September - 2011 - issue > Anniversary Special
How India can become a Technology Superpower?
Prashant Ranade
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Technology is ubiquitous in our daily lives. And it’s getting faster, smarter, smaller and cheaper every day. Products which were the subject of science fiction movies a decade ago are part of our daily lives today. But let’s take a step back to understand the phenomenon of technology development in the last century. The growth of the technology superpowers like the U.S. in the 20th century was driven by a combination of two factors:

1. Government Investments in Technology initiatives which created the base infrastructure (e.g. the computer, internet and global positioning system)

2. Private Enterprise where companies and entrepreneurs developed businesses by capitalizing on opportunities emerging from technology developments

Emerging markets including India will drive global economic growth in the 21st century. The unique challenges of emerging markets require dramatically different technologies and solutions.

The most elegant solutions happen at the confluence of multiple technologies – e.g. the steam engine was a triumph of thermodynamics and mechanics, while the band-aid combined the medicated gauze and adhesive tape to create a timeless product. The Apple iphone combined different technologies which were in existence to create a world-beating product. The capabilities which will define a “technology superpower” will be very different in this century and winning solutions will need to pass the 4A test.

*Appropriate – right sized solution to meet the needs and wants of customers

*Available – scalability to service large number of customers in geographically and culturally diverse markets

*Accessible – overcome challenges of infrastructure limitations in emerging markets

*Affordable – the right price point for the customer value delivered

The focus in the 21st century will increasingly shift from technologies to solutions which combine multiple technologies to meet customer requirements. The future belongs to innovative, mass customized point solutions to meet unique requirements of customers and not the monolithic technologies which defined the superpowers of the 20th century.

India presents opportunities in a number of sectors where innovative technology can provide sustainable solutions including healthcare, education, governance and rural development. We also have a number of supply side factors which will enable India to lead the way in the 21st century including

*Robust telecom infrastructure which is increasing its penetration every day

* High quality technology workforce with experience with leading global technology organizations

*Government investments in initiatives like Chandrayaan and UIDAI project – which will result in spin-off opportunities and new business models

* Growing breed of entrepreneurs and increasing acceptance of entrepreneurial culture

*Success with Innovation which meets the 4A criteria – e.g. Nano, Telemedicine.

Syntel recently developed an innovative technology solution for the Marrow Donor Registry (India) to develop a unified national registry of bone marrow donors. The project will significantly reduce the time and cost of finding matching bone marrow donors for cancer patients. The project combined our expertise in healthcare domain and technology to develop an elegant solution which met the 4A criteria. It is up to individuals, corporate and government to recognize the opportunity and harness our capabilities to make India a leading force in the 21st century.

The author is CEO & President, Syntel

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