Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

From Cloud leaps to AI advances: Here's what will shape India in 2024

As we enter the techade of innovation, our reliance on machines to make decisions for us will inevitably increase. However, it is crucial to remember that human ingenuity drives innovation, writes Kulmeet Bawa

Published: Dec 29, 2023 03:59:31 PM IST
Updated: Dec 29, 2023 04:24:39 PM IST

From Cloud leaps to AI advances: Here's what will shape India in 2024

Kulmeet Bawa, president and managing director, SAP Indian Subcontinent

If I had to capture the pulse of this year in one word, it would be "transformation." From the transition to a multipolar world order to the revolutionary advancements in space exploration, this year has been marked by significant changes. The James Webb Space Telescope, for instance, gave us our first close-up of the birth of sun-like stars, transforming humanity's understanding of the cosmos. On the other spectrum, many economies bounced back from the after-effects of the pandemic, creating hope and jobs, as governments implemented stimulus measures and businesses adapted to new models.

Closer home, as the largest democracy in the world and the fastest-growing economy, India made incredible strides on the global stage, which left us feeling inspired, patriotic, and optimistic. From taking on the presidency of the G20 for the first time, a significant milestone for India's global leadership role, to becoming the first country in the world to land a spacecraft near the moon's south pole, we have firmly reasserted our commitment to growth, innovation, and sustainability.

As we tiptoe in 2024, question arises on what’s up next, especially for businesses and corporations. Let's take a closer look at the trends and forces that have the potential to accelerate the transformation of our world in the coming year:

Gen AI will be everywhere

The world of AI won’t be what it used to be. This year, we marvelled at Gen AI’s magnificent abilities from penning poems to composing music. In coming months, we’ll see quantum leaps in AI & Gen AI advancements, creating use-cases across industries that will perhaps help us address some of the most pressing challenges of our times, including healthcare, education, or wildlife conservation. AI, especially, Gen AI will also stand out as a transformative tool for organizations, helping them navigate the complexities of data, make informed decisions, and chart a course towards achieving their goals with confidence.

Intelligent automation will reshape demand for new IT skills and upend pay

As AI becomes more democratized, it’ll allow more people and businesses to harness their skills. There will be a significant increase in the demand for individuals who can effectively utilize large language models in their roles. For instance, an AI startup has started offering salaries of up to three hundred thousand dollars for the position of ‘Prompt Engineer and Librarian’ in San Francisco. Simply put, given that proficiency in Gen AI will become an essential skill for technical positions, we’ll see a shift in skills and ultimately, the pay decisions.

Also read: AI: Understanding the technology beyond the hype

Cloud will be unstoppable

Companies around the world are rapidly adopting cloud technology, recognizing its significance in driving digital transformation. In the coming year, we can expect to see an even greater surge in cloud adoption by companies of all sizes and across all industries. As per industry estimates, cloud technology will account for eight percent of India's economy by 2026 and could add $310-380 billion to the country's GDP by 2026, while creating 14 million jobs. This is excellent news for a country that boasts a massive demographic dividend.

Green tech will be at a tipping point

Green tech took centerstage at this year’s COP 28 summit. Given India's status as one of the leading emitters of greenhouse gases, both the private and public sector will be tasked with a substantial responsibility in implementing corrective measures. The emphasis on tangible outcomes rather than mere ‘pledges’ will compel India Inc to take concrete steps. With growing scrutiny from regulators, consumers, and investors, we will also see organizations investing heavily in technologies required to limit environmental footprints throughout the entire supply chain and doubling down on efforts to minimize carbon emissions.

No substitute for human capability

Stephen Hawking famously warned us when he said, “Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human civilization. But it could also be the last." As we enter the techade of innovation, our reliance on machines to make decisions for us will inevitably increase. However, it is crucial to remember that human ingenuity drives innovation.

What will keep us anchored as we move ahead will be our considerations for the planet, ethical practices, emotional intelligence, leadership, and creativity. We must integrate these values into our lives without delay to ensure a sustainable future.

Kulmeet Bawa is the president and managing director, SAP Indian Subcontinent.