Initiatives such as building data center parks to safeguard data, digitisation of 1,00,000 gram panchayats through BharatNet and the importance of emerging technology, especially Internet of things, artificial intelligence and machine learning, were some of the highlight of finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s budget speech for the financial year 2020-2021.
Here’s a look at what stakeholders in the sector had to say about its impact on their businesses.
CP Gurnani, MD and CEO, Tech Mahindra
With a thrust on talent, technology and entrepreneurship, budget 2020-21 is a promising budget in support of making India’s $5 trillion economy dream come true. It is heartening to see initiatives that are aimed at enhancing digital penetration in the country by making Fibre to the home (FTTH) accessible to 1,00,000 gram panchayats via BharatNet, which will go a long way in bridging the digital divide. Also, the decision to build data centre parks for the private sector is another step towards making India a data economy superpower. Furthermore, strategic initiatives aimed at leveraging new-age technologies like the IoT, machine learning, robotics, bioinformatics, quantum computing and artificial intelligence across sectors will further help in laying the foundation of a robust, digital economy.
Prakash Mallya, VP and MD of sales and marketing group, Intel India
The union budget highlights the role technology-enabled innovation can play in leapfrogging the nation. From integration in priority sectors like agriculture and healthcare to a continued focus on smart cities, the first budget of the new decade clearly outlines the significance of a digital-first India in realising the country’s potential. I am especially encouraged by the efforts to use AI and ML to improve disease detection and pre-emption as part of the PM Jan Arogya Yojana. Such applications of emerging technologies combined with the focus on increasing the penetration of fibre connectivity in the nation have the potential to fundamentally impact the lives of millions in the coming years.
Rishi Bhatnagar, president, Aeris Communications
Triggering the digital revolution with use of new-age technologies like IoT, AI and ML in economic, healthcare and agriculture development, the government should also focus on using the allocated funds for automation and mechanisation in these fields. On the other hand, the new budget initiatives positively addressed the skill-gap problem. The upcoming digital era presents a complex skilling challenge with a clear need to develop the skill set. The apprenticeship embedded degree, online education programme and Study in India programme will equip the upcoming Indian professionals with the essential knowledge and competencies to navigate the data-driven world of tomorrow. Having said that, we are excited to see the next steps on how the plans are being executed.
Dharmender Kapoor, CEO and MD, Birlasoft
The budget has clearly recognised the importance of talent, technology and entrepreneurship in the growth of the country. It is commendable to see the continuous commitment of the government to bridge the skill gap and to develop India's large talent pool, for which the government has allocated Rs 3,000 crore towards skilling. Technology is a given and digital technology is the force driving the turmoil for this industry, whose future is yet to be unleashed. The proposal of a policy to set up data centre farms throughout the country will push more efficiency on data, as data is the new oil, but right now it is in the form of crude oil. The budget also focused on the national mission for quantum computing and application, this will position India with globally elite countries. India would probably be the third biggest and a pioneering nation if we can break into this technology. It is also commendable to see an extra push given to the manufacturing ecosystem in the country.
Sunil Sharma, managing director (sales for India and SAARC), Sophos
The government’s union budget 2020 is built on the bedrock of emerging technologies including AI, ML, IoT and more. Initiatives such as building data center parks across India aiming to safeguard ‘data’, the most critical asset of organisations along with the digitisation of 100,000 gram panchayats through its BharatNet initiative will strengthen the digital fabric of the country. However, increased digital penetration brings along with it cybersecurity risks. As per a recent report, Indian IT managers detected 39% of threats on servers, 35% on the network, 8% on endpoints and 18% on mobile. Additionally, 90% of IT managers believe cybersecurity awareness and education among employees is a major challenge for organisations. That said, while we welcome the government’s proposed steps in strengthening the MSMEs that provide employment to millions of people, we need more impetus on building skilled cybersecurity professionals in the country. The government’s allocation of Rs. 3,000 crore towards skill development is a step in the right direction towards building India’s youth and economy.
Takayuki Inaba, managing director, NEC Technologies India
The current budget proposals exhibit a determined approach of the government to make India ready for new technologies. A Rs 6000 crore allocation for the proliferation of technology to the lowest level of society by connecting 1 lakh gram panchayats through ‘fibre to home’ connections for supporting basic social infrastructure is a welcome step. The vision of providing panchayat level public institutions with digital connectivity will help streamline the integrated development work and open big opportunities for several stakeholders in the country. Proposal to develop data centre parks throughout the country is another major step towards digitisation and capitalising data resource available with government agencies. This step will help analyse the data better and make a well informed decision regarding resource allocation for social development of a specific geography and demography. Allocation of Rs 8,000 crore over five years for National Mission on Quantum Technology is another positive step towards taking the country to the digital era. All these efforts will promote the use of technology and digitisation and play an important role in the overall development of the economy.
Omkar Rai, director general, Software Technology Parks of India
The union budget 2020 is a defining moment for the Indian IT industry by bringing in proactive policy measures on emerging technologies such as AI, ML, data analytics and quantum computing. In addition to this, the policy on establishing data centres across the country will strengthen the necessary IT-grade infrastructure required for discharging services to the remotest part of the country while bridging the digital divide, revolutionise the digital economy and significantly play a catalytic role in securing data sovereignty of the nation, and eventually it will also bring enormous FDI into this sector. Further incentivising the startups will fuel their growth and build momentum in transforming the country into a software product nation. These policy measures and reforms will holistically create humongous opportunities for startups and IT companies in providing cost-effective solutions to the masses for their betterment in all walks of life.
DD Mishra, senior director analyst, Gartner
Budget has a couple of good things, as well as certain things that could have been looked into. For example, investments in digital infrastructure and creation of BharatNet and data centers depict the intent but this does not address the challenges of the overall telecom sector which is struggling. Reliefs to startups are good and hopefully this gives them some room to manoeuvre for now. Overall, this appears to be an average budget from a technology perspective with some hits and a lot of misses. Hopefully, the overall impact on the economy may trigger more good news but as of now nothing much to celebrate.
KT Prasad, country sales director, Zendesk India
I believe the union budget 2020 will have a positive impact on helping further drive Indian businesses, given the current local and international market conditions. The startup sector will benefit greatly from the tax breaks, and the move to tax ESOPs on liquidation will encourage the retention of talent in the sector, poising it for continued growth on the global stage. We are happy to see the push for adopting AI and ML particularly in the healthcare sector, which will help boost access to services as well as quality of care for more people, and further infuse growth in the economy. It is also interesting to see that the government has invested Rs 8,000 crore to the National Mission on Quantum Technologies, which will ensure India remains a key global technology player. This move aligns and propels India into the future with an eye on data, communications, cybersecurity, and technology, and from Zendesk's position as a global Saas company, this is particularly encouraging.
Sundar Sampath, CFO, CSS Corp
Quantum computing is a field with tremendous potential applications to accelerate complex problem solving, with far-reaching benefits to humankind. Early movers can gain a strong head start and dominate in the times ahead. It is encouraging to see that the government has set aside an allocation of Rs 8,000 crore for the National Mission on Quantum Computing and Technology. We hope this will help India gain a strong foothold in this fast evolving space. Also, the focus on data center parks, improved connectivity, and emerging technologies is a step in the right direction to make India a digital economy.
Supria Dhanda, vice president and country manager, Western Digital India
With the announcement of Budget 2020, it is motivating to see the initiatives to further advance the technology sector. We look forward to collaborate with the government and industry to fuel the vision for data-centric innovations. The government’s plan to enable the private sector to build data center parks across the country highlights the huge potential of data. Addressing the need for technology and stressing on the importance of AI, analytics and IoT will enable the country to embrace the technological advancements required to succeed today. We are happy to see the government’s efforts to drive a positive change and position India as a technology leader.
Kalpit Jain, group CEO, Netcore Solutions
The budget 2020 was expected to perform a balancing act between agriculture, manufacturing and technology sector — the key drivers of the economy. We believe FM did justice to all 3 by announcing forward-looking programs and initiatives. For a global technology player like us, setting up of data parks in India is a welcome move as this will ensure enhanced data safety because servers and allied infrastructure is likely to be hosted in India, globally benchmarked practices of data encryption will ensure that customers’ data is not misused or profited from as the momentum around Data Protection Law gathers steam. This may just be a precursor to that. While we await the finer print, programmes like Knowledge Clusters should help younger tech companies in securing their IP and safeguarding their core product codes. It will also motivate them to apply AI, ML and deep tech for more refined solutions of existing problems in the country.
Suman Reddy Eadunuri, MD, Pegasystems India
This interim budget has a fair impetus on the technology sector. We see acknowledgement of the role of AI, analytics, IoT along with schemes to deploy these technologies in the public sector. The setting up of a digital platform for seamless application and capture of IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) moves us closer towards an era of enhanced public-private partnership where technology will play a decisive role.
The implementation of a policy to build data centre parks throughout the country is another welcome move which will help immensely in data management. As the 5th largest economy of the world with a vibrant startup ecosystem, the announcement to create more opportunities for entrepreneurs and setting up of an Investment Clearance Cell which will offer assistance in funding will boost the industry.
Ritesh Gandotra, director, Xerox Business Services
If this budget had to be known for one thing, it would be the length and breadth of technology infusion across all aspects. Technology and data are changing the world and the latest union budget rightly makes these its mainstay. The focus on data, digital records, connectivity and data security across key citizen services underlines the government’s faith in technology to deliver better governance, a safer society and a more competitive economy. The proposals for building data centre parks and setting up the ambitious National Mission of Quantum Technology and Application are significant announcements to put the technology intent into practice.
Venkatraman Swaminathan, vice president and country general manager, Schneider Electric IT Business India
The government’s intent to roll out a policy to enable private sector to build data center parks throughout the country is a welcome move. We believe this is in view of the government’s efforts to push data localisation as data will be one of the key drivers of economy. Localised data centres, which can be accessed and controlled from a centralised system, will significantly improve data privacy and security allowing free flow of data within borders.
Sunil Jose, senior vice president and country leader, Salesforce India
We're pleased to see AI adoption emphasised in the budget by the government. At Salesforce we agree that there is a tremendous opportunity in India to reskill existing and develop new AI talent for jobs of the future. It's also equally important that as we develop new advances in AI and skill new workers, that we make sure the ethical use of AI is a part of this development process. Salesforce stands by its commitment to expand its presence in the country by investing continuously in the country's workforce. We feel that the Finance Minister’s announcement on creating programs with local bodies to provide opportunities for young engineers is a positive move.
Sanjay Jalona, CEO and MD, L&T Infotech
Acknowledging the influence of technology in shaping new age economy is a distinct aspect of the union budget. Focus on artificial intelligence and targets set for quantum computing is a step in the right direction to strengthen India’s position as a frontrunner in exponential technologies. From an IT services perspective, it will be interesting to see if setting up more export hubs is encouraged by incentives for the industry that has been at the forefront of exports for the country