Sunday, August 03, 2008

Looking at Technology from the eyes of people @ Bottom of Pyramid

My current discussion with an extremely brilliant person in the fields of consumer behavior regarding 
"Role technology is playing for the people at the bottom of the pyramid" - i.e.for people who earn daily wages like Auto rickshaw people, washerwoman, courier boy - is yes like a fairy tale story...
Never before it would have happened that I send an sms to my maid servant on what want to have breakfast in the morning and she comes prepared with vegetables etc...or I just call up my vegetable wala and I get fresh vegetables on Saturday morning....truly fantastic...

But this is the second time it has happened in India...first was STD boom - Thanks to Sam Pitroda...when Lakhs of jobless Indians got jobs by opening up STD booths across hundreds of cities...But yes Mobile penetration had not been such deep-rooted like this before...though I strongly believe STD Booth boom was no doubt the first version of the success which has led to today's Phase 2 story....because that introduced people to "Phone"....and then came "Mobile Phone"

Let me attempt and put a fresh perspective on this phenomenon...What then led to the spread of mobile phone to the Target Group we are talking about is also because of some Trends and psychological reasons - which people have hardly noticed - here are some of my thoughts...

Because of the boom in Indian economy - started because of IT / ITES and then carried forward coz of Retail, Transport, Aviation etc - what started was the BIG SHIFT OF MIDDLE CLASS - which started around 1990s-1995s and was most visible around 1995-2000s which was also the start of Telecom's story in India - 1996 - Mobile call was 16 Rs - and in 2005 it was 1Re...

Psychological angles-
1. "Sons and daughters" of Allahabad, Aligarh, Coaimbatore etc left home and came to Bangalore, Noida, etc - and to communicate with them - their parents found a cheap mobile phone quite comfortable...

2. With this "new middle class emergence" - there also has happened a splurge of movement from Villages to such towns and cities- coz this new class needed someone to cook their food, wash clothes and they had money with them! - today there are numerous autowallas in NCR who are from villages of Allahabad...and even they find 50 paise call per minute quite handy to be connected to their Home...

3. Since the technology was cheap and easily available - it became economic viable to keep a phone with yourself - just cost Rs. 150 per month and you can then start servicing a co-operative society by becoming a washerwoman, laundry guy, errands boy, etc...

"So as we observe it is the affordability -from consumer's point of view which has made this happen...while from Business point of view..the technology needed to be (a) Sustainable and (b) Scalable - And these two will then make any technology have an epidemic and large scale effect ....Profitability and Viability are offshoots of these..".

Largely this is what fascinates about technology to me - keep the basics right...think from Consumer and work like a business person :)...and you get such great results!!!

(source - excerpt from the discussions)
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