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'Mobile device based social networking to drive growth'

November 13, 2009 16:19 IST
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Global consulting major Accenture recently announced its plan to hire 8,000 people in India by 2010 and indicated it was seeing recovery from the slowdown.

Kirtika Suneja spoke to Jean-Laurent Poitou, managing director for Accenture's electronics and high-tech industry group, on the company's plans in electronics and technology, especially for India. Edited excerpts:

What trends do you see in the electronics and high-tech space, considering that economies are recovering?

Overall, there are early signals of recovery from firms in the semiconductor space and it is important because semiconductors were the first ones to go into the recession. Demand drops were different across different segments in high tech and some are cyclical.

However, future consumption may not be at the same level as before, as the market has entered a new state. There was debt-fuelled consumption in the past, but now consumers are saving, besides consuming. There is a lot of room for the emerging middle class in developing countries.

Moreover, innovation is also changing, as most service providers recognise that they can't have enough project engineers and, hence, it has become harder to invent. The second trend pertains to opening up of the devices to bring the killer innovation of tomorrow. The final trend is of software, services, solutions and applications growth.

How will this application and solutions growth change business models in the electronics space?

The next wave of technology will be driven by connected devices. Mobile connectivity has reached people the fastest of all technologies and the wave of mobile internet will be driven by social networking.

So, people will not take out their mobiles from their pockets only to check mails, messages and calls but to tweet or scrap. Another wave of technology will come from 3D for content, in which we expect 3D-based consumption and selling to grow in the next three to five years.

These will impact the business models, as all technology vendors go for the same revenue streams and competition will increase. So, applications and services invented by companies and the ecosystem will drive revenue two-three times (more). Particularly for India, the shift to applications and services is a significant growth driver, as global trends always rub off on India.

What do you have to say about Indian rural demand in the consumer electronics space?

The time lag between global trends in the US, Europe and India is decreasing and growth is back again in India. Demand here is created by end-consumers and mobile banking, microfinance are aiding that. Regional differences are big in India and usage is different.

Reaching the consumer with the right amount of product in the right place with simple and ruggedised solutions is a sophisticated process, wherein distribution also plays an important role. The drops in demand were not very big on the average in the consumer market but for entrepreneurs, it fell sharply, but is coming up now.

In India, the growth driver will be in embedded systems on devices in this vertical. Companies are shifting their money from hardware engineering to software engineering.

What are your Indian clients saying?

For the last 12-18 months, we are seeing demand from a broader diversity of clients, specially mobile companies and service operators. Personal computer firms are also getting into the mobile space and vice versa.

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