TECH TALK: My Mental Model: The Road Ahead

So, here is the model I have outlined and discussed so far: Creating disruptive innovations for the bottom of the pyramid requires ecosystems of integrated solutions with local distribution to bridge divides.

It has taken me some time to get a wider and fuller perspective of the challenges that need to be addressed. This period has not been easy, since I am also trying to ensure that we run a profitable business, and that hasnt always been the case. Balancing the short-term and the long-term is what business is about.

What I am convinced about is that the essence of this model is now reasonably complete and can be applied to the two markets that are of interest to me: SMEs and rural India. This is what I have been doing for the past few months. For example, in the SME segment, I have realised the need that we have to coalesce many innovations together to build an integrated solution:

  • An integrated server-software solution to provide the backend infrastructure
  • A thin client for Rs 2,500, which can be the foundation for a Rs 5,000 computer (including a refurbished monitor)
  • Server-centric computing which uses a new desktop as a server and does all the processing and storage for the client computers
  • Use of open-source software to make computing affordable legally, and not via piracy
  • Remote management of the IT infrastructure, thus obviating the need for a local support engineer
  • Business applications which can be easily customized to the needs of the business, along with best process libraries
  • A website that is easy to update and provides an RSS feed for others to syndicate
  • An information marketplace which can help SMEs connect with each other
  • A physical presence in the form of a Tech 7-11 for local distribution
  • End-user education on technology and business, and support by leveraging college students
  • Solutions for the credit constraint in the form of monthly rental payments for the IT infrastructure, bank financing as an option, and SME Credits for diffusion of products and services from other SMEs

    I call this framework 1:1 Computing to enable the 1:1 Enterprise one employee, one computer; one customer, one view; one business, one server.

    Now, the challenge is to take these ideas and solutions to market, and build the complete ecosystem in the coming months. Easier said than done! But at least the theoretical foundation on which the solution is built seems to make sense to me.

    Similarly, on the rural side, our goal is to set up one pilot RISC centre in the next few month, and then the experience gained therein to raise capital to build 8-10 prototypes later. Our belief is that there is business to be done in rural India, and there is money to be made by removing inefficiencies and capturing a part of the increased wealth in the area. As with the SMEs, it is now show time: the theories need to be tested on the ground.

    For me, the mental model helps in testing ideas and making sure that we stay on the right path. Writing it out in these columns helps me clarify my own thinking. The icing on the cake is the feedback that I get from you, my readers.

    As Tech Talk enters its fourth year, I will continue to chronicle my thinking and also write more generally on entrepreneurial opportunities in the emerging markets of the world by applying technology suitably for doing good and doing well.

    TECH TALK My Mental Model+T

  • Published by

    Rajesh Jain

    An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.