Techspectations: From data mining to viral videos, a rural tech revolution is playing out

Techspectations: From data mining to viral videos, a rural tech revolution is playing out
Nagaraja Prakasam, Ben Morrell, and Ram Seshadri

Kochi: Internet is heading to the villages in India. Global tech giants have fast-tracked their attempts to localise content to tap into the vast market in the hinterlands.

Google is pedalling its way to the villages. Internet of Things have connected to Hindi speakers. Presently, people in Kerala and other states may be able to command the internet through their mother tongue.

These emerging trends in the digital space were highlighted at the Techspectations 2018, the digital summit organised by Manorama Online in Kochi on Saturday.

Vision 2020: 50 crore smart phone users

The internet will be defined by audio, video and local dialects, said YouTube Asia Pacific regional director Ajay Vidyasagar. The video-sharing platform has tremendous growth potential in states such as Kerala, he said.

People pursue careers on YouTube these days, he said. “In the initial stages, there were just about 20 production houses in India. Today, thousands of people are creating content on YouTube. As many as 346 people have created videos watched by over a billion people,” he said.

Internet usage is dramatically rising in India

“We search the internet through our phone for 27 seconds in a minute on average. There are 300 million smart phone users in the country. Estimates show that the number will rise to 500 million by 2020,” he said.

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India is the second highest user of smart phones

The entry of Reliance to the internet sector was a game changer. Data usage expanded. India has exceeded Japan or the United States in this regard. Internet usage has expanded among women and in rural areas. Women are expected to make up 45 per cent of internet users in India in just three years.

Rural women were introduced to the internet by Google and Tata Trust

About 20 million women have benefited from this. About 68 per cent of users use their own language rather than English. Voice search has increased by 270 per cent. Hindi voice search, on the other hand, increased 400 per cent.

Ride the 'Internet Cycle'

Google has teamed up with Tata Trust to launch the 'Internet Saathi' scheme to train rural women in the use of the internet and expand online services to villages. The devices are transported to remote villages on bicycles.

Vidyasagar said that the scheme would be expanded to 2 lakh villages. The programme is already being implemented successfully in many villages.

Vidyasagar was giving the keynote address at Techspectations.

At least 2 crore rural women are expected to benefit from the programme, he said. About 50,000 women will be trained in internet use.

Google in Malayalam?

Vidyasagar said that efforts were on to enable Google Assistant to speak in Malayalam. The service is already available in Hindi. The Malayalam version’s testing is in progress. Vidyasagar said he was not able to announce a launch date at this point.

How to create a viral video? There are no secret recipes, said Vidyasagar. The popularity of a video depends on a lot of factors such as the story, storytelling and its adaptability to different screens.

Video platforms have become all the more relevant as people stopped watching programmes at a fixed a time slot. Videos in vernacular languages will define the future trajectory of the internet, he said.

Tech is king

A product's value depends on its novelty and marketability, said Adobe digital strategy and solutions head Ram Sheshadri. Speaking on ‘Innovations and digital transformation’, he said that a company cannot move forward without introducing new digital technology and ideas.

Ram Sheshadri

A product has to stand out among the other products in the market, he said. Success depends on the satisfaction of the consumer. A company has to tap the digital possibilities to achieve its goals. They have to go for ads that pull crowds.

Consumers should be made aware of new products and products should have a value in market, Sheshadri said.

Hero of heroes

When V S Pradeep left his home in Tamil Nadu to join the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, he realised that it was a struggle to watch Tamil movies in theatres outside Tamil Nadu. The movies were being released in Telugu. The only options were pirated CDs and low-quality prints.


He returned home with a business idea. He talked to brother V S Athitiyan.

The result was Hero Talkies, an online platform to watch Tamil movies. The simple venture became a hit.

Hero Talkies was targeted at the 2-million strong Tamil diaspora outside India. Hero Talkies now cater to countries with large Tamil populations such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Singapore as well as unlikely markets such as Iraq and Chile.

Athitiyan now wants to expand the offerings to other languages as well. The company operates by buying genuine prints from producers.

Technologically auspicious time

When is a good time to release a movie? You do not have to look up the stars anymore. Data analysis is the new fortune teller.

Media measurement and data analytics company Comscore director Ramanujam Pobbisetty cited the experience of the latest offering from the ‘Spiderman’ franchisee to explain the relevance of data in determining the prospects of a movie.

The company analysed the patterns of reception of previously released comic books. They mined data including the number of movie goers, the time of their arrival and the overall collection at the box office to predict an opportune moment for the new movie’s release.

Almost all movies are released in the United States after analysing data. Movie measurement is an emerging area in India. Comscore has joined hands with multiplex chains such as PVR to collect data on movie watching.

'I am a Mallu'

Rinosh George wanted to launch a music album but did not know how to go about it. He did what most of us would do: google. “How to sign a contract with Sony or T Series?”

George’s early attempts at songwriting were not particularly popular. His YouTube videos did not elicit tremendous response. His fifth song, one about Bengaluru, was a massive hit. 'I am a Mallu' followed.

Movie producers generally shy away from newcomers but George’s online following encouraged a producer to try him out as a lead actor.

“The digital connect I had established with the people helped me. The digital space has changed it all. It allows you to connect with people. It is a good thing to make good content and good money at the same time. Media like YouTube help you in that. Many companies have started using promotional videos for their products,” he said.

Taking stock

Information technology has a huge presence in the markets, said Geojit Financial Services executive director A Balakrishnan. Speaking on 'digital transformation in transaction of financial assets,' he said market information is easily available all around us.

“You can watch equity prices on television scrolls but it is up to you to analyse it and take a decision. You need data to properly analyse information. Nobody wants to read three pages of data. Time is all important in the equity market. Information that is out in the morning may be outdated half an hour later. You have to supply information in capsule form,” he said.

The burden of data

Information is important in marketing but the challenge is to deal with reams of data, said Rahul Vengalil. You may often face a situation when you are unable to use data because of its magnitude, he said.

Every business presents unforeseen challenges. Especially so in the tech business. The success of of business depends on wise use of investments, an ability foresee uncertainties and the method of handling information.

Vengalil started out with a tabloid on technology business before venturing into digital marketing.

Why start-ups?

In a handspun shirt and mundu, Nagaraja Prakasam does not look like your ordinary Silicon Valley bigwig. The former executive of CDC Software now heads several start-ups working for social change.

Nagaraja Prakasam

The social entrepreneur has a slew of start-ups to his credit, including Gocoop, which markets Indian handloom in global markets; Sahas, which processes waste in Bengaluru; Carbon Masters, which produces biogas and compost; Happy Hen, which produces good quality eggs and Fresh World: which sells vegetables.

By offering a platform to share unique ideas to boost digital platforms, Techspectations is taking another giant stride into future.

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