Why go after the Void?

“This article was initially published by Pranab, Co-founder and CEO at Konexaa, one of our clients after we helped them to expand their business to Indonesia.”

It is fascinating to see how professor @Tarun Khanna, Director of South Asia Institute at Harvard University terms business gaps as ‘institutional voids’ in emerging markets.

Along those lines, I believe ‘voids’ are the loopholes in any service offering. The Foundation of any business service is the potential gaps that we can address and provide solutions to. The term ‘institutional void’ can be compared to the lesson taught to me over and over again by my surf coach- ‘Analyze the Riptide’. ‘Riptide’ appears to be a gap that is formed due to the formation of the currents onshore which pulls you right into the ocean which can be fatal. I believe business in emerging markets is such. These voids make it extremely difficult for customers to maneuver around these riptides.

This is an opportunity for business services to address solution offerings that can eliminate this pitfall or the hurdle of overcoming this struggle. Businesses addressing these voids act as a foundational bridge for other business/enterprise service offerings. This intends to develop a community that enables commerce and strengthens itself as the exchange of services flourish- this ecosystem also widens your target audience and customer funnel.

The service established also sets standards for new entrants into these ecosystems as these are the voids that they can work on and improvise on existing standards.

Take, for instance, one of the services provided by my company is an ultra-portable Tele ECG device that syncs in with your mobile and sends reports to your doctor remotely. We have supplied this product to a patient who can’t access the hospital due to the COVID-19 lockdown. The usage of this has made her life extremely easy now as compared to earlier when she had to travel 30- 40 km to get an ECG done and travel again with test reports to her doctor. This service offered by us really bridged all the gaps in her case. Moreover, she even upgraded her 6-year-old mobile phone to a new internet wifi enabled one to improve the overall experience around this device. And the reports from this device which she was sending to her cardiologists made the doctor’s life easier as well because the reports were optimized to appealing visuals rather than the usual mundane report. Based on this experience, the doctor contacted us to further provide this solution for COVID care centers where this technology can be used on isolated patients. Because of its increased portability, ease of usage, and reporting, this has helped the frontline better focus on other tasks in hand.

I would like to showcase the major institutional voids we have noticed as founders

  1. Regulatory voids- the government rules and regulations can be confusing for many businesses trying to enter new markets. As we cater to the healthcare market in emerging countries – we find them to be hyper-regulated from the macro point but once we try liaising with stakeholders, we tend to get a better vision of this. This task can be very time consuming hence a lot of study has to be done prior to launching a product.
  2. Logistical void- Product and service supply really depends on how it reaches our customers. For instance, our services in Indonesia had to be modulated around this void. As Indonesia is an archipelago of 17000 islands – product and service reach can be the biggest hurdle to overcome. So the service offerings have to be custom-built around this.
  3. Infrastructural void- Business infrastructure is of prime importance for any service or product offerings. Be it technological infrastructure or physical infrastructure, this needs to be scrutinized before entering into the market. We have had a lot of challenges with our telemedicine offerings where few primary health care centers did not have electricity/telephone or internet infrastructure. Products, solutions, and technologies have to be worked around to do this.
  4. Educational void – Some products and services may take longer due to the intellectual nature of the marketplace. Products and services may not work due to the skill set required to fulfill the required service from the provider and customer standpoint. The market may still be at the engaging phase than the adoption phase.

These are a few of the hurdles we have faced, addressing the markets we have catered to so far. But the voids are not to be seen as hurdles but rather an infliction to improve business offerings. Remember -business and service is always a work in progress. So is life!