TECH TALK: Dear NRI: Opportunities Unlimited

Dear Non-Resident Indian,

As the New India emerges, there are plenty of opportunities not just in the information technology sector (which I am a part of and more familiar with) but also in the other areas. Opportunities are what we make of them. True, there will plenty of ups and downs, but that does not deter from the fact that there is a lot of catching up and leapfrogging that India, its consumers and enterprises have to do. I will talk about the IT space. (I am sure if you speak to people in other sectors you will get a similar sense of the opportunities that lie ahead.)

So far, India has been known for its software services quality programming and support for a fraction of the cost. Led by Bangalore and followed by other cities, India has carved a niche for itself in developing software for the worlds leading organisations. The Indian software companies, led by TCS, Infosys, Wipro and Satyam, have become part of many technology supply chains. Even as that continues, the new buzz is about extending the Indian advantage to everything service-oriented. Business process outsourcing (or IT-enabled services) is the new talk of the town everywhere. The legacy of English left by the British and our vast numbers are finally being put to good use!

In the telecom sector, companies like Bharti, Orange (and Hutchinson), Idea Cellular (jointly owned by Birla, Tatas and BPL) and Reliance Infocomm are finally bringing connectivity to the masses at affordable prices. The most recent offer from Reliance calls for an invtsment of just Rs 501 (about USD 11) for a cellphone. Smart businessmen are using two cellphones the second one is a Reliance phone so they can talk long-distance to their branch offices and associates (also on Reliance) for 40 paise (less than 1 cent) a minute. Imagine that. Just a few years, a peak hour Mumbai-Delhi call cost 100 times as much.

There are two large untapped opportunities that lie ahead in India: SMEs and the rurals markets. Both are very similar in the sense that there has been a co-ordination failure among the various solution providers, with the result that the small and medium enterprises and the people of rural India find themselves in a low-equilibrium situation. They are invisible markets, underserved by the existing solution providers. New technology and a co-ordinated effort by multiple players has the potential to carve open two large markets: there are estimated to be 3 million SMEs in India, and 700 million in rural India.

What they need are innovative solutions built using the newest technologies the ones that you know and understand well. From eBusiness software suites to WiFi, from mobile applications to alternative sources of energy there is plenty of scope for disruptive innovations to tap into these markets in India, and then take the solutions to the other emerging markets of the world.

Opportunities also exist in every sector if one is willing to think entrepreneurially. What is needed is Will and Vision to make a difference. Yes, there will be failures, but the New India is willing to take these in its stride. After all, Silicon Valley was built not just on the successes of a few, but the failures of many. It is for us Indians and NRIs to help build the New India.

Tomorrow: The New India


Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.