‘India is a mobile first nation’

Declaring that India is a mobile first nation, where 65% of users access the internet through mobile devices and over half of searches come from mobile devices, best minds at IIMB's First Digital Summit offered insights into how digital technologies are shaping the country's dynamic business landscape

Emphasizing that the mobile phone as a platform will continue to spur the growth of internet and reshape marketing strategies, top executives from Google, Facebook, Snapdeal, Flipkart, InMobi, Fybr, Cisco and BRIDGEi2i Analytics Solutions, and astute policy makers dissected trends and discussed strategies at the Digital Summit.

In his keynote address, Nitin Bawankule, IIMB alumnus and Director, eCommerce, Google, said: “There are over 300 million internet users in India, making us the world's second largest internet population. We are a mobile first nation, where 65% of users access the internet through mobile devices. Over half our searches come from mobile devices, and mobile as a platform will continue to spur the growth of internet. As per report from Ericson, there will be over 500 million smartphone users in India by 2020. By 2020, over 600 million Indians will be online, out of which approx. 250 million will be buying online. The online retail market, which was pegged at $ 4.5 billion in 2014, is projected to grow to over $75 billion in 2020.”

Declaring that over the next decade, ‘India will not go online, it will be always online’, he underscored his forecast with plenty of real-world examples from the lifestyle, media and entertainment industries. Exhorting students of marketing and sales to gear up for a challenging time, he said the intelligent leveraging of technology, data and strategy would help them stay on top of their game.

Describing how the smartphone had empowered users in India, especially women, he remarked that the internet revolution had changed social and economic life. “Earlier, the PC or laptop was typically controlled by the earning male in the family. With the proliferation of the smartphone, this social dynamic is also changing. Moreover, as we as a country are challenged in terms of infrastructure, so advancements in digital technology are welcome as they change the way we work, earn and enjoy our leisure. Hence this is a huge opportunity for marketers.”

Dr Rathan Kelkar, IAS (Batch of 2003), CEO, Centre for e-Governance, Government of Karnataka, spoke on “transforming India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy”. Describing the focus of the Union government’s ‘Digital India’ campaign, he also touched upon the achievements of the State government in using mobile technology to deliver services quickly and in a transparent manner. “My biggest challenge today, in this galaxy of corporate speakers, is to sell government to you and prove that we too do work,” he quipped as the room erupted in laughter. Going on to list the Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) under the National e-Governance Plan, he said citizens’ lives were being made infinitely easier with changes in delivering services be it the postal services or law and offer services using ICT.  “We are using technology to empower citizens.”

Saurabh Chandra, Head of IT Apps at Flipkart, described digital technology (Mobility, Data & Cloud) mixed with SCM and robotics as the “new cocktail of the season” for VCs and business. “Intelligence, powered by technology, supported by data and strategy and executed speedily, will win the race. I also believe many new gen companies and entrepreneurs will disrupt this space,” he added.

Ranjan Kant, Director of Strategy at Snapdeal, said: “The decade from 2000-2010 will go down as the decade of digital entrepreneurship. The IIMB Digital Summit comes at an interesting halfway juncture, helping us evaluate learnings over the last five years so that we can see how the next five years will shape up.”