Budget must encourage 'being digital' over simply 'looking digital'

Revolutionary breakthroughs in digital, communication and the industrial Internet of things provide us with a range of tools that can be leveraged to develop digital solutions to achieve this goal.

Avinash Vashistha        Last Updated: February 23, 2015  | 19:25 IST

Avinash Vashistha
Accelerated penetration of smartphones and mobile broadband across the nation has digitised large swaths of India. Sharing, networking and gaming are now commonplace. A new layer of connected intelligence is augmenting employees' skills, automating processes and incorporating machines into lives of customers and the operations of many businesses.

This digital energy residing within large digitised pools of consumer and talent now needs to be systematically unleashed to achieve inclusive and innovation-driven growth. Revolutionary breakthroughs in digital, communication and the industrial Internet of things provide us with a range of tools that can be leveraged to develop digital solutions to achieve this goal. As a nation, we must therefore start 'being digital' and not only 'look digital'.

To accelerate the process of 'being digita l', the transaction costs associated with conceptualising, prototyping and launching digital strategies and solutions will need to be substantially minimised. And this is what the forthcoming Budget must aim to achieve.

How? The Budget can provide fiscal incentives or concessions to industries building incubators within R&D and educational institutions focused on developing digital solutions to achieve scalable education and healthcare. The Budget can earmark sizeable public resources to develop web-and-mobile version apps linked to impartation of quality education, skill-building and healthcare.

The Budget can also ring in an era that promotes digital transactions by sweetening digital over paper transactions with fiscal concessions. Not only will this benefit companies and consumers, but will also simultaneously inject transparency and efficiency in collection of transactions-linked taxes.

Every citizen of the nation has the right to enjoy benefits emanating from 'being digital'. To achieve this goal, digital infrastructure capable of delivering connectivity in the harshest terrain and temperatures becomes an imperative, especially in a nation such as ours that is blessed with extremely diverse topography.

As a nation, we have already embarked on an ambitious digital initiative of connecting panchayats across the nation with optical fibre network. The forthcoming Budget must incentivise the development of innovative technologies that can help panchayats and people from even the most remote hamlets to leverage the power of such physical networks with ease and experience benefits with the same speed and quality as their counterparts from cities and metros.

With disruptive technologies staring at us, it's time we make the most of the opportunity at hand.

The author is Chairman and Managing Director, Accenture India

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