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Data-driven innovation as a driver of economic growth

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By Puneet Gupta, Managing Director, NetApp India and SAARC

Data has become a critical asset contributing directly and significantly to business success. The current
dynamic business landscape requires enterprises to use data efficiently to drive innovation and growth. Its importance becomes even clearer when we see how it boosts economic growth, especially with the Government of India encouraging AI and ML adoption. Initiatives like ‘Make AI Work for India’ make these technologies available to all businesses.

This approach is not only reshaping industries and helping organisations achieve remarkable growth but also building stronger foundations for India’s digital-first, data-driven businesses. As businesses harness data and metadata across diverse applications, the opportunity to enhance efficiency, and productivity, and gain a competitive edge becomes more pronounced.

AI adoption trends in MSMEs and their impact on the economy:
The rapid adoption of AI by businesses across India is attracting global attention, demonstrating a remarkable shift from theoretical research to practical application. This adoption is evident across organisations of all sizes, but it’s the rapid integration of AI into MSMEs that promises the most significant digital transformation for the country, with subsequent positive effects on the economy.

NetApp’s 2023 Cloud Complexity Report revealed that nearly half of tech executives in smaller companies, those with fewer than 250 employees, anticipate reaching the 50% AI implementation mark within the next year. Interestingly, companies with the highest AI expectations often operate in cost-sensitive environments, and yet, they face less scepticism from business leaders. This underscores the confidence decision-makers have in this transformative technology.

Global adoption and benefits of data-driven and AI-driven innovation:
Countries globally recognise the transformative potential of data-driven and AI-driven innovation in fuelling economic growth. Initiatives like the ‘Digital India’ program have spurred significant transformations across industries, fostering greater adoption of cloud-based services, predictive analytics, and digital technologies.

Sectors such as financial services, telecommunications, healthcare, and government undertakings leverage data and AI to enhance efficiency, improve services, and drive innovation. The exponential growth of the big data and AI markets highlights the importance of these approaches in shaping the future of data-driven economies globally.

The government’s role in fostering a conducive environment:
Governments play a crucial role in creating an environment conducive to the success of data-driven and
AI-driven innovation. Policies and initiatives that promote digital transformation through investments in
IT infrastructure and support for the development of a skilled workforce are essential. The Indian

The government’s focus on creating a strong IT ecosystem was also made clear in the Interim Union Budget
2024, which allocated increased funding for R&D in deep tech.  Additionally, public-private partnerships also facilitate collaboration and knowledge sharing, driving innovation and accelerating economic growth. Along with upskilling, prioritising data privacy, security, and regulatory compliance builds trust and confidence in data-driven and AI technologies, further fuelling innovation and sustainable development.

The importance of a skilled workforce in data science, analytics, and AI:
A skilled workforce proficient in data science, analytics, and AI is vital for driving data-driven innovation.
Investments in learning and development (L&D), training, and upskilling programs are essential to equip
individuals with the expertise needed to effectively harness the power of data and AI.

According to NetApp’s 2023 Cloud Complexity report, AI adoption played a pivotal role in upskilling by
automating routine tasks, accounting for a 36% reduction in repetitive activities. This allowed employees
to focus on more strategic tasks, resulting in a 33% reduction in the skills gap through efficient automation and enhanced human capabilities. By nurturing talent and fostering a culture of continuous learning and innovation, organisations can unlock the full potential of these technologies and drive economic growth in the digital age.

Towards a data-driven future
The integration of artificial intelligence into smaller companies is a notable trend, with tech executives
foreseeing significant adoption of AI in the coming years. The realm of data-driven innovations continues to be a powerful driver of economic growth, reshaping industries and influencing the future of economies worldwide. Collaboration among governments, businesses, and individuals is crucial to building a future where these technologies empower individuals, transform industries, and propel economies toward unprecedented growth and prosperity.

Collaborations between industry and academia will also contribute to the rapid advancement of the tech sector. By leveraging the potential of data, AI, and nurturing a skilled workforce, organisations can enhance efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness, driving innovation and sustainable development for all.

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