By Sameer Kochhar
In 2003, I had the opportunity to meet Mukesh Bhai and present him with the SKOCH Challenger Award for Quality of Service for his then Telecom venture. During our conversation, he shared his optimistic outlook for developing a Digital India, which was particularly noteworthy given the industry-wide issues of call drops, insufficient coverage and a distant mobile Internet at the time. I recall Mukesh Bhai speaking fondly of the SKOCH Challenger Award as a tribute to the young of Reliance, which was a testament to the company’s commitment to excellence in service.
During my recent visit to Reliance Corporate Park, I was struck by the vastness of the infrastructure. It reminded me of the visitor centers of global majors like Oracle, Dell and 3Com that I have visited while in US. The buildings, conference rooms, cafeterias and experience centers were massive and the researchers and developers provided enlightening briefing sessions on state-of-the-art and upcoming technologies. It’s impressive to see how far Reliance has come regarding infrastructure development that is better than the best and includes outstanding vegetarian food served in.
What is even more impressive is the intellectual wealth that is housed there. Jio Platforms is working on cuttingedge technologies, all under the theme of Aatmanirbharta, that will impact the world significantly.
India’s goal of becoming a developed economy by 2047 is a fascinating challenge and Jio’s technologies can play a vital role in accelerating the economy’s growth and benefiting Jio itself. However, achieving spatially dispersed, job generative, and equitable growth will require significant corporate involvement. That’s why SKOCH has established a CIO Agenda Task Force to explore ways to make digital corporate footprints population-scale, growing businesses sustainably and cost-competitively, putting India at the center stage of becoming a large and inclusive economy.
I led a delegation of the Task Force to spend a day with Jio Platforms and see this plan in action.
They focus on the digital transformation of critical sectors of Telecommunications, Connectivity, Cloud, Media, Retail, Commerce, Financial Services, Healthcare, Gaming, Education, Smart Cities and G2C services. The technology arsenal for this is true 5G, Robotics, Blockchain, Edge Computing, Big Data, IoT, Augmented and Virtual Reality, AI and machine learning.
Connecting India for Jio has progressed from 4G to 5G to true 5G. 10 million homes are connected to Jio Fiber and Air Fiber, a new product, is offering wireless speeds at 5G speeds, a boon for millions of MSMEs in India.
Jio has prioritised people and talent and has taken on a fresh team with no legacy minds. The team is lean and works on a flexible organisational structure that can transition staff easily, vertically or horizontally.
It has accumulated and absorbed best practices from investors and partners like Microsoft, Google, Qualcomm, Facebook and Apple. Initially focused on internal conglomerate needs, it is now going to offer multi-technology and multidomain capabilities even outside.
Internal domain knowledge provides the business edge, while a can-do-yourself approach ensures self sufficiency for Reliance and India. Even internally, they compete with global platforms to provide businesses with a choice.
In 2016, 99% of the products in the telecom stack were commercially off the-shelf products; in 2023, the number is down to 20%. Data speed is up from less than 1 Mbps in 2015 to 10-15 Mbps now, more than 100 Mbps on 5G.
Jio has developed a multi-cloud solution that is a global first in making heterogeneous clouds work together. It has also been able to extract data from diverse systems, including some notoriously closed systems, and put them into a data layer that provides a 360-degree view and strategy.
The most significant achievement in scale is the Super App My Jio, which has seen more than 630 million downloads, the second highest for an App globally.
Our delegation spent a full day at Jio, concluding with a visit to the True 5G Experience Center. That was like seeing a vision of India 2047 coming true with the mind-blowing technologies and solutions on display. I have always believed that the future belongs to those who are already there. What Jio has done is a shining example of just that.
Documenting the Jio story fits in very well with SKOCH’s work providing inputs and policy directions for India 2047.
Jio story needs to be captured and told well so that the entire country can take note of, learn from and use this enormous technology capability that Jio offers.
To this end, SKOCH Group proposes a deep-dive case study on Jio Platforms. We will strive to overlay use cases for Jio and the applicability of these on some of the challenges India needs to fight to become a developed country.
We propose doing a few more deep-dive studies of enterprises and corporates with the Digital Transformation capability and demonstrated expertise to make India a developed country. We are starting with what seems the best bet – Jio.
Sameer Kochhar is Chairman, SKOCH Group, Reforms Historian and an Acclaimed Author of ModiNomics and Defeating Poverty amongst others.