CXO Leadership

Come September

Come September

Posted by V.S. Parthasarathy onin Leadership/Management

We have seen that the world of today has been shaped by the various revolutions witnessed over a period of time. Be it the Political revolution, the Social revolution, the Industrial revolution or the Electronic revolution we experienced a few decades back. These revolutions did play a huge part in driving overall growth especially in the geographies where it started. Somehow in India this growth has not been inclusive. In fact it was the rich in India who were able to take more advantage of these revolutions and were able to forge ahead.

It is the “Digital Revolution” that’s sweeping us today, which has the potential to garner an inclusive growth for India. The best example that comes to my mind here is the growth of “mobile telecommunications”.

In the era of being charged Rs.20/minute (about 0.50 cents/minute) for talk time, mobile handsets costing a fortune; and mobility being the domain of and famous, the trick lied in identifying the huge potential in the BoP (Bottom of the Pyramid) market segment. Using the advances in the digital world the challenge of providing the same services at very affordable rates was met. The mobile handset for Rs. 500 (about 10USD) and talk time of Rs. 0.50 per minute (less than 1 cent / minute) was set as an target and achieved. The less than 1 cent / minute talk time cost is very important here as it was mainly done to shift people from “sending postcards” as their form of communication to lure them to start talking on the phone. The rest as they say is history.

Today India is one of the largest consumers of mobile services with each and every service provider coming out of attractive pre-paid schemes to lure the BoP segment. What’s even better is that the learning & experiences gained here have been implemented by global players across all other developing nations as well, thus spreading the reach & range for all.

The recent China growth example also comes to my mind. They focused on producing products across the economic range, including the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) products. Although this was done to satisfy the need across all segments in their country, with these product offerings they were in fact able to dominate the world market. With huge orders coming in across the globe, it also tackled their unemployment problem to a great extent.

Rural India is also changing

We are now well aware that rural India provides a plethora of opportunities due to increasing income and shifting consumption patterns. This segment was neglected but things are significantly different now.

Farmers in remote villages are using ATM machines. The software used is simple- it is in regional languages and very easy to interpret. PCs are being developed with rugged chassis to withstand dusty and extreme temperatures and arrangements are also being made to tackle the problem of power-cuts. E-governance services are offered using kiosks.

We have started using Technology – but are we looking at it from the long term- scalable and viable models with wider adoption and benefits or are we merely focusing on incremental innovation? Just the ability to have it delivered, does not necessarily make it a great service to have.

Today with the advent of 3G, 4G; the advantages of digital revolution can further be strengthened and proliferated to reach the rural market. The lack of legacy infrastructure in fact can be looked on as both a boon and a bane. The bane part is what we all understand very easily, but the boon part is that we don’t have to go through the process of unlearn/undo and actually have the entire ecosystem just raring to go in creating a channel where the urban & rural can connect and give inputs towards progressive development.

The major focus can be creating a robust shared service infrastructure vide the public- private partnership route and, exploring opportunities like –

    • Agricultural Kiosks for farmers- used for getting expert advice, knowing true value of the product, selling products without agents
    • Micro-finance through hand held devices
    • Public cloud for Education
    • Best medical treatment through telemedicine – patients treated by local doctor and hospital specialist
    • ERP solutions, RFID solutions integrating supply chains of Agri-businesses on real time basis

There are a plethora of other opportunities available as well, wherein we can make a difference by apt application of technology in new and unique ways. How Indian organizations rather than global organizations handle these opportunities will determine their future.

The real success is when the benefits ultimately reach the common man and his daily life. That’s what inclusive growth is all about.

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