Friday, September 23, 2011

Internet in India

Google says India has over a 100 million Internet users, others claim the user base to be at close to 80 million etc etc.....

What is it actually? Well everyone has their own numbers and you can use the number you want depending on what you want to believe and whether you want use the number for a business projection to a potential investor or a presentation at a conference or to justify the slow business growth to your bosses.

What's intriguing here is that despite the claimed numbers and a lot of services and business being available on the Internet, we do not see too many people actually using most of whats available. How many of us in India use the Internet to pay our bills - electricity, land line, mobile etc etc??? how many of us use the Internet to receive or make our payments - salary, gifts, vendor payments etc etc??? how may of us really use Internet banking other than to check our balance??? how many of us use the Internet to book our tickets - Bus, rail pass, long distance rail tickets, air tickets etc etc??? how many of us use the internet to find jobs OR a life partner Or to chalk out our travel route???, Or to find places OR to find people OR to communicate??? and How many of us use the Internet to Buy - shares, mutual funds, products, services etc???

In my experience, while most people I know - and they are all educated and some are very well educated and all own a computer and an Internet connection and a smart phone - use the Internet for communication and to buy air tickets, and to find information, they don's use it to transact or to buy anything else or to get any other services. So whats most used:
1) E mail & Social media
2) Air ticket price search and comparison
3) Job search or to recruit
The rest of what's available is hardly used or used very very sparingly OR never used.

When asked why, the answers vary but whats common are "Oh But I don't need to!" Or "Oh But I tried it and its very cumbersome"
Need and Ease of use. If the need is there then the ease of use isn't or both are missing????
While the need may not be there for some (have an office peon or servant at home to stand in line to pay bills for example), its there for most (not everyone has the luxury of servants or office peons). Similarly there always were travel agents but then why do so many people use the Internet to book air or rail tickets, or use Job sites for recruitment rather than Recruitment agencies??? Its to do with need as well as other advantages such as (ability to check availability and compare prices for tickets, or a larger and more updated database for recruiters and job seekers).

I think the need for a lot of the existing available products and services is there but ease of use is the culprit in most of the cases. But why? Isn't that what CEO's, Product managers, and marketeers talk about all the time? Fulfilling a need and making it easy??? Lets look at the 2 items of what most are using - Air ticket price search and comparison, and Job search and recruitment. The need is there and thanks to the immense competition so is the ease of use. 

What we lack today are not really Internet users but good product and service offerings that 
1) Work most of the time
2) Are easy to use 
3) Add value in some way.

Sadly most of the businesses or services or utility providers adopting technology and the Internet today are doing it for 2 reasons
1) Because others are doing it 
2) To show that they too are using technology and use it in their marketing/advertising

Take for example a reputed private Bank that is advertising heavily about the multiple things one can do on their ATMs. Two visits to the nearest branch just to deposit some money had one turned back once and then made to wait for long the second time (after a gap of 2 days) as their 'Systems were running too slow". They have 3 ATM machines also installed at the branch and its common to find one or all three not working. 

Or a trading site of another leading reputed bank that was overloaded and hence could not accept transactions during the Coal India IPO.

They still haven't got around to doing it to 
1) Satisfy a consumer need
2) Offer a better service
3) Improve their offerings and reduce their costs

I guess it will be some more time before that happens, and till then we can keep talking of X million users but we will not see Technology or the medium making a REAL impact in our lives or in Value terms for the Medium itself.

No comments:

Post a Comment