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SST (Self-service technology) in Service Sector and India —

                                SST (Self-service technology) in Service Sector and India —  
                                                                                                     Dr. Shampa Nandi, Faculty ISME

According to a survey carried out at 2009, by Buzz Back Market research company at NCR, Indian consumers rank highest in the world in terms of their demand for self-service technologies like ATM, Kiosk, M-commerce or E-commerce etc. 97% of the respondents said in favour of using SST as compared to 79% consumers in the US and 77% in the UK. Though the above figures make us delighted but this snapshot is true only for a very small segment of the entire Indian population, may be for urban Indians. For more than a decade Indian service sector has acted as a major force for the growth of Indian economy. As per 2014-15 FY, the contribution of service sector in Indian GDP is 52% (783 billion US $). It is expected to grow at a rate of 7.4% in FY as compared to 7.3% last year. Both domestic and global factors have an impact on this growth.
Services all over the world have been effectively deploying technology as an innovative resource to achieve speed, efficiency, cost reduction, customer convenience and competitive advantage. Self Service Technology is the ultimate form of consumer involvement in service production using facilities or systems provided by the service provider.
What is SST (Self Service Technology)?
SSTs are technological support or interfaces through which customers can access the services without the help of the service providers or service employees. One of the most familiar examples of SST is using ATM (automated teller machine) for various bank transactions.

Types of SSTs on base of interface (Meuter, Ostrom, Roundtree, Bitner, 2000)

< div style="text-align: justify;">In rural India the penetration of SST in service sector is limited to internet banking, railway ticket reservation and accessing some Government’s services through mobile phones.

Technology readiness & digital divide in India
Technology readiness has an impact on adopting technologies. Adoption of SST needs consumer’s involvement, therefore the perceived benefit for using SST as well as the attitude of consumers towards it plays a major role in its adoption. Consumers face several psychological barriers that paralyze their desire for adoption of new innovation. These may be perceived risk, changes in current practices and cultural barriers. Many of the Indian consumers like to interact with people while getting services, whether it is withdrawing money from bank, shopping in a store or checking in airport physically. Apart from personal factors, technology adoption is also affected by the technological infrastructure of the country in terms of electricity, IT penetration, teledensity and internet industry. Tremendous growth of information technology and telecommunication has fuelled the gap between the privileged and underprivileged section of the society in India. According to S.S. Rao (2005) in India, some states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in India are in advantageous position in terms of digitalisation than Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Within a state also the disparity is much wider between urban and rural population, within urban between educated and uneducated populace and even within educated between rich and poor section of the society. India has a population of over one billion, 69% living in villages. with adult literacy rate is about 62.8% and female literacy rate is about 50.8% as on 2014. Some recent study has revealed that internet penetration in India is less than 10%, it lies somewhere around 6.5%. Only 2% of the Indian population prefers reading in English (Sujata P. Deshmukh, Prashant Deshmukh and G.TThampi, 2013) whereas most of the websites or service applications are based on English.  
Some successful technology enabled projects which have reached to masses in India
Computerized railway reservation system– This is one of the most frequently used internet based services which has benefited the common men in India.
ATM & Phone bankingThe penetration as well as the growth of ATM banking is very high in India. Even in a very remote village a man in a dhoti withdrawing money from ATM has become a common scenario. As per RBI report 2014, the compound average growth rate of ATM in India is 25%. Most of the banks are offering mobile banking technology enabled services which include mobile payment like transfer of funds, payment of bills and other payment services.
E-choupal- ITC has introduced this program in 2000 which helps to connect farmers via internet for providing various services like procuring quality seeds, agricultural products, pesticides etc. as well as aqua cultural products. It gave a common platform to the farmers to get various updates on current market rate, weather forecasting. More than 4 million farmers got benefited by e-choupals with 6500 access points.
Internet Saathis– A program launched in July, 2015 by Tata and Google to reduce the digital gap in India. A group of women, equipped with smart phone, tablets and trained in internet usage aim to help other rural women to take the advantage of ICT in India’s interior. This program is trying to link with Centre’s digital initiatives and schemes. Also to reach the facilities of e commerce a proposal with the major player like Amazon, PayTm and Snap deal is going on. Already 2 lakhs women have joined as tech saathis and nearly 500 women are joining the network every week. Along with that Google has set up 16 Wi-Fi enabled railway station with a plan to expand 100 with 2016.
Akashganga– This is dairy information service kiosk used by the milkmen in Anand, Gujrat. It helps to generate id to each milkman and help them to get payslip, weigh the fat content of milk and provide information on many other animal husbandry related issues. This IT enabled service has been implemented at around 600 locations for the members of milk cooperative being connected. This system is used 365 day a year. (Parghi, 2003)
Akshaya e-centres– This is technology enabled service in Kerala which give ICT access to all section of society even in a remote area. It provides information on job opportunities, training in IT literacy and help to generate overall economic growth.
Bhoomi -As a part of Government of India initiative, Karnataka Government has set up a it enabled National Information Centre called Bhoomi, in 1991.Over the years this software has helped thousands of farmers to generate the records of land ownership.
Mobile Apps- A recent survey of Eriksson consumer lab has given a report saying that Indian spend on an average three hours a day with their smart phones. They spend time with this gadget for messaging, shopping, watching cricket or news, or listening music. Usage of m-wallet, booking cab or movie tickets, ordering food from restaurants are some other categories where the mobile apps are used frequently. Though some of the mobile-app services are limited to either cities or towns.
Self-service technologies have revolutionised the way of delivering services to provide maximum benefits at marginal cost. Across globe the involvement of customers in the service process and adoption of SST in services is showing a continuous upward trend. Automated teller machine, self-service vending machines, e-commerce or m-commerce, interactive kiosks and many other technology driven services provide more fulfilling, easy and convenient services at an optimum cost. With the continuous improvement in IT infrastructure and Government’s supports, the digital divide in India can be bridged and eventually the usage of SST in service sector will be adopted by masses of India. “Indians lead global consumers in demand for self-service technology” the survey report once done in urban India, would be true even for villagers living in a corner of India.
·         S.S. Rao (Nov, 2005), “Bridging Digital Divide: Efforts in India’’, Telematics and Informatics, pp. 361–375
·         Deshmukh P., Deshmukh. S., Thampi G.T.,“Transformation from E-commerce to M-commerce in Indian Context”, International Journal Of Computer Science Issue, 10(4),(2013)
·         A J Joshua, Moli P Koshy (April, 2011), “Usage Patterns of Electronic Banking Services by Urban Educated Customers: Glimpses from India”, Journal of Internet Banking and Commerce vol. 16, no.1, pp. 1-12
·         Jagdish N Seth, S Ram (1989), “Consumer Resistance to innovations: the marketing problem and its solutions”, Journal of Consumer Marketing, pp. 4-14
·         Parghi, U., 2003. Akashganga: The milky way. Available from: <>.

·         The Hindu, Business Line, June 8th, 2016. “Google, Tata bring tech Saathis to help rural women”
·         PTI Jun 14, 2009, 12.15pm IST (Economic Times), “Indians lead global consumers in demand for self-service technology”