Updated: Jan 11, 2022
The day was Monday, 5th September 2016. Indian mobile telecommunication industry upgraded to its next version – 3.0. This time it was the elder brother. It was the day Mukesh Ambani announced the commercial launch of his telecom venture – Jio.
Almost 14 years back, the younger brother had made a similar announcement. The day was Friday, 27th December 2002. The day Anil Ambani announced the launch of Reliance India Mobile with the tagline – Kar Lo Duniya Mutthi Mein. This was version 2.0.
The version 1.0 was launched a little over 7 years before the launch of version 2.0. The day was Monday, 31st July 1995. The then Chief Minister of West Bengal, Jyoti Basu made the first mobile call in India to the then Union Telecom Minister, Sukhram.
All these three events changed the way India communicated. The first version allowed people to communicate wirelessly but given the high cost of devices and service, it could be afforded only by the upper strata of the society.
The second version allowed access to mobile telephony even to those people for whom it was only a dream sometime back. The adoption rate shot up and mobile subscribers grew by over 150% in a single year. Something that had never happened before.
The third version opened the floodgates. Children who were allowed mobile phone access after this version are ignorant about a term, which was very common earlier – "Buffering". The third version opened the gateway to the world of internet for everyone. The wireless broadband adoption grew by over 90% in a single year. Everything changed after that.
These events changed the way India operated. The way business happened in India. The way India did business with the world. The way the world looked at India. So on and so forth. However, not everything about such large-scale transformations was hunky-dory. There were flipsides too. While these events made lots of people happy, they also saddened a few. These are those people whose businesses / livelihoods were severely impacted after these events and especially after the upgrade to version 3.0.
Take the case of the PCOs (Public Call Offices) and VPTs (Village Public Telephones). At one point in time PCOs were a common sight across the length and breadth of the country. As the mobile adoption went up, these yellow shops started reducing and are almost non-existent today. Similar was the fate of cyber-cafes. At some point in time, they were the most happening places. Now, they are nowhere and nobody visits them except for taking print-outs, maybe.
Another example is the Mobile Value Added Services (mVAS) industry. At some point in time, it was one of the fastest growing industries but version 3.0 changed everything overnight. Except for a few, all players were wiped out. They either perished or diversified. And the ones that diversified also did so on the final call. The only companies that moved on and grew further are the ones that had a visionary at the helm. Others couldn’t see it coming.
This is the power of a technology-based transformation. And, this is just one example of such a transformation. There have been many such instances in various other industries and the outcome has been equally drastic. Take the case of home theatre industry. From VCRs to CDs to DVDs to Blu-rays and then to Netflix.
The important lesson here is that such transformations and disruptions will continue to happen till one such transformation ends the world. Till then, we will all continue to improve things, make them better and evolve. While all this is happening, the observant person will keep a close eye on what is happening around. This person will observe trends, mentally map the future trajectory and make his/her moves accordingly. This is the person with foresight. And foresight is not a special power gifted to a person by the creator but it is this person's self-will to stay ahead of the race and not to participate in it.
Such a person will not bother about what others are doing. This person has the foresight and knows where s(he) is going.
Be this person. Build foresight. Be a visionary.