As consumers move much of their spending online, global retail, technology and entertainment companies adapt by increasing their virtual presence. India’s IT sector seems to welcome the challenge.
Global Retailers Increasing Online Capacity
The coronavirus pandemic had a merciless impact on some of the physical retail chains. While small businesses had little time and resources to regroup and build (or expand) their online presence, most global businesses had some leeway and the abundance of resources to avoid strategic mistakes.
Retails giants, for example, had already established their digital channels years ago. They needed “merely” to strengthen tech support and optimise their operations for a much increased online customer demand. Industry reports show that India might just be on the receiving end of some of these benefits, as its young and technology aware population is emerging as a prime candidate for handling such digital expansion.
Target doubled its IT staff in Bengaluru to over 6,000, while Warmart passed the 5,000 headcounts. Other notable brands include JCPenney, Lowe’s and Victoria’s Secret, as foreign investment in technology jobs in India has continued accelerating throughout 2020. Even positions indirectly related to online presence have received a boost, with supply chain, in-house engineering, marketing and finance reported as in-demand, besides IT staff and service support.
Entertainment and Media Following Suit
The truth is that almost any customer-oriented sector which could boost its Internet presence and capacity had to do it in no uncertain terms. Digital developments and investments throughout India are experiencing stable growth, to say the least, with entertainment and media (Over-the-Top, OTT) and gaming being some leading examples of businesses experiencing stable, almost exponential, growth. Streaming platforms have been growing for months on end, while i-Gaming proved to be a huge hit with active Indian online users as they welcomed enthusiastically new Andar Bahar live casino environments and certain top mobile casino games online.
The big players in some entertainment niches – Netflix and Amazon Prime Video – were joined by younger businesses such as Watch2gether and Alt Balaji, as they posted almost double increases in search activity and usage during lockdowns. OTT subscriptions were naturally boosted in such a period, as outdoor events and entertainment stopped being an option. Dedicated desi content led the trend, with the above services reaching a total of 300 million users. Conversely, Apple TV and Disney Plus still lag behind their competitors in search volumes, mainly because of such deficiency in local content.
What is common to all of the above global businesses is the need to replenish and expand their workforce with staff well-versed in AI, Machine Learning, data sciences, UX design and other related technology and e-product management functions.
Tech Giants Have Faith in India
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, some business pioneers showed their faith in the Indian workforce. Amazon pledged $1 billion way back in January of 2020, with Jeff Bezos explicitly declaring his support for “digitising small and medium businesses [to] allow them to sell and operate online”. Bezos went as far as to declare the 21st Century the “Indian century”.
Later in the year, Google tied up some of its most significant overseas investment, with $4.5bn going towards the acquisition of a 7.7% stake in Mukesh Ambani’s Jio Platforms. Reliance Industries’ digital business has been indicated as the Alphabet’s main regional partner in developing 4G and 5G phones and networks.
Intel, Facebook and Qualcomm also seemed to appreciate and support a digital transformation led by India’s expert workforce, bringing the total US investment in Indian tech up to around $17 billion back in July, as they passed the $20 billion mark later in the year.
As coronavirus keeps changing the global economy, India needs to have faith in its own capacity for a sustainable transition. Even though some sectors have been hit hard, mostly small businesses and physical distribution, others can act as a driving force for a new business paradigm.
The country doesn’t seem to succumb to its diminishing tech cooperation with China, as foreign investors keep supporting the IT sector consistently. Local digital startups pull their own weight and – with some help and guidance from the Government – can serve as an example to other, less tech-savvy entrepreneurs.