We have seen 20 times growth in Internet consumption in India: Rajan Anandan

Rajan Anandan on winning the IMPACT Person of the Year award, the scale at which Internet users are growing in India and new consumer behaviour trends

by exchange4media Staff
Published - Dec 8, 2018 10:24 AM Updated: Dec 8, 2018 10:24 AM
Rajananandan

Rajan Anandan, Vice President, Southeast Asia and India, Google, took home the IMPACT Person of the Year 2018 Award, instituted by the exchange4media group to recognise excellence in the advertising, media and marketing domain.

He won the award for driving Internet adoption across India, especially in Tier II and Tier III towns, through several initiatives including ‘Navlekha’, Google’s platform for users in India who are not conversant with English, ‘Internet Saathi’, an initiative to bring more rural women online, and the Indian Railways high-speed Wi-Fi project, providing free Wi-Fi to consumers at railway stations across the country. He has also been responsible for accelerating innovation in India and Southeast Asia for Google. Under Anandan’s leadership, the company saw its profits increase from Rs 306.6 crore in 2016-17 to Rs 407.2 crore in 2017-18, with a total turnover of Rs 9,337.7 crore.

Watch Anandan's speech here and scroll down to read: 

Commenting on his win, Anandan said the recognition isn’t about him but about the incredible Internet users in India. “It’s very humbling to win this award. I congratulate all the other nominees. But this recognition isn’t about me. It’s a recognition for the incredible Internet users in India and the recognition of the amazing products that Google has and of the amazing team at Google as well as the ecosystem partners we have been fortunate to work with. From the bottom of my heart, I’m truly appreciative of being at Google,” he said.

Anandan remarked that India is at an interesting time when it comes technology.

“When it comes to consumer Internet, what we are seeing in India is unparalleled; something that we haven’t seen in the history of Internet. We have witnessed a scale of growth and consumer behaviours that we haven’t seen before. And this makes it very exciting. There are 400 million Internet users in India and we’re adding 8-10 million Internet users every month. As data is becoming more affordable, all of these users are spending more time online," he explained.

Anandan shared that the average consumption per user per month has crossed 10 gigabytes. “Two and a half years ago, that number was less than one. So we’ve seen 20x growth in Internet consumption."

Shedding light on the emerging Internet user behaviour, he said it is largely being driven by voice. “The new Internet user wants to speak to the Internet and doesn’t want to type.” He revealed that India has the highest online video market in the world and also pointed out how going vernacular is another trend the brand has taken note of.

“There are over 300 million online video users with watch time growing rapidly. And users today prefer accessing the Internet in their local language,” Anandan added.

Making a case for what Internet is doing for the masses, Anandan spoke about how it is enabling world-class facilities at their fingertips. “What excites me the most is what Internet is enabling for the real India. Today, there is an app that uses AI to deliver world-class diagnostics even in the most tiny, remote villages. People can also easily get access to education with many online courses and programmes at their disposal.”

Speaking about Internet Saathi, Google’s initiative to bridge the online gender divide in India, he said, “As we started working on it, we learnt that only 10 per cent Internet users in rural area were women. The digital gender divide in rural India was worst.”

Anandan acknowledged that this stemmed from constraints such as no access to smartphones, societal pressure and lack of understanding of what Internet could do for them. Google decide to give them a smartphone and show them how to use the Internet apart from giving them a stipend, he said. In the process, they trained over 20 million women. Through this initiative, he shared, Google gathered insights on what these women actually wanted.  

“They want to get access to education for their families, they want to know how they can make more money and want healthcare of their families. Internet is bringing the best of the world to India and is extra-ordinarily relevant to India,” he asserted.

Anandan shared how the power of the Internet converted some of these 'internet saathis' into rural entrepreneurs. He highlighted how they didn’t know what Internet was able to do for them. But as they learnt how to start a business, they started making 10 times more than what they did earlier.

He left the audience with an interesting question. “I want you’ll to think where would India be when every single Indian will be online?”.

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