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Monday, November 7, 2011

Innovation Innovation Everywhere!

Indian Innovations

One of the things that India has going for it is that unlike the United States, India was actually able to leapfrog technology and implement some of the latest and best telecom and technological innovations available today within the mainstream marketplace, quicker than our US private sector has done.  This was one of the main observations that I kept hearing as my meetings progressed in Delhi.   Just in a week, I have seen more devices, wireless innovations, and mobile applications, than I have ever experienced in the US.  To compare, it seems that in the US our private companies take a bit longer to deploy technology due to the need to fully capitalize on the investments made in order to increase revenue and profits of the latest technology that hits the marketplace.  This is not necessarily a bad circumstance. It is the US way. However, due to the need to capitalize on the technologies it does slow down the availability of technologies to US consumers.  This is again one of the joys of traveling, you get to see first hand what is going on, who has what, and how citizens experience, in this instance, technology.

Tech Mahindra
Mobile Developers at Tech Mahindra ( My New BEST friends)
I had the opportunity to meet with Tech Mahindra.  A very interesting and another large Indian global company. Primarily, Tech Mahindra is a software developer.  The company started as a Joint venture between British Telecom and the Mahindra Group, which is the parent company. They develop software platforms for companies globally, including in the US, AT&T,  Verizon, and Sprint. The most interesting component of their Company to me, however, was their value added services arm. Value Added Services, are what you would call the part of the company that develops mobile applications that they also deploy in addition to the Network services that they provide.  I met with Vijay Kumar and he had his entire team there to discuss with me the fundamental aspects of the company. Again, I was received well and really had a great time speaking with them.

The exciting part was when I was taken to the mobile application arm of the company, which is located about 15 minutes from their Headquarters in Noida, Delhi .  This is when the fun really started. When you first walk in, the room is FILLED with energetic young Indian developers all working on applications.  I was shown a few, that are absolutely fantastic. One dealt with security and safety, another was about jobs, and another dealt with jobs and employment, and the other pertained to online banking and transfer of monies through your mobile device.  I loved it.  It wasn’t that this technology is not offered in the US, it may be. But it was moreso how niched they can develop for specific marketplaces.  Ultimately, the conversations ended with discussions about possible partnerships, collaborations, and revenue sharing that could be deployed between our two organizations and how such innovations can be deployed within the marketplaces in Philadelphia. Again, innovations and opportunities abound in India. These guys may be my new best friends. 

Novatium is a company that was one of the first to really offer a thin device, ie….a netbook, but in this case that is entirely managed and provide backend support for the user and the software loaded onto the device.  I met with Mr. Alok Singh, the CEO and founder.  Mr. Singh also offered a very excellent background of the Indian telecom space and how Novatium fits within the models.  One main remark that struck me were these direct quotes from Mr. Singh, “ Price impacts you once, after that it is all about the experience”. ( Loved this) Lastly, “India leapfrogged wired line technology right into wireless and mobile”.  (This again is very true and why this Country is becoming a technology super power).

The conversations, again, led to possible niched products that can be deployed in the United States market. Because Novatium is the direct developer, everything can be done with a backend office support that can connect to our network in the States.  Interesting opportunity that could be very impactful for the communities we provide services to in Philadelphia and beyond.

BEETEL InTech ( A Bharti Airtel Subsidiary)
I loved this group.  This was one of my last meetings of the week and it ended with a bang! BEETEL is a subsidiary of Bharti Airtel, I wrote about them in an earlier blog. Ms. Meenakshi Vajpai, the Indian woman executive that I met on Tuesday, referred me to speak to this group about possible tablet devices that they are deploying in the Indian marketplace.  It is a bit better in quality than the Askash tablet, can definitely do more and has a more robust amount of specifications, but is a lot cheaper than the netbooks that we are offered in the US.

BEETEL is the product and equipment arm of Bharti Airtel.  I met with about three, again, young Indian executives who shared with me the innovations coming out of this company and the devices being launched to provide value added services.  Why I loved this meeting, was because I was shown the tablet, had a chance to test the tablet during the meeting, and get this…..was GIVEN a tablet to take back to the US to test within and against our networks.  LOVED IT.  It is almost basically like an Android Tablet, but more economical and does it all, smaller, faster, has a mobile component, and loaded with a slew of applications.  Can’t wait to see how it handles back at home.  If it is as good I saw during that meeting, and it can stand the test of the US infrastructure networks, this is something that can be definitely useful within public/private partnerships being formed across the US as they pertain to broadband access.  Stay tuned for this…..BEETEL is interested in a partnership.


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