The Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Head of Digital of Bharti Airtel Ltd, Harmeen Mehta, said that one of the biggest challenges of the current world of technology is that all the internet’s latest offerings like YouTube, Facebook, Ola and Uber are catering only the top 300 million people while the remaining one billion remain unserved.
She was delivering a keynote address on the topic, ‘Future Forward : India Leaping Ahead’, during the inaugural session of the Madras Management Association (MMA’s) annual convention 2019 held here on Saturday.
Mehta highlighted that while India’s mobile penetration is close to 88 per cent, the smartphone penetration is only under 40 per cent.
“Half of the country’s population consists of women and within that only less than half of them even know what the internet is all about,” Mehta said. She added that only one-third of the women even know that smartphones can be used for other purposes besides making calls.
“Can we really leap forward into the future without taking this 50 per cent population with us ? ” Mehta asked.
She also added that the latest disruptions like big data, artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT) and blockchain will help technology companies to tap the largely ‘impenetrable’ population.
“AI-based technologies like ‘vernacular voice bots’ can break the literacy barrier and bring non-English speaking people into its fold,” Mehta added.
In his special address, Adrian Terron, Head – Customer Centricity, Tata Group said that ‘consumers’ are currently driving all the technological changes and transformation and Indian consumers in particular, is very different because they know their place in the world.
Terron listed out premiumisation, digitisation, silvers (people above 60 years), purpose and after-sales service as five megatrends that are shaping consumer behaviour.
Elaborating on each of the trends, Terron said that quality conscious Indian consumers are now willing to spend 30 per cent more for premium products and services.
He also added that people above 60 years of age are more loyal to their brands than the younger generation. “With India’s elderly population at 300 million, this gives big opportunities for businesses,” Terron said.
Highlighting that 78 per cent of millenials believes businesses are focussed only on their own agenda without any focus on the society, Terron said, “80 per cent of ‘purpose-led brands’ have outperformed the markets.”
In his welcome address, L Ramkumar, President, MMA said, “The annual convention will have contemporary theme every year and this year we chose this topic because, India with the current growth is poised to leap forward into the future.”
The event also saw the release of convention special issue of ‘Business Mandate’, the monthly magazine of the management association. – The Hindu BusinessLine