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Manish Agarwal

CEO | 24 Apr 2013

I think that two things would drive data consumption in the future. One would be videos and the second would be gaming. For carriers like us, developing a business model and capitalising on these two factors would be a game changer.

Manish Agarwal was handed the responsibility of the operations of Bigflix, Bigadda, Zapak Digital Entertainment and Jump Games, when he joined Reliance Entertainment Digital in March 2011. He had joined the organisation from UTV New Media, where he was CEO. He has also worked with companies such as Microsoft and Rediff.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Abhinav Trivedi, Agarwal shares his thoughts on cloud computing, e-mail marketing, and the future of gaming industry in India.

Q. As an organisation where do you see the future of Reliance Digital Entertainment in times to come?

I want Reliance Digital Entertainment to be known as the organisation that provides very high quality gaming experience to users worldwide. Apart from gaming, I want the organisation to be known as one that provides the convenience of watching high quality movies in India and international audiences who are interested in Indian content. I would like to achieve these objectives in the next 24 months.

Q. As an industry leader what is your view on Cloud Computing? Do you think India has the requisite infrastructure for the technology?

As a technology, cloud computing in India already exists and is available in all variables. For it to become a consumer reality, what needs to be worked upon is consistent high quality internet speed, which is lagging. The architecture for storing data on the clouds exists. So, from the client server interface point of view, the technology which can ping the server and which can fetch information and store it on local cash exists. However, this pinging of client server is an issue that this country suffers from. The advent of 4G has imbibed a lot of hope and we see the future to be bright. The day this issue gets resolved, all the services catering to health, entertainment, education, etc., would go to a completely different level because of cloud computing. The unfortunate problem is connectivity and ensuring a high speed broadband service.

Q. How do you feel about the gaming sector in India as of now?

Gaming in India is still a very small and niche segment. Therefore, a large amount of my time is devoted outside India. Our share of excitement, bandwidth and mindset for understanding gaming is lagging here. The domestic market is small and people don’t talk much about the gaming sector. The reason is simple. Most of us did not grow up with Xbox 360 and other such games. Therefore, the gaming ecosystem is not very robust here and the market is very small. Also, when there is not much happening, journalists do not cover the sector, so people who are not connected to gaming directly get less knowledge about the sector.

Also, with lack of passion, the consumers are not very aware. Culturally, we Indians are very output oriented people. Therefore, citing the contemporary mindset, gaming is not considered to be a very attractive sector, because people find it less rewarding in terms of career growth. The consumers are also not very aware of the sector. As a country, we first need adequate financial security. Only then we would nurture an environment where one could think of venturing into lesser known territories like such. People go to a college for jobs, not for sheer joy of learning. The mindset definitely needs to be changed first.

Q. In today’s scenario, what are your views on e-mail marketing?

Earlier in 2005-06, mailing was less popular. So marketers used to consider e-mail marketing as a viable option because at least people were receptive to mails and opened their inboxes in hope of getting some mails. In a survey that I had done in my previous organisation, we figured out that at least 70 per cent of the receptors of marketing mails were light users, who responded that they loved mailers because it fills their inboxes at least! This was eight years ago.

Gradually marketers shifted the trend to SMSes, because they thought it was far more personal pitching (call to action) and transformed into immediate action. Because of strict policy regulations and DND activations now, the SMS trend has slowed down and marketers have again moved back to e-mail marketing. But except a few players, the trend is mostly of mindless marketing, which is there all over the place. E-mail marketing is a very good and viable tool, but it has to be used very intelligently. Most of the mails end up being spam because the marketers just source the database and start shooting mails. Even one mail sent costs money, therefore, if the consumer is not responding, there is no RoI for the marketer. The reasons could be attributed to surge in e-commerce activities and pressure to scale the services much faster. I am trying to explore all avenues of my touch points of the consumer interface. Any contextual marketing on digital is an intelligent job and it requires effort for one to do it.

Q. Are you optimistic about your future for India?

Oh, I am very optimistic. First ray of hope for me is sheer surge in sale of smart phones. The time spent on smart phones by kids and young teenagers is increasing and now it depends on players like us on how are we able to capitalise this opportunity. The frequency of sessions of time spent has also increased. I am very sure that the penetration of smart phones will evangelise the gaming culture in India. The second ray of hope is the advent of 4G and high speed broadband connection. I am sure that with this technology in place, a robust broadband ecosystem in the country would be in place. This is a good news for all of us, and if we combine the above two factors, nobody can stop us from being a strong player in the gaming sector. With time consumer behaviour would evolve. I think that two things would drive data consumption in the future. One would be videos and the second would be gaming. For carriers like us, developing a business model and capitalising on these two factors would be a game changer.

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