Is there any inclusive business model that can bail out corporations during the difficult times?
“Yes, there is one which not only has a sustainable appeal but also can script a paradigm shift in how businesses are conducted in the future,” says Pratap Hegde, Managing Director, telematics4u services private limited (t4u, in short), a highly sophisticated technology platform that specializes in many verticals, including logistics and e-commerce. Forty something, Hegde, who hails from the coastal town of Udupi, swears by the efficacy of the inclusive model, opines, “It is the only model that can help the businesses to survive in the future since the models that we have tested in the past did not deliver the benefits to the society in a way that it ought to be whether it is in Boston or Bangalore, New York or New Delhi.”
What then is the inclusive model?
Pratap is candid about his conviction. The business models that we had tried so far has focussed on a sectarian credo and in their wake created layers in the business templates such as capitalists, labour, middlemen and what have you. There is an element of conflict built in the model, inasmuch as what that holds beneficial to the entrepreneurs may be an anathema to the labour or consumers. If the model takes care of all such stakeholders, the interests of the government may be kept out. The inclusive model is holistic and not sectarian in the sense that it would lead to convergence of interests of all stakeholders and linearly impact them and not one segment against the other.
Does it sound utopian?
Pratap Hegde anticipated that teaser and was prepared for that. All his business verticals are firmly footed on that model and are successful. It is a statement backed not alone by a gut feeling or a self-proclamation but supported by empirical evidences. For instance, t4u Intelligent Mineral Ecosystem Solution networks effectively integrate industries and processes with Internet of Things (IOTs) and strategically connect the multiple stakeholders in mining activities and processes related to that. Embedded in its solution are complete ore tracking, monitoring and correcting systems from mine to consumers, generating industry-level analytics and consumption reports for actionable insights and timely decision-making at almost nil cost to the government, tracking of transporting vehicles through GPS, automatic overloading checks and alerts to the regulatory authority and a variety of other functions that can ensure transparency to the entire chain, which is prone to misuse and other manipulations. “This system is working well in Goa and a some other states, where the states get these facilities at almost nil cost and benefits accrued are immeasurable,” he laments. From where the money will come from? He is upfront, “From the fleet that need to be tracked with GPS. The fleet owners can track the movement of trucks on a real-time basis and to be vigilant against any type of misuse while the ore is in transit,” he mentions.
Using sensors, beacons and other ingredients of Internet of Things (IoT), t4u has created other equally powerful technology platforms that have brought tectonic shifts in the operations of various verticals such as outdoor advertising, automotive logistics solutions, sand mining, e-commerce, car/bike rentals, supply chain management, e-governance and the list keeps expanding, as also the canvass of operations of the well-diversified technology platform provider. Its strategic team is constantly engaged in innovation and value addition in its effort to become an effective and well-appointed IT entity, with an inclusive ethos etched on to its corporate mission. It has operations across the country and is eager to enter newer areas and paradigms in the expanding digital horizons of India. “We are upbeat about our products and market share that we can command,” says Pratap, who seems to be tight-lipped about a venture which will be unveiled shortly for autorickshaw drivers, which will not only inculcate discipline in them but will shore up their income levels benefiting their families in terms of education and other areas. He says it is a multimillion-dollar business and the number of stakeholders wanting to be a part of the venture is increasing.
The first-generation IT entrepreneur is overenthusiastic and incorrigibly optimistic about the future landscape of the Indian IT industry. Growth, according to him, is seamless, but there is a caveat. Unlike people of his ilk, Pratap does not think the IT future of India hedges not on the developed world. It is the emerging markets that will help India to scale up its operations. “Emerging economies in South-East Asia, Africa and the Middle East are going to be our growth partners in galvanizing the IT operations of India. Overdependence on the Western markets may prove to be an Achilles heel in our march towards emerging as an important player in the world. Unlike these markets, emerging economies, which have a combined population strength of over four billion, can help India sell its frugal products and solutions in a cost-effective manner,” he laments.
What should be the buzzword for positioning India in these markets?
He rules out outsourcing as the right model since it has many flaws. “If we embark on outsourcing as the right model to capture markets in these economies, you will miss the bus. Outsourcing is gradually becoming a taboo or hackneyed not alone in the US or developed markets but also in countries like Mozambique, Kenya, etc where people feel that there is an element of exploitation in such conundrums. Instead of outsourcing, we should embark on partnerships that can have an appeal to the bottom of the pyramid since they become direct beneficiaries of the project,” he says that application of disruptive technologies to health, education and agriculture can open up newer vistas of cooperation and partnerships in these countries benefiting the poorer sections.
Pratap is not concerned about the protectionist overtones of the developed world. That is bound to happen on account of the severe beatings which these countries had taken during the financial meltdown and subsequent job losses and servitudes. Like in India, they also want growth with more jobs. “What Donald Trump articulated was the US citizen’s felt needs and an average US citizen holds his view, as has been exemplified by the election results. We have to work within these constraints to up our IT market share from 7.85 per cent as of now to a reasonable level of upwards of 15 per cent or so in the conceivable future,” he avers.
How to beat the protectionist trends?
Pratap wears the coat of an academician. There is a process of disaggregation of works taking place in corporations across the world. They focus only on core businesses leaving the peripheral operations and ancillary works such as accounting, tracking, HR, etc to be undertaken by smaller, smarter and fittest units outside. That way, work will flow from these corporations steadily. “The underlying premise in such situations is job creation in every geographical entity and not snatching away opportunities to other destinations,” he says.
As a lean and smart organization, Pratap seems to be waiting for the big prowl