It is indisputable that the access, ease, and quality of a population’s Internet connection defines their ability to compete and participate in modern society.
A nation’s competitiveness depends on the capacity of its industry to innovate and upgrade – Michael Porter, Harvard Business Review.
India, the second-most populated country on Earth faces many hurdles in closing the gap when it comes to ubiquitous mobile internet usage. Bandwidth, speed, and high costs challenge adoption rates across the nation.
Mobile phones crawled on 2G networks, and consumers typically paid more than 200 rupees ($2.88) for one gigabyte of data. India had just 153 million mobile Internet subscribers among its population of 1.3 billion. – Fortune, 2018
The Opportunity to Make a Social Impact
Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio) launched in 2007 with a mission to provide India with ‘digital oxygen’.
Reliance Jio promises to shape the future of India by providing end-to-end digital solutions for businesses, institutions and households and seamlessly bridging the rural-urban divide. – Reliance Jio
They’ve reportedly spent billions of dollars building a ubiquitous 4G network, with a goal to provide low-cost and easy access to data across India. Their rapid expansion looks to cover 99 percent of the population by the end of the year.
Their transformational approach provides significantly more affordable and readily available access to data, extending even to “those in rural areas or of modest means — farmers, students, and entrepreneurs who finally have in their hands the tool they need to participate in the modern economy”.
Jio is building a powerful platform on which a range of rich digital products and services can be enabled – digital currency, digital commerce, digital education, digital healthcare, e-governance, Smart Cities, M2M and the Internet of Things. It does not matter whether these services are created by Jio itself, its ecosystem partners or anyone globally. Reliance is committed to the principles of Net Neutrality. – Reliance Jio
The response to Jio is proving their offering to be revolutionary, with them amassing over 200 million subscribers in the last two years. It only echos the UN’s sentiment of “applying a comprehensive human rights-based approach when providing and expanding access to the internet and for the internet to be open, accessible, and nurtured”. ‘Online freedom’ and ‘human rights’ are converging, and have been cited in official UN declarations, indeed echoing Reliance Industries’ chairman, Mukesh Ambani, that their innovations are seeking to provide ‘digital oxygen’.
A Strategic shift towards creating shared value
It is clear that Jio have embarked upon a strategy that counteracts the significant social, economic, and societal issue of the digital divide prevalent in India. It reflects a phenomenological shift towards organisations adopting a ‘shared value’ business model that “re-imagines the way companies build new markets, innovate, create distinction, and contribute to a thriving society and planet”.
Reliance Jio is creating the most extensive and future-proof network in India, and perhaps, in the world. It will provide next generation legacy-free digital services over an end-to-end all-IP network, which can be seamlessly upgraded even to 5G and beyond. – Reliance Jio
This strategic shift, demonstrated by Jio showcases the potential and power business leaders have when they view social issues as “material to their long-term success” and growth.
Today, many of the world’s biggest and most innovative companies are engaged in initiatives that can contribute to the betterment of society and the environment while they drive their businesses. – Bobbi Silten, Shared Value Initiative
With Jio’s shared value creation strategy established, they’ve been credited to have ‘jump-started’ India’s digital economy, topping the list of this year’s Fortune ‘Change the World’ list — a yearly countdown that recognises pioneering business leaders whom have succeeded in “using the profit motive to help the planet and tackle social problems”. Other organisations featured in the top 10, include: Bank of America, Alibaba Group, and Weight Watchers International.
The very existence of published lists, such as Fortune’s ‘Change to World’, only bode to support and legitimise the strides made in envisioning a progressive future, whereby businesses can “do well by doing good”, and where creating a positive social impact remains at the core of their business model and long-term strategy.
Achieving shared value takes time, resources and discipline, but the rewards are many. It can benefit society and the planet as it creates a sense of purpose for your employees, drives loyalty with your consumers, spurs innovation and adds to the bottomline. – Bobbi Silten, Shared Value Initiative
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