2020 was a once-in-a-lifetime year. It brought massive supply chain disruptions. It also saw the Indian manufacturing sector rolling out innovations to resolve challenges. India’s tech startups have played a significant role in making these innovations happen in a short time. Manufacturing companies also experienced how data and analytics can help them to forecast the next to survive and thrive during challenges. Technology will be a critical lever for Indian manufacturers to adapt, innovate, and scale in 2021. Partnerships between India’s tech startups and manufacturing enterprises will be vital to reimagining India as the world’s local factory.
Challenges in 2020 and The New Normal in 2021
● Disruptions in 2020, Growth Vaccine in 2021: Self-Reliant India will Be a Global Partner
After the unprecedented loss of lives and livelihoods in 2020, the world is looking forward to the COVID19 vaccine. India is all set to script history with what is expected to be the world’s largest vaccination drive. Not only will India receive the world’s largest vaccination shot, Indian manufacturing enterprises, MSMEs, and tech startups will play pivotal roles in ensuring a frictionless vaccine supply chain for the world. 2020 saw Nocca ventilators; an IIT-Kanpur bred tech startup take up responsibility for manufacturing low-cost ventilators. In 2021 India’s tech startups will have to shoulder greater responsibility in providing more predictability and visibility to the COVID19 vaccine supply chain for India and the world. We have many lives and livelihoods to protect.
● World’s Largest Consumer Market in 2020; Manufacturing Led Economy in 2021
Before the pandemic, India was the world’s largest consumer market. All that will change as India’s manufacturing enterprises gear up to fill the void left by suppliers from the crisis’s epicenter. While the union budget 2020 saw the honorable Prime Minister unfurling plans for a National Infrastructure Pipeline, 2021 will likely see India taking a quantum leap towards manufacturing networked goods.
● Offline Supply Chain Processes of 2020 to Make Way for Digital Transformation in 2021
Tech startups will have opportunities to add value to creating a National Supply Chain Network that will bring all stakeholders on the same platform through digital connectivity. Digital connectivity will be critical to building agility, speed, and scale capabilities as Indian manufacturing enterprises look to get a more significant share of the global value chain in manufacturing. The prolonged disruptions have already demonstrated the pitfalls of siloed, offline, and manually operated supply chain processes in 2020. In 2021 and beyond, Indian manufacturing enterprises will need a technology booster to keep our factories, distribution channels, and MSMEs up and running. Digital transformation is integral to making supply chain processes conducive to work
from home and remote working models. The Government of India’s draft bill on remote-working regulations is a welcome step in this direction.
● Piecemeal Solutions of 2020 to Give Way to Modular Supply Chain Platforms in 2021
In 2020 the world experienced the pitfalls of using a piecemeal approach to running the B2B supply chain. The B2B supply chain has at least 5 to 6 more levels than the last mile of the B2C supply chain. B2B enterprises create jobs for 5 to 6 times the number of stakeholders than B2C enterprises and need to protect these livelihoods. From 2021 and onwards, if Indian manufacturers are to be self-reliant, we need to focus on modular supply chain design. We need to segregate the supply chain ecosystem into a sum of parts that can be stitched together on-demand through combinatorial innovation to pivot with agility towards goods essential to creating jobs and protecting livelihoods. Solutions driven by scalable technologies like cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning can make this happen. Indian tech startups have the firepower to make this a reality for Indian manufacturers.
● Foriegn-Reliance Before 2020 to Self-Reliance in 2021, Indian Tech Startups to Lead
Growth in the decades before 2020 was anchored by world class products, services, and investments from foreign bred multinational corporations. The disruptions of 2020 marked the closure of a chapter in India’s growth journey and 2021 will herald the beginning of a new one. The pandemic has conclusively demonstrated the need for us to reduce our dependence on external sources and go local instead. In 2021 Indian tech startups will be planting the seeds to localize the production of goods, job creation, and economic growth in the decade to come. Local innovation by Indian tech startups will be the route to achieving self-reliance. This requires Indian tech startups to reverse the direction of innovation; focus on providing solutions to our local challenges first and then scaling up successful products across markets in the rest of the world.
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