The 'new economy' constantly throws up a multiplicity of entrepreneurial ventures trying to solve the problems of modern India. By telling their stories I try to catch a glimpse of the entrepreneurial evolution that India is going through. I have a weakness for the gloss of novelty and chase it in all experiences, from exploring new cities and restaurants, to changing what I read.
“Technology is going to be a seamless part of our lives.” It was a relatively unremarkable statement by gamification expert and Bunchball founder Rajat Paharia. But it had significant implications for the subject of a panel discussion at the India Leadership Forum of the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) in Mumbai on Wednesday: 'Will Enterprises Get Hooked on Wearables?'
“The starting point for wearables is in wellness,” said Kunal Sharma, HR head, South Asia, Hindustan Unilever. “But going forward, there are a number of things that you can do. For instance, with augmented reality (AR), we are already using wearables to track eye movement in stores to know where to place our products.” They could also be used by enterprises and large corporations to help train their employees and even integrate their medical records, he said. These scenarios are not purely hypothetical. Hindustan Unilever, Sharma said, has already begun integrating the medical records of its employees with wearables.
“Virtual delivery of data is going to be the key in a country like India,” said GOQii founder Vishal Gondal. It was reported earlier on Wednesday that GOQii, a fitness wearables company, had raised a fresh round of funding from the venture capital arm of the financial services firm, Edelweiss. “Banking, consumer goods, gamification… I think wearables are going to become your entry point to all of this,” said Gondal.
Another field that the panel agreed was ripe for disruption was payments. “Banking and financial services are like the textile industry of the 21st century. We’re the guys everyone is trying to disrupt,” quipped Axis Bank’s Head of Retail Banking, Rajiv Anand. “But, we at Axis, are trying to prove that we can also be nimble.” He mentioned the bank’s app being present on the Apple Watch and its collaboration with GOQii to create a wearable that enables payments as indicators of its nimble approach.
With the increased access to personal data, however, also come concerns about privacy. The panel agreed that an evolutionary process was on in that regard. “I don’t think the last word has been said on that,” said Anand.