by Yogesh Gupta

Modi, Demonetization and SMAC

Nov 15, 2016
AnalyticsBig DataBusiness

PM Modi's demonetization dictum has the potential to transform India into a digital economy in the months to come.

PM Narendra Modi’s demonetization call catapulted the nation into spiralling bank queues, falling stock market, acute liquidity crunch, declining business revenues (especially retail) and other scenarios. And the frenzy continues and perhaps will even intensify.

The ‘not-to-be-missed’ mega announcement has kept Indians and the entire globe on tenterhooks. With larger denomination INR bills of 500 and 1000 no longer legal from 8th November midnight this year, the economic impact is sudden and severe.

Adversity brews a change and the big change (disruption) often turns into a bigger opportunity. SMAC jargon is the favored pitch of every technology OEM, service provider, research analyst and channel partner to sell their solutions or offerings to CIOs and other C-Suite executives of enterprises.

Few have been successful in bits and pieces or at a faster speed than the others in a diverse country like India. But the mega dictat of demonetization by Modi has instantly transformed India into a ‘SMAC’ country.

Here’s how PM Modi conquered SMAC through demonetization

Social: The social media frenzy was too much with second-by-second updates by the Indian government, PMO and every industry. Netizens were engaged in posting updates, trolling others, uploading photos. The social was physical too as people of all ages and walks of life waited in the bank lines for currency exchange. The one-on-one greetings between friends and relatives happened in banks’ branches – for a change – than the pervasive virtual world. Millennials had their first brush with the traditional banking system of queues and tokens.

Mobile: The ‘App-rich and feature centric’ mobile phone will become a big powerhouse in your hands. With the ‘limited cash’ scenario, the online play will multiply multi-fold as existing customers will increase their digital transactions and the new ones test the waters. Better internet connectivity across rural India would push more consumers to mobile services. Mobiles were extensively used by Indians to post their selfies with the first 2000 rupee note on social media. Digital payment companies, e-com companies will be powered by mobiles.

Analytics: Everyone’s analyzing the number of old denomination notes they need to exchange or deposit in their banks. And most businesses are busy calculating the new Income Tax norms and the implications of currency ban. The revised laws mean chartered accountant firms are working overtime for their clients’ financial planning. India is in the Math mode. The government increased the limits of exchange and withdrawals to ease the citizens’ concerns but inadverantly added to their calculation sheets.

Cloud: The millions and billions of transactions (deposits and withdrawals) punched into banks’ computers are linked to servers of RBI, IT department and other government authorities. Cloud thus becomes the vital plumbing engine for collecting ‘to and fro’ information for storage and big data analysis later on. Aadhaar card, digital locker, digitization will make cloud (private, hybrid and public) a ‘must-have’ IT stack especially for banks, financial institutions and government.

I believe S for Security is a super crucial component of SMAC stack besides the Social element, with more Indians bound to indulge in digital payments, net banking, credit/debit card swiping, mobile wallets in the wake of old currency ban. Last month’s hack of 3.2 million debit cards (of various Indian banks) compromised is still fresh in our memory. Organizations (technology providers and end-users) need to build a higher security wall to keep the hackers at bay.

The technology ecosystem in India will never be the same again. The demonetization is bound to have a direct impact – more or less – on the technology OEMs, channel partners and end customers in India. The change in the way organizations are buying enterprise IT over the years, moving from capex to opex, on prem to cloud and others will be significant.

The currency ban will see a spurt in the emergence of the ancillary technologies (referred to as hype or hype techs) like cognitive computing, AI, speech recognition, digital assistant, retina recognition, robotics and emerging technologies. Be ready to witness the mushrooming of start-ups offering revolutionary technologies in the space of digital payments start-ups, niche services providers, on-demand offerings, mobility services and more. 

India at present is not a ‘cashless’ country compared to matured counterparts like the US, Europe or APJ countries like Singapore, Australia. The extremely diverse and hugely populated country of India I believe will remain in ‘less cash’ mode than predominantly ‘cash less’ at the moment.