by June 7, 2004 0 comments

I bunked office this last month. Yes. I did not attend office at all. Instead, I did a bit of roaming around the countryside, talking to people, visiting IT vendors, watching the election campaign at close quarters, having tea on the roadside, checking out the malls springing up across the country…. Seriously, if you get the opportunity, you should try it out too. It is an eye-opening experience. I started off in Thiruvananthapuram, and finished at Hyderabad with a meeting with James Gosling .

First, the elections. I found the visible campaigning to be much more muted than before. And, I found more of it moving on to the electronic media: regional television channels, particularly: and to a much lesser extent to SMS . Even the old timers I talked to were in agreement that in the years to come, election campaigning will move more and more to electronic media and
become more locally targeted. In short, localization and direct delivery!

Similarly, I found many IT companies to be in the throes of transition. After two years of zero or negative growth in the IT economy, they are busy transforming themselves to take advantage of the opportunities that they are seeing ahead. Let me take three examples. TVS Electronics, which used to be primarily a printer company, is seeing itself as a transactions company and is busy getting ready a slew of transaction-management systems, both hardware and software. Numeric Power is gearing itself up to capture power-management markets abroad. VLSI design firm, Rendezvous on Chip, has renamed itself as ROCSYS and is positioning itself in the security/access-products market. Companies are reinventing their products and even themselves in order to ensure success.

The malls are the latest revolution on the urban landscape. Did I say urban? ITC is planning similar setups, albeit of different visual appearance and product mix, but of similar scale, in the rural areas. What is the secret that is drawing huge crowds to the malls? Is it the packaging? The ambience? The availability of everything at one place? 

The roadside tea? The road-side dabha has evolved to provide not only tea, but also soft drinks and packaged food, STD phones and, in the occasional case, Internet access.

Did you notice something yet? Yes, the world around us is furiously changing. And, strangely enough, the changes happening around us are the same ones that are being demanded of our IT systems: localization, direct delivery, continuous evolution, multiple services on the same frontend, better packaging and ease of use, newer services added to the same package…. 

Talking to Gosling was a different experience in itself. Did we talk minute details of Java programming? No way! Gosling talked of how the Internet is being driven by social dynamics and social needs and how creating software is a constant fine-line walk between the demand for more stability and for newer features. Another important lesson there!

Krishna Kumar

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