Within India, too, the ability to collapse geography opens up other opportunities. Distance Education is one of them. The gap between our (few) best educational institutions and the rest is large. Education depends to a significant extent on the quality of the teacher. We can take our best teachers and “virtually” make them available to students everywhere in the country. This could be in the form of video recordings which are broadcast and a live audio hook-up for interactions. The base technology is no different from that being used today by Indians in the US to communicate through the Internet with their families in India.
For enterprises, it now becomes possible to link-up offices, factories and distribution centres in remote locations. This becomes the foundation of building the Real-Time Enterprise, where information is available across the value chain irrespective of location. Given the challenges of transportation and managing logistics in India, information availability can make a big difference in helping companies reduce inventory costs. Better communications will also make companies focus more on what they do best, and outsource the rest, leading to the creation of specialist companies which use the Internet at the core of their operations.
India will also see in the next few years the emergence of more franchised operations of brands. We are already seeing this in the restaurants business with McDonalds, Domino’s, Pizza Hut and Pizza Corner opening up dozens of outlets across the country. To franchise a concept, there are two primary requirements: the ability to make the operations into a replicable process, and connectivity to send and receive information rapidly. This franchising trend will be far more noticeable in India’s second-tier cities.
As we look at the changes in our personal lives and how technology embeds different facets of it, we need to look at how these changes can be leveraged in business. Take a look at the younger generation growing up in a connected world, one where the distance of separation is only a single click. The magnitude of interactions has perhaps gone up by a factor of 10 in the last decade, and yet this generation is completely at ease. This new generation with technology embedded in its DNA holds India’s greatest hope in the coming years.