What businesses should learn from Mukesh Ambani`s Jio launch


Ambition, solid forethought, extensive planning and timing are the key constituents of Mukesh Ambani`s Jio launch.

Our country`s top billionaire industrialist has just launched his dream project set to impact the lives of more than a billion Indians- Reliance Jio. With years of rigourous preparation touching every nook and corner of the country, and with competitors guessing at the possible launch date, this mammoth project is up and running now!

With Reliance Jio aiming to cobble up 100 million subscribers in “record time” as against the current mobile internet subscriber base of 150 million in the entire country, this launch has sent shivers down the spines of the major telecom operators of the nation.

There are a couple of key lessons that can learnt from this “larger than life” launch of Reliance Jio:

Think big and execute on the ground- Reliance has always been known for its disruptive thinking and relentless execution, since the time of Dhirubhai Ambani. It's no different this time with free voice calls, zero roaming charges, unlimited data for users at night, data costs at one fifth of industry standards, and cheaper handsets. They do not intend to be just “another” player in the market, but are armed with a clear vision and solid targets- how many subscribers do they need to acquire in the next couple of quarters? What is the targeted average revenue per user within the next 12 months of commercial operations? And so on.

"This is the lowest data pricing in the world."   -Mukesh Ambani

Industry experts are already claiming that this might sound a death knell for other smaller players in the market given Jio’s aggressiveness and rock-bottom pricing.

Disruption (Building entry barriers)– The groundwork and preparations for this launch have been in the making for almost six years, since Reliance bought a company that had won pan-India 4G airwaves in 2010. They made substantial investments in tower to fibre technology in the last couple of years, keeping in mind the “data-play” as against the standard “voice-play”. With the announcement of strategic “free” voice calls on its network, they are leveraging their strength on the data side. It might take some time, several years possibly, before other players are able to catch up with Reliance on the data side.

This has definitely disrupted the industry by putting a lot of pressure on the existing players to realign their strategy with the new industry norm and acclimatise with new customer expectations.

Alternate channels of revenues- Lyf phones are being offered at very low prices so that consumers have a cheaper option to reap the benefits of the plans rolled out by Reliance Jio. It will certainly increase the sales of these handsets and will give another lever to the company to monitor customer preferences and roll out other offers. Reliance is trying to create stickiness around customer loyalty by getting them to use their smartphones.

Mission - Reliance plans to roll out apps around subjects like education, health, rural livelihood and agriculture with a mission to take the digital experience to the remotest corners of India. Every business should have a mission as its core reason of existence, and every employee in the company should work towards it.

"No doubt all of us operators will compete vigourously in the market. We will inspire each other to rise to greater heights while doing so. Incumbent operators have significant advantages over new entrants since incumbents have well established networks. Healthy competition is the lifeblood of a vibrant economy; it’s the engine that drives innovation and customer value. Today, I set a target for team JIO to acquire 100 million customers on the JIO network in the shortest possible time and create a new world record,"

- Mukesh Ambani at Reliance AGM

Inorganic growth opportunities- Reliance Jio has launched a Reliance Jio Digital India startup fund to promote entrepreneurship in the digital space and invest in businesses that are creating or have the potential to create disruption in the industry. Businesses (whenever they can afford to) should continuously look out for collaboration or acquisition opportunities, as it is not always possible to breed innovation at home and acquiring disruptive ideas may turn out to be value accretive for the company in the long run (Need I mention Yahoo’s stake in Alibaba?).

To paraphrase Mukesh Ambani’s words at the Reliance AGM:

"I invite you to come and be this change together. My dear shareholders, we are meeting at a momentous time in India's history."

Disclaimer - I do not hold any Reliance group shares


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