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Mobile Internet Yet to Take Off in India, Says Bharti Airtel CFO

Balachandran says by 2018 India might have half a billion mobile data and social media users

Published: 30th November 2014 06:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th November 2014 06:27 AM   |  A+A-

B-Srikanth

HYDERABAD: The power of social media was most evident and clear once the results of recent general elections were declared and has thus become a topic of case study in itself. From reservation of tickets to financial or even real estate services, mobile banking and e-commerce have made inroads into a large section of the population.

On Saturday, at the Indian School of Business Leadership Summit (ISB-LS), following the theme for the year ‘Future...Today’, the vast role of social media and growing opportunities in business were deliberated upon by industry experts.

Delivering the keynote on the topic ‘Big data and Social media- Changing the way we do business’, Srikanth Balachandran, global CFO of Bharti Airtel, said that mobile internet segment in telecommunications industry is yet to take off in the country and comprises an immense potential of growth. He pointed out that 633 million people in the country were in the age group of 10 and 44 years who, he considered, are mobile and tech-savvy.

“After being the market leader for so many years, I would say we are about to enter the bottom of the J-curve which is about to take off. This for future leaders like you is the biggest opportunity,” he said, addressing a gathering of ISB students.

An outgoing mobile phone call cost `16 in 1998 and today it costs Re 0.60. This is a 96 per cent fall and good enough to shatter the Telecom industry but then, on the positive side a user who spent 50 minutes on calls a month in 1998 spends around 400 minutes on a call every month at present, he stated. In the last two years, the number of 3G data users for Airtel has grown from 4 million to 15 million where as data consumption. “By 2018, we expect half a billion mobile data users and equal amount of social media users,” he added.

For budding entrepreneurs and leaders, Balachandran had an eight-point set of building blocks in monetisation of business model. He stressed upon the concept of economies of scale, first mover advantage in addressing the masses, precise targeting, capitalise on the Indian mentality in concepts like prepaid, cash on delivery, sachet and denominations etc. Most importantly, he said, one needs to disproportionate investments in customer retail management and data analysis also embedding core principles of privacy and security. The mantra from him for future leaders was simple, “Go Social, Go Big or Go Home”.

Dean of ISB Ajit Rangnekar, said that future leaders cannot be anything but professionally competent. Maintaining ethical and legal standards, sustainability along with preservation of environment, and inclusive growth were other characteristics for a leader.

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