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June 12, 2013

Market Dominance through Inclusivity

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 12:03 PM

Airtel Money, powered by Infosys WalletEdge, pushes the limits of financial inclusion in India

Google recently announced a plan to help build and maintain wireless networks across the emerging markets. Doing so could connect Google's lucrative ad-based model to billions of people who have yet to experience an Internet connection. Of course, reaching billions of people in places like South Asia and Africa may take a while. But do we really have any doubt their next market will be in outer space? I am kidding, of course. Well, just a little... What I mean is that these guys at Google have a track record of aggressively protecting and enhancing their revenue model. If you've watched their success over the last decade or two, you realize that this company defines inclusivity as more than simply reaching far and wide. It's more about maximizing market reach through new markets and services and dominating the market they're already in. Google's market is inclusive of the connected world.

In fact this concept of 'inclusivity' fits neatly into our New Commerce theme. And, we've done significant work with developing and deploying products for use and consumption in the emerging markets. After all, we were born in an emerging market country. Our heritage provides a key advantage in becoming and remaining a top global corporation that is nimble and understands the needs of every market and geographical area.

You hear a lot about the underserved. But just who are they? Well, we tend to forget that new forms of mobile banking are bringing the most basic of financial services to parts of the world that would have never been served by a conventional bank. That's where the cellular telephone - a compact, mobile computer - is now in the hands of hundreds of millions of people in the emerging economies. Whereas I might wait to get in front of my laptop to write an email or conduct online banking, several people across south Asia and Latin America have known nothing but their handhelds. That handheld device is their connection to the rest of the world. It's their economic lifeline. Many people in the emerging markets might never own a personal computer or have an Internet connection throughout the course of their lives. But the connections they possess on those cell phones can be just as potent. Statistics continue to support this view - for example, mobile phones accounted for a whopping 60.4 percent of the rural China's internet usage in 2012 and the 87 odd million mobile internet users in India are expected to double to nearly 164 million by end of March 2015.

A wonderful tale of disruptive innovation is playing out as we speak. Telecoms and banks are engaged in a fierce battle that will establish the next wave of financial services providers in emerging markets. It's all about making a connection between mobility and the market for cashless payments. We're talking about an ecosystem that encompasses millions of customers and thousands of merchants to accept mobile payments. Not to mention enabling a telecom or bank to wield a transaction platform on a mobile device that's just as sophisticated as a commercial bank. So, while mobiles help reach and un-reached, new commerce includes the un-included.

That's why we Infoscions can appreciate Google's strategy of inclusiveness. Innovative approaches to build out infrastructure in even the most remote parts of the world benefits society. Plus it protects their revenue model through expanded Internet access and online ads to be seen. Google is working with governments around the world to remove lingering barriers that prohibit access to the Internet. Undeterred by the pace of some governments, Google is even planning satellite networks and blimps to create makeshift transmission infrastructures. To those who recall Winston Churchill's ingenious wartime plans and ideas, you'd know that he would be impressed with Google's gumption if he were around today. Those blimps - Google's, not Churchill's - would only transmit wireless for a couple hundred square miles. Talking about getting to a Google customers one customer at a time! But emerging markets countries often require solutions that might seem off-beat by Western conventions.

That said, corporations stuck in an exclusively Western mindset are in danger of withering away. The coming century belongs to those organizations that think inclusively. And inclusivity means using technologies that might not be the catchall for every country and region. But by developing personalized technology solutions, companies like Google and Infosys put themselves at a tremendous advantage empowering themselves to achieve N=1 or delight the Segment of One while also achieving inclusivity.

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