MUMBAI: Reliance Jio Infocomm has started a training program in small and medium businesses for undergraduates. Vodafone India is offering career counselling services while Bharti Airtel NSE 1.08 % is asking students to participate in business simulation case studies. Instead of pitching for the GenNext subscribers via price plans, mobile phone operators are trying to win the customers and revenue game by coming up with services to attract and retain the data guzzling youth brigade.
“Operators can either maintain market share or create a new segment. The former is difficult with the tariff wars, so telcos are trying to engage with the youth who are the largest data consumers,” said Hemant M Joshi, partner-technology, media and telecommunications,
Deloitte India. “Telcos want to become a lifestyle brand like leading soda companies and are using different approaches beyond the regular price plans to attract the youth,” said Joshi.
According to market research firm Statista, about 67% of internet users in India will belong to the under-35 age bracket by 2020.
Vodafone India has said it will provide career guidance and access to training content in the digital economy for up to five million youth in India. This reskilling program was part of a global offering and the telco said it had worked with specialist psychologists, careers advisers and training providers to develop a smartphone-based service. Called the Future Jobs Finder, the service is likely to help the youth understand the skills needed for a digital economy.
Targeting the same segment, Jio launched a five-week training program for undergraduate students this year. The operator started the course in May, where eligible students could interact with small and medium businesses (SMB) to understand how newer technologies can impact them. About 35,000 students from 800 cities applied for it.
According to a telecom analyst, who did not want to be named, the feedback from these students will help Jio understand the digital needs of these small-scale industries and this information can be used to improve their enterprise offerings. Also, the students are trained on products that are available on Jio’s platform and therefore, becomes a great way to connect with small scale businesses, For Bharat Bhargava, partner, telecom advisory services for EY, these programs will help the mobile phone operators engage with the youth and remain invested in the next generation.
“India is a young country and typically youth are early adopters. Given the operators’ desire to expand their play in the value chain, this segment becomes important for them,” said Bhargava.
Airtel has campus programs in B schools called iCreate where live case studies are rolled out and students get to work on their decision making skills through these business simulation games conducted across the country. Although FMCG firms have been conducting case study competitions for some time, for telecom players this is new. The war for subscribers is peaking in the industry, and a tariff war is not making the cut.
While Airtel has about 330 million customers, Idea and Vodafone will together have 433 million, once their merger is completed in a few days. Less than two-year-old Jio has more than 186 million subscribers already, which makes the battle tough for the incumbents.