Prasath. The same report found that less than 40 per cent of households in the country are digitally literate. 


“Full-fledged digitisation is a [an effort reinforced by] teamwork and requires administration flexibility and awareness campaigns backed by government, particularly in rural areas,” Prasath adds.  


It is with this in mind that India launched its Digital Village programme, which aims to digitally connect all of India’s 600,000 rural villages and equip these citizens with digital literacy skills. 


“Connecting every village with high-speed Internet requires a vital amount of investment and infrastructure,” says Prasath, who adds that government agencies are seriously looking at the bottle necks and are working with technology collaborators like ALE in rolling out more robust digital infrastructure and the availability of the spectrum to enhance and expand the connectivity.


As part of the programme, the government is already rolling out cables across the country and build infrastructure for wireless connections for the last mile. ALE has helped in this effort, contributing to the connection of about 7,000 villages thus far.  

2. Establishing robust cybersecurity 


“Cybercrime is a major threat to the people of India,” says Prasath, who notes that Internet privacy laws have been in the works for years. 


The number of cyber attacks in India more than tripled from 2019 to 2021. The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team reported that the total number of cyber security incidents tracked in 2019 was just shy of 400,000.  


In 2020, the number of incidents spiked to a whopping 1.1 million, and further increased to 1.4 million the following year. 


The Indian government is looking to address this spike with its upcoming Digital India Act, which is set to replace the current Information Technology Act. This law, which will complement the new Digital Personal Data Protection Act, addresses numerous issues including cybercrime, data protection, deepfakes and online safety, according to India Briefing.  


ALE recommends for organisations to take on a Privacy-by-Design approach for a robust cybersecurity infrastructure. This involves first employing a zero-trust approach to prevent unauthorised entry into an organisation’s network, followed by introducing a comprehensive data management system.  


Next, ALE suggests that organisations should ensure compliance to any regulation standards, such as those that may be laid out in the new Digital India Act.  


The final recommendation is to define the rules and adopt the security tools and policies that can help ensure a sustainable maintenance and enforcement of cybersecurity practices.  


ALE’s network security systems, for instance, can help organisations with its artificial intelligence capabilities that help to analyse and respond to emerging cyber threats.  


“Machine learning and artificial intelligence predict cyberattacks from abnormal behaviours. It fights vulnerabilities with preventive maintenance, alerts and enforces security best practices,” Prasath explains.  

Continued investment and growth in India 


Working with partners for both the local and export market, ALE recorded 40 per cent growth in revenue for the Indian market between 2021 and 2022. 


Apart from focusing on sectors such as government, transportation, education, healthcare & hospitality, ALE is seeing demand for its products and services rise with the advent of growing e-commerce, fintech, manufacturing and energy sectors. 


In another effort that would contribute to India’s digital transformation, ALE is working with Nokia to explore opportunities in private 5G networks space. It will do so by offering its wide range of network switches, access points and omni vista network management suite as part of combined and complementing end-to-end solutions. 


According to Prasath, the company is fully committed to the “Make in India” initiative and continuously increasing its investment in its operations in India, in areas such as research and development, IT operations and the supply chain. The company is also currently considering local production of its equipment in India