I wake up every morning with a strong sense of urgency that we are behind.
The rate of change is so rapid that the very principles of Moore’s law fall short. Digital, virtual and augmented reality, not too long ago, were future capabilities. Now, they’re part of our daily lives. I would add to that list robotics, artificial intelligence, intelligence augmentation and autonomous vehicles (self-navigation).
Exponential technology is driving many societal changes and advancements that are altering playing fields, rules and regulations. We are starting to see this shift in the West as it has already shifted economies in Asia and Africa.
The area of technological advancement which is most disruptive to The Coca-Cola Company is the continued emergence of mobile payments: both eCommerce (future consumption) and cashless (immediate consumption) transactions.
According to McKinsey and Company, more than a billion people in emerging and developing markets have cell phones but do not have access to, nor can afford to have, bank accounts.
The Asia Pacific region is expected to surpass North America as the world’s largest market for eCommerce sales this year. Cashless transactions in Vietnam are projected to double, to $1.3 billion, and grow by 35 percent in India. China’s eCommerce market is expected to grow by 65 percent.
Africa for many years has led in the cashless payments space due to the lack of a financial infrastructure. They have been quick adopters of cashless payments, and we are seeing the same trends in other continents. When it comes to mobile payments, the East continues to lead the way for the West.
Coke has been at the forefront of this disruption for many years, but with our reach and our resources we can become the global catalyst in mobile payments and mobile consumer retention technology.
Acting alone, no one can shape by themselves the evolution of mobile commerce technologies, e-marketing strategies and global/regional/local regulations. Coke has the relationships with banks, mobile operators and technology companies globally. Through our stakeholders, we can help to develop a mobile commerce ecosystem to remove the friction of having to carry cash and using a phone in one hand to put a Coke in the other.
In order for Coke to remain relevant with the next generation of consumers we must crack the code through the unique combination of local innovation, proven technology and a great deal of calculated risk.
The solution lies in creating a widely accepted and secure platform that is consistently regulated and maintained for diverse and divergent markets. Navigation has to have many social dimensions; in certain markets simplicity is the answer and in others sophistication and excitement prevails. It must stimulate a desire to return, provide gaming capabilities and positive experiences.
We need common data standards and global governance models led by companies and forums which can then be enabled by the IT function. The costs for these designs at one time varied significantly from continent to continent. However, we are seeing normalisation from a cost perspective as skills and capabilities are growing globally. There will always be new entrant disruptive platforms, but the cycle time to obtain global skills and capabilities for these platforms has decreased.
We have built cashless payment business models to help us serve our customers through these mediums in several of our markets. As this model continues to evolve, there have been barriers as banks try to protect their transaction base. Lax government regulations that were lagging are now coming to life. We should embrace this change and see this as an opportunity to continue to shape and influence the market.
This year the world will enjoy 2 billion servings of Coca-Cola products daily and consumers will spend $2 billion using mobile payments on their mobile devices daily. We will soon welcome 2 billion additional entrants to the middle class which will exponentially increase mobile transactions. This evolution has dramatic implications for both consumers and businesses.
Exponential times call for embracing challenges, expecting changes and agile integration models. This is today’s technological foot print and the future of Coke and the ever-changing future of our universe. Therefore, we must continue to anticipate the future.
Javier Polit is chief information officer for The Coca-Cola Company’s Bottling Investments Group (BIG).
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