What rural India can learn from Silicon Valley
This week, I’ll be in Palo Alto to take part in a series of World Economic Forum workshops, bringing together members of the Technology Pioneer and Global Growth Company communities. Of the many topics we’ll be looking at, the one I’m most excited about is the session on “Disrupting Markets”.
Palo Alto is at the core of Silicon Valley’s technological innovation, which is a driving force behind the disruption of many traditional markets. With so many industries in a state of disruptive change, how will companies be able to evolve to compete? And for companies that are driving market disruption, how can they predict where innovation will take the market next?
The reason I’m so interested in this topic is that I recognize that the phenomenon of market disruption is just as relevant in Palo Alto as it is where I work, on the other side of the world in rural India. There, the agricultural industry is ripe for disruption, with outdated, unprofitable techniques ready to be enhanced or replaced by more sophisticated methods. Technology will play a key role in disrupting this market and making sustainable farming a reality for the other 90% of the world’s farmers. This is a vital step towards ensuring food security and livelihood for over 2 billion people, a problem which development agencies and for-profit organizations around the world have struggled with for decades.
In my work at the social enterprise Driptech, I’ve learned that surviving and even driving market disruption relies fundamentally on the ability of an organization to understand and serve its customers. Only by continually designing and delivering affordable, appropriate products can we ensure relevance in the face of constant disruptive change. This series of Forum workshops will be a great opportunity to learn how Technology Pioneers and Global Growth Companies are working to stay connected to their customers, and to translate customer insight and understanding into valuable business models. I’m also really interested to learn how other companies have improved the accessibility of their products, in terms of their innovation with partners and customers: how have their products and business models successfully evolved?
Taking place in the home of technological innovation, I hope that this series of workshops will provide insights that can be applied in the most remote, low-tech environments and markets in the world.