Mahendra Swarup – Chairman, SMILE Interactive Technology Group, has a stint of over thirty years in the corporate world and now spends time as an independent “Strategic Insight Provider” to businesses and startups as well. Undoubtedly a man who has seen lot of early age digital revolution in India was an apt choice for the Q&A session at the WAT Summit, 2012.
Unfortunately Mahendra could not make it to the WAT Summit; the Delhi fog was at it again. However, he managed to connect to us via a telephone conversation. Rajiv Dingra hosted the telephonic session rather sportingly for a discussion on the dawn of the digital age. He began with a question on what have been the changes in the digital space and does Mahendra really see a dawn.
Mahendra shared some interesting statistics about digital growth globally. He added that the dawn will be seen in emerging markets alone and India won’t be an exception.
On being questioned about the kind of difficulties one will face in 2012, Mahendra responded that little innovation, no new product in digital and the lack of expertise in scaling up digital ventures could be a problem.
Rajiv further drilled upon the reason behind this. Mahendra stated that although [pullquote id=”lhipull”, class=”center_pull”]Indian digital entrepreneurs are good in technology, they lack the expertise in creating a solid supply chain management system.[/pullquote]
The conversation moved to the online ads space as to which Mahendra was quite upbeat about its necessity and growth.
Rajiv further questioned Mahendra on the role of the policy makers in the digital growth story. Mahendra reasoned that [pullquote id=”lhipull”, class=”center_pull”]The poor state of policies was due to the lack of a single authority or entity who can execute policies. We would have to work on them to make the digital story growth bigger.[/pullquote]
On being asked as to when would India see an inflection point in the Digital indiustry, Mahendra believed that it would be somewhere between 2015 to 2017.
Rajiv also touched upon the recent intervention by the Indian Government with regards to pre-screening of content and being told to shut shop, Mahendra said only self-regulation through a code of conduct would work out. On the question of the performance of institutions like IAMAI, etc. he said that the industry has certainly evolved but needs to do a lot more.
This was an interesting Q & A session which highlighted some harsh realities of the digital state of India. We were glad to have someone who gave out his gut feelings.