ISB Updates

Kirthiga Reddy on the future of Digital

In an increasingly global and digital world today, how do we ensure the dots stay connected as people discover what matters most to them? Presenting the keynote industry feature during the Digital Summit 2013 at the Hyderabad campus, Kirthiga Reddy, Head of Operations for Facebook – India explains the strides made thus far and our collective journey ahead, in the digital space.


During a trip to the Everest base camp in 2012, Reddy was able to upload and share photos along the trek on her Facebook page. The ability to perform this operation in one of the remotest corners of the planet elucidates the power and reach of the social media as a direct consequence of the digital avenue. From personal stories like learning about a friend’s baby’s first steps to global issues like empowering people to be courageous enough to launch Arab spring(s), digital media has changed people’s lives by helping them discover issues that matter to them the most.

Having established the baseline in terms of relevance and impact of digital today on our lives, Reddy then talks about its future, and the extent to which our lives are intertwined with it. She does so by laying out five specific strengths of the digital world.

The impact of mobile on digital is so profound that the two words are almost synonymous with each other. Reddy opines that one of the reasons for the exponential growth of the usage of mobile devices is their ability to offer the user a sense of “timelessness”. That is, the world can now be accessed from the comforts of our living rooms, while travelling, or even literally from the top of the world. In 2011, for the first time more people were accessing the internet on their phones than on desktops.

Innovation and Information
Not just the ability to access information, but the amount of information itself has increased by astronomical amounts since the advent of digital media. The point is driven home by statistic Reddy shares from a Wall Street Journal article. From the beginning of time till 2003, 5 billion gigabytes of data were generated. Today, it takes ten minutes to generate the same amount.

On the one hand, due to the barrage of information a person is exposed to on a daily basis, it has become increasingly difficult to capture a customer’s attention. On the other, it has become easier by having a targeted approach of getting the message across. The power of digital provides the ability to marry the offline with the online. Hence, businesses have now become increasingly local in their ability to understand their customers’ needs.

A very powerful attribute of digital is its capacity to equalise its users. The ability to communicate with people keeping all socio economic barriers aside encourages and empowers freedom of expression. Reddy gives the example of how all the chefs in a particular restaurant were limited in their abilities to read and write but knew how to use their phone, and thus, Facebook.

Future of Digital
The most important aspect of the digital revolution is access to the internet. Reddy commends the efforts of mobile manufacturers for making mobile devices affordable and as a result accessible. She predicts that as with the current pace of digital revolution, networks will be far stronger and robust five years from today, thus connecting the next five billion people across the planet.

Access to the internet facilitates access to information and thereby opportunity, which research suggests is strongly correlated with job creation and subsequently GDP growth. And this is a position societies across the globe aspire to reach.

Beginning of the journey
As we think about mobile devices harnessing and fostering innovation, thereby equalising societies around the globe, the future of the digital journey is worth it for every one of us. At Facebook, Kirthiga Reddy mentions, this journey is only beginning and it excites her to think about where the world is headed five or ten years from now digitally.