Mumbai: There’s a lot more Indian firms can do in deploying technology to raise productivity, especially with the advent of third generation, or 3G, phone services in the country, which can further help firms cut costs and improve efficiency, panellists at a Mint event said.
The panellists were participating in a discussion titled “Tech@ Work: Driving Productivity Through Effective Use of Technology,”, part of Mint’s Clarity Through Debate series.
D. Shivakumar, managing director of Nokia India Pvt. Ltd, cited studies that showed how empowering an employee with a mobile phone lets the employer utilize what is called secondary or dead time of an employee. “That is estimated to be anywhere around 10 days a year. Most organizations have about 12 holidays in a year. If you’re giving an employee a mobile phone, you’re virtually getting back all that you gave him in holidays,” he said.
Still, the benefits from mobile phones and computing have been held back by a slow process of auctioning radio waves for use on 3G networks. 3G phone services enable high-speed data access allowing users to surf the Internet or also download, including music and video, at speeds faster than those supported by current cellular technologies.
Tech talk: (L to R) Mukund Govind Rajan, managing director (MD) of Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd, Bindu Ananth, president of IFMR Trust, D. Shivakumar, vice-president and MD, Nokia India, Josey Puliyenthuruthel, national corporate editor, Mint, M.D. Mallya, chairman and MD Bank of Baroda, N. Srinath, MD and CEO, Tata Communications Ltd, and Piyush Doshi, Booz Co. principal, at the conclave. Abhijit Bhatlekar / Mint
Mukund Govind Rajan, managing director, Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd, said: “But only when 3G spectrum allocation happens will we know how much data individuals will be empowered to carry with them. The pain point today is spectrum availability and allocation.”
M.D. Mallya, chairman and managing director of Bank of Baroda, India’s fourth-ranked lender by assets, said there are certain businesses, especially in financial services, that have been able to leverage technology to improve efficiency. Apart from benefits from management information systems that help in asset-liability and risk management, technology has also helped in dramatically reducing transactions costs, he said.
The bigger opportunity, another panelist said, was in furthering financial inclusion using solutions such as mobile banking. Bindu Ananth, president of IFMR Trust, said: “Ninety per cent of all Indian villages have a population less than 5,000 people. How do you build robust banking infrastructure that is viable in such sparsely populated locations, and for the additional 100 million people which make up the seasonal migrant population,” she asked.
At the business-to-business level, benefits of smart use of technology are also playing out. N. Srinath, Tata Communications Ltd’s managing director, said. “With our infrastructure, I can provide services with an India cost advantage. I can theoretically host applications anywhere and provide a lot of the services from India.”