How Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries is digging ‘data’ – the new oil

Mumbai: This is, what Reliance Industries chairman and MD Mukesh Ambani had said about ‘data’ for the first time addressing an industry forum in 2017.

“The foundation of the fourth industrial revolution is connectivity and data. Data is the new natural resource. We are at the beginning of an era where data is the new oil.”

Since Reliance Industries is a global player in the oil and gas sector and not a technology company, many experts and analysts were trying to decode and analyze Ambani’s statement on data in terms of his business plans.

By then, a part of Ambani’s statement, ‘data is the new oil’ – actually had become very popular among business heads and CXOs across industries.

Interestingly, Ambani’s statement was simple and straight forward, yet it had a cryptic message highlighting a new vision he had foreseen for his business empire in the future.

Although, it was publicly known that Ambani’s Reliance Industries has forayed into the telecom market under a new entity, Reliance Jio launched in December 2015. What was not known then, was the big business plans about Jio’s 4G (fourth generation broadband wireless cellular network technology) capabilities in the future.

Jio, in simple terms was a new age mobile telephony company, which had high-speed internet as the center piece around which the communication services are offered.

And when, there’s an internet based telco, it invariably will generate huge data volumes and the communication services layer on top would further add data through its massive networks and users.

That exactly, how Jio’s services have been rolled out, starting with internet based mobile services in September 2016 which offered free calling and 4G high speed internet among other features.

These made Jio very popular among mobile users to such an extent that other private telcos including Airtel, Aditya Birla Group‘s Idea and Idea-Vodafone lost their subscribers to Jio and their business revenue fell sharply. And also led to a non-ending tariff and data plan war among these telcos.

Today, Jio already has crossed over a million mark in terms of subscriber base across India.

And now after three years, Jio has launched its fiber-to-home (FTH) this September. This is likely to take home based broadband services to a new level as it is luring customers not just with high-speed internet and huge speedy data downloads at affordable rates but it will also offer direct-to-home (DTH) based satellite tv services with free 4K TV sets.

After these telcos, now Jio’s new service offering is likely to hit the DTH players in India including TataSky, Airtel and others.

This is how Jio is actually digging consumer data, which Ambani calls the new natural resource. In a way, all these service offerings from Jio will lead to create a huge data foundation in next few years and would come handy in other business plans as well.

For instance, Reliance Industries’ new multi-format retail business arm Reliance Retail could leverage Jio’s expanding networks and customer base in the future and that such possibilities can’t be ruled out.

With the expanding pool of consumer data, Reliance Industries has been preparing itself for new data-driven business models and decision making, leveraging data analytics, artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies.

Over the years, the company have set up R&D (research and development) centers across the country and also has several R&D partnerships with various tech educational institutes in India and abroad.

In fact, Reliance Industries’ new business initiatives, whether it be Jio or Reliance Retail are entirely different than its traditional, core oil and gas business. Basically, Reliance Industries has expanded itself into the consumers space – the B2C ( business to consumer category) business, along with the traditional B2B (business to business category).

In all, Reliance Industries today has not only built a huge chemical empire globally, where data remains an integral part in exploring natural resources, be it underneath the ground or water.

But now Reliance Industries is leveraging consumer data through its internet and telecom business, which has become a new natural resource for Ambani’s future business plans.

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