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IAMAI Conference: Healthy discussions on applicability of Web 2.0 business model in India

25-June-2007
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IAMAI Conference: Healthy discussions on applicability of Web 2.0 business model in India

The morning session at the IAMAI’s conference on Web 2.0 started with defining the new medium -- Web 2.0. The panellists first gave their views on what they think of the new medium, and the moderator was able to successfully define the new frontier for the audience to take note of.

Ashish Kashyap, CEO, MIH Internet, said that the new medium was a utilitarian pillar that allowed people across the globe to share information and knowledge that they sought. He gave a classic example of how a person wanted some information relating to a small town, which he couldn’t gather from websites and search engines. But it was a local guy from Gurgoan who finally helped him out as he met him at one of the social networking sites. “This is the power of this new medium,” said Kashyap, as he also spoke about how it enables people to earn, while being a part of the financial chain, at the same time.

For Navin Mittal, Business Head, Fropper.com, the new medium is a meaningful relationship. “Without user-generated content, it is just a piece of software,” he said, emphasising on the importance of two-way communication and building up a social network. He added that technology behind Web 2.0 was not new, but companies have given value to the customers.

Ravi Datanwala, Online Business Strategy Manager, Microsoft Corporation, India, defined Web 2.0 as ‘packaging of existing stuff’. But he was also of the opinion that technology has helped companies to move from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0.

While all the panellists discussed the meaning of Web 2.0, Rehan Yar Khan, Director, Yo4ya.com, talked about the new medium’s reach. “Earlier, it was just confined to the geeks. But now, it is for everybody. It is worth noticing that people are now sharing personal information with strangers and the participation level in this new medium has increased drastically now,” he added.

Vivek Pahwa, Founder of Desimartini.com, agreed with Mittal when the latter said that the technology wasn’t new and it had become easier for people to share information online. But Pahwa further said that the application of Web 2.0 was different from the Western countries and it will take some time for us to adopt the Western application.

The session took an interesting phase when moderator Avnish Bajaj, Founding Managing Partner, Matrix Partners, asked panellists to give their perspectives on the cultural issues pertaining to emergence of Web 2.0. The question to be answered here was whether it was the right time for Indian companies to go for such business models. Answering to this question, Mittal said, “YouTube is the eighth most-visited website at the moment and there is an absolute hunger for online videos.”

According to Kashyap, India is ready to take this new medium. He justified his point by saying that every alternate youth, at least in urban cities, was on Orkut. Datanwala too agreed with Kashyap, as he said, “This is the right time. The customers are expecting much more today and the key lies in delivering what they want.”

The discussion was then shifted to the need of having an Indian-Orkut. Pahwa started by saying that Indian sites will have to focus on localising the content and making it easy for the customers to use and share information. Khan added by saying that Indians were habituated in writing short paragraphs, and the companies should try and cash in here. But he totally disagreed in having an adoption from the West. “We cannot have a raw adoption of Orkut,” he said.

Kashyap urged Indian managers to not look at Orkut or YouTube. “Don’t look at the West and do not get obsessed with YouTube or Orkut. Instead, look at your market and your product if you want to invest in this business,” he requested. Mittal too added his point of view, saying that it was tough to beat Orkut or YouTube for that matter.

However, Datanwala had a different take. “I won’t limit myself to local market and in providing only mash-ups of blogs. There should be interactivity on an activity,” he said.

The session was concluded by the moderator after the panellists discussed the challenges that Indian companies may face in the long run. “The biggest challenge is to retain your customers,” said Pahwa. Kashyap emphasised on getting the right engineering talent and ensuring the technical viabilities. Meeting customer expectations and minimising costs were other challenges that were discussed during the session.

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