VS Sudhakar of BigBasket, Krishna Kumar of Simplilearn and Ramakant Sharma of Livspace shed light on the way retail, education, jobs as well as online shopping would change and how the younger generation would need to adapt.
They made the observation in a series of candid talks with students of Bennett University and the dean of students welfare, Milind Padalkar, on the second day of the freshers’ welcome week celebrations.
Bennett University is part of The Times of India Group that also publishes The Economic Times.
Kumar, the founder and CEO of Simplilearn, said though the Covid-19 pandemic made companies question whether they needed physical office spaces, many other changes that will affect the future of work were already brewing in the background.
“The salary arbitrage in the world is going away,” said Kumar, referring to the fact that Simplilearn employs people both in the United States and India.
“Why can’t it happen in future that many large companies will decide that they can hire anywhere in the world? This will put a lot of stress on cities, which rely on attracting good people with high paying jobs to grow,” he said.
Another topic of discussion was how fresh graduates today had to continually hone their skills through their working lives.
While many people see this as a negative, Kumar pointed out that it was not about individuals needing to relearn things from scratch, it was just about adding a new skill every few years, which is becoming easier with online courses these days.
Sharma of Livspace said these changes were driven by need, which he saw in the early days of the ecommerce industry in India while at Myntra.
Sharma founded Livspace after being unable to find a good interior design service that could set up his home after he relocated to India from the United States.
To be successful, Sharma said, one has to predict the needs of customers.
“It’s kind of a circular loop. We start with anticipating demand and sometimes ready demand is not there,” Sharma said.
There is also a supply problem in India, he said, adding this was one of the things that he had learnt over the last 15 years of being at the forefront of India’s internet economy. BigBasket cofounder and chairman VS Sudhakar concurred with Sharma, adding that people’s mindsets have to change.
On being asked how ecommerce could replace the experience of touch and feel, he said that while online retail will always lack that feature, consumers could be swayed to change their behaviour with superior service.
“One of the things we did on Day One at Big-Basket is we had fruits and vegetables in our catalogue. You can call this category the epitome of what you would want to touch and feel. But today, 70% of our orders have fruits and vegetables, and about 75% of our customers buy vegetables online,” Sudhakar said.
Today’s generation will see a lot more changes in their lifetimes, be it electric cars, autonomous vehicles or other things that cannot be imagined now, he said, adding, however, that they would cope well with the changing world.