Dataquest has two stories on the various ICT initiatives going on in India to bridge the digital divide. The first of these discusses why the various initiatives have failed, while the second talks about telecentres. Here is what it suggests could work:
– Encourage localization of applications: increased demand will drive industry towards economies of scale
– Low income doesnt mean low quality expectations
– Devise a fresh marketing and business strategy. Replicating a successful overseas initiative may not work.
– Think big, but it is crucial for a solution that has succeeded small, to be scalable in increments.
– Collaborating with other companies who have developed technologies could result in shortening time to market
– A lower price does not mean that the solution is affordable. A user will buy it only if he sees immediate RoI
– The solution may run on next generation technology, but complexity in usage can be a turnoff
– The solution needs to be economically sustainable
I am quoted in the stories:
“There are plenty of small-scale success stories. In fact, on a small scale, we can get anything to work. Whats missing is the ability to think of solutions that can be replicated across India between two elections (five years), rather than two generations (25 years),” says Rajesh Jain.
Rajesh Jain is among the young visionaries in the IT arena who strongly feels that the technology menu for rural contexts needs to be tailored differently from mainstream urban solutions. He further opines that the need of the hour is for a completely fresh and bottom-up analysis of the rural markets, keeping in mind the emergence of “cold technologies”technologies, which have neutral revenue or even anti-revenue attributes.