Digital Start-ups: time for a second wave!


This blog is authored by Dr. Ganesh Natarajan, Chairman, 5F World | Global Talent Track I Skills Alpha | Kalzoom Advisors| Social Venture Partners India I Pune City Connect I NESConnect

It was to be the greatest opportunity – for young folks looking for instant success and corporate executives wanting to flex their entrepreneurial muscles.  Start-Up India beckoned millions of wannabe Bezos and Jobs in 2015 and it is unfortunate that many of the first wave of companies that came up – in B2C and B2B commerce, retail, hospitality, healthcare, Fintech and EdTech did not quite set the cash registers ringing, for the companies or their investors!


There could be many reasons for these early setbacks – immature idea validation, a herd mentality and inadequate funding runways are among the top choices! However, with the maturing of the digital economy and every medium and large corporation adopting digital solutions to compete for digitally savvy customers and supply chain partner, there is a new wave of opportunity emerging in the digital space for start-up and SME digital companies to zoom in 2018 and beyond.


Mckinsey & Co, the global consulting leader had predicted that digital attackers, focused on digital solutions that challenged long held dogmas and beliefs would make the services of many incumbents irrelevant or outdated and in many client situations, particularly financial services and retail and increasingly manufacturing and healthcare, the role of start-up “attacker” solutions is increasing, skillfully integrated into the process fabric of the organisation by digital consulting firms that understand both the domain and the digital opportunity.


A couple of examples of such attackers will make the opportunity clear. One major manufacturing company in Western India has already implemented start-up solutions to transform information gathered from devices, sensors and information systems from the shop floor and even after the capital equipment ids installed at the customer site and a platform which tracks the movement of the product through the demand chain of distributors and dealers through to the end customer. These solutions are putting predictive power in the hands of field service engineers and product marketers and enabling opportunity share to be maximized for the company and its products.


In the HR space, for organisations across sectors like Manufacturing, Banking, Insurance , Hospitality and IT Services, digital start-ups are challenging larger HR product suites by relegating them to “Systems of Record” status while creating new platforms that enable systems of insight and engagement to be created and deployed. A skills start-up from the 5F World stable of digital solutions has found the perfect solution to the problem of motivating millions of millennials who are stuck in seemingly “dead-end” jobs through extensive use of artificial intelligence cognitive and adaptive learning methodologies. This is a platform that uses the best of engagement tools to provide a truly adaptive learning environment for the young learner who is engaged by a “bot” from the minute she gets on to the platform, which enables her to assess her own aspirations and goals, look at alternative learning and career paths and get thoroughly engaged on a journey of content discovery, opportunity exploration and learning throughout her tenure in the organisation.


If one looks through the digital value chain, quite a few opportunity categories spring up for young entrepreneurial companies to present innovative solutions, access capital and work with Indian and global systems integrators as well as clients. Apart from the predictable SMAC stack, areas to be explored range from UX and UI, Mixed Reality, IoT and Industry 4.0, AI and Machine Learning, Digital Platforms and Cyber-Security. Successful start-ups in the digital world will need to have unique technological capabilities and also the ability to collaborate with artistic talent, behavioral scientists and business process experts. Success will call for reimagining the way clients will do business, recrafting the digital journeys of customers, supply and demand chain partners and employees and large corporations and rethinking the way talent is hired and deployed in the firm. The success stories of the future wave will be a different breed, but once the second wave takes off, expect it to reach tsunami proportions that will sweep the IT sector into a new sigmoid of growth and success!


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