The next set of users in the emerging markets can be divided into five major segments:
Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs): The large companies will probably continue to use the Wintel PCs for the foreseeable future. But the SMEs now can automate their businesses in a flash. Instead of going from 1 computer for every 10 employees to perhaps 3 in 10 in the coming year, they can get a computer on everyones desktop immediately since all it will cost is Rs 700 per employee per month. Which means that anyone earning more than Rs 7,000 ($150) salary needs to become only 10% more productive for the business to benefit. With computers for a small fraction of users, even email is not a mission-critical application. But with a computer for every employee, they can now think: with this digital infrastructure, how can I do my business differently? This will lead to the creation of real-time enterprises.
Educational Institutions: Educating Indias 200 million students is no ordinary challenge. We are building Indias future. And yet, at the ground level, we are hobbled by teachers who are either not competent, or worse, not available. That is not a problem that can be solved overnight. But by putting together a school-in-a-box for the million schools in India and a library-in-a-box for the colleges, we can at least start offering students an opportunity to learn and perhaps help the teachers teach better. Take for example, a college with 1,000 students. Today, it is likely to have no more than 20-25 computers. In that event, each of the students would barely get an hour a week with a computer. Now imagine if that same college had 250 computers, each available for Rs 700 a month. Each student can now get a couple hours a day, for no more than Rs 6 per day. Put this infrastructure in place and now think: how can we deliver education differently?
Homes and Shops: The enigma that Indias computer industry faces is why computers rank at the bottom of the top ten wish list of household appliances. It is not just a question of affordability: over 15 million homes can afford computers, but barely 3 million have actually bought one. It is the issue of desirability where are the compelling applications? With rampant piracy, few developers have the interest in creating the relevant applications and content which can make the computer ascend up the wanted list. This can change if applications and content can be delivered centrally for a monthly subscription fee. The same applies to the other singleton market: the millions of small shops which make up the last mile of the retain supply chain. If their transactions were automated, companies could build to order and do real-time replenishment just like Wal-mart plans to do with its RFIDs!
Tomorrow: Five Markets (continued) and Five New Opportunities
TECH TALK Tomorrow’s World+T