At the release of the Ek Kadam Unnati Ki Aur (EKUKA) Impact Assessment Report recently, personal computing emerged as being crucial to India’s growth as a knowledge economy. The Report, prepared by Kantar Indian Market Research Bureau (Kantar IMRB), endorsed by the Indian School of Business (ISB), and commissioned by Intel Technology India Pvt. Ltd. (“Intel India”), reveals that Personal Computers (PCs) are instrumental to closing the skill gap, enabling upward socio-economic mobility, and achieving universal digital literacy in the country.
Analyzing data from Common Services Centers in 11 states1, where Intel India set up 100 Unnati Kendras for PC access and training, the Report was unveiled by Mr. Sanjeev Kumar Mittal, Joint Secretary, Department of Electronics and IT, Navin Shenoy, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Client Computing Group, Intel Corporation, and Debjani Ghosh, Vice President, Sales and Marketing Group & Managing Director, Intel South Asia.
The Report reinforces that as India transforms itself into a knowledge economy, digital skills must become a core competency for higher education and white-collar service-sector jobs, and that the know-how of productive technologies, such as the PC, will enable citizens to participate in this ambition. It highlights that the PC has a positive influence on soft skills such as leadership, communication, critical thinking, self-confidence and decision-making, widening the horizons of academic and career opportunities for non-urban aspirants.
For 54% of the respondents, PCs are the priority device for education-related activities and acquiring differentiated knowledge and skills. In fact, education-related videos and content dominated 58% of the multimedia consumption at the Unnati Kendras, especially among women entrepreneurs, self-educators, students and teachers – a demographic which represents the next-wave of empowered citizens in the fastest growing service economy in the world; 61% of India’s GDP is being contributed by the service sector. One of the factors contributing to this growth is the digital penetration in non-urban India, wherein the smartphone has enabled the rapid Internet usage and provided access to basic online services.
Navin Shenoy, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Client Computing Group, Intel Corporation, said, “It is an exciting and important time for India as access to the internet and technology becomes readily accessible to more and more people, including non-urban communities. The PC is playing an increasingly critical role in enabling citizens across the country to use technology for the betterment of self and society, helping reduce the skill gap, and increase productivity. Intel is committed to continue investing in the transition of India to a digital, knowledge-based economy.”
The Report finds that while the smartphone has been a gateway to on-board first-time technology users in India, the PC has emerged as the preferred interface for content creation, skill development, and accessing information related to government, education, healthcare and employment. The Report advocates a multi-device approach to digital upskilling, where features such as larger screens, physical keyboards and the ability to accommodate multi-tasks and heavy-duty tasks, create an interactive yet productive user interface within the technology ecosystem.
The Report further calls out that positive word of mouth about the PC is an incentive for consumers to invest time in learning more about the device. Personal engagements with a local Unnati Guru or technology evangelist at the centers had a significant impact on the overall experience, with first-time users preferring to discuss a PC’s features (46%) before interacting hands-on with the device. Direct PC exposure at work, school or cyber cafés, also builds familiarity and confidence with the device, with almost 15% of connected users (non-owners) showing higher propensity to purchase a PC for their households.
Sanjeev Kumar Mittal, Joint Secretary, Department of Electronics and IT, said “The government has been focused on transforming India through technology, and it’s encouraging to see how public private collaborations are making an impact in this regard. Intel India has continuously demonstrated its commitment to the Digital India vision, and I’d like to congratulate them on rallying an ecosystem that has strived to make technology relevant for our citizens in the rural areas.”
Identifying the challenges to PC adoption in non-urban India, the Report cites that the lack of local language interfaces as a key barrier to PC acceptance, highlighting the need to create relevant vernacular content. In addition, over a quarter of the potential consumers cited the inability to afford PCs as a reason to not make the one-time investment in a PC, necessitating the availability of soft loans through easy micro financing options. Conclusively, a balance of product, price, content, policy and on-ground support will be the catalyst to improving PC penetration in India’s emerging economy.
Debjani Ghosh, Vice President, Sales and Marketing Group & Managing Director, Intel South Asia said, “The growing skills gap in India is estimated to create a deficit of more than 25 crore workers by 20223. This implies an urgent need to create knowledge workers, and technology can help accelerate this process. An isolated smartphone-based strategy won’t cut it, which is why we urge the government to additionally look at the other technology choices available, to ensure that we move from content consumption to content creation. This is the need of the hour if India wants to truly transform into a knowledge economy.”
The Report is based on Intel India’s Ek Kadam Unnati Ki Aur initiative, under which the company has collaborated with nearly 20 organizations, across the public and private sector, to build the relevance of personal computing. 100 Unnati Kendras, serving as common access digital learning centers for local citizens, were inaugurated earlier this year, to deliver content and training across the three broad areas of education, entrepreneurship and innovation. Each center is equipped with Intel® architecture powered devices, vernacular language content and relevant training programs for local citizens in the state, creating opportunities for skill development and digital empowerment