CATALYST INDIA

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Impact of Innovation

Just read that interest in dishwasher (DW) search in India has multiplied many-fold. It was not feasible until now to manufacture DWs in India (a mkt of only 60K per annum). The major manufacturers globally are btw, Whirlpool-USA, Haier-China, Electrolux-Sweden, Japan, Korea, German companies, and surprisingly Turkey!! During the pandemic middle income Indians have calculated that it costs Rs 500-800/month to run and maintain a DW. It now uses only 6 to 7 litres water/wash.

So, housemaids unfortunately are having a portion of their work portfolio hacked off, and that too at a time when their husbands (typically taxi drivers, retail workers) have been laid off. They have not been able to send their kids to schools that have demanded tuition fees, and forced them to buy tablets that they simply cannot afford. All these kids have lost a year. I see that software companies in Bangalore have cut down transport facilities and real estate – more WFH – the new norm after covid! which means, its going to be a long time those taxi drivers get their jobs back. Retail is moving online too, so the jobs are mainly for door-dashers! Cloud kitchens are in vogue in the investment community. So, while everything will tase the same, small time chefs could well become delivery boys. Luckily the Government’s new infrastructure thrust should create jobs for labor, so that the vast agri labor force gets employment. But this will take some time for sure. The agri sector is also set to change, with the new laws comes higher productivity and mechanization. Certainly good for the nation to use resources – electricity, water and fertilizer more efficiently. Perhaps the protesting farmers may go back once it is harvest time. But what kind of jobs will they go to? Even manufacturing – the sector that was supposed to absorb rural labor and provide employment is becoming productive with the use of robots and AI. One of my clients, a maker of smart meters and automation has IOT products (great products and a great company btw! and we’re enhancing revenues of utilities – something the government is also focusing on), that makes the large swathes of manpower used to read utility meters redundant. At another level, I also see all the analyst type of jobs going too. Today, I don’t need the skilled service of an investment advisor or stock portfolio manager. I can see all data on my phone, apply filters, choose the criteria to select stocks and invest. Pieces of software that automate processes in organizations are making managers and coordinators redundant. Marketing automation and creative software has already made many a marketing job unnecessary. So, while there is enormous scale and power available to some, there is huge disruption to others.

And, hold on to your seat belts, there is more disruption headed! Previously, when the industrial revolution took place (See picture below- courtesy a youtube video i saw), automobile, electricity and telephone were the technologies that almost happened simultaneously. The next big disruption they say is going to happen shortly (say experts) – given that blockchain, AI, robotics, energy storage, IOT, gene sequencing, electric/hydrogen fuel etc are all happening at the same time. I watched Bitcoin in disbelief, but the more I understand the applications of blockchain, things seem set to change rapidly and it seems true.

I guess, it all depends on where and how we position ourselves for change……..just a stream of thoughts that started from “search for Dishwashers” that i found on ET. But I do hope things work out ok for those affected by displacement.