3G is changing lives in Pakistan – For Better or for Worse?
As Pakistan is now embracing the 3G landscape, the era of high-speed wireless internet connectivity is finally upon us. With internet becoming increasingly available and accessible, it is expected that developing countries like Pakistan will also begin the transition to a knowledge-based economy, similar to how developed economies have experienced dramatic disruptions in their economy. For example, industries such as education, medicine, retail as well as voice services have altered their business and delivery models to gain more efficiency and traction with consumers via the internet.
The true power of disruption dawns upon us when we examine trends like how online education, tele-health, e-commerce and voice calls through Skype and Google Hangouts are rapidly booming and gaining traction. The specter of traditional industries has completely transformed and it is safe to say that it will never be the same again. The internet, by completely changing the nature of communication altogether, is rapidly opening up new frontiers in the global economy and positively impacting economic and GDP growth. Online businesses are fast establishing themselves as the norm and corporations that are not whole-heartedly embracing the digital age find themselves at a serious competitive disadvantage.
The proliferation of smartphones and tablets amongst the population is also increasing at unprecedented levels as low-cost devices running on Google Android make them affordable and accessible. Job creation, which is one of the most important indicators of economic development, has also increased rapidly, particularly in the areas of software development, web services, digital media management and app development. With 2.8 billion smartphones in use globally, there is tremendous demand for 3rd party apps that support the ecosystems of Android and iOS, resulting in ‘startup’ companies being valued in billions of dollars just through successful implementation of innovative apps or other services. The changing nature of business is therefore directly related to the changing nature of communication and interaction; gone are the times when visits to physical stores are needed to purchase goods and services. Man can retreat into the comfortable environs of his home, safe in the knowledge that technology connecting him to the rest of society is just a few clicks of his smartphone away.
E-commerce is another significant ripple effect that is a result of disruption in the retail sector. Stores that operate in cyberspace alone have lower overheads as they do not have to invest in retail space, sales employees and other operating expenditure. It is also more convenient for consumers as they can browse through a large number of products without having to leave their homes. E-commerce companies such as Daraz.pk are hedging on the expectation that increasing internet connectivity will lead to a spike in online shopping – trends that are already being witnessed in developed parts of the world.
The speed with which the internet has shaped the lives of ordinary people is astonishing when we realize that it has only been around for approximately two decades. We live in a world where being devoid of internet connectivity is actually a frightening concept and can have immense negative ramifications. However, what is clear is that the true potential of the internet is just beginning to reveal itself – this powerful platform is well and truly here to stay.