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BW Businessworld

Vodafone's Sunil Sood Explains How India Sails Into The 'Perfect Storm'

Affordable data and mobile plans sets off digital revolution, with increased content consumption through mobile

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The mood was upbeat at the 13th edition of the BW Businessworld Marketing Whitebook launch. The speakers conveyed optimism, in the wake of a digital revolution in India. With mobile and data connectivity rates at an all-time low, India is witnessing a jump in content consumption through mobile Internet. Delivering a session keynote at this event, Sunil Sood, Managing Director & CEO, Vodafone India said there is no better time to be in India, with the economy on an upswing.

"The mobile industry is contributing its share. At 60 percent share of the GDP, services will dominate our economy. This is the reason why Vodafone is the largest foreign direct investor in India, focussed on being a partner in India's growth story. The telecom sector will be the key enabler of India's future," said Sood.

He alluded to the declining prices of smart phones and data in the country.

"Access to information, entertainment and connectivity has truly become democratic. This is truly a transformational phase in India. Mobile Internet for all is now the new guiding mantra in the telecom industry, which was earlier focussing on only mobile for all. Hence Vodafone's positioning of being a supernet data strong network is apt."

Sood said India Stack has enabled India's dream of transparency and financial inclusion. He said 82 per cent of India's population now have a digital identity through Aadhaar.

"Increasing Internet penetration has seen a 3X increase in the consumption of content and video content, especially in local languages. This is breaking language barriers across the country," said Sood. "Mobile is defining lifestyles today and is not just a tool for communication.  Mobile has given Indians a new avatar to navigate social networks, personal interactions, to shop at convenience, with an unlimited source of options. Today 200 million Indians are on social networks. Social media uses are growing at 44 per cent over the previous year."

Data Revolution

Speaking on a panel discussion, immediately after his keynote Sood said there is also a data revolution happening in India.

"Because of demonetisation and GST, companies are moving from organised to organised. Look at the amount of data GST will generate. It will capture everyone's revenue in the country. So there is enablement happening. The India Stack (for UPI, Banking, Aadhaar) is coming into play to help capture this data. You will be able to identify the same customer across various platforms. Once you capture all (the customer's) data and link it to Aadhaar you will be able to enable the analytics. You will be able to predict what the customer's needs and wants are, and provide it to the customer at the right time. "

Telecom companies have been using data analytics for a long time, and are far ahead of the other verticals in this area.

Ashish Bhasin, CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network, South Asia said consumers in the FMCG sector have been ahead of agencies and marketers in the area of Digital. Yet FMCG companies were late to the party.

Neil George, Managing Director, Nivea India said, "Retailers capture millions of data point from their customers. However, compared to their western counterparts, very few Indian retailers use analytics. Most of the analytics companies here are catering to companies abroad. It is the telecom companies thatare really driven by data and analytics. The FMCG sector is at least 2 - 3 years behind some of the other industries."

Sood, however felt that FMCG companies were not really behind when it comes to using analytics.

"FMCG companies are not really 2 - 3 years behind and it is happening at the same pace as internationally," he said.