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February 27, 2013

Big Data Grows Up

Posted by Vishnu Bhat (View Profile | View All Posts) at 3:56 AM

It's difficult for any of us to imagine just how revolutionary the concept of a public library was more than a century ago. It was a place where anyone could go and borrow a book with the promise that after you'd read it, you would return it so that someone else could enjoy it, too. Before the development of public and free libraries, vast collections of books and information were status symbols of the rich. They possessed private libraries, and the number of books you possessed was one of the main measures of your power and prestige. Do some rich people still keep massive, private collections of books? Sure. But their decision to collect books isn't at the expense of the greater society. Because free, public libraries exist, pretty much everyone has access to the same kind of information.

I bring up the history of 19th-century libraries because this same re-jiggering of information (and how it's accessed) is going on this very moment. We might not realize it, but the societal shift that encompasses information access today is as important as what the world experienced in the 19th century. 

Big Data - that deluge of digital "stuff" flying around the ether that might or might not be useful to your organization - is maturing and an entirely new ecosystem is sprouting up because of it. This maturation is breaking down the walls that separate your day-to-day business from the rarified halls of the Information Technology department. Call it the beginnings of a data democracy where everyone has access to insights they need - just when they need it - to ensure the health of whatever business they're in.

Several thought leaders shared these optimistic predictions during the launch of Infosys BigDataEdge platform. They talked about the tearing down of the walls between business and IT to create a level playing field that encourages new and better Big Data applications. They also converged on the need to empower the business side to self-serve needs so that data can be discovered, insights generated quickly and acted upon on time. New developments in technology are enabling this accelerated leveling of the playing field. Now, of course, there's the Cloud. Not just a Cloud. But the cloud. And it has redefined what Big Data means and how it can be accessed. It's a shift that continues to this very day. When the Cloud meets Big Data, we have before us the promise of delivering vast new insights to businesses problems. 

What's also fascinating about this new world is that, like the development of the public library some 150 years ago, what you want out of Big Data is probably what someone else wants out of it as well. Democratization creates vast synergies and economies of scale. So there's really no need to worry if what you want isn't yet available. The gaps you identify are probably similar to someone else's - somewhere - which means that any number of application providers will step in to close it.

What we're seeing is that the quest for information, in all its forms, keeps on replenishing and renewing itself. It comes to us in various forms. And Big Data - its latest incarnation, by virtue of its accessibility, is more innovative than ever.

February 25, 2013

Mobility and the Enterprise

Posted by Anup Uppadhayay (View Profile | View All Posts) at 4:22 AM

Planet Earth has yet to pass the 7 billion mark when it comes to human beings alive on its surface. Yet it recently passed the 7.3 billion threshold for mobile devices. That there are more mobile telephones than people in the world is one thing. But when you factor out the many humans that are barely out of diapers, or very old, that ratio becomes even more extraordinary.

The folks at Forrester Research recently published a study that points to a startling phenomenon: that although there are a lot of mobile devices out there, true mobility is difficult for organizations both to attain and, later, to maintain. (Coleridge comes to mind: "Water, water, every where, nor any drop to drink!"

According to Forrester, ready-to-go mobile solutions that are both horizontal and industry-specific are now de rigeuer. That's why the leading providers of enterprise mobility services are all flocking to make their apps what shift-on-the-fly did for off-road driving three decades ago. "More than just reusable assets, these are full-blown solutions -- both cross-industry or ready for specific industries," the Forrester report stated. Enterprise mobility has become a "go strong or go home" market arena. Yes, it's a crowded space. But sheer numbers of entrants don't mean nearly as much as the fact that the space is changing dramatically ... oh, every five minutes or so. The popularity of the Cloud and the ever-increasing demands of consumers to be everywhere at the same time (and in real time) means providers of mobility solutions have to work innovatively and tirelessly to stay ahead of their competitors with product offerings that impress.

Speaking of outsmarting the competition, I'm reminded of one of the most extraordinary businessmen of the 19th century, Cornelius Vanderbilt. When he first saw the potential market for people who needed to be ferried back and forth across New York Harbor, he assembled a fleet of sailboats. While his competitors were building their own fleets of wind-powered boats, he was already thinking about a steam-powered operation. And when his competitors jettisoned wind for steam power themselves, he redefined travel altogether - he was investing in railroads! Vanderbilt was a business leader because his vision and abilities had both breadth and depth of focus. So must providers of solutions be when it comes to modern-day enterprise mobility. 

Those of us who are dedicated to building tomorrow's enterprise today might not be surprised at all. We continue to make deep investment into future areas. What makes us stand apart is that we know fully well that such areas have vast potential. And as we lead the field in user experience, process consulting, development, and end-to-end capacity to support our clients across a broad spectrum of their mobility needs - we are delighted that we are already the standard by which other companies are gauging themselves.

February 22, 2013

Around Half the World in Eight Hours. What's Next?

Posted by Sandeep Dadlani (View Profile | View All Posts) at 2:35 AM

Infosys Celebrates Cross-Listing on NYSE Euronext London and NYSE Euronext Paris 

Breaking new ground has always been familiar territory for Infosys. 

After all, we invented the Global Delivery Model; we were among the first companies to create salaried millionaires back home in India; and the first to dot the Country with office campuses that are more like resorts than staff work spaces. In fact, one of these campuses hosts the world's largest corporate university. 

But, becoming the first Indian IT company to list on NYSE Euronext London? Well, that's an achievement quite in another league and a happy privilege too.

As I watched our very own Shibu - ring the opening and closing bells at two bourses on two continents on the same day, it was impossible not to feel incredibly proud and a wee bit nostalgic. Has it really been over 3 decades since the Infosys co-founders first shared their dreams and plotting strategies on a kingly capital base of US$ 250?! From those humble beginnings to a multi billion-dollar global corporation, it's been an incredible journey. A journey that we are proud and delighted to share as the Infosys family of employees, partners and stakeholders; a journey that would never have come to be had not been for so many people worked tirelessly to build the best solutions; set the highest standards; follow the loftiest ideals; and pursue the wildest dreams. 

To every Infosys client and partner, to all my friends and colleagues at Infosys I say, "dream on!"

February 20, 2013

Big Data: The Big Deal

Posted by Vishnu Bhat (View Profile | View All Posts) at 7:40 AM


While we all see its immense potential value for business, few of us business users have found the means to really harness Big Data. Curiously,  this has only made us more resilient in our quest for answers. Everyone wants those elusive insights, better time-to-insight, with greater accuracy, and in a form that can be readily consumed and acted upon. Because there is no doubt that when we unlock the value inherent in our enterprise's Big Data we also uncover invaluable business advantage. And yet, this realization is of little value unless it also comes with the means to gather, process and act on this Big Data.

Exposed mostly to structured data, neatly ordered into databases, Big Data is an animal we sometimes barely understand. The challenge lies is the fact that unstructured information - a significant component of Big Data - makes up 80% of the average enterprise's data resources. And this comes in a variety of emerging forms. Therefore what must be tackled is growing volume and variety. And what seems like an exciting initiative to undertake today can well turn to frustration tomorrow if this challenge is not addressed. After all, research says it takes 12 days to integrate new sources of data into existing systems. 

That's why, business users need a platform that delivers all the capabilities on the Big Data value chain - from data discovery to insight harvesting to decision execution - on tap and affordably. A platform, which accesses both internal and external data sources, and is equally capable of handling structured and unstructured data in all its forms and formats. This platform must enable users to develop and adopt Big Data applications by providing out of the box, features like: connectivity to relevant internal and external data sources - including social media; automated analytical functions; and ready-to-use algorithms which turn the burden of insight generation into a matter of mere plug and play. And of course, help execute these insights into actions by triggering integrated workflows that point to the best way forward.

And that exactly is when the big deal about Big Data will be clearly apparent.

February 18, 2013

A Jury of Our Peers Is The Toughest Judge

Posted by Sanjay Purohit (View Profile | View All Posts) at 4:46 AM

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(Left) Samson David receiving the NASSCOM Business Award for Infosys Edge™ and (Right) Vishnu Bhat receiving the Golden Peacock Innovative Product / Service Award for Infosys Cloud Ecosystem Hub 

What is it about being judged by our peers that's so important? These days a global corporation operates in countless markets and, if it does an exemplary job, it receives accolades every now and then from the people and organizations with which it does business. Yet, there's really no substitute for being honored by the folks you know.  Perhaps it's because they're the ones who scrutinize our accomplishments the most and are quickest to tell us when they think we've stumbled or haven't met their high standards. It's no wonder that Hollywood celebrities say that awards that come from their fellow screen actors mean the most to them. It's why sports teams face their toughest critics in their hometown newspapers. It's why for a thousand years of practice in common law, a man is judged by a jury of his peers for the verdict to carry legitimacy.
 
Why am I thinking about playing to the home crowd? Because Infosys recently won two major awards. On their own, winning each award would be sufficient reason to stand on the highest hill and shout for all to hear. (Or, even better, to publish this post.) But in both cases, the awards are extra special because they come from the toughest judges we know of - the talented men and women in the über-competitive Indian information technology arena. Winning these awards is kind of like what Sinatra sang about making it as a showman in New York City: If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.
 
The first honor is the Golden Peacock award for the most innovative product of 2012. Infosys garnered the honor for the Cloud Ecosystem Hub, the first solution that helps enterprises run a unified hybrid Cloud environment. The hub has transformed businesses by helping them accelerate their time-to-market with Cloud services by up to 40 percent. This latest of Infosys innovations is helping companies around the world improve productivity and achieve across-the-board cost savings. 
 
Infosys is an enormous organization that has a hand in so many areas of technology and business at any given point in time. But to me, the Cloud Ecosystem Hub is a sterling example of what makes our company unique. It's a product that was first conceived as a way to help us help our clients achieve their Cloud-led ambitions. The fact that we're getting honored for paving the way ahead for so many other organizations today should tell you something about our corporate DNA and mission.
 
The second honor is no less prestigious. And it's also another fine example of what drives us all in this company. The National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) singled out Infosys Edge during the organization's India Leadership Forum in Mumbai last week. This innovative suite of business platforms "edged" out more than 400 other entrants; Nasscom cited Edge's originality, business viability, scalability, innovation, R&D investments, and overall impact on the industry as reasons for its first-place honor. Infosys Edge is delivered on the Cloud and helps enterprises respond to market needs that are driven by global trends like digital consumers, smarter organizations, emerging economies, and even sustainability. And the annual Nasscom award recognizes a company that makes innovation a part of its organizational DNA. 

But don't take my word for it: The winner was selected after three rounds of rigorous evaluation by a jury of eminent business leaders and venture capitalists. A jury of our peers, if you will. It's why both awards mean so much in validating our innovation journey.

February 15, 2013

The Advantage of Knowing Your Customer

Posted by Sandeep Dadlani (View Profile | View All Posts) at 8:42 AM



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Von Clausewitz famously wrote that you should know your enemy. That's mighty helpful advice for a battlefield commander. That said, I have a piece of advice for busy executives who want to get some tactical advantages for themselves and for their teams: Those 19th-century military analogies only go so far.

Instead of dusting off your imaginary epaulets, try this one on for size: Knowing your customer is the key to differentiating your enterprise from your closest (and fiercest) rival. I came up with this adage while sitting back in my favorite chair and watching television. But there's why. Nowhere is the knowledge of an organization's customer more telling and more potent than in today's cable and telecommunications industry.And I'm living proof. That cable company has a hold over me that few other forces in nature do. I pay my cable provider an arm and a leg for the honor of not hearing from their competitors as to what deals they'd give me for switching sides. Who needs healthy competition keeping prices down for consumers when the company you deal with has you hooked and coming back for more?

Even the appliance and electronics companies are experiencing the power of my fully operational cable company. I once considered buying a new television set for my home office. But my cable company, as it always does, encouraged me to sit back and use my computer screen instead. It's already set up in my home office, and because the same company provides my house with Internet and telephone services, I have a ready-made portal that the cable provider can use to detect what my favorite shows are, how long and to whom I call, and my online habits.

Now there is a chance, mind you, that I could break free of the cable company tractor beam in my den or home office and embark on a long journey (to, say, dinner at my favorite restaurant). The cable company has ensured that it's a trip outside in name only; I still get great Internet and mobile telephone service in my car and the entire restaurant is a hotspot. During these outings the cable company's rivals can barely make inroads into my universe. What if a pesky telemarketer attempts to persuade me to switch companies? Not going to happen. My cable guy makes sure I can screen calls and emails so none of that fluff gets through to me and interrupts my busy schedule. There's no way the other company is going to offer me a better plan ... right?

Anyhow, even my dog is part of the grand scheme. Say he decides to relocate my remote control to a place where I can't find it. I already have the control app downloaded on my iPhone which - you guessed it - carries the cable company's three-in-one plan. I used to be amazed at the extent to which the cable company could anticipate my every move. They seemed to know what I was going to watch and whom I was going to call even before I dialed the number or picked up the remote.

I now clearly see how knowing your customer's every preference puts you at an advantage that even old Von Clausewitz would envy. In the early part of the 19th century, he wrote that  "we try first to discover what lies ahead of us for we can seldom see that clearly in advance, and which way the battle is turning." I can only think of what this master tactician would think of the cable company's brilliant hold over my life. They see my next move so well in advance, their competitors don't stand a chance!

February 13, 2013

The Year of Big Data in Banking

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:59 AM

American retailer Target made a lot of headlines last year for figuring out that a teenager was pregnant, before her family did, simply based on her buying behavior. A poignant yet persuasive case for data analytics. 
 
Cut to the world of banking, where the value of information cannot be overemphasized. Besides the data that banks generate within their organizations and organize neatly within their databases, digital consumers are creating a profusion of unstructured data across non-traditional, largely mobile touch points. Big Data is increasing exponentially in volume, variety and velocity, and banks should be mining its depths to make an early discovery of emerging trends, customer needs and competitive practices, or like the retailer in the earlier example, for making inspired predictions. The problem however, is that most unstructured data - trapped in social network conversations, online ratings, YouTube videos, Facebook likes, blogs, user-generated content and so on - is unstructured and beyond the analytical capability of traditional systems. 
But not for long. We predict that 2013 is the year when banking analytics will come into its own.

The emergence of specialist Big Data business platforms will open up new dimensions in insight generation and decision-making based on unstructured datasets. These will enable banks to gather structured and unstructured data from virtually every source, in real-time. They will be equipped with sophisticated tools, like text and predictive analytics and natural language processing, to convert mountains of raw data into intelligence and insights. Again, in real-time. They will also facilitate the operationalization of these insights into action. While the platform will provide complete access to Big Data, it is critical for banks to figure out how to put the information to good use. Selectiveness is the key to avoid getting buried under a mountain of data. Indeed, the real value of Big Data lies in its "small data" insights, uncovered after sifting through huge piles of information. So, while searching for Big Data for the next big thing, banks should be looking for clear visibility to value.  A number of European banks are planning to use Big Data analytics to generate insight into risk which clearly impacts return and ultimately shareholder value. Recent research says that there is a real potential for European banks to analyze both traditional structured data and new information from unstructured sources to understand market conditions better and thereby arrest the rising delinquencies in loan and credit card repayment.

A lot has been said about the right Big Data strategy, and its mostly generic wisdom about starting small and growing incrementally. Even so, it is probably a good idea for banks to implement Big Data initiatives by line of business, purpose or priority. So far, most of the activity has been focused on the management of fraud, customer relationships and marketing campaigns; banks should be looking at extending that to more strategic areas like long term planning or innovation. In fact, Big Data could play a big role in driving a virtuous cycle of innovation, where interesting innovations spark positive social conversations, which can be analyzed to drive further innovation.

And where else might banks go from there? We believe that they will deploy their Big Data skills to combine past and real-time information on customers, products, transactions etc. to transform the customer experience into one that is rich, highly personalized, location aware and seamless across channels. American Express is already leading by example with its services built on Smart Offer Technology; as the name suggests, there's a mobile app which enables merchants to make "right offers at the right time" to customers based on spending history and present location; it also presents customers with a sensibly organized list of offers to choose from. 

On current evidence, this is the year that we will see similar meaningful moves from other banking institutions towards Big Data, analytics and everything in between.

February 11, 2013

Help! SoLoMo is changing my Customer Value Chain.What can I do?

Posted by Puneet Gupta (View Profile | View All Posts) at 4:54 AM

First it went Digital, then Mobile, and now consumer behavior is trending towards the confluence of Social, Local and Mobile. The allure of SoLoMo lies in its ability to drive action: according to research, a high proportion of consumers searching for "nearby" products or services on their smartphones, follow through; one report says that 90% of such consumers acted within 24 hours; 70% called the service provider in question; and 66% visited the stores.

The SoLoMo phenomenon has inspired a number of innovative businesses, mobile applications and websites like Waze and Shopkick for example, which use social, local and mobile to identify the best way to navigate through traffic or find the best deals. But while stories of SoLoMo startups and Internet firms abound, much less is heard about how larger organizations are dealing with the huge implications that SoLoMo has for their business.

In specific terms, digital consumers who research or buy using a smartphone after consulting with their social networks and fine tune their decision based on proximity of service, belong to a very different value chain than the traditional customer. They are replacing the functional consumption transaction of just a few years ago with a multi-layered relationship with brands, products, services and their providers. And business enterprises have no choice but to change their organizations in order to align with these customers, their behavior and demands. 

Let's take the last one to illustrate this point. SoLoMo has at least two clear implications for organizations as they manage consumer demand - one, it enables them to enhance the purchase experience, and two, it allows them to add new capability to demand planning. 

For example, with the help of social location-based services, such as Foursquare, merchant establishments can target customers who've "checked in" nearby with relevant offers and promotions. They can also use the service to analyze foot traffic or identify repeat customers.

American Express is working on a similar concept based on "Smart Offer" technology to pitch meaningful offers to card members in real time, depending on their spending pattern and current physical location. The company believes that by "organizing" deals in this manner, it can do both - help customers save time and help merchant partners reach the right customers at the right time. 

Enterprises also have a real opportunity to use SoLoMo to augment augmented reality. Think of a billboard that comes alive or talks back to customers who point a mobile phone at it! 

When it comes to demand planning, SoLoMo offers enterprises a chance to improve efficiency and engage with end users in new ways. Hippo, a snack food brand ran a hugely successful Twitter campaign in India, inviting customers to tweet whenever found a store that had run out of stock. The company followed through with clinical efficiency, ensuring replenishment within 48 hours, no mean feat in a country with millions of mom and pop stores, unorganized distribution and poor downstream visibility in the supply chain. What's most remarkable about this case is that it got customers - who saw their feedback working - really involved with the brand. 

So, SoLoMo is not just about expedient offers and spur of the moment transactions. It has the potential to change the customer relationship. And that's not something enterprises can ignore. 

February 8, 2013

Testing Times Need More than Time-Tested Actions

Posted by Manish Tandon (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:31 AM

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Infosys in TIME       [Source: http://www.timeincreprints.com/]

Business lore has it that the LED might never have been invented had a Japanese corporation not pulled the plug on a blue light-emitting diode project. This only steeled the resolve of genius innovator Shuji Nakamura who secretly persisted, despite budgetary obstacles and laboratory explosions.

History is replete with the story of maverick leaders who were spurred to success by those who didn't see it their way.  These leaders are the greater for it because they dared to dream against all odds, break the rules, and disrupt a tangible today to build an unknown tomorrow.  They knew they could fail, but they took their chances. Many were motivated not by considerations of personal gain but by a sense of responsible leadership, a belief that it was their job as a leader to light new pathways when the old ones were overgrown.  

Many a times I think that we are in a similar situation today. These are challenging times for businesses all over the world , definitely for the Indian IT and India Inc.. During the past year, we, like many others missed or revised downward our performance targets on more than one occasion. And even as we do everything within our power to build business, our efforts are slowly but surely bearing fruit. And yet, our sights are set not just on the next quarter. For, as a respected leader, we believe that we also have a responsibility towards the future - a future that cannot be sustained by continuing on the trodden path

Relentless innovation - this is the core philosophy underlying our vision for Infosys 3.0. On the face of it, by directing our resources to products, platforms and consulting, we are veering off the tried and tested route of IT services. As usual, there has been no shortage of detractors, questioning our focus on high investment, high skill businesses, when there's quick money to made at the other end. While we respect and understand their views, we believe that it is time for us to raise the game and build long lasting value. And creating Intellectual Property that's "made in India" is an important part of that agenda.

February 4, 2013

How Does a CIO Think in a Las Vegas Show?

Posted by Sanjay Dalwani (View Profile | View All Posts) at 4:47 AM

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Oliver Bussmann, CIO, SAP at Consumer Electronics Show 2012 in Las Vegas  [Source:  http://www.sap-tv.com/video/#/7602 ]
 
OK, I know what you're thinking: Who cares what an important technology executive thinks of Cirque Du Soleil or the Blue Man Group? So let me clarify what I mean by the term "Las Vegas show." I'm referring to the Consumer Electronics Show. 

We're lucky to have Oliver Bussmann, the chief Information Officer of SAP, as a very prescient guide. I recently watched a great clip of Bussmann taking viewers across the floor of the Consumer Electronics Show, which is always one of the hottest tickets in Las Vegas. SAP is a company with which we at Infosys have worked closely for years. So it's fun to see one of our partners in innovation tell the world what he thinks are the most promising trends to watch in 2013.

At the top of his list is the Internet of Things. I must admit I'm now hooked on this term, which essentially refers to the advancement of machine-to-machine connectivity. Because sensors are becoming fairly inexpensive, Bussmann says, consumers are finding that they're able to connect and measure the activity of a certain thing through their mobile devices. 

He stopped off at the ADT booth and demonstrated how the home security firm has developed an app to help its customers monitor just about everything they want within their houses when they're far from home. Security cameras, lighting, thermostat, window and door locks, and, of course, the home alarm system, are all easily monitored and controlled on a mobile device. (Macaulay Culkin's character in the "Home Alone" movies wouldn't have had the chance to do much of anything if his parents were armed with this latest offering from ADT.) "The Internet of Things is quite real," Bussmann says.

He also predicts that the consumerization of all things IT will continue to expand. There are more choices for enterprise users and it's his job as a CIO to enable those devices. Meaning in the matter of a few days. The Bring Your Own Device trend will also gain momentum in the coming year, Bussmann says; so much so that the topic of mobile content management will become a hot topic: It will be more important than ever to secure confidential business information on a person's mobile device.

Then there's the information stored on your mobile device that's meant to be shared with your social network. Like trying on a new suit in the Virtual Fitting Room - something we know about from our work with leading retailer clients. You can see what different outfits look like and even email the images to your friends so they can chime in. The fitting room is a fun way to apply another big trend highlighted at the 2013 show: Business to Consumer Engagement. 

Bussmann chats with one of his colleagues about how companies and brands are using technology to connect with the end consumer. SAP, for example, has a sports app that helps chief marketing officers see what their fans are chatting about. The app gives the kind of information a sports fan would want (game schedule, league rankings, etc.) but also includes a social feed that lets them rant and rave about an amazing play or a controversial trade.

Indeed, consumer mobile apps are helping enterprises get closer to their customers. And those customers have more choices than ever before. Pretty soon we'll all be connected to not only everybody, but everything as well - our cars, our houses, the local library, and even your favorite coffee shop. 

The conversion of all things mobile and social is certainly what one of the hottest shows in Las Vegas is all about.

February 1, 2013

A Wish for 2013: More Inclusivity, More Mobile

Posted by Sandeep Dadlani (View Profile | View All Posts) at 9:37 AM

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Having made it through 2012 after all, what can we look forward to in 2013? 

Well, mostly more of the same, but with some differences. The mobility story is no longer new, but it is expected to turn a significant chapter sometime early next year, when the number of tablets and smartphones in use will exceed that of personal, laptop and notebook computers. That will also lead to the mobile becoming the primary Internet access device in more countries, to join the likes of India, which achieved this milestone in the middle of 2012. Indeed, a leading ICT industry analyst and intelligence provider puts these changes in perspective when it says that the industry is currently undergoing a shift, which will take it to a "3rd platform" built on mobile, Cloud, social, big data and allied technologies, that will provide the next impetus for growth and innovation.

This platform will likely accelerate the creation of new products and solutions, and drive their consumption in developing markets. Products will be smarter, embedded with intelligence, with the ability to create and receive data, as well as act upon it; solutions will turn more engaging, and many will use gamification as a tool of transformation. And both will set the stage for bigger disruptions, leading to a model of what we call New Commerce in which mobility enables unprecedented connectivity, tides over resource limitations, spawns new channels, and eliminates unnecessary intermediaries between providers and consumers. 

What's more, these disruptions will be driven by consumer need and demand, which means that enterprises will have to rethink their strategy - from product push to consumer pull. We already have many such successful examples of mobility-led new commerce in the US where entire industries continue to be reshaped.  For example, the local transportation industry is being transformed by shared ownership clubs for cars (Zipcar), on demand transportation services (Uber) and ride sharing services (SideCar).  These upstarts still face challenges in fine tuning their business models and addressing the concerns of regulators.  But these businesses have clearly staked leadership positions and have disrupted the transportation services provided by taxi cabs, rental car companies and other local service providers.

Arguably, the emerging economies will be the bigger beneficiaries of mobility-led disruption.  With mobile penetration trumping virtually every other metric - like Internet usage, literacy, or access to banking, sanitation or conventional telephony, to name a few - it is clear that the future of these regions rests on the mobile platform. The success of mobile payment and remittance as an alternative to conventional banking in Africa and South Asia that removes the traditional middleman and fees is a case in point. The South Indian state of Kerala provides a great story of disintermediation as well. For some years now, its fishermen have been contracting the best rate for the day's catch via mobile, before hitting the shore. 

Mobility can also compensate for shortage of resources such as weak social infrastructure. A survey of 1,200 youngsters belonging mostly to rural low-income families in Ghana, Morocco, India, and Uganda, builds a strong case for mobile learning as a medium of education. In some ways, the mobile has managed to erase some of the socio-cultural differences in these highly unequal societies. 

So, let's raise a toast - to new commerce in the new year.

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