What The India 2012-2013 Budget Means For ICT Vendors

The Indian government announced its 2012-2013 budget on March 16, 2012. While the announced budget does not contain direct incentives to promote the domestic ICT industry, there will be adequate indirect opportunities for vendors to explore. The excise duty will increase from 10% to 12%; this will have a marginal impact on the sale of PCs (desktops, laptops, and tablets), but the government’s focus on improving infrastructure, creating efficient delivery mechanisms, and improving e-governance will provide substantial indirect opportunities to IT vendors.

The latest budget aims to achieve long-term and inclusive growth for the economy and is in sync with my upcoming report, “India’s 12th National Five-Year Plan (2012-2017) Provides Massive ICT Opportunities.” The report answers questions such as why and how technology will act as a key enabler for the Indian government to achieve its growth target.

The 2012-2013 budget will provide adequate ICT opportunities for vendors, such as:

  • Packaged and industry-specific applications, e-governance, mobile apps, and analytics will support the strong need for sustainable revenue sources to fund investments. A common problem that India faces today is the significant imbalance between expenditures and revenues. The budget categorically highlights the need to deliver more with existing resources; we will witness increased demand for packaged and industry-specific applications, e-governance, and mobile apps to help generate sustainable revenue to fund investments. Also, the outlay for e-governance projects will increase by 210%, from the equivalent of US$62 million to US$192 million; applications from software vendors for e-governance initiatives will present some of the most exciting opportunities in India. And the government will use various analytical tools to improve revenue sources and take corrective actions by identifying gaps.
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Amazon Makes Debut In India Through Junglee.Com: What It Means For Buyers, Sellers, And Competitors

In early February 2011, Amazon launched Junglee.Com as a marketplace in India. In 1998, Amazon had acquired Junglee (which means "wild" in English), an online virtual database-making company, and after 13 years now it has shown its affection to the "Junglee" domain name. The reason is that Amazon can’t sell directly in India due to FDI laws that restrict foreign companies on multibrand retail in the country. Nevertheless, the Indian law does allow foreign players to operate as an online marketplace to connect sellers and buyers with each other. Amazon is following this approach by partnering with both online (Snapdeal, Univercell, etc.) and offline (HomeShop18, Bombay Store, etc.) players in the country before it makes a full-fledged entry through an "Amazon.in"-type domain. Also, Amazon just received the Indian Government’s FDI approval to set up a logistics operation. The company plans to invest INR 15 crore (around US$ 3.06 million) to set up a wholly owned subsidiary to undertake the business of online marketplace operator and retailer inter-alia courier services.

Let’s look at what Amazon’s entry through Junglee.com means for online buyers, suppliers, and competitors:

Sellers: More Business And Some Risk

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Mobile Governance Initiative In India: A Step In The Right Direction, But With Caveats

The Department of Information Technology (DIT) of India recently launched a paper on “Framework for Mobile Governance” that aims at providing fast and easy access of public services to citizens through mobile devices. In view of the limited success of the e-governance initiative in India (low Internet and PC penetration coupled with implementation-related issues), the shift in the government’s approach to using mobile as an alternative delivery medium for public services is a step in the right direction. According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), there were roughly 894 million wireless subscribers in India as of December 31, 2011, and it is encouraging to see that the government is finally realizing the importance of mobile in achieving its e-governance initiative. I have taken key highlights from the mobile framework published by DIT:

  • Creation of a cloud-based Mobile Services Delivery Gateway (MSDG) based on open standards, which will be shared with all central and state government departments and agencies at nominal cost to facilitate e-governance services delivery on mobile devices.
  • Incorporation of various channels such as voice, text (email and SMS), GPRS, USSD, SIM Toolkit (STK), cell broadcast (CBC), and multimedia (MMS) for mobile-based services.
  • Development of mobile-complaint sites for all government departments and agencies based on open standards.
  • Creation of a government mobile app store which will be integrated with MSDG.
  • Development of an integrated payment gateway for citizens to pay taxes and bills for other public services through mobile.
  • Integration of mobile infrastructure with the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) platform.
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City Level Public Sector Opportunities In Asia Pacific: A Tale Of Two Urbanization Clusters

Forrester expects two different patterns of urbanization will emerge in Asia Pacific, excluding Japan (APEJ), each with its own rate of technology adoption, maturity of implementation, and ways in which cities will use technology to support urbanization. Forrester defines two categories of urbanization: cities in countries with low-to-moderate urbanization (LMU), and those with high urbanization (HU). Each of these is prevalent in a different set of countries, has different technology requirements, and will emphasize a different set of technology underpinnings for its eGovernment efforts.

  • LMU cities will focus on automation of basic tasks. LMU cities will remain focused on basic automation and bridging the digital divide, tilting heavily toward hardware, platform software, and packaged applications.
  • HU cities will focus on more efficient ICT infrastructure. HU cities will be more focused on upgrading legacy systems and modernizing the existing infrastructure to support open government and shared services concepts.

Nevertheless, Forrester predicts that seven technologies will be common to all cities to underpin their efforts to grapple with urbanization:

  • Cloud Computing: From Hype To Reality For Cities.
  • Mobile Apps And Devices: Faster Link-Up With Citizens.
  • Virtualization: A First Step Toward Cloud.
  • Social Media And Collaboration: Opening Up Two-Way Communication.
  • Analytics: Making Informed Decisions.
  • GIS: Beyond Mapping.
  • Security Software And Systems: From Information To Physical Security.
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