Two major Covid waves have had a major setback for India, with continued worries over the third wave. The economic impact of Covid-19 pandemic in India has been quite disruptive as can be seen from various estimates.

According to a latest report by World Bank, Indian economy is set to expand by 8.3 per cent in 2021, 7.5 percent in 2022 and by 2023, India is expected to grow at 6.5 percent. The estimates are far lower than what were suggested just a quarter ago. However, optimism is growing, especially among the sectors that are leading with technology innovations.

According to a Dun & Bradstreet survey, despite a mapped decline in Business Optimism for Q2 2021 (42% as opposed to 71% in Q1 2021), businesses are now starting to feel more optimistic for Q3, which is in turn expected to have a cascading effect on the Indian economy, thereby accelerating its revival. In this context, certain sectors are part of an accelerated shift which means that they have done relatively well in the past, and the pandemic has simply accelerated their performance.

“Sectors like manufacturing, BFSI, e-commerce, IT sector, healthcare are going to be the biggest game changers for the economic recovery of India and would fast-forward our recuperating process in the next five years,” said Arun Singh, Global Chief Economist, Dun & Bradstreet.

According to Singh, the common thread among these sectors is the adoption of innovative technologies.
“The ramifications of Covid 19 on the economic were a shock and not a structural issue, and that is a silver lining. Given that it is not an economic structure driven problem, recovery is expected to be much faster than countries which were plagued with structural issues even before the pandemic. With the pandemic accelerating the adoption of innovative technologies by industries like healthcare and pharmaceuticals, e-commerce, and retail, IT/ITES and BFSI, they are expected to play a key role in revival of India’s economy,” Singh said.

New-age technologies such as Industry 4.0, Digital supply chain, digital twins, Digital Assistance etc. are some of the main tenants that will help in the economic revival by 2025. Technologies are beginning to enable industries to rebuild India’s economic status in a post Covid world and these industries will be the real game changers in the time to come. Companies related to these verticals are embarking on their journeys and starting from different points to use smarter products, smarter manufacturing and smarter supply chains.

The pandemic has acted as a catalyst to increase the adoption of technology in healthcare. While tech had gained momentum in pre-Covid times, the industry now has a clear case to speed up adoption.

For example, there are several case studies on how Robotics and Machine Learning are being used along with IoT/IoMT to deliver prompt remote care to elderly and chronic patients.

“In the time to come, smart use of Artificial Intelligence is bound to help in improving overall patient experience while reducing the load on clinicians,” said Veneeth Purushotaman, Group CIO, Aster DM Healthcare Limited. Aster DM focused on investing in AI and ML-powered technologies to streamline their processes.

“In India, Tele-Health and Remote-Health have helped healthcare providers reach the interiors of India and manage services at a fraction of cost. While it has helped in lowering the overall cost of healthcare, there exist certain challenges around infrastructure, availability of trained resources like paramedics, nurses, and doctors, and healthcare connectivity in rural areas. In the recent times, connectivity has improved considerably, but provision of consistent electricity for devices and systems to work needs resolution. However, with the pandemic we have seen that necessity is the mother of invention, and I am confident that we will find ways to address these challenges as well with increasing cell phone penetration, availability of inverters, and overall digitalization efforts taking place in healthcare,” Purushotaman added.

Any impact on healthcare can also be seen on health and life insurance in a big way. While insurance used to be pushed on to consumers before the pandemic, it suddenly turned into a pull product. But the move wasn’t without its own challenges. The whole insurance selling was a highly manual in-person process involving a ton of paperwork. That had to be changed overnight to catch on the growth trajectory.

IndiaFirst Life Insurance was one such insurer who adopted technology to transform itself rapidly. “Technology adoption is inevitable. It can streamline the sector and integrate back-end with front facing customer processes to create a unified, insights-driven IT system. As the administration focuses on privatization and more private players enter the market, even more digitalization is expected to spur the sector’s growth dramatically, in the coming years,” said Anjana Rao, Chief Strategy Officer, IndiaFirst Life Insurance.

The pandemic clearly altered consumer behaviours during the lockdown which are expected to become the norm even after the health crisis ends. To manage new expectations, the importance of digital channels to connect with customers has radically increased since the pandemic, at a pace which was not anticipated.

“The increased amount of digital customer engagement is generating critical data about customers,” said Prasad Rai, Vice President, Global Strategic Clients Group, Oracle India, said. “However, the volume, complexity and the speed at which the data is generated is forcing organisations to have effective database management systems, which is where efficient cloud systems kick in. Engaging with customers on digital platforms is helping organizations critical information about their customers. To derive meaningful customer insights from such data, apps like Customer Relationship Management tools (CRM), Cloud based HCM etc. are being largely used. These platforms can analyse and process large quantity of real time data, empowering sales & marketing teams with timely data to have meaningful conversations with customers.”

This change in customer behaviour was most significantly observed in the explosive growth in ecommerce space in the country. During the time of need under the pandemic-induced lockdowns, the e-commerce industry acted as a bridge to ease the supply constraints and ensure India had essentials delivered.

“The number of smartphone users is growing by the day, and the smartphone’s role in e-commerce traffic is becoming increasingly important. Another huge shift we are seeing is in consumer preferences, over the past year consumers have experienced a simplified way of retail in the form of e-commerce and this is expected to shape their future preferences too. In a nutshell, given India’s massive population and huge consumer market size, the e-commerce and retail sector have tremendous market space to grow that will be explored in the coming years completely transforming the retail industry of India and support in reviving the economy,” said Reddy, Vice President IT – Flipkart Group.

IT leaders in each of these sectors have played a significant role in the revival of not just their companies’ revenues but also the overall national economy. However, as economic environment continues to remain volatile, enterprises need to assess their technology investments on a regular basis and look at long term innovation instead of short term fixes.





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