India is home to about 1.28 billion people and of these, only about 400 million currently have access to the Internet. By 2020, 350 million more users are expected to be connected to the web, mostly from Tier-4 and rural areas. But getting these users, so different from their urban counterparts, online is a challenge and opportunity that technology companies and government are grappling with.
The telcos may need to go beyond the current set of technologies (3G and 4G) to reach the next 350 million users and more. And the current cost of capital for these networks as well as operations costs could make it difficult for them to offer viable price points.
At the enterprise front, the challenge which faces the marketers is fluid segments of consumers they have begun to encounter. A rising number of consumers in all segments are using the Internet as their first port of call in framing and driving their purchase decisions. As they get more comfortable with digital capabilities, their usage patterns exhibit growth that belies age and other demographic variables.
Also as more consumers become connected, the user-base expands and diversifies to include rural and lower-income consumers across all age groups. This consumer is different from the urban, young, high-income user. Enterprises that overlook this shift risk missing out on a rapidly growing channel for marketing, brand influence and engagement, and, ultimately, commerce.
There is a need to develop offerings based on well-defined user groups and tailor those offerings to meet the particular needs and situations of each category of user. And in the digital - and especially the mobile - world, there is an opportunity to go even further and craft offerings that address the personal preferences of microsegments or even individuals, on the basis of data that defines their online behavior.
Internet has reached a scale and level of impact that no business and industry can ignore. And like any technological phenomenon with its scale and speed, it presents myriad opportunities for growth and profit for forward-looking enterprises that capitalize on the developing sources of digital demand.