Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Digital Darwinism will Determine the Future of E-Commerce Business Models

The Indian e-commerce industry has been experiencing unprecedented growth over the last few years. Increasing rate of technology adoption and wide access to high speed networks using smart devices has resulted in a high volume of active consumer base. Indian players like Flipkart, Snapdeal and entry of global players like Amazon and Alibaba in the Indian market has created a competitive ecosystem. Indian consumers evolved to a situation where wide variety of product choices across multiple criteria based searching mechanism powered by agile order fulfillment system thus achieving better consumer experience. The clutter caused by continuous increase by the new entrants to the market placed compelled the e-tailers to come out with innovative customer engagement models. In the face of competition, the e-tailers always trudge to bring relevant traffic to the website therefore strategies of viral marketing and search engine marketing have become things of paramount importance. India has an active internet user base of over 354 billion with addition of almost 6 million each day but with a low market penetration compared to the overall population of the country which indicates the potential for this industry in near future. In 2009, India’s e-commerce market was USD 3.8 bn which rose to USD 12.6 billion in 2013. Conservative estimates by Goldman Sachs predict that Indian e-commerce market is going to cross USD 100 billion by 2020. Many significant factors have contributed this steady growth including high smart phone penetration, digital wallet adoption and last-mile logistical services backed discount pricing and smooth execution. Propagation of networks like Internet of Things (IoT) where billions of devices will be connected over internet which in turn will help in collection and collation of consumer behavioral statistics at a micro level. Since the consumers today have moved away from market push to strategic pull therefore marketers also have mapped their sales pitches tailored to suit individuality of consumers. Facebook’s social graph application effectively tracks an individual’s circle of acquaintances which helps the engine to cluster into different groups suitable for targeted marketing campaigns. IoT has brought in a structural change into the industry specifics where this disruptive innovation has gained acceptance among people and believed to have made life easier. Multiple electronic devices connected over internet gather real time data ranging from inventory status to shipment details, health diagnostics to financial transactions. Computing is going to be ubiquitous, with real time transactional data capture. Online market place brings together the buyer and seller in direct contact and the premise of brick and mortar setup with high entry barriers have been broken to give rise to new economy companies that had left many giants redundant. The startup ideas could not have blossomed if the entry barriers were very high. The domain of e-business has evolved from the traditional communication medium to the platform with visual merchandising offering a significant value proposition. If we could talk about companies like Ola, Uber or Blah Blah Cars and Ryde where hassle free taxi ride services could be bought online with single applications working across the globe. Online grocers are only growing in business volume with each passing day. Habits are changing. Erstwhile ordinary middle class are going online thus constituting a potential TG with high proliferation rate. Social enterprises through crowd funding or angel investment are in the offing. Projects like Billions in Change, Bharat learn are gaining momentum. Direct connect between the buyer and sellers have seen many interesting business models coming up in the digital space touching our daily lives. Here‘s the story of a young working mother who doesn’t have wake up at the break of dawn to cook tiffin for her school going child anymore. By the time the child is ready to leave for the school a packed tiffin box with measured calorific value reaches the doorstep every day. The reason is simple she had subscribed to a digital tiffin service. Unlike the famous Mumbai Dabbawallah’s system of delivering homemade food through their logistic service, the players in this field like iTiffin, Mumma’s Box and The Lunch Box have a certified dietician on their roles to ensure the quantity and quality of food offered to the young ones. Since most of the public schools do not offer food from their kitchen this model of tiffin service is gaining popularity among the young women working in metro cities. Like each coin has two sides, the E-Commerce business models also pose a survival threat to the new generation. Foodpanda’s (a food business aggregator) market maturity model has compelled the company to cut down its existing workforce by 300 people in the NCR alone. The story of a young technocrat mother is quite intriguing. She woke up one fine morning with a fear that the faster pace of technology adaptation in all businesses might leave her yet unborn child jobless in the coming days. The growing pace of technology adaptation is bringing closer the Judgment Day when a conflict between human labour and machine substitution becomes inevitable. Time has come to segregate between baseline activities and creative thinking therefore augmenting technology for redundant tasks as correctional measures to counter such conflict situations. The organizations and technologies are deeply entwined through their business models hence, going by Brian Solis’s (2015) theory of Digital Darwinism the future wrests with the companies that supports sustainable business models augmenting technology and those won’t, would perish eventually.

Business Analytic Challenges in 2016

Did we imagine hiring the cabs on the fly till a few years back where one had to struggle alike to get a cab on a busy or a forlorn street, let alone a reliable and reasonable one? While a lot of it is attributable to technology progression and simplification of interfaces, a reasonable chunk of credit is also attributed to the service provider's ability to process and analyze the volumes of data that is being churned out every second. The big question going forward is what would differentiate the thousands of new age service providers when the options are aplenty and consumers are highly fragmented. The over quoted Charles Darwin still reigns, although it is 'Survival of the Fastest' this time and the speed depends on a multitude of factors while Need Fitment is a given. The Key Challenges in 2016 for Business Analytics Consumers and Providers are 1. Ability to Evaluate Appropriate Technology for Fast and effective processing of data: There are a lot of stacks that are pushed as best in class, whereas when it comes to the real delivery of the reports and dashboards there is a significant gap. There are a lot of confounding technologies that have different parameters to be normalized for a fair comparison, so a standard needs to be developed with the help of Top service providers or industry bodies like NASSCOM. 2. Amalgamation of Text data with Numeric Data: While this has been the primary premise of the big data concept, it has been a challenge to produce actionable results. The enormity of text data is growing stupendously and the same is being converted into machine read data parcels. While ability to segregate meaningful data from junk data is improving, the extent and impact of false positives and false negatives in analysis would hold the key to successful business results. 3. Integrated CRM engines with Advanced Technologyare required to drive the real benefit of Complex Statistical Models built for customer level revenue assurance or risk mitigation. The reporting layer standards as of today are good enough to meet the required standards for next couple of years. 4. Moving the focus from normative models to probabilistic or stochastic models, however, the success is enhanced if one is able to do campaign optimization also with sophisticated techniques like Fractional Factorial Design to maximize the cost-benefit algorithms. 5. Shortage of Well-Trained talent is a Ubiquitous problem as the professionals need to be first trained on Tools, Techniques & Domain and then in the next stage they are required to absorb methodology development and solution development & application. It is a very complicated requirement and the best of IIMs and IITs have not delivered the required product. The remaining are not worth a mention. Top Service Providers 1. Accenture Corporation, US 2. KiE Square Corporation, US Top Comprehensive Tools 1. SAP HANA Suite 2. SAS Analytics Suite Key Geographies of Action 1. South East Asia 2. South America

Monday, 22 February 2016

Billion lives will change with things over internet - Antiquity to Ubiquity

The Indian e-commerce industry has been experiencing unprecedented growth over the last few years. Increasing rate of technology adoption and wide access to high speed networks using smart devices has resulted in a high volume of active consumer base. Indian players like Flipkart, Snapdeal and entry of global players like Amazon and Alibaba in the Indian market has created a competitive ecosystem. Indian consumers evolved to a situation where wide variety of product choices across multiple criteria based searching mechanism powered by agile order fulfillment system thus achieving better consumer experience. The clutter caused by continuous increase by the new entrants to the market placed compelled the e-tailers to come out with innovative customer engagement models. In the face of competition, the e-tailers always trudge to bring relevant traffic to the website therefore strategies of viral marketing and search engine marketing have become things of paramount importance.
India has an active internet user base of over 354 billion with addition of almost 6 million each day but with a low market penetration compared to the overall population of the country which indicates the potential for this industry in near future. In 2009, India’s e-commerce market was USD 3.8 bn which rose to USD 12.6 billion in 2013. Conservative estimates by Goldman Sachs predict that Indian e-commerce market is going to cross USD 100 billion by 2020. Many significant factors have contributed this steady growth including high smart phone penetration, digital wallet adoption and last-mile logistical services backed discount pricing and smooth execution.
Propagation of networks like Internet of Things (IoT) where billions of devices will be connected over internet which in turn will help in collection and collation of consumer behavioral statistics at a micro level. Since the consumers today have moved away from market push to strategic pull therefore marketers also have mapped their sales pitches tailored to suit individuality of consumers. Facebook’s social graph application effectively tracks an individual’s circle of acquaintances which helps the engine to cluster into different groups suitable for targeted marketing campaigns. IoT has brought in a structural change into the industry specifics where this disruptive innovation has gained acceptance among people and believed to have made life easier. Multiple electronic devices connected over internet gather real time data ranging from inventory status to shipment details, health diagnostics to financial transactions. Computing is going to be ubiquitous, with real time transactional data capture.
Online market place brings together the buyer and seller in direct contact and the premise of brick and mortar setup with high entry barriers have been broken to give rise to new economy companies that had left many giants redundant. The startup ideas could not have blossomed if the entry barriers were very high. The domain of e-business has evolved from the traditional communication medium to the platform with visual merchandising offering a significant value proposition. If we could talk about companies like Ola, Uber or Blah Blah Cars and Ryde where hassle free taxi ride services could be bought online with single applications working across the globe.  Online grocers are only growing in business volume with each passing day. Habits are changing. Erstwhile ordinary middle class are going online thus constituting a potential TG with high proliferation rate. Social enterprises through crowd funding or angel investment are in the offing. Projects like Billions in Change, Bharat learn are gaining momentum.

Keeping pace with the evolution in the digital space the Centre for E-Commerce Studies envisages growing as a vertical unit within IMS Noida which will work a platform for people from industry and academia to incubate research ideas, conduct short term training programmes, provide consultancy to corporate and execute research for industries through commissioning of research panels. This centre would work as a knowledge resource to other institutions and would take a position on socio-technical issues like net neutrality and cyber security.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

MAKING NEW INROADS: THE POTENTIAL OF E-LEARNING IN INDIA

The Indian education system has undergone a sea change over the past few decades. What was once characterized by the traditional classroom method of imparting education is now gradually evolving into learning that is available at a click, is online, self-paced and customized. E-learning opportunities have not yet been fully explored in our country. But it must be noted that if implemented, it has the potential to change the face of the Indian education system.
The prospects of e-learning look bright in India’s case.  According to a recent research report, the e-learning market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 17.4% over the period FY2013-FY’2018 driven by various factors such as increased government schemes and subsequent enhanced spending to promote e-learning, fast paced adoption of technology, lack of availability of quality education, convenience and cost effectiveness among others. With this the demand of custom e-learning content is bound to increase, thereby catalyzing the overall growth of India’s e-learning market in future.
Though India has a relatively immature e-learning industry however, the relative potential and benefits of e-learning are huge. In a fast developing country like India where different sectors are on a technological growth trajectory, the effect of this advancement can be gauged from the plethora of e-learning opportunities available in the country.
E-learning brings with itself a unique set of advantages, the most prominent being the ability to provide personalized attention to all students. In a conventional set up, this is next to impossible given the time constraints and individual limitations. In rare cases it could be achieved to a certain extent only when a tutor is highly skilled and offers one-to-one tutorials to a student. However, considering that institutions across the country have a classroom-based setup, such personalized attention becomes very time consuming and cumbersome.
Another big advantage is that people living in the smaller towns & cities can get the best possible learning aids from across the world, at a very affordable price. This ensures delivery of the best quality to every nook and corner where technology has paved the way for intellectual development. This helps create a level-playing field. The digital India campaign of the government can be instrumental in boosting this method of learning dramatically.
From the learner’s viewpoint a huge advantage of e-learning is that it is self-paced, and knowledge absorption is done at the learner’s pace. The deliverables can be repeated until understood by the learner. Also, to bring in more creative ways of delivery, learning can be made compelling and interesting with multimedia. This methodology of adaptive learning will help students to extract the best out of the learning process at their own pace, without feeling left out.
Another prominent advantage of e-learning lies in the fact that distances and borders can easily be shrunk by using it as a tool for imparting training or education as physical presence of learners and trainer are not mandatory. For an organisation that is spread across multiple locations, traditional classroom training becomes a constraint.
Social Interaction is also a major advantage of e-learning. There are a lot of e-learning sites on the web which not only provide learning solutions but also give ample opportunities of social interaction to the learners such that they can collaborate and share knowledge across borders. This may serve as a breeding ground for innovation and exchange of useful ideas helping learners share their thoughts and learning. Students may learn just as much from each other as they do from teachers.
Certain specialized curricula may require specialized instructors who can give live instructions. The availability of the instructor and other resource constraints can be conveniently overcome by promoting the use of live broadcasts and other e-learning opportunities in educational institutions. as well as in organizations. Thus, instructors can remain in one location and provide instruction to many students in other diverse locations. The Indian government has also proposed plans to introduce online and audio-visual courses for learning foreign languages for Indian students.
Pre-recorded content in the form of lectures, documentaries and other audio visual content may be delivered in a store and distribute model so that the material can be viewed when needed. Periodical sessions can be made available to learners through a series of videos.  This enhances global availability of content which can be easily accessed by learners all over the world.
Even though the basics seldom change continuous updation and improvisation of training material is pertinent to ensure relevance of the content delivered to the learners. With access to the internet in virtually all parts of urban India it becomes essential to update the content such that it remains valuable for the learners. This however becomes a cumbersome job as far as revision of books is concerned. Textbooks are expensive to purchase, maintain and deliver. Digital delivery solves this issue when coupled with e-readers.
India lags behind other nations when considering the field of research and innovation. The situation of R&D in the country is in a dismal state. E-learning can be a harbinger of change in the area of research. At the higher educational level, collaboration of ideas is vital to research. Research Scholars in India can learn from researchers of other countries and can even take help from instructors located in virtually any part of the globe.

Even though the present government has thrown open the doors of opportunity for e-learning initiatives, there is a need to be cautious; in this euphoria of digitizing and reforming the education system of our country, the quality of education has to improve. Since there is a sense of urgency among the various e-learning providers to board the bus it is quite possible that while introducing online courses and blended learning methods, the standard of education might be compromised. The designers of the e-learning industries and the course creators have to work in sync to ensure that the course leads to value addition and the students are more employable.