Technology is a wonderful enabler, but it is not just about a few devices and gadgets. The innovation, the conceptual thinking behind a business model, and the drive towards giving value to the customer have to come first.
In fact, the mode of innovation itself is a technology. For example, when I started the low-cost airline Air Deccan, I started the first call centre in India, for India. Earlier ones were servicing clients abroad. Interfacing technology with the common man is what counts in the end.
When we are talking about speed, efficiency and reliability in logistics, I remember when one of my Air Deccan aircraft was down in Kolkata. The engine we needed was stranded in Delhi. To get it to Kolkata, I had to fly it via Singapore. At my logistics company Deccan 360 today, we send everything from flowers to aircraft engines.
When a document or parcel moves out, you want to know when it will arrive. The goal for a logistics company is to give the customer a definite date of arrival. Out of the 100 cities or so that we cover now, about half are on what we call the express system, where you will get delivery within 24 hours.
Behind it is the idea that an entrepreneur should be able to start and run a business anywhere in India. We’ll take care of the supply chain.
If India has to become a truly great economy, businesses and markets have to be able to spread out across all regions, and not be concentrated in and around the big cities.
Infrastructure and logistics is a bottleneck. An estimated 2% of India’s GDP is wasted in inefficient logistics and storage. That is a huge sum.
In developed markets, or even in the other Bric (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries, small traders, small-scale industries, farmers in small plantations can, and do, compete internationally.
This is because they can handle their supply chain and move goods cost-effectively and reliably. Available technology is put to good use.
The same thing has to happen here. To put it in another way, we have to get growth in the other India, the India that lives in the villages and small towns. When we built an information technology (IT) system to make logistics operations efficient and create an innovative business model, we built the IT system with the villager, the housewife, in mind. They have to be able to reach out and tap the system.
G.R. Gopinath is chairman and managing director, Deccan Cargo and Express Logistics Pvt. Ltd.
As told to Sridhar K. Chari
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