Writer: exchange4media News Service - Monday, Jan 09,2012 7:43 AM
Online engagement to reach new levels in 2012

With his razor-sharp views on digital, Hari V Krishnan, Country Manager, LinkedIn India, sets the tone of the future in this medium.

On key milestones of digital industry in 2011:
The year 2011 was when the digital industry attracted the most attention from mainstream consumers, brands and professionals in India. The fact that Internet usage is growing on all fronts, from consumer usage to platforms for access, is a very positive sign. India now has more than 100 million Internet users and that has set up a nice foundation on which companies can drive real services and value to a large base. Lastly, consumers are spending more time online, whether they are building their image, making purchases or engaging with peers. Given all of this, I think 2012 will be the year where online engagement reaches new levels across audiences.

On the growth of digital industry:
The online industry grew phenomenally with individuals and brands realising the value of the digital platform. We at LinkedIn have seen this as well with Indian professionals having realised the value of building their online identity of record. This year, we crossed the 10-million member landmark and closed the year with over 13 million members. While there are multiple reasons for this growth, I think the primary reason is because of the rise in people engaging with each other, not just on LinkedIn, but on other online networks as well depending on the context and relevance. Due to the social nature of the web, people and brands now create and share content while at their desks or on the go. Another important thing that happened in the mobile sphere is the rise in the use of applications. Going to consumers and not waiting for them to log on to websites, businesses that created applications – whether iOS, Android or BlackBerry – enabled easier access to content for consumers.

On trends that will shape 2012:
• Data driven Social Technology: The social web generates a lot of data and it is this data, which will provide brands with insights on engaging with consumers. This data will also help networks deliver relevant and contextual content to users, helping them make sense of all the information they are being presented with across various media.

• B2B Marketing: While the Internet has been popular with B2C marketers for some time, I would expect to see a gradual increase in B2B activities on online platforms as well. Brands will seek to engage directly with select audiences and decision makers and the Internet will enable them to do this.

• Digital Services Economy: Whether it is seeking out the best talent, researching and buying the best products, seeking the best services such as entertainment, travel or education or specialised (niche) information, we will see consumers and companies use the Internet as a primary channel.

• Enterprise 2.0: We will see a number of companies adopt Internet-based applications to improve everything – from collaboration to employee engagement.

• Indian Internet meets Mainstream Business: In 2012, digital companies will be tested for their business fundamentals by their customers and investors. The winners and bystanders will be determined by cold hard business operations metrics such as profitability, process improvement and productivity. It will be the mainstream business lens with which companies are viewed, not that of fuzzy metrics such as ‘pageviews’, ‘recommendations’ or ‘likes’.

Changes expected in 2012:
In an evolving digital environment, change is omnipresent. The growth the industries in India have seen over the past year has been phenomenal and is part of a greater change that the industry will see in 2012. More people and companies will start viewing the Internet as a primary channel for business and with serious money focused on this industry, expectations will rise. This should allow the best run digital companies to thrive and seriously separate from the crowd.

(Hari V Krishnan is Country Manager at LinkedIn India.)

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