By Alison Weiss
India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, and thanks to a new digital revolution supported by the government, ambitious technology-driven projects are emerging across the country to accelerate the development of smart cities and drive economic growth. Oracle OpenWorld India 2017 demonstrated how Oracle, governments, and businesses of all sizes are working together to develop India’s new digital economy.
Oracle, which has about 38,000 employees in India, is expanding its presence in the country. At the show, Oracle CEO Safra Catz shared a vision for how Oracle’s cloud technology and other innovations can help enable Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India initiative.
“India’s rapid transformation echoes the generational shift taking place in the technology industry,” said Catz in her May 9 keynote address. “Just as cloud is triggering broad innovation within the technology industry, it will also drive changes and increase efficiency within emerging economies like India.”
During the show, Oracle announced the availability in India of Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning Cloud (Oracle ERP Cloud), with new capabilities to support compliance with India’s recently enacted Goods and Services Tax (GST), which replaces several hundred tax rates with a simplified, five-tier system. These built-in features clearly demonstrate Oracle’s commitment to offer cloud solutions tailored to meet the specific technology and infrastructure requirements of local markets.
According to Ajay Kumar, solution director for ERP, Oracle India, the introduction of the GST provides an excellent opportunity for organizations to adopt Oracle ERP Cloud because the solution automates the management of tax calculations, liability accounting, recovery, settlement, and reporting. “Every business in India now has to start paying taxes using an automated or digital solution,” Kumar says. “And they all have to revamp their back-office technology to meet GST requirements.”
While updating crucial business systems is top of mind for companies across India, government entities, Oracle, and the business community understand that investing in the future of Digital India and furthering economic growth and development also mean encouraging the country’s thriving entrepreneurial culture. The Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator program was launched in 2016 to guide and support selected startup companies by providing them with coworking facilities, access to cloud technology, mentoring from Oracle technical experts, and introductions to venture capitalists.
India’s rapid transformation echoes the generational shift taking place in the technology industry. Just as cloud is triggering broad innovation within the technology industry, it will also drive changes and increase efficiency within emerging economies like India.”– Oracle CEO Safra Catz
A half-dozen Indian startups, all of which have successfully participated in the Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator program, took part in Oracle OpenWorld India. They included ezeDox, which is developing a digital locker for storing and sharing digitally signed documents, and Farebond, a data science and predictive analytics firm.
Sanket Atal, group vice president of product development for Oracle India, notes that response at the show was tremendous, particularly in helping startups connect with potential new customers.
“We wanted to give startups exposure, and over the two days every startup that was there came back with 100-plus leads,” Atal says. “People were very excited about the program.”
However, startups are not the only new things being launched to enable India’s digital future. Another driving force in India’s transformation is the modernization of municipal services and infrastructure—including transportation, water and waste management, and smart grids—to support burgeoning metropolitan areas as more people migrate from villages and rural areas. India’s Smart Cities program, launched in June 2015, seeks to transform 100 Indian cities into modern metropolises, with a goal of improving the quality of life for millions of people through technology-enabled innovations and simple conveniences such as bike paths and better street lighting.
“Smart Cities is an important part of the larger Digital India initiative,” says Niraj Prakash, director of digital innovation and Digital India solution consulting at Oracle. “Its goal is to ensure that all citizens become connected with information and services for all.”
Shailender Kumar, vice president and regional managing director of Oracle India, notes that government initiatives such as Digital India and Smart Cities are transforming governance and accelerating socioeconomic development. “Through optimum use of reliable networks, widespread connectivity, and intelligent technologies, including digital disruptors like the cloud, the country is geared towards becoming a digitally empowered nation,” says Kumar. At Oracle OpenWorld India and at a nearby conference and exhibition called One Mega Event, Oracle showed its growing portfolio of smart city technologies in areas such as public safety, parking, street lighting, and civic project management. Oracle demonstrated a smart city control center, still in development, that is designed to provide a real-time view of municipal operations using Oracle Internet of Things Cloud Service and other Oracle Cloud services.
“We had thousands of individuals from different cities and organizations looking at Oracle’s solutions,” says Prakash. “Oracle actually has a long legacy of providing technology and working with partners to make cities smarter in Australia, Canada, the US, and Dubai. We can leverage that experience to help make Smart Cities a reality.” “In our last 25-plus years in India, Oracle has emerged as the trusted partner for both government and enterprises,” adds Shailender Kumar. “The adoption of technologies such as cloud platforms and applications has contributed significantly to our digital momentum.”
Photography by Robert Birnback, Adam Holt/SilverHub, Abhishek Bali/SilverHub, Sunny Lamba/SilverHub