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Mobile’s disruption power extends from big brands to small, says FedEx exec

NEW YORK – An executive from FedEx at the MMA SM2 Innovation Summit 2016 spoke about mobile’s ability to empower brands of any size, ultimately enabling smaller companies to become multinational firms.

The session, titled “Why Mobility Matters to FedEx,” focused on the social and economic changes that the rise of mobile has brought to the world. In addition to the ways that big brands have integrated mobile into their business models, mobile has also made room for small businesses and individuals to make their mark on global society.

“Ecommerce has been completely transformed by mobile,” said Rajesh Subramaniam, executive vice president of global marketing and communications at FedEx. “Food is more mobile, medicine is more mobile, education is more mobile, banking is more mobile.”

The whole story
Mr. Subramaniam introduced his session by speaking about the ways that FedEx connects people around the globe with a single click.

FedEx handles eleven million packages every day connecting people across the world. The mobile economy is expected to reach two trillion dollars by 2017.

While those numbers are impressive, Mr. Subramaniam spoke about how the numbers do not tell the whole story. Two trillion dollars do not tell the full story of how mobile affects our lives and our businesses.

The intangible changes brought by mobile have affected nearly every aspect of our lives. To fully understand it, we have to look at mobile through a wider lens.

Mr. Subramaniam outlined some ways to understand how mobile has shaped the modern landscape.

The first step is understanding the innovations that mobile makes possible.

As an illustration, Mr. Subramaniam spoke about his two young cousins who recently graduated from college on the east coast. A few years ago, they would have probably got jobs at one of the various big New York companies.

Instead, the two moved back to India and started their own business based mainly on mobile devices. Once that grew, they were able to purchase properties in other countries and run a modestly-sized multinational business.

Mr. Subramaniam calls this kind of business a “micro-multinational.” Through the power of mobile, anyone can today start and run a successful, lightweight global business.

As another example, Mr. Subramaniam introduced Nicole Snow who runs a business called Darn Good Yarn. Using just her mobile devices and a partnership with FedEx, she is able to run her business shipping yarn from India and Nepal to other countries around the world.

Ms. Snow spoke about mobile’s ability to connect her with her customers where she routinely gets 500 to 600 comments on her social posts.

As a last example, Mr. Subramaniam played a video of a man named Llewellyn Clark, who sold pepper sauce from a small island in the Caribbean. With FedEx, he is able to deliver his sauce to customers around the world.

“For small and medium-sized businesses today, their market is not restricted to their city, their state or even their country,” Mr. Subramaniam said. “Their markets are now global.”

Social change
Lastly, the session turned to the capacity for mobile to enact social change.

“Where I grew up, in India, my state had 100 percent literacy rate,” he said. “This is not true in other parts of the country.”

To combat this, educators and humanitarians from around the globe have been leveraging mobile as a democratizing device. Fifty percent of the world’s smartphones are in the developing world, meaning that education apps such as BYJU’s have the capacity to reach a large amount of users.

Another app, called iCow, used in Kenya, is designed to help disadvantaged farmers keep track of large groups of cattle and other livestock.

“Mobile is everywhere and it is a powerful tool,” Mr. Subramaniam said. “We connect people places and possibilities around the world.”