Reliance Industries, Mahindra & Mahindra, Godrej Group among companies leading digital business innovation globally


These companies have disrupted existing business models through new technology and have leapfrogged their global counterparts in many ways. 

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in its annual Digital Business Revolution report has identified 17 Indian corporations that are leading digital innovation in the country as well as worldwide.

Top among them are Godrej Consumer Products, Sun Pharmaceuticals, Mahindra Group and Reliance Industries. BCG stated that these companies, what it calls “digital leapfrogs”, have “achieved their leadership positions by leapfrogging their developed-market counterparts and disrupting existing business models.”

One-third of the 100 largest 'unicorn companies' are from emerging markets.
Image: BCG

India, meanwhile, was the second most-represented country after China — which has 25 companies — on the ‘Global Challengers’ list of 100. Things driving India’s strong representation are its vast consumer class and its impressive GDP growth (seventh-highest in the world) that is predicted to reach 7.4 percent in 2018.

Indian companies have an access to a heavily digital consumer base in India: the number of online shoppers in India has been growing 45 percent annually, which is the second-highest after Indonesia (66 percent). Digitally influenced spending in India is estimated to grow to $500 billion by 2025, according to BCG.

“Indian consumers also have the highest readiness and openness to innovation worldwide: 85 percent of survey respondents reported likeliness to ride in a self-driving car—compared to ~ 30 percent in Europe and the USA,” the report revealed.

Sharad Verma, Senior Partner & Managing Director, BCG said:

“The Indian market contains one of the world’s last remaining pools of high demographic and economic growth, which the global challengers can access with efficiency and value-based productivity while developing digitally enabled workforces and leveraging collaboration in digital ecosystems.”

However, only three percent of “unicorn companies” are from India, which is much lower than China’s 33 percent. “The 17 Indian challengers have experienced tremendous revenue growth: four times more than S&P 500 companies and keeping margin levels high in the last five years,” BCG stated.

Firms leading digital innovation

About half of the corporations leading the digital transformation race are in the industrial goods and manufacturing, healthcare and technology-media-telecom (TMT) sectors. To win digital, these companies use a combination of business model innovation, digitally-enabled functions, digital customer journeys and engagement.

Reliance Industries-backed Reliance Jio, for instance, built an extremely low-cost network with costs less than half its competitors’. “The result is a high-quality mobile network that has gained about a 15 percent market share and carries some 1.7 billion gigabytes of data traffic every month (the highest rate in the world) at the lowest prices in the world — 0.05 rupees/MB,” BCG stated.

Godrej Consumer Products, on the other hand, uses advanced analytics for better sales decision-making. It is also building “cutting-edge salesforce capabilities” through technology-enabled learning.

Another Indian innovator, Sun Pharma, has launched a “first-of-its-kind mobile application” to connect doctors and patients.

The $19 billion Mahindra Group is leveraging IoE (Internet of Everything) to reduce shop-floor changeover time and tracking manufacturing in real time. It allows them to significantly improve output quality. To make the most of the sharing economy, Mahindra & Mahindra, a leader in the automotive sector, has launched two startups: Trringo, which is known as ‘Uber for tractors’ and SmartShift, a platform that pools small commercial trucks for sharing.


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