To start it on a positive note, let me say that e-commerce in India has really changed the way we transact – buying merchandises online (a part of the credits also go to the group buying concept), booking travel tickets online, making hotel reservations, etc. And then just like people who pitch-in to investors, we talk about how the lives of consumers have changed for better on account of e-commerce, how lucrative the e-commerce market is, its growth prospects, blah blah blah. However, amid all these we have been missing one important thing – what about the industries which are being displaced on account of rapid growth of e-commerce in?Accidentally, I came across one such industry when I was at Mumbai International Airport to receive a friend. At the main exit gate of this airport, one shall find several hotel agents who approach travelers and inquire if they require a hotel. Typically, each of these agents represent a hotel which is in close proximity to the airport. They send these travelers to the hotel and in return are paid a commission for that. This was a flourishing industry before the online ticket reservations and booking hotels online picked up in India. It’s not always that you book a hotel before you leave to catch the flight; and not all travels are planned. Right? Since my friend’s flight was running a bit late, I got enough time to converse with one of these travel agents. This travel agent mentioned during our conversation that before online hotel booking caught up, everyday each of these agents used to get at least 3-4 customers. But times have changed now. Travelers are now booking tickets right away before they leave to catch up the flight. If not that, there is something more out there. They can take out their cell-phones and book tickets right away. Isn’t it great? Yes, it is – for the customer, for the travel industry as a whole, for the e-commerce market! But what about all those agents who used to make a living out of referring hotels to the travelers on the airports.
I believe there is something for us to learn from these agents. Technology is quite capable of taking your prime business activity on a toss. So, take out some time out of your business activities periodically and think if there is a possibility or even a distant possibility of technology capable of playing a major role in your present business activity. Are you ready for the change that it shall bring in the way the transactions happen in your business? If yes, you’re on the right track. If not, get ready to embrace the technology or else it might displace your source of livelihood. Think of ways in which you can leverage technology to do business.
Changes that technology brings in, are not always “all good, no bad” for everyone!