By Rohit Vaid
New Delhi/Mumbai, June 9 (IANS) A myriad of meteorological firms are empowering India Inc with superior climatic predictions to turn this once erratic factor into an all-weather ally.
Interestingly, all major verticals of the economy like agriculture, power distribution companies, automobile manufacturers, freight forwarders, event managers and airlines depend on weather-updates for managing smooth operations and meeting seasonal demand.
At present, four major private weather forecasters are active in India. These firms provide everything from weather-related information, region specific predictions, trends and even crop insurance traded options.
“Weather-related information and timely information is as important for the agriculture sector as it is for the corporate segment,” Devendra Kumar Pant, Chief Economist, India Ratings and Research (Fitch Group), told IANS.
“Companies use weather-related information along with time-series data points to come out with their production tragets, inventory levels and pricing strategy, this is especially true for the two-wheeler segment and other FMCG.”
A case in point is monsoon prediction: get this right and the implications are limitless. A healthy season, will indicate an uptrend in rural demand for products like cement, fertilisers, FMCG, farm equipment, two-wheelers, while a consumption slowdown and inflation will accompany a below average rainfall months.
Industry insiders opined that the business of weather forecasting was never this interesting or profitable in India as it is right now.
Currently, the field is equally divided with start-ups competing with heavyweights like IBM.
The global IT major IBM-backed — The Weather Company — provides personalised, actionable insight to consumers and businesses about accurate weather data along with AI, Internet of Things (IoT) and analytic technologies.
“We connect newscasters, airline pilots, energy traders, insurance executives, state agency employees, retail management and more to the weather intel they need, on any device,” Himanshu Goyal, India Business Leader, The Weather Company told IANS.
“Weather-based decision making is becoming critical to many industries and is arguably the most important external swing factor in business performance. Businesses today are seeing the benefits and value of weather insights.”
In many cases, these firms act as a third-party consultants to banks and insurance firms for coming out with accurate insurance premiums for crops, while at other times they aide electricity distribution companies predict the maximum power demand on a given season or even a given day.
According to Noida-headquartered Skymet Weather Services’ Founder and Managing Director Jatin Singh: “The business has gained traction in India as insurance, banking, agribusiness, commodity traders, retail and e-commerce, transportation and government institutions have become our clients over the years.
“We are India’s largest crop insurance settlement agency.”
Additionally, accurate weather prediction are also essential for holiday planning, flight scheduling, for managing sporting events and even making that first automobile purchase.
“Much like FMCG or any other consumer dependant sectors, automobile sector and in particular the two-wheeler segment, nothing is more important than a forecast of monsoon as the rural spend depends upon it,” said Sridhar V., Partner, Grant Thornton India LLP.
“How wide the coverage of monsoon and copious it is decides the success of farm sector and thereby the whole ecosystem which is benefited by the farm sector including farm equipment, including tractors.”
(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at [email protected])