Guest Column: “India is still the toast of Silicon Valley”

India is a key market for any organisation looking at growth, says Lara Balsara of Madison World

e4m by Lara Balsara
Updated: Nov 7, 2012 6:53 PM
Guest Column: “India is still the toast of Silicon Valley”

The International Advertising Association’s India Chapter organised a study tour of the Silicon Valley last month and it was truly a wonderful and enriching experience. About 20 of us visited the offices of Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Twitter. It was interesting to see how each company’s culture is so dramatically different from the other and yet at the core all of them were saying the same thing. Key takeaways from what everyone said were mobile, social, customer experience and India.

Mobile: Most of them said that the majority of their customers use their services through mobile and therefore, mobile applications are at the core of all their strategies. Mobile usage has truly revolutionised the way they approach their business.

Customer experience: Like any media owner would say, “we always put our customers/viewers first and advertisers second”, so do these digital companies. But I think these digital companies put their money where their mouth is and walk the talk. For example, on YouTube, the viewer has the option of not seeing a pre-roll ad by just clicking on the ‘skip ad’ button and the advertiser does not have to pay for the ads not seen for more than a certain number of seconds. The other part of customer experience was to give the users one unified customer experience across various platforms, whether it is a PC or a mobile or laptop.

Social: Everything and everyone is talking social. We are social beings, right! The focus is also on creating stories and helping viewers/fan share their experiences with their friends and the world. Facebook has a website called facebookstories.com where fans have put up videos of how FB has changed their lives.

Speed and result-orientation: While the culture may be very relaxed and casual in most of these offices, don’t for a second assume that the employees have it easy. Each company is extremely aggressive and ambitious and some even work overnight to brainstorm on an idea and get things executed.

The culture of Facebook and Google is very casual and open; both have very large campuses, with large cafeterias serving cuisine from around the world, with laundry service, personal salon services and various other things to almost entrap employees once they get to work and not give employees any reason to leave the campus. 

India: India, you will be happy to know, still is the toast of the Valley, despite what we ourselves think of our country. If any organisation is looking at growth, the numbers have to come from India or China. The amount of effort that most companies took in planning our day-long agenda, showering us with gifts and displayed their eagerness to learn from us about the India market as we were to learn about their world, all goes to show that India is  very much their focus.  

The implication for marketers is that you are only limited by your imagination – if you can imagine it, it can be created. But remember to create engaging content.

The author is Business Development and Diversification Manager, Madison World

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