“You don’t need a digital strategy. You need a business strategy for the digital age.” This statement by Judy Goldberg of Sony Pictures perhaps best encapsulated the buzz at the 10th edition of the India Digital Summit convened by the Internet and Mobile association of India (IAMAI). The two-day affair, held at The Lalit Hotel in New Delhi on the 9th and 10th of February, 2016, echoed with the pulse of the times as rookie entrepreneurs hobnobbed with start-up poster boys and icons of the Indian silicon valley.
The IAMAI is a not-for-profit industry body that aims to bring together under one roof all businesses operating in the online and mobile value-added-services sector. The charter of the IAMAI is designed to carry the voice of its associate members to industry stakeholders including the government, consumers, and the investing community.
True to its all-pervasive appeal, the event was an ideological magnet for ventures straddling the spectrum of the industry, including the likes of Karbonn Mobiles, Snapdeal, Blackbuck, Oxigen, Matrimony.com, OYO Rooms, The Mobile Wallet, MobiKwik, SHEROES, Simplilearn, Yatra, Stayzilla, and CC Avenue, as well as established brands like HDFC Life, Moneycontrol, Google India, Akamai Technologies, NIIT, and Meru Cabs, among others.
The summit kicked off with a distillation of the event’s objective and the realities besetting the industry by IAMAI Chairman and Freecharge Founder Kunal Shah. Know your customer; secrets, not popularity, create value; venture capitalists chase traction while entrepreneurs chase funding—these were some of the realisms that emerged in his hour-long address and set the tone for things to come. Panel discussions veered from nuances in launching a start-up, scaling up of ventures, digital advertising, cashless economy, and digital democracy, to the internet for rural India, advancing financial inclusion in India, internet and women in India, digital trends in health technology, travel and education.
Digital technology and marketing in India have crossed many a valley and scaled many a mountain in recent years. What sounded like wishful fantasies of consumers a decade back is today conspicuous reality. Financial products are now available online at the tap of a screen. Logistics and cab services are accessible on the go and literally within the minute. In a true reversal of roles, hotel stay and travel websites now queue up before the consumer with an array of offers and prices. “Ordering in” has been well and truly redefined to include not just food, but also medicines, health supplies, electronics, books, and a whole smorgasbord of things to buy. All one needs is an internet connection and a user interface. Digital democracy never had it better.
All this has been made possible by ventures and start-ups that began not so long ago in India with a quiet confidence that embraced technology wholeheartedly. This confidence of those early entrepreneurs has now surged to become a self-sustaining juggernaut that is gaining momentum at a torrid pace and spawning more and more entrepreneurial activity in its wake. Today, mature start-ups in India are no longer content with just “surviving” until the IPO phase. They have imbibed a healthy ambition to grow beyond IPOs, which are now deemed base camps for greater things to come. There is also a renewed interest in listening to customers even after evolving from an iffy start-up to an established business. In addition, the most successful start-ups have been those that have been able to inflict a sense of purpose into their employees. Suffice to say that the pulse among participants and panellists alike at the summit underlined such realisms.
The summit wound up with pitches from fresh start-ups, pitting entrepreneurial fervour against capitalist wisdom. In a fitting finale to the event, Shri Jayant Sinha, the Honourable Minister of State for Finance, Government of India, rendered the valedictory address. Perhaps, the icing on the cake was the honour of “Best Financial Website” being awarded to BankBazaar as part of the 6th edition of the India Digital Awards—a humbling recognition of the passion and energy a 1000+ BankBazaar-ites have brought and continue to bring to the table.
Some pictures from the event.