2nd Skoch Summit 2004
Sustaining the Growth Engine
19th Feb 2004, The Oberoi HOTEL, New Delhi, India
2nd Skoch Summit 2004 was held on the 19th February at The Oberoi Hetel, New Delhi. The event has emerged as the most prestigious and respected annual event for Indian IT Industry and was attended by over 200 select delegates including industry, academia, decision makers, economists and thought leaders.
The summit aimed at sharing and learning from best practices by showcasing case studies which have made a remarkable impact on changing people's life and have revolutionized the way business is transacted through exemplary use of ICT in areas of social transformation, e-governance, BFSI, education and affordable computing.Skoch Challenger Awards for the year 2003 were also conferred during the Summit to some such people, projects and technologies of national significance.
Summit featured talks and presentations on imperative and issues related to growth of Information and Communication Technology in India such as " Sustaining the growth engine ", " ICT for the people " and "Making IT happen". Individual speakers discussed general technology trends, HRD needs, telecom market growth, IT in financial services sector, e-governance and so on.
No denying, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for the masses is going to benefit India. However, the focus has to be on improvement of infrastructure. This infrastructure could be transport system, communication lines or power facilities. It's a fact that persistent lack of infrastructure results in loss of industrial output. According to a recent World Bank-CII report on India, there is a 9 -10% loss because of power outages. Though a power generator could be a solution, most businesses in the small and medium (SME) sector may not be in a position to spend on it as it adds to their capital costs.
As the lack of infrastructure hits the IT user segment, its repercussions are being equally felt by the IT vendors. That may be among the reasons that despite India's claims to be an IT superpower, its performance in the international arena has been dismal. According to a study, India is ranked low down at No. 95 in a list of countries. Though the industrial growth rates in the IT sector have been phenomenal mainly because of the small revenue base, there is a need to sustain growth and we can't always rest on small laurels.
HRD is another critical area that needs immediate attention. The professional demand-supply gap is widening with the ever-increasing shortage of skilled manpower. Though the IIT system is quite capable to produce quality manpower for the IT industry, it has a shortage of teachers because more teachers are retiring and there is not sufficient number of replacements. In the exclusive tech sector also, there is over 50% shortfall of qualified teachers. Thus, the manpower produced by formal as well as informal institutes is mostly unemployable, keeping in view the higher levels of skills required to handle IT jobs. Since proper infrastructure and quality manpower are essential inputs to boost industrial productivity and to strengthen the country's economy, there is a crying need to address these critical areas that would further fuel the IT usage. In the information-driven world, all old- and new-economy enterprises are required to be knowledge-based for overall economic development.
There are certain examples of IT-led organizations that could be emulated by others. Delhi Transport Corporation, for example, has deployed Geographical Positioning System (GPS) to monitor the frequency of certain buses in the Capital for commuters' convenience. The Haryana state is using technology to check power thefts. That has not only streamlined the power distribution system, but has also increased the state's revenues. This shows that the return on investment (ROI) on technology spending could be very high. This is further manifested in Singapore, where the government is getting back $2.7 on every $1 spent on ICT projects.
ICT introduction in the infrastructure can reduce the level of investments because of improved efficiency. However, the vendors need to be more proactive in their approach to offer solutions for infrastructure management and utility services. Similarly, for effective HRD, the education budget needs to be increased from the current level of Rs. 10,000 crore that is earmarked for primary, secondary, and tertiary education.