According to a recent report by IAMAI-IMRB, the number of Internet users in India could cross 450 million by June this year (this number is greater than the entire population of the USA, to put it in perspective). But while this growth is certainly a pan-India phenomenon, it is hardly uniform. Urban India has close to 60% Internet penetration, reflecting a level of saturation; but there are still potentially about 750 million users in rural India, who are yet to become Internet users.
Understanding the nature and drivers for Internet adoption in various Indian geographies is crucial to drive optimal Internet growth. This is the major objective behind our ‘Digital Desh Drive 4: Focus Northeast’ that aims to prove and disprove assumptions about Internet usage and Internet users in North East India.
The previous Digital Desh drives focussed largely on the rest of India yielded some remarkable insights. There are, of course, some trends that are universal. Small and local businesses are adopting smartphones across all verticals and locations. The most popular domain extension, by far, is .com; preferred by 79% of the SMBs in India. Across India, the key driver for Internet adoption is customer engagement. The ability to connect instantly with customers is an important motivation.
In 2015, we compiled our “Inside the Internet of India” report on how small and medium businesses in India are adopting technology. The inputs, gathered via a 7500-km drive across 24 cities, showed that Internet adoption and usage varies based on region, culture and, most importantly, connectivity. Tier III Indian cities are the largest adopters of smartphones and PCs for communicating with customers, managing business data and accounting related activities.
India’s North East has tremendous potential as an important investment destination and a centre for trade and business. Given that Internet penetration and usage is an important indicator of future growth, we aim to gauge the extent of digital literacy in the North-East region through our ‘Digital Desh Drive 4: Focus Northeast’ initiative. By the end of this project we hope to be able to scope the market, assess areas that require improvement, assess technology adoption and usage patterns and identify areas that require improvement.
The writer, Jasminder Singh Gulati is co-founder & CEO, NowFloats