10 years is a long time in the world that we live in. The past decade has seen an amazing amount of change. Weve lived through the best of times with the Internet and technology boom. Weve lived through the worst of times after the bubble burst. The Internet, cellphones and wireless networks, broadband have all happened in the past decade. Even as we come to turns with one revolution, there is another waiting in the wings.
In India, there is what I call, a rainbow of revolutions seven of them happening simultaneously: computing, as PCs become cheaper and proliferate; mobile communications, as cellphones materialise everywhere around us creating a ubiquitous envelope of connectivity; software, as open-source weaves its magic and helps construct the real-time world; broadband, as high-speed networks lurk around the corner; the Internet, as access to it becomes faster, better and cheaper; content, with everything that we need to know becoming available in a few clicks; and commerce, with the way we buy and sell coming in for an upheaval.
The developed world saw these revolutions happen sequentially. Emerging markets like India will see all of these happen in parallel, creating a marvellous amplifier of rapid change and development. The challenge is for us to catalyse and capitalise on all that we see happening around us.
The Internet brought the same opportunity in 1994. Then, it was a medium for connecting people and computers, irrespective of geography. It was a new way of doing things, powered by open standards and globally connected systems. Islands of communities and nations became integrated into a bigger, emergent whole. The Internets impact was greatest in the developed markets which had the platform with its existing base of computers to exploit it to the hilt.
2004s rainbow of revolutions brings similar opportunities to emerging markets, multiplied many times over. But whats needed is the creation of new platforms across computing, software and content to leverage the new developments. These revolutions are about creating the foundation to do good and do well. There is little in the past that can guide us to the future. What happened across a generation in the developed markets will happen between two elections in a country like India. There are no maps to navigate the future, only compasses to indicate general direction.
I am reminded of William Wordsworths The Rainbow:
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
In 1994, I was an entrepreneurial child. In the summer of 2004, I have grown. As I see the world ahead, these two summers ten years apart are uncannily joined together as I think about both the opportunities ahead. The moment in time that I stand today, linked by the rainbow of revolutions, makes the heart of an entrepreneur leap.