The role of internet in empowering India and its socio-economic development

By Sachin Dutta, Chief Operating Officer, Canara HSBC Oriental Bank of Commerce Life Insurance

India, as we all proudly know, is the world’s largest democracy and home to 138 Cr. people. The seventh-largest country in terms of area and is also a country with a median age of less than 30 years. Hence, a young, skilled, dynamic, diverse, and a vibrant country with a cosmopolitan population and diversified culture spread towards each pole of the country. One thing that drives the socio-economic development for any country is connectivity, the more connected its businesses, its people are the more potential for the country to grow and prosper. India provides the best use case for any innovation when it comes to scale. Advent of internet in India is itself a key milestone laid in the development of the country which has been enabling India at the moment to steer through the gloomy days of pandemic.

Connectivity is largely defined now days by presence of social media and its consumption. The definition evolved over a period of time where at one point of time internet for people meant e-mails (Hotmail, yahoo mail etc) to Google to now social media connects, cloud setups, complex devices etc. One considers himself or herself to be socially connected to large networks and platform via social media.

From being confined to a desktop at home, the internet now rides along with people in the form of mobile phones in their pockets. While social media gained popularity over the last 10 years, it was the internet that used to provide this connectivity platform to all of us 25 years back. For something which was accessed by select few in the 90s, was developed to cater to the defense needs of a country, is actually helping students learn, multinationals works and industry to survive during pandemic. Today, the internet has full potential of being one of the fundamental rights for humankind.

Yes, it’s been a little over 25 years since we started to ride on the so-called internet-led digital expressway; I recall learning about it in school and then during my early coding days. From there, we have come a long way in a relatively short span of time.

From the insurance sector perspective, gone are those days when customers used to fill long physical proposal forms, try to read the fine print and requirements to get a policy. This used to take some time and customers used to wait anxiously for a physical policy document to be in their hands.

Thanks to the technology-led innovation riding on the basic concept of connectivity, the internet provided not only more awareness amongst people on insurance but has helped in making the process of buying an insurance policy easy. Earlier it required an agent to have a face to face conversation for sourcing while all this can now be done virtually. This has proved to critical during the COVID-19 times, with the online platform enabling people to maintain social distancing and still be able to buy or access an insurance policy.

Today, the internet is also powering the concept of big data where trends and patterns of customers can be analyzed and understood in great details. This is helping us provide customized financial solutions including insurance. Hence, it is giving birth to pillars of growth like analytics and customer experience. Further, internet is aiding a lot of use cases in the medical world that is helping various healthcare and insurance sectors. Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence get their power from internet.

Internet influenced the ecosystem around it where things moved from a click of a button to touch screen. Internet, I believe is still underutilized, less explored to its true potential. It’s a work in progress item waiting to be explored more and more scope for further evolution. The devices that we buy for our household are now getting increasingly connected with internet of things which as a concept is still taking a form and shape. Insurance can leverage IoT through the use of wearables and other devices that can help assess the risk factors and provide insurance coverage commensurate to the risk.

Internet continues to fuel the growth engines of our developing economy and is helping drive the overall socio-economic development. Most of the businesses, communities are now connected via the internet which is now acting as self-learning and intelligent platform and spawns up instances to provide unlimited scalability, stability, and security.

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