Companies age just like humans. They get stiff and unresponsive, decision-making slows and stubbornness grows. Disabilities eventually consume the human body but firms have the good fortune to carry on. Provided, they change with the times. Yet, organisations are the toughest to change. The older they are, the harder it gets. Those that manage to transition often have longevity way beyond their peers.
One such dramatic transformation is underway at the 54-year-old Reliance Industries, India's largest and most valuable firm that could enhance its longevity beyond the oil business. The company's 63-year-old Chairman Mukesh Ambani - at the helm since 2002 - is in a tearing hurry, driving the metamorphosis of the oil and petrochemical giant into a technology firm. He has ploughed in more than Rs 6 lakh crore in a short span of six years to take his new businesses - Reliance Retail and Reliance Jio - to top of the pecking order in India's retail and telecom industries.
As a result, Reliance Industries - until recently a B2B firm dominated by oil and petrochem - already generates more than a third of its cash flows and revenues from B2C businesses. And now a new thrust with Jio Mart into e-tail promises to leverage the expansive presence of both retail (11,784 stores across India) and telecom (387 million subscribers) to lead the way for consumer businesses to eventually overtake oil in revenue and profits.
Such transformation is rare in world corporate history. The cover story this issue by my colleague Nevin John puts together all the pieces of the Reliance puzzle - the rapidfire stake sales in Jio Platforms during lockdown; the launch of Jio Mart and the ongoing negotiations to bring Saudi Aramco on board the petrochem business. It's a must-read to decipher the Mukesh Ambani gameplan.
From organisation transformation to brand transformation: Pressure on margins is forcing carmakers to try every new trick in the trade to innovate for new revenue streams. One of those is cross-badging of identical vehicles. Maruti-Toyota, Hyundai-Kia, Renault-Nissan, VW-Skoda have not just shared vehicle platforms but even cross-badged their vehicles. But why does cross-badging fail? Read Sumant Banerji's analysis on Let's Cross It.
Meanwhile, an interesting battle is brewing between India's 20 lakh restaurants and restaurant aggregators such as Swiggy, Zomato and others. Restaurants allege aggregators manipulate the market and impose usurious charges. They have decided to take charge of their fortune with the National Restaurant Association of India - the country's largest restaurant body with five lakh members - launching an App of its own, Dotpe. Can it wean away the business once lockdown opens? Read Manu Kaushik's report on Whose Food is It, Anyway?
And just as the Centre presses the pedal on creating robust local supply chains to enable Indian firms to export "Made-in-India" products, ongoing negotiations for bilateral and multilateral trade will need to create an enabling environment. That's why it's vital to ensure we do not repeat our mistakes of the past. Joe C. Mathew explains why most previous trade agreements have been to India's disadvantage. That's on How to Make FTAs Work .
Last, but not the least, on "Growth Should Pick Up From Second Half of the Fiscal", Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant explains when India should realistically expect to get back into growth mode.