Thursday, November 16, 2017

Was Reliance Jio introduction a BPR exercise in India ?

Business Process Reengineering is defined as the fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business processes to achieve dramatic improvements in critical measures of performance such as cost, quality, service and speed.(Hammer and Champy, 1993)
One of the big questions being asked these days is whether the recent introduction and success of Reliance Jio telecom was indeed a great re-engineering exercise or disruptive innovation ?

Disruptive innovation is a term in the field of business administration which refers to an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leading firms, products, and alliances.  - www.wikipedia.org

Prof. Christensen of Harvard Business School has this to say  about Jio introduction ..

The introduction of Reliance Jio was no doubt catastrophic, it resulted in loss of almost 75,000 jobs in the telecom industry and loss of business for the industry worth more than $700 billion, almost INR 50 lakh crores. (Malayala Manorama, 16 Nov, 2017) In spite of this huge economic and social shakeup of the telecom industry, it did bring benefits to the customer in terms of better technological infrastructure, advanced technology, lower costs, better service, overall resulting in delivering -higher value for the customers in the country.

Here are a few points being listed to support the argument that Reliance Jio qualifies to be termed as a very successful re-engineering exercise.

1. Fundamental rethinking - for telecom calls all this while we have been paying cash on a minute or second basis depending on whether the calls were local or across states inside a country. Reliance Jio has transformed that thinking, by reaffirming time and again that telecom calls within an area or within geographical boundaries within a country can indeed be FREE ..

2. Radical redesign - by making use of the latest technological developments like fibre optics cables to communicate using optics technology through cables laid on land and under the sea, the quantum of data that could be communicated has increased manifold.

3. Introduction of Advanced Modern Technology / methods : Adopting the latest 4G technology, though the technology was very nascent in the country. 4G mobile phones are offered at cheap rates. The advanced 4G technology has been implemented across the country much earlier than it has been accepted in many of the advanced nations of the world, it speaks enough of the performance aspects of BPR.

4. Effective Customer Service Network : Reliance Jio had already set up the needed sales and customer service networks through Reliance Digital stores and through a wide network of service and marketing personnel across the country, the push to reach the customers physically and through the media was very evident right from day one.

5. Promise of provision of auxilliary, related value added services : It gave great expectations in the customer by promising not only the needed bandwidth, fibre optics infrastructure and software functionality, it kept telling the public through the media about its extra spare capacity in its fibre optics cables and intention to start more high speed services like Broadband Internet and DTH services. This gave the reassurance to the customers that Reliance Jio was seriously intent on serving the customer with heavy investments in the country.

Having invested heavily in infrastructure there was no option to Reliance Jio but to give superior service to the customers and capture the market. The customers knew this and embraced Reliance Jio with open hands.

6. No negativity in actions and words : Reliance Jio never gave any negative news about how competitors were getting impacted by its presence in the market, but kept communicating to the people the benefits and privileges the customers would be entitled if Reliance Jio was accepted  as the primary communications network. This was a very positive move from Reliance Jio which endeared it to the masses.

6. Introduction of Low cost tariff plans : After the almost 9 months free usage period to woo customers, the release of new tariff plans to suit the rural customers pockets, even going down to about Rs 149 for a 30 day talk plan with minimal data, was very reassuring to the telecom subscribers of the country.

7. End to exploitation of customers : The constant thoughts within the customers/ minds on how all the telecom companies in the past were exploiting the customers with high and exhorbitant charges and poor service was at the back of the minds of the customers and they wanted to get released from this setback for ever.

8. Discounting future customer exploitation : Some of the customers did have the feeling and fears that Reliance Jio would give low charge plans initially to garner more subscribers and then increase the charges later on, thus virtually imprisoning customers to its networks were totally belied when Reliance Jio released its final tariff plans a month back, which were very reasonable.

9.  Providing great customer value : Reliance Jio never took up any negative advertising but instead only concentrated on providing great value to its customers. Customers across the country appreciated this Jio tactic very much with more Jio sims on their phones and porting existing numbers from other telecom service providers to Reliance Jio network.

10. Rewriting global telecom market cost parameters : Reliance Jio rewrote the market for voice calling in the world by making it totally free within the country and to be the first country in the world to offer such an offering.

11. Increased customer confidence : Overall customers were assured of the best technology, best customer service, affordable costs, FREE calling and low cost huge data usage of upto 1GB daily (and low speed thenceforth for the next few hours of the day till 2AM when plans rolled back to the initial stage), all added to the customers confidence in the company and its offering to the Indian public.

Having invested almost $33 billion in the most advanced Indian telecom network in India (not challenged yet by any telecom company in the any other part of the world, even in China or US), Reliance Jio has really set a one time total disruption of the telecom industry in India and the world.

Global telecom majors are now scared to invest in the country and the existing global players are looking for alliances and partnerships to stay afloat in India. The Indian customers do not need any more confidence building measures from Reliance Jio to assure them and are more than convinced that Reliance Jio is going to stay in the Indian market and will serve them well in the coming years.

To ensure Reliance Jio does not have a total monopoly in the telecom and data transmission markets, these foreign companies are kept surviving by the Indian public with good revenues and customer base so as not to have them exit the country.

The minimum time and dexterity with which this one-time technological disruption and radical change delivering high value to the customer at the lowest cost has been brought about in the smoothest way and shortest time period, indeed leaves no doubt in the minds of the Indian public that Reliance Jio introduction and disruption of the telecom market in India is a perfect example of Business Process Re-engineering at its best ..

Lets see whether the next BPR exercise in the country would come from within or would be implemented by an MNC .. This technological and commercial disruption of the telecom industry has been the biggest in the history of Independent India and for that matter anywhere in the world, and that adds more importance and weight to this exercise !

George Easaw

Ref : 1. Hammer, Micheal and James Champy, Re-engineering the Corporation - A manifesto for Business Revolution, Collins Business Essentials, 1993.

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