There are so many discussions around digital these days and most of them talk about the next industrial revolution that we have started calling as “Digital revolution”. I have heard few thinkers talking about how the digital technologies are going to make life of mankind easier and better, while few others caution about the possibility of mass scale job losses due to technology doing the work so far reserved for humans.
While this debate will continue to rage and the perspectives will continue to change as new inventions and solutions keep pouring, there is one thing that is becoming obvious: Next generation is not for digitally illiterate people and societies. The most alarming part of this statement is the word ‘generation’ that will not be of fifty years but at the most, just a decade.
Digital technologies are emerging to change the way we worked and even behaved. The impact digital technologies have made in a short span of few years is just a reflection of what is in store for us in future. The fact that every person is now carrying a highly powerful smart phone, the telecom carriers are unleashing more and more bandwidth that is making these devices even more powerful. On top of it, innovation is no more just confined to few streets of SFO, but is now a global phenomenon. It is no more few universities, but entire nations backed by ambitious governments are changing the way technology is being used.
Few examples of how big data was used to analyse the effectiveness of election campaigning by President Obama was dwarfed by the way social media and analytics was used in elections in the world’s largest democracy, India. Since then, social media is being used not only for person to person communication, but for governance in India. Recent news about the national party the BJP, asking the aspirants of upcoming state elections in India to bring twenty-five thousand likes on their Facebook pages before they could be considered for getting election tickets. While it might look a bit over the head for a country where majority of the population is poor, it is something that even Mark Zuckerburg would not have thought that how popular Facebook is in India. Latest Facebook acquisition ‘WhatsApp’ has become so popular that majority of Indians have forgotten the use of good old SMS. It is now even jokingly termed that WhatsApp is national pastime of India. Every passing day we get to know how governance is being made easy by the use of social media and also how quickly the population is consuming them to their benefit. The best part of this digital revolution is the opportunity and the reach a common man has got with so many communication channels opening up for them to speak out and communicate.
One day when my driver sat by my mother and helped her buy blood sugar checking machine from an ecommerce site over his mobile phone, I was convinced that this time the pace of change is faster than any previous revolutions.
While the digital revolution is yet to touch several global corporates who are still slow in accepting that things are changing faster than they can handle, a country like India is racing ahead with adoption and innovation around the use of simple digital technologies that is bringing visible change to the society and governance. With a mobile penetration larger than the population of Europe and younger generation that is yearning to reach out for all new opportunities, India seems to be doing just the opposite when it comes to adopting the digital technology. It is not the corporates and select groups that are leading the change here, but the government and the common man. This is a big enough signal that gates of opportunities will be opening up to global companies in India in coming times.
Finally, with such a change digital is bringing to our society and the way we live our lives, corporate houses who are led by those who are too slow in adopting this change would soon see their demise. It is not unfair to predict that next decade will not see half of the companies that are now slow in adopting digital and opening up for a change.