India is now capable of creating companies for the global market: Padmashree Warrior on the next wave of innovation

India is now capable of creating companies for the global market: Padmashree Warrior on the next wave of innovationHaving spent years in the Silicon Valley, former Chief Technology & Strategy Officer at Cisco Systems, Padmashree Warrior, said she is excited to finally see India reflecting the ability to create companies for the global market.

“I saw a couple of startups do angel investing. They can go to Silicon Valley right now when they are doing their series A funding and that is unique. It’s very exciting for me to see something like that happen. I have not seen that before in the startup ecosystem, really,” she said, on the sidelines of a fireside chat on ‘Global E-commerce: Trends and the Next Wave of Innovation’ hosted by Snapdeal CEO Rohit Bansal in their plush Gurgaon office premises on Thursday.

Citing the reasons for this sudden opportunity to innovate, she said: “It is fundamentally technologies that are at an inflexion point changing things, the rise of internet of things (that gives an opportunity to disrupt many traditional businesses), and private companies being able to raise a lot of capital.” Combined with that are customer behavioral changes that, Padmashree said, didn’t exist during her young days.

“I could never think that I would be buying clothes online. Customers have increasingly become comfortable making purchases online. It’s again a unique thing that is going on here, of course with Silicon Valley being the hub. There’s a lot of energy I can see everywhere,” she said.

On the concern of whether the bubble exists, the former Motorola CTO both agreed and disagreed. “I don’t think we are in a bubble. These companies are solving very real problems and it is a big shift going from offline and physical space to the digital space. Fundamental behavioral change is happening which is giving rise to technologies. But maybe there is a bubble in the sense that operational discipline has been lost because it has become easier for companies to raise early stage capital,” she said.

The lady had some important advice for e-commerce startups/companies, here's what they are:


Be operationally disciplined:

“If you are aiming for a sustainable business, you have to be operationally disciplined and to be clear on what is the core business of the company. “Raising capital is a good thing but valuations cannot be ignored. You should be looking at your financials,” she said.

Know your core business and do anything to protect it:

“You have to know what your core business is. As the CEO, you need to have a very clear understanding as to what is my core business. You have to protect the core at any cost. Sometimes you may have to do acquisitions and kill an internal program because that company is doing a better job for you. At other instances, you may find it more suitable to invest. Remember, risk is always lower when you are investing versus acquiring.”

Driving partnerships is critical

Driving partnerships is very critical. They are increasingly going to be another way to innovate.

No that’s not all! The 71st most powerful woman in the world by Forbes also listed out the big trends that she sees shaping the global e-commerce industry in the next few years:

E-commerce will transition from being vertical to a platform of things:

“Initially and to an extent even now, you use different portals to buy different things. Now, I think a consumer wants a company to deliver what he cares about - the music he likes, the shoes, books or bag he loves. He wouldn’t want to go to three portals, but stop at one to buy all the things he needs. The kind of books I read has nothing to do with the clothes I wear, so how do you do that personalization? To determine his likings in each category, data will play a big role in understanding and personalizing the experience. So I see e-commerce transition from a vertical to a platform of different things.”

Companies will figure out demographics in groups to study behaviours and personalize experience

“A lot to do with data analyzing who the person is and what their behaviours are. so data not only for recommendations to individual customers but for groups. This is because a person acts in a certain way when alone than when in a group. A group of girls in the age bracket of 16-24 may be ordering online in a similar way. So figuring out that demographic in groups can be very helpful and is likely to shape e-commerce business.”

Payment procedures to transform:

“How you pay for things is another key area I see changing in the coming times. We use digital platforms yet we still use cash as transaction. At some point, we will move to cryptocurrency like bitcoins or blockchain technologies at least for small things.”

Creating critical skill set

“E-commerce websites say for exampple, online grocery stores have their men pick up vegetables and have it delivered to households. My way of picking a cabbage may be extremely different from theirs. There is a skill set involved here and I feel such training has to be given to the staff to pick products in a perfect way just as a customer would have done for himself or herself. There's still a gap there that's to be filled and we'll see companies doing it.”

(Image credit: Reuters)