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Dear Members:

It is my privilege to lead the IMC Chamber of Commerce and Industry at a very important juncture in the history of Indian business. The future success of Indian business and trade depends upon what business leaders do in the next 6 to 24 months because the world is moving inexorably into what many experts describe as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Indian businesses need to position themselves quickly to benefit from it rather than lose out as they did in the first three Industrial Revolutions. We did not come on top in those 260 years. This time around we need to fight the battle with innovation and technology to earn our rightful place not only in international trade but also in the growing domestic market which is now open to global players with efficient digital supply chains and also unprecedented access to market insights and buyer profiles thanks to analytics.

While technology is driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution, there is another turbulent current sweeping across the globe. Human frailties are creating new political equations which seem to encourage nationalism in place of globalisation. Globalisation could have benefitted humanity at large, especially emerging countries like India which have cost advantages, workforce which can be deployed at scale, and astute business leaders now supported by a Government that seems to understand how to balance the interests of business, workmen and farmers, and the environment. Fortunately, today, India’s growing economy where the per capita income is also steadily rising, is too large and attractive for any other country to ignore.

On the flipside, growing nationalism in world can, not just limit market access for exportable goods and services but also block access to technology and rare materials which are essential. This is already being played out. In some sense, this would have been a déjà vu for the founders of IMC if they were to visit us today. In the early years after they founded the IMC in 1907, they fought valiantly to help Indian owned businesses to overcome the disadvantages imposed on them during the Colonial times. IMC Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to help businesses in India succeed in today’s environment which is a heady mix of opportunities and challenges. My theme for the year is ‘Helping You Succeed’. If you succeed, industry and business will succeed, thus India will succeed.

However, for you to succeed you have to fully understand how the digital revolution is going to play out in your industry. The Digital Age started nearly 30 years ago. You succeeded despite either only partially embracing digital technology or in spite of completely ignoring all things digital. Why can’t this happy state continue? It can’t continue because one more thing has happened more recently. The coming together of the triumvirate- Smart Phones, more advanced digital technologies and the internet, has disrupted the six fundamental things that touch you and me., viz. Food, Clothing, Housing, Education, Entertainment and Travel & Hospitality. The way we go about buying or using those services has fundamentally changed due to technology. All kinds of new businesses have sprung up and have disrupted the old businesses that did not change.

It is logical that all the businesses upstream and downstream of these 6 sectors were next in line for digital disruption; which means most businesses on earth. Not surprisingly a survey of 1900 global CEOs done last year revealed that 60% of the CEOs felt that their businesses will get disrupted by 2020 unless they transform their business, look at new business models, etc. That is the stark reality.

Travel and tourism is one of the largest business sectors in the world and it had deeply entrenched players with long history of success. Along came Microsoft who created a travel portal twenty years ago. Very soon, that portal, Expedia became the largest travel agency in the world. Today you also use Trivago, Travelocity, Orbitz, Hotels.com, Hotwire, CheapTickets and eBookers, among others. They are not competitors of Expedia, but more web businesses created by Microsoft.

You have to be wary of competitors coming in from outside your industry. They will eat your lunch if you don’t act swiftly. Most people would have seen and expected digital technology killing the photo films business but how many saw the fact that smart phone makers would sell more cameras than tradition camera makers?

IMC is committed to invest time and effort to help its members visualise what lies ahead, recognise that what helped members succeed in the past may not be the drivers of success tomorrow, and understand the solutions available.

We are going to focus on the success of our members and do a few very important things so that we can deliver results in a reasonable time frame. We have started exposing our members to digital disruptions that would happen in India by getting the leaders of the world’s top digital technology developers to provide insights to them. This will go on throughout the next year or so because we want our members to succeed in the digital age and not become victims.

We recognise the importance of getting the senior team below you to be part of your journey of change. To this end, we intend to permit 4 people senior persons from each corporate member to come to IMC to partake of the benefits of such initiatives.

IMC itself will be going through an overhaul of its digital infrastructure so that we can serve our members efficiently and so that it becomes much more convenient for our members to avail of the services provided by IMC.

IMC will strive to not merely provide advocacy for its members on various policy issues as always, but it will also help the Government and the City of Mumbai through the knowledge and experience that exists in its expert committees.

I request members to proactively seek IMC’s help because we are committed to your success in this world where everything seems to be changing rapidly. We want to help you to use this volatility, the various disruptive changes, etc. to win big time rather than be a meek defender with low ambition.

There is an appropriate quote attributed by some people to Michel Angelo. The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.

Thank you

Mr.Raj Nair
President, IMC Chamber of Commerce and Industry