TECH TALK: Technology’s Next Markets: The Building Blocks

Here then is the challenge before our Deviant Entrepreneur put together a set of technology solutions for the next 500 million users (comprising consumers and employees in enterprises) in the worlds emerging markets:

  • Computers for USD 100 (Rs 5,000), so that there can be one in every home and office
  • A better, more intuitive desktop on the computer, making it easier to navigate
  • Ubiquitous, cheap, high-speed wireless communications
  • Software as a service for USD 5-10 (Rs 250-500) per month, so that it is affordable
  • Zero-latency, real-time presentation of information, because this is what their partners, customers and peers in the developed markets are likely to have
  • Seamless integration of information across the extended enterprise
  • A single, unified database, such that information is entered only once and does not reside in silos
  • Leveraging the tacit knowledge that lies within people, because even though one person may not know everything, as a collective, they can know it all

    [Well present the rest of the series as an imaginary conversation between the Deviant Entrepreneur (DE) and Tech Talk (TT).]

    TT: So, DE, what is your motivation in targeting the next users?

    DE: As was discussed in the past few columns, technology faces a schism: on the one hand, there is a maturing set of users in the current markets the developed nations of the world, while on the other hand, there is the rest of the world comprising over 4 billion people whove yet to taste computing. The set of technologies that have been created have overshoot the needs of the current set of users. Yet, these technologies are too expensive for the next users. This has created an opportunity for disruptive innovations, which are low-cost, simpler and leveraging the state-of-the-art. This is exactly what I propose to do: create affordable technology solutions for consumers and enterprises in the worlds emerging markets.

    TT: What is your starting point?

    DE: The two building blocks are computers and connectivity. What is needed is that computers need to be made available to all in every home and on every desk. This is exactly what Bill Gates set out to do and has done very well for the first 500 million users. Networked Computers have been at the heart of the technological revolution in the developed nations. They adopted computers for automation and enhancing productivity in the 1980s, and then connected them to each other in the 1990s.

    Ironically, at present, most of the worlds computer and telecom industries are in a state of flux PC sellers are wondering how the industry is going to start growing again, while telecom companies find themselves submerged under debt and competition. Their current users are not adopting their solutions at historic rates, and the price-points are too high for the next users to adopt computing.

    The starting point for the revolution is to make networked computing a reality for the next users at low price-points. For this, we need to first bring together a triad of ideas: computers for USD 100, software for USD 5-10 per month, and broadband connectivity for less than USD 10 per month.

    The challenge is to all this with minimal R&D budgets and loss of time. The components to put this together already exist. What is needed is innovative, value-added aggregation.

    Tomorrow: Recycled Computers

  • Published by

    Rajesh Jain

    An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.