Director – Education Services, Symantec
ICT development (availability of telecom, broadband, computers, and software in a country) has a direct correlation with the overall social, economic progress and growth of a country. The mobile phone today acts as a substitute for lack of physical connectivity and provides the regulatory compliance of a Know Your Customer for transaction monitoring, breaking traditional barriers of geography.
Transitioning from enterprises to a common man, bottom up initiatives are driving even non-metro users to lapping up smartphones. These mobile internet laced devices now act primarily as a source of information and secondly as entertainment, opening doors to specific user driven ingenuities.
Mobiles now have been embraced by the young and old and turned out to be the potent tool – the preferred mode of surfing versus conventional laptops or desktop computers. Appetite for EMI schemes, exchange offers, replacement have increased the affordability of high-end smartphones for consumers. Spurt of mobile phones have led to huge developments of apps and IAMAI guesstimates that 100K to 600K jobs could be created in app development alone from 2014-16. Productivity apps (like E-mail, Calendar, Messenger, etc.), Supply chain management (B2B, B2C) and Domain specific applications (Financial, Travel, Media, etc.) are the most popular on mobiles.
No longer restricted to just making phone calls and sending text messages with the advent of smartphones, M-commerce services are on the rise with more and more Indians handling their money, bill payments and personal finances through the phones, enabling cashless transactions. The mobile card readers have enabled small business to scale their operation. While the Government is offering G2C services via a common mobile app, it has to ensure people with disabilities (vision, hearing, speech, etc.) are not ignored or isolated from these services. Luckily mobiles today have accessible features such as voice recognition, text to speech which can not only address the especially abled population but also the aged, who may benefit from the same.
The SAARC region has seen interesting mobile use cases varying from financial inclusion, health, education, weather, agriculture related information, market linkages capturing real-time data that help people to make informed business decisions, be better engaged and socially active.
Location based services leveraged by taxi aggregators or crowd sourcing of traffic conditions have led to large scale productivity disruptions. Surprisingly, instant communication and formation of online communities has steered activism into the forefront with citizens seeking higher transparency through targeted campaigns. Without hinging on government assistance and interventions, citizens have jumped into the fray immediately to undertake emergency reporting and relief operations, during disasters. Consumers, today especially looking at big ticket purchases make informed decisions using their mobile to gather as much information on features, price and warranties as well as good deals, offers and discounts.
Though the flip side does involve a misbalance in work-home life, attention deficit disorders in the always connected Gen X, data security risks and an enlarging digital divide for people never exposed to mobiles, today the ubiquitous mobile is changing our world – empowering, educating, healing and entertaining us.