Boston Consulting Group: A Strategic Partner to Digital India Mission

Boston Consulting Group has been deeply involved in the government’s digital agenda and has been at the forefront of strategising and consulting on India’s digital transformation

The past few months have been truly transformational for organisations in terms of them reinventing their digital agendas. Technology imperatives have constantly been changing, serving the citizens with a new level of speed, convenience and personalisation at all possible touchpoints are now on top of the government(s) agenda.

Talking about the emerging trends he has seen as the consulting leader at Boston Consulting Group in the Indian Public sector landscape, Saibal Chakraborty, Managing Director & Partner and a leader in the Centre for Digital Government, Boston Consulting Group shares, “Our lives have completely changed since COVID-19 struck the world. Starting with our COVID-response programmes with the Ministry of Health and State Governments, whether it was in public infrastructure or health or education, digital transformation has happened in the last six months in a way it had never happened before. It is a historical and irreversible shift towards digitisation in India and also therefore in the public sector landscape.”

Ten digital ideas for the Indian public sector

BCG conducted a detailed study during this period in conjunction with Ministry of IT and Omidyar Network (a philanthropic organisation working extensively in the public sector) and they came out with ten digital ideas that could transform the public sector. India, and the world, are at the cusp of a paradigm shift in the way digital solutions are being deployed for large-scale societal impact. Technology interventions for public service delivery have made significant strides since the ‘1.0’ era of computerisation and automation of processes to the ‘2.0’ era of digitisation that offered Endto-End (E2E) processes for numerous services. We are now witnessing a shift to the ‘3.0’ era of ‘Platformisation’ – a service delivery construct where shared technology infrastructure is leveraged by both government and private sector entities to unlock new solutions and enhance the end-user experience.

According to Chakraborty, they call this paradigm shift to the ‘3.0’ era the ‘Open Digital Ecosystem’ (ODE) approach. ODEs are open and secure digital platforms that enable a Community of actors to unlock transformative solutions for society, based on a robust Governance framework. “Collectively, we estimate that ten high potential National ODEs in sectors like health, jobs and skilling, agriculture, logistics, law and justice, etc., can unlock over USD 700 billion (INR 50+ lakh crore) in economic value by 2030 (about eight per cent of GDP in 2030), and create substantial societal and governance impact. These are the ten digital ideas that we have proposed, and we think that these are the ten big things for the government to pursue in the next ten years,” he shares.

A pioneering feat in digital governance

Some of the recent developments in m-Governance/ e-Governance across India have been nothing less than exemplary. Sharing one such example, Chakraborty says, “There is one particular initiative which is almost a gold standard in governance using digital. It is the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) which was set up as a pioneering initiative by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in data-driven/digital governance in India. The GeM is an online, end-to-end marketplace reform that provides an open, efficient & transparent solution. Since its inception, GeM has been able to achieve significant scale in operations and has taken many strides towards optimising the operations on the platform.”

Chakraborty shares a fascinating story behind this. “If we go back 163 years in history to 1857, post the Sepoy Mutiny, the British took over and set up the Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals (DGS&D). It was meant to drive public procurement in India. This department went on for 159 years following the same archaic rules until GeM came into the picture in 2016. In the past four years, about 8 Billion USD worth of transactions has happened on this platform, and on an average, 10-12% savings have happened on this platform. It means the government has saved about 1 billion dollars in the last four years using this platform. The platform is using cutting edge digital technologies, and it is hence, a fascinating story of e-Governance. Over the next decade it is expected to grow to 4-5% of India’s GDP and significantly contribute to exchequer savings and make a large dent on India’s fiscal deficit,” he says.

As per Chakraborty, there are many other exemplary initiatives in m-Governance/ e-Governance at the national and state level, like the Aadhar Card and India stack initiative that have completely transformed the way the country operates today.

Overcoming barriers on the way

There are also a few challenges India is facing, and the government(s) needs to take proactive steps to overcome them. According to Chakraborty, a significant challenge is, having proper governance around public digital platforms. “In India, any successful digital intervention in government requires to be focussed on three layers: how do you develop a robust technology platform, how do you build a community that develops that platform (classic open sourcing model), and how do you put a layer of governance around it. Data security and data privacy are big issues. We tend to put much thought around digital platforms. But what we do not do so well is the entire governance around it. The Ministry of IT does publish rules and standards, but frankly, we do not have a single body in India which is driving governance strategy for these digital platforms. So, if you want to set up an Open Digital Ecosystem, you need to have a comprehensive set of standards and policies, for example around data security. It is the single biggest challenge that the government must figure out a solution. It is about bringing people to a common set of standards and giving them directions so that the country’s data is not compromised,” he says.

BCG in the Indian public sector

BCG has been helping governments deliver a superior, engaging ‘digital experience’ to nextgen citizens for a long while now. Though it is known as a traditional management consulting organisation, they also bring in a whole host of skills and digital capabilities to help the government. These include:

  1. Digital consultants: Consultants with a passion for digital, technology, and capability building
  2. Digital business builders: Innovators and entrepreneurs with start-up mindset and skills
  3. AI and data analytics experts: Data scientists, and experts with advanced analytics skills
  4. IT architects & digital solution builders: IT architects, designers, engineers, agile coaches, and cyber specialists
  5. Product & software builders: Customised and productised software builders
  6. Speciality skills: Specialist units bringing specific skill sets to our digital work, e.g. Digital design, FinTech and InsureTech Control Towers, etc.

“Over the last five years, BCG has run over 100 digital programs in India. We have done revamping of e-portals, digital capability building, analytics, enterprise architecture, ERP system selection and many more such programs for the government. We are deeply embedded in the digital agenda of the government,” adds Chakraborty.

Moving towards a more digital future

The next technology adoption plans in the public sector in terms of improving citizen service delivery are robust, and technology leaders like VMware will play a crucial role in this. “VMware is a leader in cloud and virtualisation space. And building the right IT infrastructure and the digital foundation is a big part for any organisation, whether it is a private cloud, public cloud, or hybrid cloud. For many government services going forward, we will need agility and scale in the context of India, and we will need to do everything least expensively. Therefore, the cloud becomes an essential part of India’s digital strategy.

Hence, there is a critical role for organisations like VMware to lend their technology to develop cheap and scalable solutions that can be relevant for India. Each of the ten big digital ideas would need a very robust infrastructure backbone, and this is where organisations like VMware will play a critical role,” concludes Chakraborty.