O’Reilly Emerging Technologies Conference

Title: Disruptive Bridges: A Vision for a Digitally Bridged World

Short Description: Technology is essential to bridge the digital divide. Yet, most technology has been priced in dollars, putting it beyond the reach of a large number of businesses and consumers in emerging markets like India. The computer which is the lynch-pin of an economy, is still seen as a luxury by many. What can be done to create mass-market adoption of technology? What can be done to ensure that there is affordable and ubiquitous access to Internet-connected computers in developing countries like India and China?

Detailed Description

The technological divide in the world runs deep. Even as the developed markets are awash, even satiated with computers, the world’s developing markets have very low penetrations. For example, China has an installed base of less than 30 million computers, India about 8 million. Both have populations in excess of 1 billion.

The hard truth about computing technology is that it has not made itself affordable to the developing world. Pricing continues to be dollar-denominated, creating a market only at the top of the pyramid. So, even as the developed nations have adopted computing and raced ahead in terms of productivity, the developing countries are faced with a Hobson’s choice: spend a lot of money in dollars to make computing part of their DNA, or stay away and risk being left behind. For the most part, consumers and enterprises have chosen the second option.

Existing and emerging technologies offer an opportunity – one last opportunity – for the world’s developing countries m to use technology to bridge the digital divide leapfrog into the New World – provided we leverage existing and emerging information and communications technologies smartly. Think of these technologies as disruptive innovations which help bridge the digital divide – “disruptive bridges”.

The way to make “a connected computer accessible to every employee and family” in every developing country of the world is by offering solutions which offer full-fledged desktop computers for USD 100, software as a service for USD 5 per month, ubiquitous, cheap, high-speed wireless communications via WiFi and grassroots distribution via Tech 7-11s.

Speaker bio: Rajesh Jain is Managing Director of Netcore Solutions Pvt Ltd based in Mumbai, India. Rajesh’s vision (http://www.emergic.org/emergic.html) is to create cost-effective technology solutions for emerging markets like India and China, in effect creating the computing platform for the next 500 million users. Previously, Rajesh had founded India’s first Internet portal, IndiaWorld, which was acquired by Satyam Infoway in November 1999 for US$ 115 million in one of Asia’s largest Internet deals. Rajesh writes a daily technology weblog at http://www.emergic.org.

What I added in my proposal: I had gone through the presentations of last year’s ET conference. What I saw was a distinctly US/developed market perspective. My talk is about providing an alternative view – what can we do to leverage the newest emerging technologies to create solutions which can create computing’s next markets. The talk is about targeting the bottom of the pyramid – consumers and SMEs – in the world’s emerging markets, and making technology the next utility for these users.

The conference is in April 2003. Let’s hope I get selected!

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.