On September 22, 2014, Alibaba went public and smashed records of all kinds. Its initial public offering now ranks as the world’s biggest at $25 billion and propelled its founder Jack Ma to become China’s richest person. Alibaba’s spectacular debut at the markets has raised hopes for the Indian online industry, which is now riding the growth curve. So why Alibaba’s debut IPO has gained so much focus? The Chinese giant is valued at $231.4 billion, which is not even the combined market capitalization of the top three most valuable Indian companies Tata Consultancy Services, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and Reliance Industries Limited. Clearly, there is a lot of money riding on the online company.
E-commerce, as an industry, has gained prominence in the past 10 years. The online retail industry in India is leading the e-commerce growth as they cash in on the increasing number of internet users. According to the latest available figures, India has 243 million Internet users, which is more than the US but less than China. Online retail, which is worth $3.1 billion, or just 0.6 per cent of the overall retail market in India, is expected to surge to $22 billion over the next five years, according to a November 2013 report by brokerage CLSA.
The prime reason for the growth of the industry is increased internet connectivity and rising affordability of mobiles and tablets. Even banking transactions have become much more simpler, with both private and public sector banks launching apps and making the digital platform a seamless experience. In India, e-commerce majors like Flipkart and Snapdeal are leading the digital revolution and are likely to attract more investments in the next two to three years as they are already gearing up for the expansion mode.
What is understated in the online story growth is the people part. As the e-commerce industry gains more traction, talent flocks to the industry on the promise of better salaries, innovative working practices and the learnings of a new industry. Our cover story “Talent is logging in. Are you?” talks about how after funding human capital is going to be the next big differentiator. With increased funding, e-commerce companies are investing it in their people, the same people who bring in more innovation and in turn get more capital. This is a formula that other companies would do well to use.
For the Big Interview section this time, we have Uday Kotak, where he talks about his life experiences, how he came to set up Kotak Mahindra Bank and why he likes hiring entrepreneurs. In other stories, we have a special story on B-Schools, where we explore if the Central government move to introduce new IIMs in every state will become detrimental to the growth of non-IIM B-schools in the country. We also have a special feature on the role of the Chief Learning Officer. People Matters, in collaboration with the global talent management and career management workforce solutions company, Right Management conducted a pan-industry study among 83 CEOs, CHROs, and practicing CLOs in Indian corporations to explore the future of this role.
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Esther Martinez Hernandez