India: The Good, The Bad and The Potential

India: The Good, The Bad and The Potential

There has been further evidence published this week that a strong macro situation continues to help India push forward. Foreign direct investment (FDI) numbers in January were extremely positive – in fact, the highest in 29 months. To evidence the result of this (of course additional to all the other great work going on in India), the GDP has grown to 7.9% in January-March. Very encouraging indeed! The foundations to maintain India’s status as the fastest growing large economy in the world continue to be reinforced.

It’s evident India’s adoption of technology, especially via mobile, continues to pick up the pace but that also requires some contemplation – for instance, what are Indian’s most interested in searching online? Well, wonder no more, as this slideshow illustrates mobile is increasingly how Indian users are shopping, searching, travelling and paying. There is evidence of the online consumer evolving through experimentation and adopting new ways of doing things. Simplicity seems to be the winning formula to appeal to online users. This report also includes industry insights into some of the sectors where searches were most prominent, including Technology, Banking and Travel.

Now for some very positive news around the technology and start-up eco-system. Firstly, Amazon continues to put its money where its mouth is to scale up and accelerate growth and show just how important India is for them. Secondly, how start-ups are helping companies improve user engagement as this isn’t always possible for the businesses themselves to achieve without significant investment. That’s some of the good but we are realists and therefore must appreciate that the bad isn’t ever too far away either. There are many reasons for businesses to close, and although it’s never nice to hear about, this is the reality in which we operate. Perhaps there has just been one too many me-too businesses being created. Here are eight examples of operations closing in the last couple of weeks and a reality check for those starting businesses in India.

I need to clear something up; as contrary to the story I shared last week, a certain Sundar Pichai, of Google CEO fame, has quashed my excitement in one fowl swoop. Specifically, Google has no plans to release its own smartphone and therefore the modular device reported last week may not be as close as I had hoped. The basis of this is that Google intends to continue to work with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to produce Nexus devices. Or is there a dose of ‘cloak and dagger’ being administered here? I’ll let you decide but let’s see what the coming months bring.

Finally, let’s think about a digital world where cash has been written into the history books. More unrealistically (at the moment anyway), imagine India as a cashless economy. This Harvard Business review article is worth a read as it tells of the enormous potential benefits to the world as well as a country like India. For instance the removal of the high cost of cash in such a highly populous country and reduction in tax gaps in a developing nation such as India. Obviously, this is a marathon and not a sprint so what is understood is digital readiness is a key component to achieving progress in this regard. Perhaps this is part of the (much) longer term vision of the Modi government with the creation of the Digital India campaign. This fits nicely with the final story this week – that of Microsoft’s enhanced involvement in the IT sector and the Digital India initiative. The Prime Minister met, Satya Nadella (one of the growing band of Indian-born CEOs of the major international businesses) to discuss just that.

Author: Dishang Pateldish-colour