Textile Industry: Digital step ahead


Now more than ever before, businesses across sectors are embracing digitisation to stay relevant in a competitive environment and meet the ever-growing expectation of the consumer. It is also pertinent from the point of view of effectively operating in a country like India which is emerging as a global economic superpower.  Given the increasing importance of adopting digital tool for business advancement, companies across sectors including finance, banking, real estate and healthcare, are giving it a serious thought. The textile industry, however, scores low on the spectrum of digital adoption.

Mr. Joyjeet Bose, Vice President, Regional Operations Head, South – Tata Teleservices Ltd.

As per Government reports, the size of India’s textile market, considered to be one of the oldest in the world, is expected to touch $250 billion in the next two years from $150 billion now. Exports of the industry are expected to double in the next five years, thereby leading to a robust demand for modern technology and accessories, along with engineering. The growth rhetoric and the entry of foreign textile brands which are planning to expand in the country will also pave way for digitisation.

Challenges to digitizing the textile process

From handcrafted traditional sewing to digital printing and coloring, the processes of the textile industry have come a long way. As the oldest trade, it is a labor-intensive craft which is now steadily becoming dependent on technology at least when it comes to garment manufacturing machinery. Technology has brought in substantial improvements in production speed, precision, quality and supply chain visibility. Also, digital transformation is responsible for the advent of 3D printing of dresses to smart factories.

However, the nebulous nature of the industry, lack of awareness of digital tools and limited finances amongst operators spread in the nook and corner of the country, present many challenges to adoption of digital tools. Since the industry employs several local skilled and unskilled workers, the work culture tends to be cumbersome, along with a low-paying work system, especially in developing countries such as India. These have always been areas of concern to the sector. It is therefore fair to say that the whole textile industry needs a makeover, and digitisation will be the key enabler for its transformation.

To begin with, the vast expanse of businesses in the textile sector are mostly run by small-time garment manufacturers and traders, out of their homes, located in Tier II and III towns. Tata Docomo Business Services (TDBS) offers a gamut of ICT services and solutions, such as MPLS, VPN, fleet tracking, etc., and a lot of companies have already benefited from the same. For example, jewellery brands in Kerala, which were once family-owned SMEs, now operate on the global turf, thanks to digitisation. Almost all of them began with digitally connecting their showrooms and headquarters, by installing the MPLS system that safely connected all the branches to its head office, for easy access to internal applications.

TDBS also provided businesses with other ICT services such as Vehicle Tracking system for tracking of movement of valuable assets, Data Centre and Internet Leased Lines for safeguarding business practices in this segment. Not only basic business operations, but nuances associated with designing and displaying of the jewellery are now digitised, as well. This has been instrumental in expanding the business manifold both in terms of quality and quantity.

In the textile sector, digital advancements such as Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence and ERP, present favorable opportunities for automation, to spruce up the fabrication process, including the design, coloring, fiber construction, fabric creation, finishing and delivery. While there are several benefits from going digital, the biggest advantage for companies in the textile space will be to serve the ever-changing consumer behavior. Today, the tech-savvy consumer expects high-quality products, customized and value-added services, along with quick, subscription-based product delivery and consultation. Certain critical products and solutions for the textile industry will be MPLS, HIVR, Toll Free, IoT solutions such as Vehicle, Manpower & Asset tracking. Basic voice and data connectivity is critical for all industries, and hence it is unavoidable for the textile sector too.

Furthermore, digital transformation in the textile industry will take care of finer aspects such as dye stock management, workforce co-ordination, and equipment monitoring. It will also enable players to exceed customer expectations, adopt a transparent, omni-channel value chain, and identify profit-generating customer relationships and business segments – all crucial requirements in an increasingly demand-driven economy.

To be digital or not is no longer the debate. The question that is foremost in businesses today is how to go digital. So, the textile players need a cogent business strategy that incorporates and leverages digital vision, creating the right organization with digital skills, adopting newer implementation models and then broadbasing digital so that it becomes part of the organization DNA will bring to bear the dividends of digitisation. Textile businesses today are looking for help in stitching all these together to realize its full potential.

By Joyjeet Bose, Vice President, Regional Operations Head, South – Tata Teleservices Ltd.