By Arunkumar N.T., Managing Director & Country Head (India) and Head of Innovation, Telstra
The world is in flux – but it’s a paradoxical flux. Millions of people around the world have contracted the COVID-19 virus, seen their world turned upside down and lost loved ones. The world has been turned on its axis by this virus, and it will take a long time for people, communities and businesses to recover. During disasters, they say you should look for the positives and we are starting to see the positives that will come out of the pandemic. The collective healthcare efforts and government cooperation have been unprecedented. It’s brought humanity together. And, as is often the way, through adversity we are seeing some significant technological progress that is connecting human beings together better than ever before.
According to the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, the global cost of the pandemic is estimated to be around $11 trillion, with half of this attributed to GDP dilution this year and next. However, even as we face these financial impacts, as people have done for generations they’re finding ways to be innovate and solve old problems in new ways such as building new supply chains, new communities, new business models and new start-ups.
We are moving from an experience economy to an imagination economy – if you can imagine it, you can deliver it. And India plays a very critical role in supplying the right digital talent to our new world.
Leading the Change with India’s rapidly scaling digitally-savvy workforce
We’re in a position now where a five trillion-dollar digital global economy looks not just aspirational, but very doable. If you look at the scope, it’s easy to be optimistic about the future of India’s digital economy. What comes next is creating new talent to support this economy.
We know the talent we require today is very different from what we needed just five or 10 years ago. Our workforce in India is no longer about execution but rather pockets of expertise, which will only increase as we become more and more reliant on digital technologies to shape our business models.
In India, the digital expertise we’ve built over the past two-and-a-half decades – through Y2K and the explosion of the internet – means we’ve moved a long way from being seen by many as the ‘back office’ of the world. The number of Indian workers that have ‘gone online’ in recent months is a testament to being one of the most successful and resilient digital workforces on the globe.
India’s digital talent market initially flourished out of necessity. Now we have matured and have the expertise to answer the question “what next?” We know innovation is no longer just about marginal improvements and cost efficiencies. It’s about digital transformation, and we see that happening at an unprecedented pace on our home soil. A lot of the work we do directly impacts customers, companies and industries all over the globe.
If you look at Telstra’s Innovation and Capability Centre in Bangalore, for instance, what we’re working on is understanding what our customers and stakeholders will want in the coming years, and feeding employees’ skill sets today to be able to develop those solutions. We’re also enabling a new remote, autonomous, digital and distributed workforce. The growth of future skills, especially around advanced data analytics, Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning, digital processes optimization and high-performance software engineering, is at the core of ICC’s innovation and talent strategy for Telstra and its customers.
I believe if you want to look at the future model of digital innovation, you should look no further than India. Given our demographics, our workforce, our national push toward digital and our focus on data, we are on the cusp of having a truly global impact.
The human imperative
There’s no doubt our continued transformation to digital is bringing with it exciting new possibilities for business and the economy. What we mustn’t lose sight of is the human aspect. Even with the capabilities technology offers us, we must remain human-centred in our approach – continually upskilling and reskilling our people, and finding ways to stay connected in a distributed workforce.
To me, human centricity is one of the biggest strengths that India can offer to the world. We have a saying, ‘may all beings in this world be happy and well’, and putting people first is at the heart of our social fabric. My hope is that we can use technology to work towards the greater good, because at the end of the day, every business is only as strong as its people.