THE WIMWIAN

 

– LN Mishra (PGP 1996)

 

Every company is a technology company, no matter what product or service it provides. The companies that embrace this fact are the ones that shape our world.” – Stephenie Stone, CIO Americas at M+W Group

 

All those who passed out of WIMI probably would remember the accounting class and in that accounting class, we studied that organisations are ongoing entities. Unfortunately, I wish the situation could be so.

 

If you take a look at organisations those very successful in their business, many of them had to file for bankruptcy close their businesses leading to colossal societal lost.  I am mentioning 2 famous market leaders of the last decade, Nokia, and BlackBerry.  Just about 10 years back if somebody had a Blackberry phone and the emails would come with a signature saying “Sent from my BlackBerry”.  It meant you are a senior executive in a company.  Today I would possibly find BlackBerry phones in a phone museum.

 

Nokia was the #1 brand for phones in India. It practically no longer almost exists. The list can go on including companies such as Kodak companies which are struggling to survive such as food and many others.  In the recent past, ToysRUs, the iconic toy stores chain in the US filed for bankruptcy. Let’s remember these are iconic companies about whom we studied case studies in Rummy.

 

If we investigate the reason behind these tragic events, often it’s primarily the inability of the organisations to adapt to the changing technology landscape.

 

For a minute let’s think of this company called imagine which is probably the world’s largest retailer is Amazon a retail company or a technology company?  Goldman Sachs, the investment bank, spends upwards of USD 8 billion a year on IT. That’s revenue even many IT giants won’t have an annual revenue. Many organizations today spend close to 10% of their revenue on IT.

 

When I look at my career for last 25 years, I clearly see how technology has started impacting the way we run businesses today and the way we will run businesses in the future. Here is an interesting video on Tesco Home Plus which you can watch on YouTube. You can easily figure out how Tesco could eliminate entire physical stores through a digital channel.  Digital channels are far less expensive; have a much wider reach compared to what a physical channel can achieve.

 

Today sitting in one small city in any part of the world one can conduct businesses throughout the world as long as one is connected to the internet.  Even internet access has seen such rapid progress in India itself. I very clearly remember it used to cost about 45 rupees a minute to call somebody within India in 1996 (that’s the year I graduated from IIMA). Most of us would wait till 11 PM in the night so that the STD rates become 25%. Even then, we would speak really fast to conserve a few rupees.

 

If we take the present value of this 45 rupees of 1996 in 2018, it would probably be close to 400 rupees now (10% annual inflation).  Now for 400 rupees, one can get unlimited calling within the country.  A platform like WhatsApp would allow anyone to talk to anybody in the world for the unlimited amount of time for this price.  This would have costed a company anywhere close to 5 Lakhs to 10 Lakh rupees a month mere 20 years back. Today I see IT in all aspects of business, be in HR, be it Finance, be it Marketing and be it production or services.

 

There are no functions in the organisation which is not affected by IT.  If we look at human resources and recruitment today, many organisations recruit through social media channel such as LinkedIn.

 

If we take a look at the marketing function in organisations, many companies have adopted social media to promote their product and services.  A platform like Facebook has up to 2 billion plus uses which are almost one-third of humanity.

 

With the advent of robotics, artificial intelligence, many of the tasks that we used to perform using manually will possibly be performed by machines.  There are organisations even within India (Honda Motors) where a complete factory is managed in the night time by robots and no human beings are present.

 

Drones today deliver products to places which would have been quite difficult to reach.

 

Some of the major trends that I predict as are as below:

  1. Information will be available to a majority of the consumer market
  2. The majority (Maybe close to 80%) of human beings will be connected to internet highway in another 5 to 10 years time
  3. In about 15 years’ time, most of the equipment that we work with will be connected to the internet.
  4. In about 5 years’ time, worlds entire knowledge base languages will be seamlessly translated between two individuals and two machines
  5. Ultra-high speed connectivity will be available to home (Reliance today announced 1 GBPS home connection. When I started my career with Government of India’s premier R&D center, C-DOT, we were proud to have a 64 KBPS connection). This will open up humongous opportunity to connect collaborate meaning it across the globe.
  6. The need to have sprawling office spaces may become unessential. There are many organizations today which leverage communication technology to make their partners work remotely (One such company has 10000+ partners).
  7. Local presence impact will matter lesser and lesser as technology will take globalisation to the next level.

 

To me, the future seems to be interesting but scary at the same time. How do we survive the onslaught of technology tsunami?

 

Here are some of my suggestions:

  1. Make technology a friend, not an enemy of business.
  2. Manpower demand will fall in traditional businesses. We need to re-skill our workforce for the new way of working.
  3. Be very focused on doing something that one is really a world leader.

 

Would be happy to receive suggestions and feedbacks.

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