Several’s of the world’s biggest multinationals have, over the decades, made India one of their most important markets, whether it is in fast-moving consumer goods, or financial services. Some, like Coca-Cola, have left India and returned. However, over the past few years, the Indian corporate playing field is witnessing the dominance of a different kind of multinational. The return of the global multinational to the top of India’s corporate consciousness is now marked by the dominance of tech giants like Amazon, Walmart, and Microsoft, together with the likes of Google and Facebook. It’s a trend which is growing, and with cheap data and the rise of smartphones powering consumerism and tech-led innovation, it’s a new India which is fast emerging.
Our cover story on the rapid growth of the Jeff Bezos-founded Amazon in India is one such example of a global tech giant which has now made India a major market for itself. Add to that Bezos’ deep pockets and aggression and you have a giant which is clear in its plan for dominance in the Indian marketplace and knows how to get it. The acquisition of Amazon India’s arch rival Flipkart last year, by global retail giant Walmart, has made this battle even more interesting. In our Move of the Year issue in January, we analysed why the Flipkart acquisition, despite its high price tag and the policy uncertainties surrounding Indian e-commerce, made eminent sense for Walmart. In this issue, Fortune India’s Deepti Chaudhary takes you through the Amazon India game plan at a time when the government has just put in place major tweaks to the policies governing e-commerce companies. Despite the fact that many, like e-commerce veteran K. Ganesh, see the new restrictions on the sector as a body blow for such firms in India, Amazon India boss Amit Agarwal tells Chaudhary that the global giant continues to remain focussed on the “three pillars” of Amazon’s mission—offering customers access to large selections, providing them value, and fast and reliable delivery. Clearly, Amazon India’s game plan is to move beyond plain e-commerce and bring in a little bit of Amazon in the customer’s daily life—be it through the range of products on its platform, the Amazon Prime offering (powered in good measure by video and music) and innovations. Regulatory uncertainties notwithstanding, Agarwal, who is part of Bezos’ core team, knows only too well that India is a vital battleground for Amazon.
Elsewhere in this issue, Ashish Gupta travels to Hyderabad to take a deep dive into Microsoft’s sprawling India Development Center (MSIDC) where the global tech giant is busy rolling out some cutting edge innovations, technology which is aimed at not just powering innovations but also facilitating inclusion.
Whether it is an app like Kaizala designed to enhance collaboration and communication in enterprises, or artificial intelligence, Microsoft’s mission of digital transformation across sectors is finding shape in a number of ways at the MSIDC.
This issue also brings you Fortune’s annual list of the World’s Most Admired Companies, the much-awaited line-up of corporate role models. Fortune polled 3,750 executives, directors and analysts to come up with this year’s list. Apple tops the list for the 12th straight year, while Amazon features at No. 2 and Microsoft at No. 6, with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella figuring as the most underrated chief executive. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is the most overrated.
Read more in the March issue. On stands and online: https://amzn.to/2BWVw70