Matrimonials and Jobs: The way people find lifemates and new employers is changing. Sites like Shaadi.com and BharatMatrimony.com offer to connect prospective brides and grooms. Job portals like MonsterIndia.com (which also owns JobsAhead) and Naukri.com have increased liquidity and fluidity for people seeking new career opportunities.
Retailing: India is witnessing an unprecedented retail revolution as malls and chains proliferate. Investments in IT are helping them not only manage their supply-chain effectively but also build and maintain customer relationships. The malls and multiplexes are becoming new hangout places. With the boom in outsourced services, a growing youthful population has more to spend. Easier access to credit is also fueling an appliances and automobiles boom.
The Rs 500-a-month PC: Recently, HCL launched a computer on installment payments Rs 500 per month. This is a good start, even as computing by itself faces challenges of affordability, desirability, accessibility and manageability. The computing industry is not learning two important lessons from the telecom industry that of zero-management user devices and subscription plans (as opposed to installments).
Rural India: For a variety of reasons, rural India still remains frozen in time. As governments start believing that free electricity to farmers can be a passport for electoral success, investments in other areas are likely to get compromised. There are a few signs of hope ITCs eChoupals and n-Logues kiosks are providing a platform for trade and services. But rural India still has a long way to go.
India is arriving as a market for global companies. Virgin is considering investments in telecom and low-cost airlines. Cisco closed a $100 million deal with VSNL for metro Ethernet. Most luxury brands are already available or will be. India is a melting pot for many simultaneous revolutions across multiple industries. As urban incomes grow, a generation seeks to race ahead. With one of the most youthful populations in the world, aspirations are on the rise. The next few years are critical. If we can do things right, we can unlock the potential of millions. If notit will be yet another case of so near, yet so far. The race is not with China, it is against our own mindsets. Tomorrows world is happening. Our actions can hasten it or delay it. Hopefully, this time around, we can cross the chasm. For that, India needs to build its digital infrastructure right.
As HPs Carly Fiorina wrote in The World in 2005: Getting there is going to require the right blend of realism and optimism. We need to be realistic that none of this is going to be easy. But we also need to be optimistic, because if we get this right, digital technology will make more things more possible for more people in more places than at any time in history. That alone is worth the journey. The next Google will come out of the opportunities that technology is creating in the context of the next users. What can we do to build out tomorrows world first in India and then across other emerging markets?
Next Week: Tomorrows World (continued)
TECH TALK Tomorrow’s World+T